Thursday, 12 December 2013

Would You Make A Bunbury?

Bunburying is the delightful concept at the centre of Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest.  Its usage and meaning within the play is perhaps best explained by the most adept bunburyists of all, Algernon Moncrieff:

You [Jack] have invented a very useful younger brother called Ernest, in order that you may be able to come up to town as often as you like. I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury, in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose. Bunbury is perfectly invaluable. If it wasn’t for Bunbury’s extraordinary bad health, for instance, I wouldn’t be able to dine with you at Willis’s to-night, for I have been really engaged to Aunt Augusta for more than a week.

I had planned on analysing the text with the use of several literary theories; a little bit of reader-response criticism, a dash of psychoanalysis, a handful of the lexical units required for structuralism, a splattering of deconstruction and a pinch of Marxism. But then I remembered I have a prior engagement with Cedric de Montferrat who urgently requires my attendance for… umm… for something extremely important.

Thus, dear reader, I must leave you to consider alone:
Is having a Bunbury lying or is it a morally acceptable way of escaping social obligations?
Would you create a Bunbury to avoid dinner with Aunt Augusta?

Thank you for reading,



Ashley R Lister said...

A Bunbury? Only one? I have a Bunbury for every occasion. I thought everyone had.

Thanks for reminding me about this delightful idea in Wilde's play. I'd forgotten about the concept.


Colin Davies said...

Oh what a busy day yesterday was. I had no time to visit my sick nephew in Winchister, or dear Uncle Lyface.

Thank you for allowing us to read this well observed mechanism that everybody has used at least once in their lives.