Tuesday, November 30, 2004

 
What's your favorite funny-profound piece of literature? For me, I think I'd say episode 17 of Ulysses, which I've been thinking a lot about recently anyway. It is both breathtakingly beautiful and humbly itself in all its, its characters', its language's, its author's, limitations. Appropriately enough, it uses those limitations to make transcendent gestures, but contrapuntally also it uses all its formal innovation for humane (i.e. true-human) tasks, which I also admire. This work does not lament, as Flaubert does, at beating time on a log (sic. Does Flaubert say log? or is it a drum?), at the limitations of its range, though it does make the bear dance like a star (and the stars like a bear). Its showboating is showing how its showboating is necessary, not just on a surface-level, but deep through to whatever it is to be read as. That is, it is grown up and measured. And funny, really funny. And complicated. And readable. It is forever readable.

I guess I could have said Ulysses itself, but that seems too large. And I do dwell on this book, though I don't have too much perspective on whether I do in the blog, write about my dwelling much, or not.

Anyway, I don't know if my explication reads like blurbiation, all general and fluff, or if it makes sense, but I figure you all probably have your own opinions on the section anyway. I remain curious as to what works, in your estimation, best hit that sweet spot of funny and profound?

Comments:
Not too far afield from Joyce, my first vote would be Beckett. Probably Endgame or Happy Days, or even more perfectly: Krapp's Last TapeHis novels are funny and serious too, and Watt is hilarious, though mostly unreadable.
 
For whatever reason, "Notes From the Underground", because it is very funny and kind of exasperatingly repulsive/confounding at the same time... By the way I read back your blog and liked your poems very, very much, I think you have a lot of talent, though I'm sure you don't need an online anonymous to tell you that. Cheers,

Ana
 
Without a doubt, Spenser's Sheapeardes Calender and Faery Queene. Hilarious, religious, bawdy, archetypal, allegory at its best. Wow.
 
All those are good ones, definitely; Spenser is the only poet, so far.

Ana, Actually, I can't say I mind hearing praise from an 'anonymous'; it may be the best way to hear them, to tell you the truth! Thank you for your kind words, and I hope you continue to think highly of my writing. I'll be sure to check out your blog as well.
 
What about Berryman? The Dream Songs are everywhere funny and everywhere deadly serious.
 
You're welcome... Anyway, I'll link to you, hope that's OK.
 
Beckett is a great answer. As I read your post, the first thing that came to mind was the Flannery O'Connor short story, "A Good Man is Hard to Find." Must be because I just returned from a week in my hometown in the South.
 
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