Last week’s post was devoted to history’s great literary satirists. Today we focus on more recent and contemporary satirists. They are presented in chronological order.
(June 25th 1903 – January 21st 1950)
George Orwell was vehemently opposed to totalitarianism. He used political satire to criticise Stalin’s rule in his allegorical novella, Animal Farm. Stalin’s representative in the book is the pig Napoleon. Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, is a satirical political commentary on totalitarianism.
Aldous Huxley (July 26th 1894 – November 22nd 1963)
Huxley was one of the great intellectuals of his generation. His seminal work, Brave New World, is considered to be amongst the most influential novels of the 20th Century. It employs erudite social commentary to explore and satirise our obsession with consumption and technology.
(October 28th 1903 – April 10th 1966)
Waugh was a journalist and author, who was known for his humour and savage satirical wit. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest prose satirists of the 20th Century. Amongst his most famous works is the WWII trilogy Sword of Honour.
Dorothy Parker (August 22nd 1893 – June 7th 1967)
Critic, short story writer and poet Dorothy Parker was renowned for her sense of humour and satirising abilities. She was prone to satirising the middle classes. Satire of the humorous, sarcastic variety is present in much of her poetry, including Résumé and One Perfect Rose.
P. G. Wodehouse (October 15th 1881 – February 14th 1975)
Author P. G. Wodehouse was a famous 20th Century humourist. He used parody and ridicule in his comic fiction to satirise elements within society, particularly the English upper classes. His characters though ridiculous are generally likeable.
Joseph Heller(May 1st 1923 – December 12th 1999)
Satirical novelist, short story writer and playwright Joseph Heller is best remembered for his novel Catch-22. The story is about a group of soldiers fighting in WWII. This absurdist work sees the author employing relentless ludicrousness to chastise warfare.
(November 11th 1922 – April 11th 2007)
Vonnegut was a prolific postmodern author, whose seminal work was the satirical, anti war themed Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). The book explores notions such as fate, free will, the meaning of life and the futility of war – serious messages that are coated with humour.
(April 28th 1948 – March 12th 2015)
Terry Pratchett was the author of the Discworld series of 41 novels. The fantasy series features satire of the comedic variety. Numerous issues facing contemporary society are explored, including politics, bribery, human behaviour and corruption, particularly with regards to the ruling elite.
Tom Wolfe (Born March 2nd 1931)
Journalist Tom Wolfe initially wrote only non-fiction, but later turned his hand to fiction. His first novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987) is a satirical work whose themes include politics, ambition and greed. His third novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, is replete with satirical wit.
(Born: February 21st 1962)
Palahniuk is a transgressive author whose writing is brimming with dark humour, lurid descriptions and satirical observations. Amongst his favourite subjects to satirise are the media-saturated nature of society, our obsession with celebrities and the fate of the American working class.
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