Friday, March 4, 2011

Histories, Tragedies & Comedies.

Literary Blog Hop: March 3-6

Can literature be funny? What is your favourite humorous literary book? is the question penned this time from the ladies of The Blue Bookcase ( Gilion from Rose City Reader ).

My answer to this is an resounding Yes, I mean where do you start – Don Quixote parts 1&2 (1605 – 1615), a 17th century Spitting Image sketch stretched to book length & a tale that had the Spanish developing severe bladder problems because of it’s cruelly funny take on the novels of chivalry, or how about “The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel” a connected series of five novels written in the 16th century by Fran├žois Rabelais. A story of two giants, a father (Gargantua) and his son (Pantagruel) and their adventures, written in an amusing, extravagant, satirical vein. The text features much crudity, scatological humour and violence. Lists of explicit or vulgar insults fill several chapters, and is very very funny.

Readers, friends, if you turn these pages
Put your prejudice aside,
For, really, there's nothing here that's outrageous,
Nothing sick, or bad — or contagious.
Not that I sit here glowing with pride
For my book: all you'll find is laughter:
That's all the glory my heart is after,
Seeing how sorrow eats you, defeats you.
I'd rather write about laughing than crying,
For laughter makes men human, and courageous


How about possibly the greatest stand up comedian, that never was, the 17th centuries  Lenny Bruce, Dave Allen & Alexei Sayle,  rolled into one vicious satirical comic master…….Ladies and gentlemen may I introduce you to, Francois-Marie Arouet (1694 – 1778), ok so he went under the stage name of Voltaire and is best known nowadays for Candide, a  fantastic tale of human folly and parody, yet a glance through his other works reveal the same humour, my personal favourite is the Philosophical Dictionary. Jump forward a few centuries and you have Thomas Pynchon, his works are full of characters that are  works of comic genius (Benny Profane-V), also Italo Calvino, I recently read & posted on If on a winters Night, A traveller, and was amazed at how funny it was, the sheer audacity of his writing and the way he played with the readers idea of a book. So Yes Literature can be funny, sometimes even the authors, that are considered SERIOUS, DIFFICULT, GENIUSES write funny books, not all but enough.



Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

No, I'm sorry to tell you this, but Literature is not funny. Literature is Serious. I consulted an expert.

Anonymous said...

I can see this wasn't hard for you to answer. You've left me with a lot of titles to ponder. You should really just read one Jane Austen.

Sayeth said...

I'm glad you mention Pynchon. I didn't realize that The Calling of Lot 49 was supposed to be funny until I was 1/4 of the way through. I liked it much better once I was in on the joke.

Anonymous said...

Voltaire sure was a comic genius. If I loved his style of humor. I wonder what sort of stand up comedian he would have made?

Anonymous said...

Good call on Don Quixote. That's what I posted about, one of the funniest books out there. I haven't read any of the others, however. Will have to look for them.

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

Old follower here. You're the second person who has mentioned Don Quixote for this hop. Clearly I'm mis-remembering the Cervantes of my youth! My answers include the oft-mentioned Pride & Prejudice as well as some contemporary writers like Jim Harrison and Jonathan Tropper.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Deb Nance, Experts, schmexperts, paid opinionators;-)

Hi Bookbelle, have tried Austen, I'm english my life is awash with her cultural reference's whether book, tv drama, film etc. Austen has invaded my learning years, my leisure space, even the inner recesses of my dreamstate, but I just don't get it, I know it's my fault, Have sought treatment, begged forgiveness, even once dated a girl that looked like a character from an Austen drama. But to no avail, sorry.

Hello listener. people seem frightened of certain authors & their reputations Pynchon, Calvino, to name but 2. The amazing thing is how funny such writers are,Calvino's novel, if on a winters night, has all the proper tags following it- postmodern, metafiction,self-reflexive etc, but the one missing was Damned funny.

Hi Dragonfly419, probably political satire with excursions into the surreal.

Hi pete, Yes i remember that review of yours, one of the first i read, if you loved cervantes you'll probably feel the same about Rabalais, Scatological humour flows in both books.

Hello Old follower,beyond personal experience remembering the poo humour etc in Cervantes, here's a quote from a fantastic little book that I mentioned a few posts back-
"The idea of Quixote as a tragic idealist would have baffled 17th century spaniards who read Don Quixote as just a cruelly funny book, in fact the image of the "crazy Knight" became a popular figure in the court masques of Spain,England & France".It was generally seen as a cruel spoof on the chivalry novels that were doing the rounds back then.(A very short introduction to Spanish Literature- Jo Labanyi)also any book with poo jokes in it is on some level humerous.
thanks for the contemporary writers suggestions will look them up.

Anonymous said...

I agree with cervantes ,Saki was very funny ,murakami has a dry humour at times ,all the best stu

Sharon Wilfong said...

Excellent blog and many interesting book reviews. Glad I stopped by. I love folklore and mythololgy from every country and I see you like eastern literature as well. I'm glad to know that somewhere across an ocean I'm in good company!

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Stu, how the hell did I forget Murakami. say hi to winston.

Hello Sharon, Thank you & welcome,I'm a great fan of literature, regardless of where it comes from, at the moment I seem to be obsessing eastwards, but that is subject to chance, whim & my own foibles.

James said...

We must think along the same lines as I have Gargantua and Pantagruel as my favorite. Great choice!

Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

Great pick. So many people chose Don Quixote, but it intimidates me. I definitely have to check it out this year. :)

Anonymous said...

Your picks are right on the money. I love Calvino's sense of humor.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi James, yes I think we had the same idea, start at the source.

Hello Kinna, that was the thing I was most amazed about you had all the usual comments, about difficulty, about postmodernism etc. but never how funny.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi James, yes I think we had the same idea, start at the source.

Hello Kinna, that was the thing I was most amazed about you had all the usual comments, about difficulty, about postmodernism etc. but never how funny.

Em said...

Oooch! That's how late I am on my blog-reading. I so can't keep it up at the moment that it's not even funny!