Il viaggio dello ’’Star Wolf’’ by David Gerrold

By David Gerrold

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Since all four accounts start from different examples of parodies, drawn from diverse periods and cultures, it is not surprising that they point towards conflicting definitions of parody. Indeed, this diversity is partly explicable if these definitions are seen as alluding to differing phases or emphases within a related band of parodistic cultural interactions—that is, each definition tends to offer as the essential characteristic an aspect which is better thought of as a phase only of parody when it is understood in the fullness of its discursive APPROACHES TO PARODY situation.

Parody can indeed become the vehicle for a critique of a whole aesthetic, and the substitution of another in its place, as in the following pair of poems. Yeats’s famous poem from the 1890s, ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’: I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made: APPROACHES TO PARODY Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee, And live alone in the bee-loud glade. And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the vales of the morning to where the cricket sings; There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

Old Comedy, then—or at least the plays of Aristophanes—is a form which is marked by parodic forms on at least two levels. First, the very texture of the plays is made up of myriad allusions to the contemporary language of Athens; second, the plays abound with specific parodies of tragic (and other) writers, the cultural politics of which is now hard to determine. But as with the satyr plays, it is probably safer to conclude that the genres (tragedy and comedy) are in coexistence, rather than in competition with each other.

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