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Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Novel: Ha-ha Funny?

Howard Jacobson has just won this year's Man Booker Prize - hats off to him.  I am sort of glad he pipped the expected winner, C, to the post, because C was a semi-unreadable pastiche of modernism (post-modernism_ about semi-conductors, etc, that couldn't get its horticulture right.  Cue famous quip. Uncue.  Jacobson got a lot of press this week in many papers, bemoaning the state of the serious UK novel, and he is right, to a point, but don't tell me Waugh, Amis and Wodehouse are not revered, in their own way.  His argument on the BBC this morning that novels should always be funny (read a poem he said, if you want seriousness!) rings hollow.  Comedy as an element in all great works of literature: absolutely!  But should the default position of any form or genre be one tone, one vision?  I am not so sure.  Tragi-comic, seems the way to go.  Best of both words.
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