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Postmodern Irony

  • By: Loredana Di Martino
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Irony is the central mode of consciousness of postmodernism and one of the main forms of expression of postmodernist literature. It marks the postmodern attitude of disenchantment toward the totalizing narratives that legitimate Western culture (history, philosophy, religion, science, etc.) and is also one of the main strategies used by postmodernist fiction to retain the ability to represent the world while raising awareness of art’s own status as cultural artifice and potential instrument of power. Modernism had already used the dissecting power of laughter as a means to expose both the conformism of bourgeois society and art’s own ideological limitations. Modernist works such as James Joyce’s Ulysses and Carlo Emilio Gadda’s That Awful Mess on Via Merulana use parodic dialogism and linguistic polyphony as ...

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