Humour in Literature

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Humour in Literature

Certain aesthetic comic categories initiate the notion of the effort to overcome definite contradiction. Thus, Kant7F tends to thinks that comical is based on the feeling of nonsense. Laughter is an affection that happens when the expected transforms into nothingness. Schopenhauer thinks that the comical is due to unexpected surprising incongruence between the notion and the real subject. The comical happens because of the swift shifts and due to the failure of our expectation. That solves our throbbing tension. The person that laughs indulges himself in independence, has the freedom to decide, to think, to present, the freedom that he does not possess otherwise. Through humor we gain new fictitious values. This is where all human contradictions emerge. Humor is defense against hardship and a relief from outward pressures. Instead of the sorrow and bitterness of unfulfilled goals or misfortune, humor gives us pleasure.
We should never forget that the goal of humor is to oppose stupidity; also that it has a hedonistic component as well as a desire to entertain. The feeling of humor’s special pleasure, according to Lipps8F, arouses because something important and difficult is expected, but something easy and insignificant happens. So, the unexpected happens, the swift psychical tension turns into a joyful pleasure. Jokes are necessities in life in leisure times. Menander, Plaut, Terentius tend to see all destined caprices courageously and calmly. They propose avoiding desperation, that leads nowhere, and holding tightly to the moments of happiness and merriness. They are know for the proverbs: “We do not live as we want to, but as we can”, “He one who is loved by the gods, dies young”, or “I am human and nothing humanly is strange to me”9F. Plaut, not Hobbes, in his comedies have said, “A man to man is a wolf”. Good comic provokes enjoyment that derives from released psychic energy, and also from the special cognitive contents. The comical, according to Karl Gross10F is intelligence sharpening game as well as a kind of enjoyment. This make us take the position that nothing should be treated too seriously and it is most adequately prepares us for life. According to Pinski11F the main source of the comical is life’s dynamism, the constant changes and cheerful relativity of existence. Laughter both denies and affirms. Spinoza and Rabelais release humor from the affects that darken the recognition. “I constantly try not to ridicule, do not lament, nor despise human deeds, but to understand them” – says Spinoza.
But humor also has Janus’ face, represented in the syntagma black humor. This expression reveals the comical disharmony in certain cruel circumstances or in the features of the characters. Sentimental compassion with the victim is neutralized through black humor, stressing the awareness of the tragic nature and its fate. We find black humor even in Plato’s “Dialogues”12F where Socrates, in a conversation, says that one should not die in windy weather because of the danger of his soul being blown away. Aristophanes often uses black humor. The humor of the Ancient Romans can be defined as crude and prosaic which is an outcome of their practical spirit released from creative ecstasy. In Shakespeare’s dark comedy “The Merchant of Venice” the comical disorder comes out of the cruel anti-Jewish prejudices and Shylock’s responses to them. The comedy culminates when, according to the contract, a pound of human flesh has to be cut off because of bad debts. Dickens’ novels are full of black humor, and also the works of Swift, Marquis De Sade, and Lautrèamont up to the texts of the French surrealists. The notion black humor became a literary term as a result of Breton’s explication of this phenomenon in the introduction of his anthology of black humor compiled in 1939. Black humor is also characteristic for the Russian avant-garde, as well as for part of the prose of Danil Harms, Vladimir Nabokov, Bulgakov, and Schklowsky. George Orwell’s novels “The Animal Farm” and “1984”, and Jaroslav Hašek’s “The Good Soldier” bring forth the picture of the major social transitions through bloody humor. It is evident that this type of humor emerges when men are inferior, in life situations of individual or social destruction and degradation. Black humor, is also maintained in the drama of absurdity in Genet’s “Maids” and “Negroes”, in Becket’s “Happy days”, Ionesco’s “The Bald Singer”, as well as in the films of Bunuel and Fellini. Going through black humor literature we notice that humor does not have a mocking function, but an aspiration to be presented as an intellectual catharsis. Real misfortunes, cruel and tragic truths of human nature and communication have been revealed and purified through humor. It is obvious that the meaningless of things, their emptiness which as an abyss is threatening with facts, make us turn our backs to white humor. But, distant from it, we place ourselves in the highest concept of negative black humor nonsense.

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7. See Kant, Immanuel: Criticism of Pure Reason, Pub. bookstore Gece Kona, Belgrade, 1935, pg. 478
8. Grlić, Danko: Aesthetics, Naprijed, Zagreb, 1974, pg.273
9. Janković Vladeta, Smiling Animal (Nasmejana životinja), Književna zajednica Novog Sada, 1987, pg. 87
10. Grlić, Danko: Aesthetics, Naprijed, Zagreb, 1974, pg.231
11. Bahtin, M. Stvaralaštvo Fransua Rablea (The Works of Francois Rabelais), Nolit, Belgrade, 1978, pg. 157-158
12. Platon: Dijalozi (Dialogues), Kultura, Belgrade, 1970, pg. 189

AuthorJasmina Mojsieva Guševa
2018-08-21T17:24:02+00:00 October 1st, 1998|Categories: Reviews, Literature, Blesok no. 05|0 Comments