Neophilologus

, Volume 101, Issue 3, pp 417–437 | Cite as

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

Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

Notes

Acknowledgements

I would like to express my gratitude to my colleague Ann Marie Scott, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, for her critical reading of a draft version of this paper, and to an anonymous reader for helpful suggestions and comments. The first version of this paper was written while I enjoyed a research stay at the Western University of Australia, Perth, in March of 2016, thanks to an ACMRS/CHE Collaborative Research Grant. I am very grateful for this opportunity.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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