By Thomas Pughe

The concept for this examine got here to me during my examining of innova­ tive US-American! fiction of the final 3 many years. I saw that a lot of it really is solid within the comedian mode - or, extra accurately, that there appears in modern fiction an affinity among 'innovation' and 'the comedian' and that this affinity, moreover, seems to be attribute of postmo­ dernism. it's seen, even as, that comedian has turn into an elusive and, often, a disputable type. Frederick Karl, in his sur­ vey of yank Fictions 1940-1980, continues, for example, that a lot comedian writing is composed in ridicule that lacks deeper highbrow and cul­ tural roots. "Wit and mockery," he notes, "by themselves have little lasting price. Even within the better of such fiction, Gravity's Rainbow, one is made conscious of attenuated skits stiched onto prior segments, instead of baked in by means of an outlined standpoint. " (Karl: 27) Such checks in fact problem my view that the comedian is in major methods hooked up with what's leading edge in postmodernist US-American fiction. but the time period comedian -or comparable phrases like humour, parody, irony and so castle- is often and seriously hired in discussions or experiences of con­ transitority fiction.

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The incongruity between higbrow and lowbrow culture) attains a new level of complexity. For these "redfaces" disconcertingly juxtapose attitudes that seek a reconciliation between culture and unculture ('homogenism') and attitudes that eschew all tendencies of reconciliation (,heterogenism'). They thus force the reader into a struggle for his or her own position vis avis the multilayered ambiguities of their texts. 4. A Theory: Comedy that "Happens" in the Act of Reading It remains finally to sketch an approach to the comic that can help capture the conflictual quality of "redfaced" writing.

What both Kierkegaard and Nietzsche describe, is a 'heterogenist' attitude to the comic that detaches itself from the sociable and distrusts the quotidian. For both, but especially for Nietzsche, the comic opens itself to pain, fear, the unanswerable, the ugly. Not least, it contains an element of surprise, or rather, of shock. 'Heterogenism', with its emphasis on incongruity and its empathy with the darker sides of being, is essentially a Romantic attitude. Indeed, the distinction I make between 'homogenist' and 'heterogenist' attitudes obviously alludes to more general (and perhaps slightly hackneyed) dualisms, such as "Enlightened" vs.

For The Living End is Elkin's version of The Divine Comedy. But in Dante commedia refers to the promise of redemption, the resolution of life's agonies in an afterlife of eternal bliss. Elkin's commedia, however, is more like a divine practical joke which, given the omnipotence of the 'jokester', turns out to be a blatant act of power: God, as the divine artist, literally closes the book on creation. -As one of the cha27 On the "dialectic of the wise fool" see also Cottom (1989:40-48). 20 Comic Sense racters in Elkin's George Mills (1982) puts it: "God so loves a good joke, I think.

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