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Cover for Comedy After Postmodernism

Comedy After Postmodernism

Rereading Comedy from Edward Lear to Charles Willeford

Kirby Olson


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Is comedy postmodern? Kirby Olson posits that no one has been more marginalized than the comic writer, whose irreverent truths have always made others uncomfortable. In a literary age that purports to champion diversity, comic writers remain an underclass huddling at the fringes of the canon. Olson challenges the status quo by inviting the comic writer into the center of literary debate. In the growing discipline of humor studies, Olson is the first to create a substantial link between the fields of comedy and postmodernism, discovering in comic writers a philosophy of oddness and paradox that parallels and extends the work of the major postmodern thinkers. With elegant clarity, Comedy After Post-modernism examines: Edward Lear as he invents a comic picturesque to challenge the sublime of Kant and Ruskin Gregory Corso as he explodes the Great Chain of Being of his early Catholicism Philippe Soupault as a comic surrealist undoing the sacrificial aesthetics of Andr Breton P.G. Wodehouse as a social thinker with surprisingly deep affinities to anarchist Peter Kropotkin and radical social theorist Charles Fourier Stewart Home, the infamously violent punk author, as a pacifist whose narrative questions Marxist-anarchist terrorism in favor of patience and tolerance Charles Willeford, the maestro of the black humor police procedural, as a postmodern philosopher who deepens the problems of ethical and aesthetic judgment after postmodernism. "An original, splendidly researched, and necessary book. By pointing to the vast excluded literature of 'comic writers, ' Dr. Olson opens the door to a postmodern scholarship capable of greater flexibility. Comedy After Postmodernism evinces a lucid, passionate, and engaging style." --Andrei Codrescu There was an old man on the Border, Who lived in the utmost disorder; He danced with the cat, and made tea in his hat, Which vexed all the folks on the Border. --From The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear.

Texas Tech University Press, 9780896724402, 184pp.

Publication Date: January 15, 2001