The Spyglass, Views and Reviews, 1924-1930: Selected and Edited by John Tyree Fain

By Donald Davidson | Go to book overview

Irony: Edith Wharton, Louis Bromfield Critic's Almanac September 23, 1928

There are various ways of distinguishing superficial from profound art. Beauty, sincerity, reality are the usual catchwords of differentiation, the only trouble with them being that, while apparently everybody knows vaguely what they mean, nobody ever has exactly and completely defined them. Another test, not quite so general, is to ask whether the artist has irony. If he has genuine irony, he must be approached with utmost respect; if he does not have it, or has only the seeming of it, he may be interesting in a dozen different ways, but he cannot be a really serious interpreter of human life. If other qualifies were equal, Shakespeare would still be superior to Jonson by the test of irony. In a similar way, irony alone would differentiate the sonnets of Shakespeare from the sonnets of a hundred technically capable but unironical contemporaries. In modern times, it might be a mark to separate a play by Eugene O'Neill from any typical Broadway success; or Thomas Hardy from Harold Bell Wright; or Edith Wharton and Louis Bromfield from the glib and plausible Edna Ferber.

Is irony easier to define than the other qualities mentioned? Yes, because ir is an attitude determining the artist's approach to his material. On the negative side, it means a refusal to simplify too readily; it declines the narcotic lull of easy philosophies; it will not put on ready-made garments of meaning. On the positive side, it is a conviction that the apparent unity of life is based on diversity and that life is essentially dualistic, with evil and good continually merging, changing places, as well as standing opposed. Irony sees contradictions; the animal as well as the god in man; confusion as well as a moral order; discords

-83-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Spyglass, Views and Reviews, 1924-1930: Selected and Edited by John Tyree Fain
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 268

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.