Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Parody vs. Satire

Don Quijote statua and Torre del Oro in background. Sevilla. Spain. Photo. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.
quest.eb.com/search/164_3215895/1/164_3215895/cite. Accessed 2 Jun 2017.
It seems to be a rule of thumb that for every popular book/television show/film, there will exist a parody: The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up begat The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck; Game of Thrones begat Game of Groans; Fifty Shades of Grey begat Fifty Shames of Earl Grey, etc. Some you might have heard of, some not so much - parody is an ephemeral medium. Now that Downton Abbey is off the air, is there really going to be a lot of demand for Agent Gates and the Secret Adventures of Devonton Abbey? Probably not. But it just shows the impact these items had on pop culture that someone got paid to create a parody of them.  

There's also a market for children's books reworked for adult eyes, like Go the F*ck to Sleep and Goodnight iPad (sometimes challenging for our shelvers, as they appear to be actual children's books at first glance). Some publishers, like Quirk Books and Harvard Lampoon, regularly skewer classics and bestsellers - The Meowmorphosis and Android Karenina in the first case, The Hunger Pains and Bored of the Rings in the second. Some filmmakers, like Mel Brooks and Monty Python, have made a career of parody.

Satire is related to parody, with a slight but important difference. Cliffs Notes has this to say about satire: "...[it] is intended to do more than just entertain; it tries to improve humanity and its institutions. A satire is a literary work that tries to arouse the reader's disapproval of an object — a vice, an abuse, a faulty belief — by holding it up to ridicule." Or, to quote Publishers Weekly, "You can aim it at governments, you can aim it at institutions. You can aim it at bureaucracies, businesses, special interests, religions and of course at individuals. Any place where hypocrisy and vice lurk – and where don’t they lurk?" A very famous and biting early satire is Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal.

Satire or parody - which would you rather read? Have you read any you'd particularly recommend? Let us know in the comments! Or, check out some parodies and satires from the library catalog:


Confessions of a Teen Sleuth: A Parody by Chelsea Cain

The Autobiography of James T. Kirk: The Story of Starfleet's Greatest Captain by James T. Kirk

You & Me by Padgett Powell

Redshirts by John Scalzi 

Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones (J) [eBook]

An Apology For the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews by Henry Fielding

Want more? Try a subject search of  "Parodies, imitations."

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The Master and the Margarita by  Mikhail Bulgakov

Look Who's Back by Timur Vernes

Slaughterhouse-Five, or, The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison [eBook; basis for Soylent Green]

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway 

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

The Trial by Franz Kafka 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
 For more, try a subject search of "Satire."

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