The Importance of Being Earnest

I wrote a short (8000-word) introduction to Oscar Wilde's great comedy, possibly the greatest comedy every written, The Importance of Being Earnest, for Nick Hern Books' 'Drama Classics' series. This is a large series of pocket-sized editions of famous plays with introductions aimed at students. My edition tries to sneak in a bit of deconstruction and queer theory in its reading of the play, focusing on the distinction between speech and writing, which Wilde toys with and turns inside out; I also show that the distinction in the subtitle ('A Trivial Play for Serious People') is also played with, indeed a disruption of what is serious and what is trivial is the engine behind Wilde's paradoxical comedy. And finally, I spent a lot of time reading through the wonderful work done by writers like Ed Cohen and Alan Sinfield looking at the traces in the play of the emerging homosexual subculture in the late nineteenth century and offer my own sense of how the play should and shouldn't be read in the light of Wilde's exposed sexuality.