A surprisingly successful fusion of literary criticism and ecology. Meeker proposes that the tragic vision -- characterized...

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THE COMEDY OF SURVIVAL: Studies in Literary Ecology

A surprisingly successful fusion of literary criticism and ecology. Meeker proposes that the tragic vision -- characterized by a concern with individual redemption and a rise above nature to ""nobility"" -- surrender its pre-eminence to the comic spirit. Comedy portrays a restoration to process, an integration with nature: survival, exemplified by such picaros as Lazarillo and Yossarian, becomes paramount -- decorum, morality and nobility be damned. He finds the paradigm of the modern situation, however, in Dante's Comedia, in which Hell is described in imagery strikingly similar to the modern ""industrial, technological, overpopulated, polluted world""; Purgatory's peak is a ""divine forest dense and green""; Paradise is a ""state of mind,"" an adaptation of man to nature, rather than an attempt to change nature to suit man. Meeker also offers an original interpretation of Hamlet, in which the Prince's neurotic inaction is a ""strategy of life as a sophisticated game. . . pitted against the tradition of life as heroic action""; his instinctive aversion to killing is suppressed by the heroic ethic. Meeker is muddy when he tries to refute the ""subjective vs. objective"" model of humanistic and scientific inquiries, and his pleas for less moralism and more realism are innocuous. Given the death of God and the rise of amoral and relativist ethics, Meeker's contention that ""tragedy can only parody itself"" has import, but he neglects the obvious retort of imprints and archetypes. HIS consideration of comic values -- the enlightenment and enrichment of experience by adapting to nature -- is apropos and often entertaining.

Pub Date: May 1, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Scribners

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1974