Sunday, January 28, 2007

Surreal humour

Surreal humour is a form of humour, stylistically linked to the artistic ambitions of the Surrealists, based on bizarre juxtapositions, absurd situations, and nonsense logic. A general element of surreal humour is the non-sequitur, in which one statement is followed by another with no logical progression.

Humour which we might now think surreal has been around at least since the nineteenth century. Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass both use illogic and absurdity for humorous effect. Many of Edward Lear's nonsense stories and poems are also principally surreal in approach. Thus, Lear's "The Story of the Four Little Children Who Went Round the World," is filled with contradictory statements and odd images planned to provoke amusement.

"After a time they saw some land at a distance; and when they came to it, they found it was an island made of water quite bounded by earth. Besides that, it was bordered by evanescent isthmuses with a great Gulf-stream running about all over it, so that it was perfectly beautiful, and contained only a single tree, 503 feet high."

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