Obituaries: A Dead Important Genre
Obituaries are micro-narratives in which distinct conventions and tensions are at work. Humanist and historical, emotional and dispassionate, philosophical and random, obituaries have a literary nexus that encompasses reverence, irreverence, grief and (in some cases) relief. My analysis starts with broadsheet obituaries of the late twentieth century, and models of reading the genre, which I re-read through counter-establishment Private Eye’s comic verse obituaries. Pet memorials adopt and adapt obituary, creating distinct subcultures of animal relations in genres of human mourning. The obituaries discussed span the ideological reproduction of essentially respectful obituaries, to comedy’s counter-cultural critique, to an expansive embrace of selected animal companions seen as part of human families, to an articulation of the value of life forms lost to climate emergency. In these and other contexts, obituaries are alive and well.
Copyright (c) 2020 Clare Brant
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