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The Dialectics of Black Humor: Process and Product

A Reorientation Toward Contemporary American and German Black Humor Fiction

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Linda Horvay Barnes

Elusive to definition, the «black humor» novel is subject to controversy. Yet, when viewed dialectically as an ongoing literary process and social product, its irreducible quality seems inherent and essential to its nature. Operating on several simultaneous levels in a force-field termed the «space between», black humor is perceived and mediated in a middle realm, often metaphorical. Thus, a reorientation toward a disorienting type of fiction is effected. American theories of black humor are tested on German novels, and European socio-critical theory is applied to American fiction. A socio-literary perspective is the result.