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Literary spoof, satire, sarcasm anyone?

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My daughter is drawn toward this type of literature. She loved the full four books of Gulliver's Travels, is going through all of Terry Pratchett, and adores Three Men in a Boat.

 

Today in the mail I just got a reprint of The Ascent of Rum Doodle, a spoof on mountaineering accounts.

 

Please would anybody like to list others? We're compiling a Big List of Possibilities. I'm even thinking she might think Tristram Shandy is great, because she won't take it too seriously.

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We just watched The Mouse that Roared on DVD. It's a political satire so we felt it appropriate to use it to end the government course. I understand it deviates a bit from the book (which I have not read).

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How old is she? There was a great thread on the K-8 board about "bizarre" literature. There are a few of us that whose children's literary choices run along the same vein. Also, nmoira is a great resource for those types of books. You may want to contact her.

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She's fourteen, and she particularly likes to recognize other things being satirized: Shakespeare plays, for instance, scientific "progress," literary conventions, logic, mapping, you name it.

 

I'm also really curious about is a list of satiric classics. My knowledge is fairly limited to the 17th and 18th centuries (hence Swift and Sterne in my earlier post). I can look up "satire" but I'd like to hear about what kids have actually read and enjoyed from other historical eras. Also looking for contemporary spoofs of classics. What I was thinking about tentatively is pairing original satiric classics with newer, parallel ones... similar to reading a Jane Austen novel next to some of the modern rewrites or continuations; or a Jane Austen with a Barbara Pym. That sort of thing.

 

I did love the bizarre lit thread; will go back and take a peek at that again also.

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Some of it went over my head as a kid, but there is quite a bit of satirical commentary even in "Tom Sawyer". "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" is pretty much all sarcasm, all the time.

 

Of course, the short stories by O'Henry always have an ironic twist of fate. I found that after the first 4 or so they got too formulaic for me. The classic one to start with is "The Gift of The Magi" and its twist is less dark than those in most of O'Henry's other short stories.

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Hi KarenAnne,

Has your daughter read anything by PG Wodehouse (Jeeves and Wooster, etc) These stories are hilarious and poke gentle fun at British upper-class life in the 1920's. My boys love his stuff.

Blessings,

April

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"Tales From the White Hart" by Arthur Clarke--you might want to preread this, as my recollection of science fiction is far more benign than my current reading of it. I think it was pretty clean, though, and very much full of twists and turns.

 

Also, "The Annotated Alice" version of Alice in Wonderland shows clearly that it is a huge satire, start to finish. It gives the context of each of the satirical pieces, and makes the book much more enjoyable.

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Hi KarenAnne,

Has your daughter read anything by PG Wodehouse (Jeeves and Wooster, etc) These stories are hilarious and poke gentle fun at British upper-class life in the 1920's. My boys love his stuff.

Blessings,

April

"The Swoop, or How Clarence Saved England - A Tale of the Great Invasion" by Wodehouse is hilarious - complete literary crack!fic :D.

 

Some of it went over my head as a kid, but there is quite a bit of satirical commentary even in "Tom Sawyer". "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" is pretty much all sarcasm, all the time.

Innocents Abroad, also by Twain, was the first thing that came to mind.

 

Other books:

*Vanity Fair, by Thackeray, is rather satirical and very biting.

*The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy books, by Douglas Adams, though not precisely literary ;), are not to be missed.

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Dickens has a lot of satire - I'm reading Oliver Twist, and wow, his sarcasm in the beginning is *biting* (and very effective), but it's not as humorous as some b/c the subject matter is so dark.

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<snip>

Three Men in a Boat.

 

Today in the mail I just got a reprint of The Ascent of Rum Doodle, a spoof on mountaineering accounts.

 

I can't believe it! You named the two I was going to add because I was sure they weren't in the list yet! ;)

 

Rum Doodle is hysterical. I can't remember now if we gave it to DS to read yet... but DH and I adored it. And Three Men in a Boat is DS's favorite.

 

There are a lot of good Victorian satires... Once you've read some of the dark and depressing stuff, Gilbert and Sullivan and Oscar Wilde take on a new life, and I think someone already mentioned Dickens' humor... There's a book called Gilbert Before Sullivan that has a play called A Sensation Tale (I think that's right), about the stock characters of a classic melodrama... We did Victorian Lit this year, and almost half of it ended up being all the satires of the other half... LOL

 

One I haven't read yet, but have on the shelf is a book called Eric, or Little By Little... which is apparently a fairly heavy-handed moral tale (I defer to anyone who has actually read it! I only know what was in the wiki...) but I've heard it's well-followed-up by P.G. Wodehouse, especially the Mike and Psmith stories.

