View Full Version : Satirists
08-30-2001, 03:27 PM
I love reading satires, as I often end up having to get a firm grasp of the social context in which they are written.
So far I have managed to consumed Swift and a fair chunk of English social history. Voltaire and a fair bit of European philosophy and Lem (thatís Stanislaw, he tends to be a little less know than the other two), and the history of Poland.
Now I am looking for a new author to open up another interesting part of the world/ history to me so any suggestions? I would be particularly interested in finding a female satirist to have a look at.
08-30-2001, 03:36 PM
As satire was a genre wholly invented by the Romans, I suggest you turn to the great Roman satirists: Persius, Lucilius, Horace, Petronius, and Juvenal.
A decent summary and analysis of Roman satire may be found here (http://www.craigflower.supanet.com/Thomas.htm). It will give you some ideas of the origins and context of the genre, as well as an overview of major texts and personalities.
08-30-2001, 05:06 PM
You could do a whole lot worse than to look at Tom Sharpe's first two novels, Riotous Assembly (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0871131439/qid=999207120/sr=2-2/002-0987230-9754467) and Indecent Exposure (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0871131420/qid=999207120/sr=2-1/002-0987230-9754467), which are set in South Africa during apartheid.
In the best tradition of Swift and Twain, Sharpe simply allows the stupidity and brutality of the South African police to reach their logical and horrifying conclusions. He just pulls out the stakes in the ground that mark the arbitrary boundaries within which individual men determine to contain their abuse of others, and allows his characters to wander over the landscape unchecked. The results are as horrible and violent as can be imagined, but are also extremely funny. Sharpe's one of the few writers I've read from the second half of the twentieth century who deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with the great masters of satire.
You might also be interested in Mikhail Bulgakov, a Russian novelist from the early twentieth century. His masterwork is Heart of a Dog ("]The Master and Margarita[/url], which is IMHO one of the great novels of the century, but while it incorporates plenty of satire on Stalinist Soviet Russia, satire isn't the keynote of the book. Some of Bulgakov's other works, especially Heart of a Dog are much more purely satirical. In [url="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0802150594/qid=999207632/sr=2-3/002-0987230-9754467) concerns a Moscow street cur who's given the pituitary gland and testicles of a man and who becomes indistinguishable from most of the other men in Moscow, while Black Snow (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1860466397/qid=999207632/sr=1-9/ref=sc_b_9/002-0987230-9754467) is Bulgakov's take on the Moscow theatrical scene around the Moscow Art Theatre. Continuing in the Russian vein, albeit from a half century or more earlier, I see in other threads that Ike's been recommending Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls lately; consider it recommended here as well.
08-30-2001, 05:12 PM
For Stalin era satire, try 'The First Circle' by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
The passage where Stalin himself is prowling round his room in the dead of night is particularly effective, but there are countless other examples. One of my favourites.
08-30-2001, 10:52 PM
What, no American satirists? You really must read Ambrose Bierce (I recommend "Chicamaugua") and Mark Twain (my favorite short story of all time is "The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg"). You can find a lot of their works on the net for free, courtesy of Project Gutenberg. H.L. Mencken is up in the pantheon of great American satirists, but his best works are harder to find.
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