parody and the rise of the novel

parody and the rise of the novel

How did parody help advance English Literature in general and the Novel in particular?

The word “parody” comes from ancient Greek theater, and it translates as “beside” ( para ) “song” ( ode ) —that is, roughly, “this song must be understood beside that one.”

Viktor Borisovich Shklovsky ( Russian critic and writer)

The work of art arises from a background of other works and through association with them. The form of a work of art is defined by its relation to other works of art to forms existing prior to it… Not only parody [parody, by the way, is a very, very broad term in Russian formalist thought, in a way simply meaning change--that is to say, the way in which one text inevitably riffs on another text in elaborating its own devices and emphases and in search of a new kind of dominance], but also any kind of work of art is created parallel to and opposed to some kind of form. The purpose of new form is not to express new content, but to change an old form which has lost its aesthetic quality [that is to say, lost its power to defamiliarize, lost its power to take the film away from our eyes].

parody and the rise of the novel

How did parody help advance English Literature in general and the Novel in particular?

Viktor Borisovich Shklovsky ( Russian critic and writer)

The work of art arises from a background of other works and through association with them. The form of a work of art is defined by its relation to other works of art to forms existing prior to it… Not only parody [parody, by the way, is a very, very broad term in Russian formalist thought, in a way simply meaning change--that is to say, the way in which one text inevitably riffs on another text in elaborating its own devices and emphases and in search of a new kind of dominance], but also any kind of work of art is created parallel to and opposed to some kind of form. The purpose of new form is not to express new content, but to change an old form which has lost its aesthetic quality [that is to say, lost its power to defamiliarize, lost its power to take the film away from our eyes].

Other important material can be found here:

http://robsonhall.ca/mlj/images/Articles/33v2/reynolds.pdf

I quoted some of it for your consideration. Please try to have a look at your convenience.

Although parody is  popularly conceived of as “a specific work of humorous or mocking intent, which imitates the work of an individual  author or artist, genre or style, so as to make it appear ridiculous”, this conception is not definitive. Other  conceptions of parody exist. Some have adopted the view that the object of criticism can be something other than  the work being parodied. Others do not insist upon criticism at all.

Some conceptions of parody, however, do not insist upon the critique being performed at the “expense of the  parodied text.” Instead, the parodist can use the parodied text to critique something other than the work itself.  Parodies that “involve the use of [a] text to comment upon something quite different,” such as “artistic traditions, styles…genres” or society, have been referred to as “weapon” parodies.

The majority of works to which words for parody are attached by the ancients, and which are still known to us in whole or in part,  suggest that parody was understood as being humorous in the sense of producing effects characteristic of the comic, and that if aspects

of ridicule or mockery were present these were additional to its other functions and were co-existent with the parody’s ambivalent renewal of its target or targets.

B.  Importance of parody …

Parody has been derided by some as parasitical; critiqued by others as being “broadly conservative in the way that it constantly monitors and ridicules the formally innovative”;

and condemned by nineteenth century English novelist  George Eliot for “[debasing]  the moral currency… and recklessly threaten[ing] the very fabric of civilisation by  ridiculing the precious cultural safeguards which are its highest achievements in art and literature.”

However, both critical and non-critical parodies can be seen as promoting the fundamental values underlying  the constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression, “including the search for political, artistic and scientific  truth, the protection of individual autonomy and self-development, and the promotion of public participation in the  democratic process.”

Critical parodies can be used to mock, among other political targets, politicians, policy positions, speeches, and  political parties. Through ridicule, the faults in these targets can be exposed, giving individuals the opportunity to reevaluate their political beliefs and assumptions. Non-critical parodies, however, can also serve in the search for political truth. A parody characterized by admiration of the specific policy ideas of a politician, for instance, can  bring those ideas to the attention of a broader section of the population. This gives individuals the opportunity to  evaluate and engage with these policy ideas, and potentially adopt them as part of their political ethos. As well, the  presentation, through parody, of a political figure’s  laudable characteristics (for instance the ability to act in a  bipartisan manner) conveys the impression that those characteristics are highly valued and should be adopted by  other figures in the political world. A reverential parody can also convey the impression that a certain politician  should be the model upon which other public figures strive to mold themselves.

As a result, both critical and non-critical parodies provide significant social benefits….

The search for artistic truth can also be advanced through non-critical parodies. Critical parodies can aid in this search by ridiculing or  tearing down certain commonly accepted artistic conventions, figures, or works, thereby  creating opportunities for new artists to produce their works unencumbered by the weight of the past. Non-critical  parodies, on the other hand, can aid in the search for artistic truth by emphasizing a work’s admirable and

praiseworthy characteristics, an artist’s unique style, or the appeal of a certain movement, helping create a beacon to  which other artists can direct their efforts.

Sociolinguist Mary Louise Pratt identifies parody as one of the “arts of the contact zone,” a social space “where  cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such  as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today.” Through  parodies, marginalised groups appropriate and adapt “pieces of the representational repertoire of the invaders.” In  so doing, parody acts as a tool of self-development, helping marginalised or oppressed groups achieve autonomy from  more empowered cultures. This imitation or ironic inversion need not be couched in the form of criticism.

Critical parodies can promote public participation in the democratic process. For instance, a parody which  ridicules a work or an individual could spur the public, through anger or dismay, to engage in the democratic process in order to create opposition to that work or individual. However, non-critical parodies can also promote this value.

Parodies of individuals, works, or social movements characterized by admiration and reverence could inspire the  population to engage in the democratic process in order to provide support to those individuals, works, or social  movements.

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