March 1964

The Anatomy of Satire.

Author Affiliations

By Gilbert Highet. Price, $5. Pp 301, with many illustrations. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1962.

Arch Intern Med. 1964;113(3):491-492. doi:10.1001/archinte.1964.00280090177058

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Although satirizing anatomy and discussing the melancholy of anatomy have been diversions of curriculum committees, anatomizing satire requires another and much higher order of intelligence. Satire as a literary form can be dissected into elements of parody, monologue, and fictional or dramatic narrative. Satire is by nature derivative. Generally a person, but sometimes a state of mind, an institution, or an organization, may be the subject. Even though it might be considered one step removed from the top ranks of literature, it has had among its practitioners people of great talent and supreme literary genius. It tends to break away from rigid form and concentrates on a vivid approach to reality.

Highet's book traces the various forms of satire, diatribe, parody, and distortion from their distant origins in ancient Greek and Latin writing. The diatribe may simply excoriate or may use philosophic preaching, fantasy, archaisms, or vulgarisms. Erasmus' "In Praise

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