Contemporary Black Humor Criticism: Black Humor In American Fiction - Essay

Brom Weber (essay date 1973)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Weber, Brom. “The Mode of ‘Black Humor.’” In The Comic Imagination in American Literature, edited by Louis D. Rubin, Jr., pp. 361-71. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1973.

[In the following essay, Weber considers the development of black humor in American fiction during the 1960s, tracing its beginnings to social and political events from the past, including the French surrealist movement of the 1920s.]

The late Edmund Wilson was one of the most influential of American literary critics. Though generally sympathetic to humor and the unconventional in art, in 1954 he bitterly charged that the humorous writings of a virtually unknown...

(The entire section is 3842 words.)

Mathew Winston (essay date spring 1978)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Winston, Mathew. “Black Humor: To Weep with Laughing.” Comedy: New Perspectives 1 (spring 1978): 31-43.

[In the following essay, Winston offers an account of the development of black humor, from the first use of the phrase by André Breton to its definition in modern American literature. Winston examines historical approaches and the use of satire in literature as well as its relevance in modern writing.]

“Strange times, that weep with laughing, not with weeping.” We might well appropriate this observation by Shakespeare's Timon of Athens exclusively to our time, did its context not remind us that Jacobean England and Periclean Athens were also strange...

(The entire section is 6020 words.)