Know Your World Literature

Comedy: Type of literature which treats its subject matter humorously and which usually has a happy ending. The plot is often unbelievable and the characters are usually ordinary people rather than the kings and heroes of Tragedy. Western comedy grew out of ancient Greek Fertility rituals in which certain well known people were publicly ridiculed. Later is became unacceptable to mock individuals and instead stock characters or ‘types’ were used. In modern times, Satire, black comedy, Farce and Theatre of the Absurd have tended to dominate the comic form.

Black Comedy: Type of cynical humor developed in the 20th century, particularly in the Theatre of the Absurd. It represents a view of life in which human striving is futile, beliefs and values are arbitrary, and events are governed by chance. Samuel Beckett’s waiting for Godot and Joe, Orton’s Loot are black comedies.

Catharsis: Term used by Aristotle to describe the purifying effect of releasing the emotions of pity and terror which he believed was the purpose of Tragedy.

Classicism: In literature, any style of writing base on the principles and forms used by Classical Greek and Roman authors, such as those laid down by Aristotle in his Poetics. It is sometimes contrasted with Romanticism, which concentrates on imagination and feeling rather than form and style. Classicism flourished during the 17th and 18th centuries when writers such as Voltaire and Moliere in French, Swift and Dr. Johnson in English, and Goethe and Schiller in German all based their work on Classical models.