February 11, 2007

Isn't It Ironic?

"Those critics who attribute the use of ironic techniques to the poet's own bloodless sophistication and tired scepticism would be better advised to refer these vices to his potential readers, a public corrupted by Hollywood and the Book of the Month Club. For the modern poet is not addressing simple primitives but a public sophisticated by commercial art" (Brooks 90).

Not only is Brooks talking about irony in "Irony as Principle of Structure" but he himself is a bit sarcastic and ironic in his description of the art as well, which I love. I'm all about irony.

As per Brooks in the quote, irony is not the sophisticated technique that we imagine it to be, conveying a sort of meaning that only the well informed can understand (much like British humour). To think this way is to be part of the class of people "corrupted" by Hollywood- the apparently unread who have found sophistication in television and not books and have lost the meaning of irony. Is this why irony is difficult to determine at times? Because as the readers corrupted by the Book of the Month Club (full of pop literature that lacks any irony and, if there is any, is really obvious and takes the fun out of searching for it) can only see what is in front of them, instead of the detailed irony that lies beneath? Irony is great because things are not always as they seem, making the verses more interesting. Is it a flower, or is it something more? And if so, can we determine what that "something" is?

Brooks, ''Irony as a Principle of Structure'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by VanessaKolberg at February 11, 2007 10:27 PM | TrackBack

I think it's great that he uses irony within an article about irony. Then again, I was in the same group with Alanis and I still think I am.

Posted by: Erin at February 12, 2007 1:11 PM

As someone you appreciates irony as much as you do, I enjoyed this because of the irony from Brooks's comments. I also enjoyed the emphasis on the use of metaphors in poetry because this is the first turn of Formalist thinking. I agreed with Brooks when he said that irony is used way too much in literature, and sometimes it seems pressured and misplaced. Overall, I think that looking beyond the literature for irony or another literary technique is an effective way to find meaning in a piece of literature.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at February 14, 2007 5:22 PM

I am also for looking into the irony or other literary techniques used in literature to find the overall meaning rather than historical background.
I found Brook's whole essay a little annoying. It seemed to repetitive and I began to get bored with it after a while.
I enjoy irony as well because of not only the hidden meanings but also the sarcasm that comes along with it(not all irony is sarcastic).

Posted by: Denamarie at February 14, 2007 7:11 PM

You named your last two entries after Alanis songs. Of course, given her song, she would probably disagree with your love of irony.

Posted by: Valerie Masciarelli at February 14, 2007 10:09 PM

I appreciate your sentiment towards the "corruption" by Hollywood - I have said many similar type things, especially when it comes to jokes and so forth.

The film "The Aristocrats" has 100 comedians telling the same joke, all in different ways, and the entire joke is set-up, the punchline is purposefully underwhelming. The entirety of the joke is made up of the most foul and disgusting things the comic can come up with, and then concludes with a two-word punchline which has no real application anymore, and never did in America.

I think Brooks, as well as yourself, hit an important key with the notion that sometimes irony is not only clever or quirky, but necessary to achieve something, typically that something being ilicitation of a reaction from the reader or revealing a message.

Posted by: Kevin at February 15, 2007 3:28 PM
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