Today’s literary blog hop from The Blue Bookcase, can literature be funny? What is your favorite humorous literary book? If you want to participate in this blog hop, grab the button above or go to The Blue Bookcase and play along at home.
Yes, absolutely literature can be funny. What makes something literature to me is that it does a superior job at conveying the human experience. Thank goodness laughter and humor are part of the human experience, so literature should be able to do that. Some of my favorite literature is not at all afraid of humor. I think of the scene where Ishmael and Queequeg share a bed in Moby Dick. In The Catcher in the Rye, you have to laugh at Holden sometimes, even though he’s not laughing at himself (which quite frankly, is part of his problem and the problem of many of us as teenagers). Of course, Jane Austen loved to lighten up her literature with laughable characters and laughable situations. And Mark Twain could never stay away from humor. I think, in fact, my favorite literature doesn’t shy away from humor. I could never quite get into Faulkner, and at least to me, he appears to be absolutely humorless. When you’re completely humorless, you just seem to be taking yourself a bit too seriously to me. People find humor even in the most horrible of circumstances, and so should literature.
So, I’d say I have two favorite humorous literary works. The first is recent, and probably one of my new favorite books of all time…Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson. Serious stuff going on in that novel, but it’s also quite funny. And clearly, the humor is central. My other favorite would be Small Island by Andrea Levy, another book I seem to come back to in my blog hops quite a bit. Also some very serious things going on in this novel, but Levy points us towards the humor in her characters’ lives and situation. This makes her portrayal of the discrimination faced by Jamaican immigrants to England after World War II more realistic for me.
What do you think? Can great literature be funny? Laugh out loud, rolling in the aisles, funny, or just quiet, restrained giggles funny?