t would be as foolish to attempt to draw up rules about what constitutes a good parody as it would be to attempt to draw up rules about what constitutes a good joke. Beerbohm owes much of his superiority to other parodists to qualities which resist analysis —to greater precision, finer inspiration, keener wit. But his work also exemplifies two sound general principles. First, true parody, at any but the most rudimentary level, mimics substance no less than style; if it fastens on mannerisms, it also embraces choice of subject matter and habits of mind. Second, a successful parody must be interesting or satisfying on its own account. If it is a story, we want to know what happens next; if it is an essay, we must be caught up in its argument. Either way, we must feel that the imagined author—G. K. Ch*st*rt*n or Arn*ld B*nn*tt or G**rge B*rn*rd Sh*w —has taken as much (or as little) trouble to shape his material as the real Chesterton or Bennett or Shaw would have done.
Monday, December 24, 2018
… A prodigy of parody by John Gross | The New Criterion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)