Wednesday 23 June 2010

Parody: a new title

The web page says this book isn't published yet (it isn't officially out till August), but I spotted a copy on the table in the reception area of Oxford University Press's palatial headquarters in Jericho. The Oxford Book of Parodies, edited by John Gross, is sadly short of detailed analysis of the legislative and case law provisions governing parody as a defence to copyright infringement, private rights versus freedom of speech, transformative use and so forth, but it is rich in enjoyable examples of parody and great fun. Says the web-blurb:
"Parodies come in all shapes and sizes. There are broad parodies and subtle parodies, ingenious imitations and knockabout spoofs, scornful lampoons and affectionate pastiches. All these varieties, and many others, appear in this delightful new anthology compiled by master anthologist John Gross.
The classics of the genre are all here, but so are scores of lesser known but scarcely less brilliant works. At every stage there are surprises. Proust visits Chelsea, Yeats re-writes "Old King Cole," Harry Potter encounters Mick Jagger, a modernized Sermon on the Mount rubs shoulders with an obituary of Sherlock Holmes. The collection provides a hilarious running commentary on literary history, but it also looks beyond literature to include such things as ad parodies, political parodies, and even a scientific hoax.
The collection includes work by such accomplished parodists as Max Beerbohm, Robert Benchley, Bret Harte, H. L. Mencken, George Orwell, James Thurber, Peter Ustinov, and Evelyn Waugh. And the "victims" include Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Poe, Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, Conan Doyle, A. A. Milne, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway, Allen Ginsberg, Martin Amis, and many others. The first and longer of the book's two parts is devoted to English-language authors, arranged in chronological order, along with parodies that they have inspired. The second part includes sections on more general literary topics, on aspects of individual authors which transcend the format of the first part, and on a handful of foreign writers".
Sadly I wasn't kept waiting more than a few minutes, so had little opportunity to sample this book's contents -- but it did seem fun.

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