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Comic aesthetics and the effect of realism in the novel

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Description: The sensation of realism experienced in the reading of novels remains a peculiar and mysterious problem of the scholarly reader. While a multitude of hypotheses exist for understanding this realist mechanism found in the novel, I believe that a careful consideration of the novel's relationship to comedy and comic aesthetics offers a fascinating schematic of how the reader is so consistently drawn into that state of mystical connection with the text known as verisimilitude. By focusing on three novels written in the first third of the 20th century, Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat (1935), Waugh's Decline and Fall (1928), and Joyce's Ulysses (1922), I will examine the effect of the "comic spectacle" so germane to the first two texts, and a more elusive "comic interior" exemplified by the particularities of Joycean humor. My analysis will rely on a collection of philosophical thought from the likes of Bergson, Freud, Bahktin, Eco, and Aristotle which will help to illustrate how the novel performs comically when the reader witnesses expectations defied and morals profaned, both of which give rise to realism and a sense of intimacy with the text.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work