Thursday, March 3, 2011

Can good literature be funny?

I know it's been awhile but this week I'm taking part in the Literary Blog Hop hosted by The Blue Bookcase. I haven't really been able to answer the last few questions with anything interesting and rather than post something I didn't like, I decided to skip the hops. But I'm liking this week's question: Can literature be funny? What is your favorite humorous literary book?

I'm actually not sure how to debate that literature can't be funny. Of course it can. Many times comedic works are overlooked in favor of a more serious topic, but that hardly means that literature must be stoic in order to be worthy. Shakespeare has an entire collection of comedies and some of them are actually funny! A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, hell even A Comedy of Errors has its moments, and that one can rely on a lot of slapstick. But maybe for this the plays don't count. A Comedy of Errors isn't half as much fun to read as it is to watch. But that's fine. I can step away from the Bard and find other examples.

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is hilarious. Yes, it has the schmaltzy story that has been told time and time (and time) again in about a million different adaptations, but most of those lose the comedy in it. I've written before about the humor in A Christmas Carol because growing up on those adaptations made me think Dickens, and other literary writers, weren't funny. They were serious and stodgy.  And then I actually sat down and read the book and I realized these versions don't know what they're doing*. Literature doesn't have to be stuffy, it can be fun and what else is hiding out there from me?

Granted, most literary works are more serious or else they temper the comedy. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close had fantastic comedic moments in it, even if that majority of the story was somber.

What do you think? Can literature be funny? What are some literary works you find especially humorous?

*Except the Muppets one because they got most of the humor covered in their version of A Christmas Carol. Muppets always pull through.