26 Weeks to a Better Understanding of Literature
I’m aiming to improve my knowledge around all things English literature, and to help me do this I thought I’d start by learning a new literary word every week, A-Z. Although knowing me it might not be in any alphabetic order. I might treat this more like a list on random shuffle.
So, I find a word that relates to literature and research the following on it:
- How does it sound?
- What does it mean?
- Who invented it (if known)
- When did the word come about?
- Example to be used in a sentence (preferable in spoken form).
Overview from the Oxford Companion to English Literature:
From the Latin satira.
A ‘satire’ is a poem, or in modern use sometimes a prose composition, in which prevailing vices or follies are held up to ridicule. In English literature, satire may be held to have begun with Chaucer, who was followed by many 15th-cent. writers, including Dunbar. The great age of English satire began with Dryden, who perfected the epigrammatic and antithetical use of the heroic couplet for this purpose. The Victorian age was not noted for pure satire, although the novel proved an excellent vehicle for social satire with Dickens, among others. In theater and television the ‘satire boom’ of the 1960s is generally held to have been pioneered by the satirical revue Beyond the Fringe by Alan Bennett.
I do quite like satire, and indeed you can read it well in many a Dickens novels.
The word satire boarders close to irony, which in most cases can be found in any novels regarding the state of one nation or another. Surely most sci-fi novels have deeply embedded within them both satire and show irony of what out future may hold? Let’s not forget Nineteen Eighty Four!
Applying the word satire I think I shall have to work on. Maybe the next illuminating cartoon I see strewn across Facebook will indeed be satirical.
I haven’t had the pleasure of being able to read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales yet, but at least this word has lead me to a new area of reading.
Do you have any favourite pieces of satire, either in written or art form?