Thursday, March 3, 2011

Literary Blog Hop: Laughable Literature

Literary Blog Hop

No, that doesn't mean literature to be mocked; rather, it means literature that makes you laugh, which is the topic of this week's Literary Blog Hop, hosted by The Blue Bookshelf.  More specifically, the question is:

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

Honestly, I found this to be a rather odd question to which my initial response was, Why couldn't literature be funny?  But I suppose that that's not a very productive answer, so I will say a bit more.

First off, yes.  Literature can be funny.  "Literature" and "classics" don't need to be the stuffy spectacles that you remember from high school English.  Perhaps literature tends to be a bit more serious than, say, (okayI'mhavingtroublethinkingoffunnybooksstallingstallingstalling) The Bathroom Reader (which really never was very fun and did not inspire to linger on the toilet for as long as the title would suggest).  That said, literature tends embody writing that is more - sophisticated, perhaps?  Clever?  Multifaceted?  And why can't one of those facets be humor?  I for one am a big fan of subtle humor, especially when layered in with not-so-humorous circumstances.

Examples, examples...  The first that comes to mind is Pride and Prejudice.  This is probably a pretty common one; in fact, it was mentioned by Lucia in the title post, and with good reason: there are bits that are laugh-out-loud hilarious, and they're not particularly rare.  For those who don't see the humor, I recommend that you watch the BBC version of the movie.  It's very true to the book (so true, in fact, that it's six hours long) but it'll really help you catch the comedy.  This was my first Austen novel and I will admit that I found it perfectly free of hilarity until I heard the humor and realized that it was there all along.

I'm currently reading Silas Marner, in which George Eliot uses humor in a similar way: it's slightly mocking in tone and doesn't around with bells and a banner that says "I am funny, hear me chuckle!"  However, I've laughed out loud a few times already, and I'm only halfway through.

There are endless examples, but I won't ramble.  What literary works do you find humorous?


  1. I think most literature is funny, at least in part. I think Eliot definitely has her moments, although not as many as her contemporary Dickens.

    See my hop here:

  2. i found the question kind of odd too, but unlike you i didn't find the strength to go ahead and answer it. i think the idea that literature isn't funny mainly comes from people who don't read; of COURSE literature can be funny, maybe not in a bathroom humor sort of way, but i think there are a lot of works of literature that are loved precisely because there's an undercurrent of humor in them. like you write, i think austen is funny; also nabokov, voltaire's candide, swift's gulliver's travels, charles portis, and a whole bunch of other books i'll probably spend the rest of the day thinking of.

    -- ellen

  3. Very thoughtful post, but I must disagree with you. Literature is NOT funny. Do you ever see any really Literary People laughing? Do any Literary People, for example, watch The Three Stooges? No, sadly. Literary People may snicker, but there is no real laughter.

    Here's my post for this week's Literary Blog Hop:

  4. I was with you and thought 'of course literature is funny'. I agree with other bloggers who say humor is subjective but there are funny literary books for everyone. I think A Christmas Carol is funny and much more than I would have assumed without reading it.

  5. there is a fantastic amount of books considered great literature, that frighten people because they think all the greats must be po-faced. NOT TRUE. Just give them a try & you'll find a whole world of humour, so am in agreement with you.