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The Mode of Parody

An Essay at Definition and Six Studies


Bond Johnson

The Mode of Parody is a ground-breaking study proposing a new term to describe a kind of literature that can be seen as early as the works of George Herbert (1593-1633). In the face of his doubt in God’s presence, Herbert wrote his poem A Parodie, using serious parody to restore his faith in God’s existence. Artists as diverse as Flaubert, Mann, Joyce and Nabokov have used parody to create fiction with religious and mythic dimensions in a time devoid of belief in a cohesive world order.
The opening chapter develops the author’s concept of parody as a mode of serious creation through a dialogue between a dancer and a writer. He then explores in subsequent chapters the way the mode of parody functions in the works of Herbert, Mann, Flaubert, Joyce and Nabokov. The final chapter sees the dancer reappear, and ask the writer about the sort of art that may lie on the other side of the mode of parody. That answer can emerge only after a journey through works of utmost complexity in the mode of parody.
Contents: Parody as a mode of serious creation – Function of parody in the works of Flaubert, Joyce, Herbert, Mann and Nabokov – Regeneration of creativity through parody – An essay at definition in the form of a dialogue – Thomas Mann on parody – Doktor Faustus as a primer on the mode of parody – The rebirth of archetypal figures and myth through parody – Parody, Myth and the Tale.