26 jun. 2011

Bathos

There is a particular effect obtained, usually unwittingly, when a very high powered style is used to describe a trivial object. Some critics have noticed this in the later poetry of Jorge Guillén, when the high modernist style is used to talk about stereo speakers in a picnic. I've noticed this in Derek Walcott, when he goes on and on about a Swiss waitress's blond hair. This is a classic effect of parody, in which any high style can be brought down simply by applying it to a low object. It becomes self-parody when the writer doesn't quite realize the disjunction.