Dark Humor and Social Satire in the Modern British Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

Social satire in the modern period is traditionally seen as a conservative genre in opposition to the experimental aesthetic of literary modernism. In Dark Humor and Social Satire in the Modern British Novel, Lisa Colletta challenges this prevailing view, arguing that the darkly humorous social satires of the interwar years in Britain display a deep ambivalence and a delight in disorder that denies the reader the comfort of a stable or totalizing critique. Combining analysis of canonical writers and those often ...
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Dark Humor and Social Satire in the Modern British Novel

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Overview

Social satire in the modern period is traditionally seen as a conservative genre in opposition to the experimental aesthetic of literary modernism. In Dark Humor and Social Satire in the Modern British Novel, Lisa Colletta challenges this prevailing view, arguing that the darkly humorous social satires of the interwar years in Britain display a deep ambivalence and a delight in disorder that denies the reader the comfort of a stable or totalizing critique. Combining analysis of canonical writers and those often overlooked - Virginia Woolf, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Evelyn Waugh, and Anthony Powell - Colletta draws on psychoanalytic theories of joke-work and gallows humor to make the claim that dark humor is a defining characteristic of Modernism. She deftly connects these writers through their humor and offers an innovative rereading of Modernist texts.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A work filled with breadth, depth, and savvy."--Regina Barreca, University of Connecticut
"A fresh, confident new voice in the field of twentieth-century literary studies--one that deserves close critical attention for its intelligence, mastery over sources, and sense of humor."--Kristin Bluemel, Monmouth University
"Lisa Colletta expands our understanding of literary and cultural modernism in this insightful and trenchant study of dark humor in twentieth century British literature between the world wars. In refreshingly readable prose that is both lively and penetrating, Colletta's probing analysis of the novels of Virginia Woolf, Ivy Compton Burnett, Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell reveals that the comedic mode, however anarchic and subversive, is crucial for the survival of the individual, and never more so than during periods of social turbulence. In her exploration of the work of British novelists who mock the modernist 'ideal Joycean god-artist objectively paring his fingernails,' Colletta illuminates their conviction that laughter in the face of despair is an effective antidotes to a bleak and soul-destroying social order."--Wendy Martin, Claremont Graduate Universtiy
"Lisa Colletta's Dark Humor and Social Satire in the Modern British Novel finally fills a gap in literary criticism. It intriguingly combines a literary study of humor with modernism, and does not shy from investigating authors such as Powell and Waugh who have so far been largely avoided by modernist scholars. The book not only offers a valuable psychological framework of 'humor' but also provides a compelling reading of Woolf, Compton-Burnett, Waugh and Powell. It is a tour de force that ought to be compulsory reading for anyone interested in literary modernism."--Christine Berberich, Managing Editor, Modernism/Modernity
"To the extent that dark comedy is a useful category, however, Lisa Colletta has made a significant contribution to understanding it, especially in relation to Modernism"--John Morreall, Humor 2005

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230254527
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 10/1/2003
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Revised edition
  • File size: 214 KB

Meet the Author

Lisa Colletta, a writer and scholar from Southern California, is Assistant Professor of English at Babson College in Massachusetts. She has published on the work of I. Compton-Burnett, D.H. Lawrence, and John Fowles and is co-editor of Wild colonial Girl: Essays on Edna O'Brien. She is currently editing the letters of Christopher Isherwood to his mother and is at work on a book examining British novelists in Hollywood, entitled Voluntary Novelists in Hollywood, 1935-65.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Modernism and Dark Humor 1
1 Comedy Theory, the Social Novel, and Freud 17
2 Criticizing the Social System: Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf's Dark Comedy of Manners 37
3 The Dark Domestic Vision of Ivy Compton-Burnett: A House and Its Head 59
4 The Too, Too Bogus World: Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies 81
5 Astolpho Meets Sisyphus: Melancholy and Repetition in Anthony Powell's Afternoon Men 103
Notes 127
Bibliography 145
Index 151
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