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Literary Blog Hop – Literary Humor

March 3, 2011

Literary Blog Hop

Today’s question asks:

Can literature be funny?  What is your favorite humorous literary book?

I keep thinking of a variety of literary books that could be considered humorous.

How about Voltaire’s Candide?  No one can argue with me that this isn’t at least somewhat considered literature.  Now take a look at this scene:

“One day Cunegonde, while walking near the castle, in a little wood which they called a park, saw between the bushes, Dr. Pangloss giving a lesson in experimental natural philosophy to her mother’s chamber-maid, a little brown wench, very pretty and very docile.”

Tell me doesn’t that make you chuckle just a little bit?  I know the reference to “experimental natural philosophy” made me laugh.

If Voltaire’s Candide doesn’t work for you, what about the host of comedies written by Shakespeare.  They are humorous literature.  Think of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.

“I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove; I will roar you, an ’twere any nightingale.”

Or if Shakespeare isn’t your thing I can think of Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers.  That is definitely a piece of humorous literature that I absolutely adore.

“I, monseigneur, knowing that dueling is prohibited—I seized a bench, and gave one of those brigands such a blow that I believe his shoulder is broken.”

BUT my all time favorite piece of comic literature and this is assuming everyone is in agreement that it is literature is Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.  The word play and continual banter in this book make it all the more funny.  It is a classic that I only recently read, but it is one humorous book that I absolutely love and one I would classify as literature.

“And don’t tell me God works in mysterious ways, … nothing so mysterious about it.  He’s not working at all He’s playing. Or else. He’s forgotten all about us.  That’s the kind of God you people talk about — a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited,uncouth hayseed.”

So to answer the first question I think we have a lot of examples out there of humorous literature, but I could be wrong … anyone disagree with me?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2011 1:49 pm

    I absolutely believe there can be funny literary works, though I agree with some other bloggers who have pointed out that humor is subjective so some see humor where others do not. I think Midsummer is a fantastic example of a funny piece of literature!

    • March 3, 2011 3:09 pm

      I agree humor is definitely subjective. Midsummer is definitely a great piece of funny literature 🙂

  2. March 3, 2011 2:53 pm

    Well darn! It seems Catch 22 is the common vote. I’l l get a copy tonight.

  3. March 3, 2011 8:55 pm

    Catch-22 is ridiculous. And I considered writing about Midsummer’s.

    Good idea to include the quotes.

    See my hop here:

    • March 4, 2011 6:34 am

      I love Catch-22. I thought quotes would prove my point a little bit … but then I could only come up with some books off the top of my head and only some quotes that I could remember.

  4. March 4, 2011 3:13 pm

    Voltaire was one of my choices, he uses satire as tho its slapstick, and slapstick is used as a philosophical baseball bat, to batter his point home, and very funny.

  5. March 4, 2011 7:38 pm

    Really Funny things are not Literature, I believe. The Three Stooges. Monty Python. The U.S. economy.

    Here is my post:

  6. March 4, 2011 8:03 pm

    I agree–literature can be funny. It can be funny in a variety of different ways, just as books that might not pass literary muster can be funny in different ways. And not everyone will get the humor every time. Luckily we have variety! (You’ve got great examples here.)

    • March 4, 2011 10:25 pm

      Variety is the spice of life right? Humor is definitely a subjective thing and literature that may not be expected to be funny can end up being quite funny to you.

  7. March 18, 2011 6:20 pm

    I had forgotten Candide is funny, or maybe I didn’t see the humour in it when I read it for school.

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