Thursday, March 10, 2011

Literary Blog Hop: How Funny!

Literary Blog Hop

Every other Thursday, The Blue Bookcase hosts a "Literary Blog Hop" for blogs "that primarily feature reviews of literary fiction, classic literature, and general literary discussion." 

I'm a week late for the latest Hop because I missed the post last week while traveling for work. Drat! I hate it when work interferes with my hobbies!

But I am going to jump on this bandwagon even if I am a week late, because they used my question. Each week, in addition to hopping around and visiting some terrific book blogs, participants answer a bookish question. My question was:

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

Lucia answered for the BB crew and made a good case for Pride and Prejudice.  Good choice.  P&P is definitely witty, even if it isn't laugh out loud funny.

I definitely think that good literature can be funny.  Even early on, novels could be humorous. Tristram Shandy, for example, is hilarious -- just where was Uncle Toby wounded in the war?

There are plenty of good writers who leaven their literature with humor, such as Charles Dickens, who often had funny people doing and saying funny things.  David Lodge and Jim Harrison are contemporary examples.  They rely less on the verbal sight gags of Dickens, and more on characters saying and thinking funny things. 

Then there are authors who make good literature out of humor.  P. G. Wodehouse was the king of this.  His plots were minimal and repetitive.  He used the same characters over and over -- even if they had different names, they were recycled from other books.  But no one can be so clever and so nimble with words without writing well.  He was so good at what he did that he made it look easy, but it is the most difficult writing there is.

If I had to pick one favorite funny book -- and I do, since I wrote the question -- it would be Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis.  He is known for the humor in his books, but Lucky Jim is his best known and most popular.  It is the book that made me realize that literature could make you laugh.  I still get a chuckle out of his description of a hangover feeling like a large raw egg yolk rolling around inside his head.

There's my answer.  Better late than never.  Now I'll go hop around and see what other examples people came up with.  And please leave suggestions in comments.



  1. I think lierature can be funny, too. I loved P & P. there were places, especially things that Father said that made me chuckle!

    Feel free to link with my post on Lone Star Noir. It's here:

  2. Perhaps I find life itself funnier than I realized, because quite a bit of literature is at least amusing.

    Besides Pride & Prejudice (well, all of Austen), parts of Dickens and P.G. Wodehouse, George Eliot tickles my funny bone right now. Thackeray is quite sly in Vanity Fair and Henry Fielding could turn an amusing phrase. More modern, E.F. Benson's Mapp & Lucia books are very funny, while dear Barbara Pym is quietly amusing in an more Austenesque manner.

  3. Tristram Shandy-great answer-takes me in the way back machine!

    I would to be sure you have this

    I would like to invite you to consider participating in

    Irish Short Story Week-3/14 to 3/20

  4. Yesssss! When I saw the question, I immediately thought Lucky Jim! Tristram Shandy, and Lucky Jim.

    Twelve or thirteen years ago, I gave a copy of LJ to my dad. It disappeared for a few years, until my mom picked it off the shelf. When she finished, she called me: "It's the story of your life!" she said. "Yep," I said. And from then on, she understood why I dropped out of academic life.


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