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Black humor


  • Literary works that derive humor from suffering or the absurdity of existence in a bitter, ironic, morbid, or grimly satiric way.
  • URI(s)

  • Instance Of

  • Scheme Membership(s)

  • Collection Membership(s)

  • Form

    • Black humor
  • Variants

    • Black comedies
    • Dark comedies
    • Dark humor
    • Gallows humor
    • Comedies, Black
    • Comedies, Dark
  • Broader Terms

  • Sources

    • found: GSAFD, 2000(Black humor (Literature). Use for works characterized by a desperate, sardonic humor intended to induce laughter as the appropriate response to the apparent meaninglessness and absurdity of existence. UF Black comedy (Literature); Dark comedy (Literature); Dark humor (Literature); Gallows humor)
    • found: Baldick, C. The Oxford dictionary of literary terms, 2008(black comedy. A kind of drama (or, by extension, a non-dramatic work) in which disturbing or sinister subjects like death, disease, or warfare are treated with bitter amusement, usually in a manner calculated to offend and shock. Prominent in the theatre of the absurd, black comedy is also a feature of Joe Orton's Loot (1965). A similar black humour is strongly evident in modern American fiction from Nathaniel West's A Cool Million (1934) to Joseph Heller's Catch-22 (1961) and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five (1969))
    • found: Cuddon, J.A. A dictionary of literary terms and literary theory, 1998(black comedy. Black comedy is a form of drama which displays a marked disillusionment and cynicism. It shows human beings without convictions and with little hope, regulated by fate or fortune or incomprehensible powers. In fact, human beings in an 'absurd' predicament. At its darkest such comedy is pervaded by a kind of sour despair: we can't do anything so we may as well laugh. The wit is mordant and the humour sardonic. In other forms of literature 'black comedy' and 'black humour' (e.g. the 'sick joke') have become more and more noticeable in the 20th c. It has been remarked that such comedy is particularly prominent in the so-called 'literature of the absurd')
  • General Notes

    • Literary works that derive humor from suffering or the absurdity of existence in a bitter, ironic, morbid, or grimly satiric way.
  • Change Notes

    • 2014-12-01: new
    • 2016-02-05: revised
  • Alternate Formats

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