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The Malcontents: The Best Bitter, Cynical, and Satirical Writing in the World

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Popular satirist Joe Queenan proves that cynicism in literature flourished long before Generation X in this acerbic compendium of the best classic satirical writing from the last several centuries, as well as from Ancient Greece. The collection encompasses essays, short stories, plays, and novels, with Queenan's insightful biographies of each featured writer. Selections include engaging, readable works by early wits ranging from Oscar Wilde to Mark Twain, and excerpts from The Prince by Machiavelli; "A Modest ...

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Overview

Popular satirist Joe Queenan proves that cynicism in literature flourished long before Generation X in this acerbic compendium of the best classic satirical writing from the last several centuries, as well as from Ancient Greece. The collection encompasses essays, short stories, plays, and novels, with Queenan's insightful biographies of each featured writer. Selections include engaging, readable works by early wits ranging from Oscar Wilde to Mark Twain, and excerpts from The Prince by Machiavelli; "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift; "Justine" by the Marquis de Sade; as well as works by Rabelais, Moliere, Ben Johnson, Aristophanes, George Bernard Shaw, Jane Austen, and other wits.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
It's no surprise that, as he claims in his thoughtful and witty introduction, humorist Queenan (Balsamic Dreams) relished the opportunity to pore over and select the hilarious and sometimes disturbing works in this anthology. As he points out, "One of the great pleasures in reading books that are hundreds and even thousands of years old is in discovering how little the targets of the satirist have changed over the centuries." The buffoonery and sometimes depravity of such targets are on full display in this volume, which features 30 works by 19 authors and includes such classics as "A Modest Proposal," Candide, and shorter pieces by Mark Twain and Flann O'Brien. Gargantua and Pantagruel and Don Quixote rollick through brief selections as well. Queenan makes a good case for the less obvious choices rounding out the collection, notably Machiavelli's The Prince and de Sade's Justine, but he fails to link the ancient with the contemporary: the last half-century of bitter and cynical writing goes disappointingly ignored. And yet, though heavily weighted toward "classic satire," this anthology is likely the best of its kind to date. Recommended for all libraries.-Christopher Tinney, Brooklyn, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762416974
  • Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Pages: 1056
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 8.83 (h) x 1.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Joe Queenan is the author of seven books as well as a writer-at-large for GQ, a contributing editor at Movieline, and a columnist for the New York Times and Forbes. He lives in Tarrytown, New York.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 13
Aristophanes (c. 447-388 b.c.)
Biographical Essay 26
The Birds 29
Juvenal (c. 55 to 60-C. 127 a.d.)
Biographical Essay 71
"Satire I" 75
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)
Biographical Essay 84
The Prince 880
Francois Rabelais (1495?-1553)
Biographical Essay 159
Selections from Gargantua and Pantagruel 163
Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)
Biographical Essay 168
Selections from Don Quixote 172
Ben Jonson (1573-1637)
Biographical Essay 198
Volpone 202
Moliere (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) (1622-1673)
Biographical Essay 323
The Bourgeois Gentleman 326
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
Biographical Essay 391
"A Modest Proposal" 395
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
Biographical Essay 403
The Rape of the Lock 406
Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet) (1694-1778)
Biographical Essay 432
Candide 436
Marquis de Sade (Comte Donatien-Alphonse-Francois de Sade) (1740-1814)
Biographical Essay 517
An Excerpt from Justine: Or The Misfortunes of Virtue 520
Jane Austen (1775-1817)
Biographical Essay 538
Lady Susan 542
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (1809-1852)
Biographical Essay 597
"The Nose" 600
Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) (1835-1910)
Biographical Essay 622
"English as She Is Taught" 627
"Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses" 641
"Marjorie Fleming, the Wonder Child" 652
"In Defense of Harriet Shelley" 665
"A Medieval Romance" 703
"The Story of the Good Little Boy" 709
"The Grateful Poodle" and Sequel 713
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
Biographical Essay 715
"Killed at Resaca" 719
"Oil of Dog" 724
"An Imperfect Conflagration" 727
"My Favorite Murder" 730
"The Boarded Window" 737
"The Lion and the Thorn" 741
"A Revolt of the Gods" 741
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Biographical Essay 744
The Picture of Dorian Gray 748
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Biographical Essay 916
Mrs. Warren's Profession 920
Saki (Hector Hugh Munro) (1870-1916)
Biographical Essay 1001
"The Reticence of Lady Anne" 1004
"The Quest" 1006
"Shock Tactics" 1011
"Hyacinth" 1015
"Tobermory" 1020
Flann O'Brien (Brian O'Nolan) (1911-1966)
Biographical Essay 1028
Selections from the Irish Times 1032
Acknowledgments 1050
Editor's Biography 1053
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