literary genres

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Information about literary genres

Published on June 17, 2007

Author: Crystal


LITERARY GENRESSee also “Gallows Humor”“Satire” and “Parody”:  LITERARY GENRES See also 'Gallows Humor' 'Satire' and 'Parody' by Alleen Pace Nilsen and Don L. F. Nilsen ANALOGIES: GENRES AND SEASONS:  ANALOGIES: GENRES AND SEASONS 1ST: SPRING = COMEDY 2ND: SUMMER = ROMANCE 3RD AUTUMN = TRAGEDY 4TH WINTER = IRONY or SATIRE THEN BACK TO SPRING = COMEDY (Frye 131-139) FRYE’S GREAT CHAIN OF BEING:  FRYE’S GREAT CHAIN OF BEING divine world heavens human world animal world vegetable world mineral world underworld (Frye 141, 158-160) 1ST: SPRING = COMEDY :  1ST: SPRING = COMEDY Comedy is based on an unjust law or tradition which in the end is broken. There is always a complication, but the comedy ends in the reestablishment of the natural order of things, and everybody paired off and living happily ever after. Two sub-genres of Comedy are 'Comedy of Manners' and Comedy of Humors.' SIX STAGES OF COMEDY:  SIX STAGES OF COMEDY 'Purely ironic comedy exhibits this society in its infancy, swaddled and smothered by the society it should replace. Quixotic comedy exhibits it in adolescence, still too ignorant of the ways of the world to impose itself. In the third phase it comes to maturity and triumphs; in the fourth it is already mature and established. In the fifth it is part of a settled order…Its final or sixth phase [involves] the collapse and disintegration of the comic society' (Frye 185). COMEDY OF HUMORS:  COMEDY OF HUMORS The Comedy of Humors goes back to the belief of medieval physiology that human dispositions are based on the balance of the four basic fluids, phlegm, blood, blace bile, and yellow bile. If the balance is not right a person might be phlegmatic, sanguine, or bilious. (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 107) Slide7:  In Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, Oscar Madison’s exaggerated sloppiness is placed in opposition to the meticulousness of Felix Unger. (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 107) In contrast, a Comedy of Manners parodies and satirizes the manners and conventions of high society. COMEDY OF MANNERS:  COMEDY OF MANNERS In Beaumarchais’s The Marriage of Figaro, which was later made into an opera by Mozart, the unjust law was that the Lord of the Manor had the right to take the virginity of any woman marrying one of the Lord’s serfs. The plot of the play revolves around how Figaro and his bride repeatedly outwit the Lord of the Manor until the couple is married and the Lord no is no longer entitled to this priveledge. (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 107) Slide9:  In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, the unjust law relates to the pound of flesh that Shylock is authorized to receive. Portia, the lawyer, overturns the unjust law by arguing that while Shylock may be allowed to take his pound of flesh, he cannot shed one drop of blood in obtaining it. (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 107) COMEDY BECOMES TRAGEDY:  COMEDY BECOMES TRAGEDY The line which changes Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet from a comedy to a tragedy was spoken by Mercutio (a mercurial figure). When Mercutio is wounded in a sword fight Romeo says, 'Courage, man, the hurt cannot be much,' Slide11:  and Mercutio responds, 'No, ‘tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door, but ‘tis enough, ‘twill serve.' 