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One-minute book: Cross of irony

July 3, 2007 |  5:41 pm

Is it dead? Is it sarcasm? Is it Canadian? Take a rapid tour through Jon Winokur's The Big Book of Irony:

Page 1:

Irony is the intentional transmission of both information and evaluative attitude other than what is explicitly presented.

--Linda Hutcheon, Irony's Edge: The Theory and Politics of Irony (1994)

Page 2:

Darryl Stingley, the pro football player, was paralyzed after a brutal hit by Jack Tatum. Now Darryl Stingley's son plays football, and if the son should become paralyzed while playing, it will not be ironic. It will be coincidental. If Darryl Stingley's son paralyzes someone else, that will be closer to ironic. If he paralyzes Jack Tatum's son that will be precisely ironic.

George Carlin, Brain Droppings, 1997

Page 4:

Paradoxically...the people most likely to know the literal definition of irony are the people least likely to appreciate it in its modern form.

--Jonah Goldberg, National Review, April 28, 1999

Page 8:

Irony is essentially constructive, sarcasm malicious. Which doesn't mean sarcasm can't be fun...

Page 16:

Joke dancing. If you keep joke dancing, you are in fact practicing and one day, you'll forget how you used to dance and most importantly, your friends will forget how you used to dance. You will dance exactly in the way you have been mocking, because really you've been practicing on the dance floor.

Page 32:

Civilian: I bought a suit with two pairs of pants and burned a hole in the jacket.

Meta-ironist: Wah, wah, wah, waahhhh...

Page 64:

Alanis Morrissette's "Ironic," in which situations purporting to be ironic are merely sad, random, or annoying (a traffic jam if you're late, a no-smoking sign on your cigarette break) perpetuates the widespread misuse of the word and outrages irony prescriptivists. If is of course ironic that "Ironic" is an unironic song about irony. Bonus irony: "Ironic" is widely cited as an example of how Americans don't get irony, despite the fact that Alanis Morrissette is Canadian.

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