Monday, July 23, 2007

Adam Mars-Jones on humour

An excellent review by Adam Mars-Jones in yesterday's Observer of the new collection by Woody Allen could stand as a how-to (or how-not-to) guide to writing humorous fiction. It's well worth reading the entire review, but this stands out:

Since at least the Victorians, writers have announced their intention to amuse with a facetious linguistic register. Why? I've no idea. Antimacassars are no longer in fashion, whalebone is a rarity, yet the stylistic gurning goes on. 'Upon arriving home and perusing in secret her libellous narrative, I was rendered dumb' could as easily be Mr Pooter as Mr Allen. Humorous writing is where discredited words such as 'eschew', 'distaff', 'poltroon' and 'matutinal' come to die. It's their final forwarding address.

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