The book offers an extensive and detailed philosophical analysis of the phenomenon of the comic. The author critically presents the hitherto existing theories of the comic from Aristotle up to the present and classifies them. At the same time he advances his own definition of the comic as a broadly understood deviation from norm, which takes into account the deviation from an objectively existing norm as well as the subjective sense of the normal. Many pages have been devoted to the analysis of the main forms of the comic. The author offers their taxonomy and discusses the major techniques of evoking the comic.
An important but often overlooked function of comedy is its intrinsic relation to questions of identity. This relationship, furthermore, is connected to another traditional feature of comedy: the utopian impulse. This book analyses these functions of comedy in the novels of four key postmodern Spanish-American writers: Gustavo Sainz, Alfredo Bryce Echenique, Fernando Vallejo and Jaime Bayly. Focusing on the correlation between changing concepts of identity and the hybrid cultural context of the late 20th-century, it examines the issues of individual and social identities expressed by these authors in their inscription and distortion of the comic genre as well as in their usage of different modes of comedy. It views the novels' comic aspects as symptoms of hybridity, which, according to many theorists, have brought about the dissolution of concepts, such as the self and society, and utopian modernity. These symptoms are studied in tandem with the individual themes of the novels, such as gender, sexuality, class and global migration, as well as the 'post-national' question of Peruvian, Colombian and Mexican identity. Paul McAleer is Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the University of Hull.
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