Archive for June 2nd, 2014

June 2, 2014

A Modern Utopia

The Wheels of Chance by lisa congdon

Because of the complexity and sophistication of its narrative structure, H.G. Wells’s 1905 novel ‘A Modern Utopia‘ (1905) has been called ‘not so much a modern as a postmodern utopia.’ The book is best known for its notion that a voluntary order of nobility known as the Samurai could effectively rule a ‘kinetic and not static’ world state so as to solve ‘the problem of combining progress with political stability.’

In terms of Northrop Frye’s classification of literary genres, ‘A Modern Utopia’ is not a novel but an anatomy, a book that divides a topic into parts for detailed examination or analysis. Frye, narrowed the definition of the word to mean a work resembling a ‘Menippean satire,’ which ridicules foolish or undisciplined mental attitudes instead of specific individuals.

read more »

Tags: ,
June 2, 2014

Menippean Satire

voltaire by Dylan Meconis

The genre of Menippean [meh-nip-pee-uhnsatire is a form of satire (ridicule of foolishness and moral failings), usually in prose, which has a length and structure similar to a novel and is characterized by attacking mental attitudes instead of specific individuals. Other features found in Menippean satire are different forms of parody and mythological burlesque (humorous caricatures of the gods), a critique of the myths inherited from traditional culture, a rhapsodic nature, a fragmented narrative, the combination of many different targets, and the rapid moving between styles and points of view.

The term is used by classical grammarians and by philologists mostly to refer to satires in prose. Typical mental attitudes attacked and ridiculed by Menippean satires are ‘pedants, bigots, cranks, parvenus, virtuosi, enthusiasts, rapacious and incompetent professional men of all kinds,’ which are treated as diseases of the intellect. The term Menippean satire distinguishes it from the earlier satire pioneered by Aristophanes, which was based on personal attacks.

read more »