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Thank you so much! This was exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for. My daughter is an Aspie, so when she gets interested in one kind of book, it's like pushing a herd of elephants uphill to get her interested in something else. So I'm currently planning to structure literature around this type of book, hitting classics and major works from different historical periods while still giving her that hit of satire or sometimes even farce that she adores.

 

Some of the books listed were on my "Oh, that might work" list, so it's nice to have it confirmed that kids have enjoyed them. Others are ones I wouldn't have thought of -- so again many thanks. Please keep them coming if you think of others!

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Middle School Level -- but worthwhile

- The Phantom Tollbooth (Juster) -- puns and spoofing mathematical concepts

- The Pushcart War (Merrill) -- spoof of how wars start/escalate

- The Bromeliad Trilogy: Truckers; Diggers; Wings (Pratchett)

- The Rumplestiltskin Problem (Velde) -- VERY fun and clever; several short story spoof/twists on the original fairy tale

 

 

Classics

- Animal Farm (Orwell) -- VERY dark, biting satire of communism AND capitalism

- The Screwtape Letters (Lewis) -- a senior demon instructing a junior demon in how to tempt humans; satirical, but with real truth, too!

- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass (Carroll) -- get the Martin Gardiner annotated version to point you to all the satires of poems, politicians, etc. by both author Carroll and illustrator Tennyson

- Flatland (Abbott) -- bit of a satire of Victorian classed society in a geometry-based land

 

 

Humorous

- The Club of Queer Trades (Chesterton) -- spoof of Sherlock Holmes

- Life With Jeeves (Wodehouse) -- very satirical and humorous poke at 1920s British upperclass as airheads

- The Importance of Being Earnest (Wilde) -- very humorous satirical play

- The Devil's Dictionary (Bierce) -- VERY sardonic/biting

- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Adams) -- very spoofy classic sci-fi

- Will Rogers -- 20th century satirical commentary/humorist

 

 

Older Satire

- Aesop's fables -- satires of political figures of his day

- Chaucer -- some of the Canterbury Tales are quite saucy and satirical

- Candide (Voltaire) -- his stuff is "okay" -- but you really need a commentary with this one to "get" what is being satirized

- "A Modest Proposal" (Swift) -- very biting (against Britain) essay "suggesting" poor Irish families sell their children as food as a solution to the famine

- I tried Thackery, but he is just plain mean spirited

 

 

Satirical/Ironic/Humorous Short Stories

- Luck of Roaring Camp; Tennessee's Partner (Harte)

- The Open Window (Saki)

- Ransom of Red Chief (Henry)

- A Harlem Tragedy (Henry)

- Bride Comes to Yellow Sky (Crane)

- The Catbird Seat (Thurber)

- consider Flannery O'Connor short stories -- "grotesque" or "southern gothic", but with a broad comic side

 

 

Movies

- Bride and Prejudice -- a modern, musical, Bollywood version of Jane Austen's classic; very silly

- O Brother Where Art Thou -- The Odyssey crossed with the Wizard of Oz set in 1930s Depression/Deep South; very goofy (some language)

- Ten Things I Hate About You -- modern spoof retelling of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew"

- Clueless -- modern spoof retelling of Jane Austen's "Emma"

- Young Frankenstein -- screwball satire of Frankenstein by director Mel Brooks (some innuendo/language)

- The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! -- satirical/humorous look at 1960s Soviet/U.S. misconceptions about one another

- Chicken Run -- gentle spoof of the film "The Great Escape"

- Monty Python and the Holy Grail -- spoofs King Arthur (sexuality and language!)

- Mystery Science Theater 3000 -- old TV series; ONLY the first 2-3 seasons, with Joel as the host (really went downhill and got very CRUDE and un-funny after the first few years with Mike as the host) -- they take old 1950s sci-fi films or other BAD movies, and then "quip" all the way through it, referencing/alluding to ALL KINDS of things, from movies to music to popular culture to U.S. midwestern people/places to literature to typeface of the credits to celebrities to... (innuendo, with some episodes having some sexuality or language)

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