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The Bitter and Biting Humor of Sarcasm in Medieval and Early Modern Literature


DOI: 10.1007/s11061-017-9526-8

Cite this article as:
Classen, A. Neophilologus (2017). doi:10.1007/s11061-017-9526-8


Even though the phenomenon of ‘sarcasm’ seems not yet to have existed in the pre-modern world, a careful selection of relevant texts from medieval and early modern German, Anglo-Norman, Middle English, and Latin texts amply proves the opposite. Sarcasm is possibly the worst form of comedy or humor, being biting, angry, and reflecting a sense of desperation. While previous scholarship has extensively worked on irony, satire, and parody, the existence of sarcasm at that early time also deserves to be taken into account, since it often appears to undermine harshly the idyllic impressions of courtly life and threatens to destroy the last shreds of social harmony and to remove any hope for the reconstruction of a happier form of cohabitation and collaboration.


Sarcasm Marie de France Wernher der Gartenaere Hartmann von Aue Gottfried von Straßburg Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Erasmus of Rotterdam 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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