A quick peek at Britlitblogs revealed a post today by Fictionbitch: The Comedy of Tragedy and the Tragedy of Comedy which immediately reminds one of our very own The Enormity of the Tragedy and upon reading it, even more so. It concerns an article by Julian Gough (there are grammar/presentation issues with these links. ed.) about the way that western thought has progressively discounted the comic in favour of the tragic and links this to the rise of monotheism, Vale of Tears thoughts and such. Fictionbitch also points to critique by The Reading Experience which, while not necessarily disagreeing with the argument, points out that American writers have been being both important and funny for quite some time. The striking thing (for us! ed.) about Julian Gough's article is that it begins with the example of Aristophanes - as does The Enormity . . . :
MAGISTRATE: Why are you twisting around like that? And draping your cloak over your front? Did your travels give you a hernia in the crotch?
HERALD: The fellow’s gone crazy, I swear to Castor!
MAGISTRATE (pulling his cloak to one side): Hey, that’s a hell of a hard-on, you filthy beast!
HERALD: No, I swear to Zeus, it isn’t! Enough of such nonsense!
MAGISTRATE (pointing): What do you call that then?
HERALD: A snake from Sparta.
Aristophanes, Lysistrata, 986–91
The point being that Quim Monzó is a fine example of an author who is both important and funny. Others from our list might include The Year of the Hare and Angels on the Head of a Pin and further afield Nabokov, Kafka, Garcia Marquez, Murakami, and so, so many more writers in translation who so often seem to be missing similar debates in English literary circles.