'Ask for me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man.' (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 309) ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES :  ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES COMEDY OF HUMORS: Canterbury Tales, Little Women, 'The Owl and the Nightingale,' The Taming of the Shrew COMEDY OF MANNERS: The Importance of Being Ernest, The Rivals (with Mrs. Malaprop) 2ND: SUMMER = ROMANCE:  2ND: SUMMER = ROMANCE The Romance 'presents an idealized world, the black-and-white world of our desires, where good things are really good, and bad things are really bad. The Romance involves the Journey, and the Journey involves the Hero, the Villain, the Quest, the Sage, the Prohibition, the Sacrifice, the Dragon, the Treasure, and sometimes the rescue of the Maiden. The epiphany (mountain top, tower, island, lighthouse, ladder, staircase, Jack’s beanstalk, Rapunzel’s hair, Indian rope trick etc.) connects Heaven and Earth' (Frye 203). EXAMPLES OF ROMANCE:  EXAMPLES OF ROMANCE The Divine Comedy, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Lord of the Rings, Paradise Lost 3RD AUTUMN = TRAGEDY:  3RD AUTUMN = TRAGEDY Tragedy is the opposite of comedy in that the happiness appears at the beginning or the middle. Somebody is privileged, but with a fatal flaw, usually an obsession and hubris which causes the downfall. EXAMPLES OF TRAGEDY:  EXAMPLES OF TRAGEDY The Great Gatsby, Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Romeo and Juliet 4TH WINTER = SATIRE :  4TH WINTER = SATIRE 'Satire demands at least a token fantasy (Utopia and Dystopia), a content which the reader recognizes as grotesque, and at least an implicit moral standard' (Frye 224). EXAMPLES OF SATIRE:  EXAMPLES OF SATIRE HORATIAN SATIRE (mild and amusing): Animal Farm, Brave New World, Gulliver’s Travels, Little Big Man, Lysistrata, Screwtape Letters JUVENALIAN SATIRE (harsh and bitter): 1984, Clockwork Orange, Fahrenheit 451, Lord of the Flies, A Modest Proposal 4TH WINTER = IRONY:  4TH WINTER = IRONY 'Whenever a reader is not sure what the author’s attitude is or what his own is supposed to be, we have irony with relatively little satire' (Frye 223). EXAMPLES OF IRONY OR GALLOWS HUMOR:  EXAMPLES OF IRONY OR GALLOWS HUMOR Catch 22, Catcher in the Rye, Fargo, The Loved One, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Portnoy’s Complaint, Pulp Fiction, Slaughterhouse 5, The World according to Garp ADDITIONAL GENRES:  ADDITIONAL GENRES Other genres of literature include the following: Benign Humor, the Bildungsroman, the Cautionary Tale, the Doppelganger Genre, Erotic Humor, Fantasy Humor, Gothic Humor, the Metamorphosis Genre, Parody, the Picaresque Novel, Pourquoi Stories, and Vernacular Humor BENIGN HUMOR:  BENIGN HUMOR Benign Humor is non-threatening. It is a mild type of satire with much word play. Examples of Benign Humor include Alice in Wonderland, the Bertie Wooster and Jeeves novels, Peter Rabbit, Through the Looking Glass, The Wind and the Willows, and Winnie the Pooh. BILDUNGSROMAN:  BILDUNGSROMAN In a Bildungsroman, the character grows. Examples of Bildungsroman novels include Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, The Chocolate War, I Am the Cheese, and Moll Flanders. CAUTIONARY TALE:  CAUTIONARY TALE A Cautionary Tale tells us what not to do. Examples of Cautionary Tales include Aesop’s Fables, The Bidpai Tales, Coyote Stories, La Fontaine’s Fables, Uncle Remus Stories and Urban Legends. DOPPELGANGER GENRE:  DOPPELGANGER GENRE The Doppelganger Genre concentrates on a single character with two personalities, or two characters with a single personality. Examples of the Doppelganger Genre include Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde, Pride and Prejudice, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Sense and Sensibility, and 'Tweedledum and Tweedledee.' EROTIC HUMOR:  EROTIC HUMOR Erotic Humor is sexy. Examples of Erotic Humor include Fear of Flying, Leaves of Grass, Lolita, and Tom Jones, …and others too numerous to mention. FANTASY HUMOR:  FANTASY HUMOR Fantasy Humor requires a special suspension of disbelief, and includes the genre of Science Fiction. Examples of Fantasy Humor include Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Jungle Book, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Peter Pan, The Adventures of Walter Mitty, and The Wizard of Oz. GOTHIC HUMOR:  GOTHIC HUMOR Gothic Humor occurs in haunted houses or in mysterious caves. It is a dark and stormy night, and many of the sights and sounds are mysterious and threatening. Examples