Menippean Satire

It seems that what Adam Roberts writes (see here my review of his 2015 novel The Thing Itself where I commented on his approach) is Menippean satire.

According to a review of that same Roberts book in Strange Horizons this kind of satire deals “less with people as such than with mental attitudes. Pedants, bigots, cranks, parvenus, virtuosi, enthusiasts, rapacious and incompetent professional men of all kinds, are handled in terms of their occupational approach to life as distinct from their social behavior. The Menippean satire thus resembles the confession in its ability to handle abstract ideas and theories, and differs from the novel in its characterization, which is stylized rather than naturalistic, and presents people as mouthpieces of the ideas they represent.” (I quote using the USian spelling.)

I can see it – especially in regard to his 2014 novel, BĂȘte. Whether or not the practice of Menippean satire is a good thing will depend very much on the reader. I’m not averse to the odd bit of abstruseness myself in my reading but I tend to err more on the side of emotional connection.

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