The Bitter and Biting Humor of Sarcasm in Medieval and Early Modern Literature

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2 Scopus citations


Even though the phenomenon of ‘sarcasm’ seems not yet to have existed in the pre-modern world, a careful selection of relevant texts from medieval and early modern German, Anglo-Norman, Middle English, and Latin texts amply proves the opposite. Sarcasm is possibly the worst form of comedy or humor, being biting, angry, and reflecting a sense of desperation. While previous scholarship has extensively worked on irony, satire, and parody, the existence of sarcasm at that early time also deserves to be taken into account, since it often appears to undermine harshly the idyllic impressions of courtly life and threatens to destroy the last shreds of social harmony and to remove any hope for the reconstruction of a happier form of cohabitation and collaboration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-437
Number of pages21
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Erasmus of Rotterdam
  • Gottfried von Straßburg
  • Hartmann von Aue
  • Marie de France
  • Sarcasm
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Wernher der Gartenaere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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