of Gothic Humor include Dracula, Frankenstein, The House of Usher, Northanger Abbey, The Langaleers, and Wuthering Heights. METAMORPHOSIS HUMOR:  METAMORPHOSIS HUMOR Metamorphosis Humor always results in a miraculous transformation. Examples of Metamorphosis Humor include Faust, Metamorphosis, My Fair Lady, Pinnochio, and Pygmalion. PARODY:  PARODY Parody mimics and exaggerates the style of the original. Examples of Parody include Byron’s Don Juan, Fables for our Times, 'Humpty Dumpty a la Poe,' The Rape of the Lock and 'Twinkle Twinkle, Little Bat.' THE PICARESQUE NOVEL:  THE PICARESQUE NOVEL A Picaresque Novel is a mock quest done by a Picaro who doesn’t have any money, power, or prestige. This Picaro lives by his wits as he encounters various powerful eccentrics in his episodic adventures. Examples of Picaresque Novels include Don Quixote, Huckleberry Finn, and Pickwick Papers. Slide32:  Mark Twain, who wrote picaresque novels, said there are five important qualities of this genre: A well-developed main character with whom readers can identify A limited number of other interesting characters who provide the humor as they interact with the protagonist. An episodic picaresque plot in which the protagonist is on a journey. Slide33:  4. Spacing out the humor as comic relief for the treatment of thought-provoking and significant issues such as questions related to slavery, racism, religion and morality. 5. Interesting dialogue from a variety of voices and attitudes. (Nilsen andamp; Nilsen 123) !POURQUOI STORIES:  !POURQUOI STORIES Pourquoi Stories explain how the world works. Examples of Pourquoi Stories include the Anansi Tales from Africa, the Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill stories from the United States. !!VERNACULAR HUMOR:  !!VERNACULAR HUMOR Vernacular Humor is written the way people actually talk, using colloquial language, and eye dialect, such as 'iz' and 'wuz.' Examples of Vernacular Humor include Innocents Abroad, A Tramp Abroad, and anything written by Mark Twain or Charles Dickens, but nothing written by James Fennimore Cooper. !!!AMERICAN LITERATURE WEB SITES:  !!!AMERICAN LITERATURE WEB SITES AMERICAN HUMOR STUDIES ASSOCIATION OF MLA (DAVID SLOANE): JACK GANTOS: PHILIP ROTH SOCIETY (DEREK ROYAL) Slide37:  References 1: Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957. Gale, Stephen. Encyclopedia of American Humorists. New York, NY: Garland, 1988. Hudson, Barbara. 'Sociolinguistic Analysis of Dialogues and First-Person Narratives in Fiction' in Language: Readings in Language and Culture, 6th Edition. Eds. Virginia Clark, Paul Eschholz, and Alfred Rosa. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1998, 740-748. Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. Encyclopedia of 20th Century American Humor. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 2000. Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen.'Irony.' Comedy: A Geographic and Historical Guide (Co-Author: Alleen Pace Nilsen). Ed. Maurice Charney. Westport, CT: Praeger/Greenwood Press, 2005, 394-409. Slide38:  References 2: Nilsen, Don L. F. Humor in British Literature from the Middle Ages to the Restoration: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997. Nilsen, Don L. F. Humor in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century British Literature: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998. Nilsen, Don L. F. Humor in Irish Literature: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996. Nilsen, Don L. F. Humor in Twentieth-Century British Literature: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000. Slide39:  References # 3: Sloane, David E. E. Mark Twain as a Literary Comedian. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1979. Sloane, David E. E. New Directions in American Humor. Birmingham, AL: Univ of Alabama Press, 1998. Trachtenberg, Stanley, ed. Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 11: American Humorists. Detroit, MI: Bruccoli Clark/Gale Research, 1982.

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