"I am an idealistic, naive, passionate, truth-seeking, spiritually motivated artist, unschooled in the science of law and finance." --Wesley Snipes

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Spenser, Corey, and the Comic

Josh Corey clears up my confusion admirably. The whole "serious/comic" thing being about tone makes sense to me. The poetry I find myself most often immediately drawn to is that which employs "comic" means to achieve "serious" ends. Or maybe I'm just drawn to the cheap laugh.

Last fall I was teaching the Fairie Queene (+x, +y), and I noticed that while its tone is primarily serious, the effects it produces on the modern (post-/?), or shall we say 21st Century, reader are often comic. I found that Ashbery's characterization of FQ as like a comic book (I'm paraphrasing third-hand or so here) especially fitting. Spenser's mechanical management of plot and character almost seems cinematic, though I'd be hard pressed right now (my Spenser back at my office) to provide concrete examples. But the Dwarf is funny. He's pushed on or pulled off stage as necessary--providing, it seems to me, mostly comic relief. And then, too, it's fun to laugh at Red Crosse for his naivete (or stupidity).

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