Satire and the Academic Novel

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Charles Knight (University of Massachusetts, Boston)
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The satiric campus novel, in its contemporary form, begins with a cluster of novels written in the 1950s: Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim (1954) and Malcolm Bradbury’s Eating People is Wrong (1959) in Britain; Mary McCarthy’s The Groves of Academe (1953) and Randell Jarrell’s Pictures from an Institution (1954) in the United States. But education has been a subject of satire since Aristophanes mocked Socrates in Clouds (423 BC) and Lucian attacked philosophers and rhetoricians in the second century. Novels of education constitute a recognized category including hundreds of examples. The problem of making distinctions that identify the satiric campus novel is intensified by the tendency of the novel and satire to overlap. But a novel feels like satire when the reader senses that irony,…

2519 words

Citation: Knight, Charles. "Satire and the Academic Novel". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 16 May 2005 [, accessed 06 December 2023.]

1549 Satire and the Academic Novel 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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