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Crossing Boundaries

Studies in English Language, Literature, and Culture in a Global Environment

Edited By Richard Nordquist

The articles in this volume were originally presented in spring 2009 at an international conference hosted by the Institute of Germanic and Romance Languages and Cultures at Tallinn University in Estonia. The theme of «crossing boundaries» is reflected in the rich mix of genres, cultures, applications, and critical theories considered here. Indeed, these articles demonstrate that crossing boundaries can be a companionable journey as well an intellectually enriching experience.

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Paul Rüsse - Gods That Are Dogs: Trickster Humour in Thomas King’s Green Grass,Running Water - 93

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93 Paul Rüsse GODS THAT ARE DOGS: TRICKSTER HUMOUR IN THOMAS KING’S GREEN GRASS, RUNNING WATER Green Grass, Running Water (1993) is the most famous novel by Thomas King, an American-born Native Canadian writer and political activist. Like all of his works, this book contains a great deal of what can be termed trickster humour, especially if we take into account the fact that one of the central roles in the novel belongs to the ubiquitous Coyote, who is—directly or indirectly—responsible for many of the book’s inexplicable incidents and plot twists. Thus, the current article aims at exploring some of the numerous manifestations and functions of comedy in King’s masterpiece through the prism of a trickster aesthetic. Comedy and Native American Humour Comedy can be traditionally (and perhaps somewhat Eurocentrically) defined as a ‘work in which the materials are selected and managed primarily to interest, in- volve, and amuse us: the characters and their discomfitures engage our pleasur- able attention rather than our profound concern’ (Abrams 28). Susan Purdie de- scribes comedies as ‘joking texts’ or narratives that are meant to be funny and de- liberately structured to evoke laughter from the audience (71). In most comedies, ‘the story or plot . . . moves towards a laughable or celebratory ending’ in which ‘the action turns out happily for the chief characters’ (Nelson 21; Abrams 29). According to Edward L Galligan (who, in turn, utilises Arthur Koestler’s theories), there is always an element of aggression or self-assertion involved in situations...

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