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Irony and Black Humor in Bukowski‟s Hollywood and Pulp: A Study of Linda

Hutcheon‟s Two Postmodern Concepts


[PP: 132-140]
Zahra Notash
Department of English Language, Faculty of Foreign Languages
Islamic Azad University, Tehran Central Branch
Tehran, Iran
Zahra Bordbari
(Corresponding Author)
Department of English Language, Faculty of Foreign Languages
Islamic Azad University, Tehran Central Branch
Tehran, Iran
ABSTRACT
The present article tries to study irony and humor (black humor) in Charles Bukowski‟s
Hollywood and Pulp in the light of Hutcheon‟s theoretical framework on the idea of playfulness to see
how they could be interpreted in terms of postmodern fiction. The previous researchers have
considered Bukowski‟s fictions; however, they did not regard them in respect of the concept of play.
As a result, the aim of this study is to understand whether there is any relationship between Bukowski‟s
ironical humorous language and Hutcheon‟s critical theories on irony and black humor as identifiable
features of postmodern fiction or not? To achieve the end, the researcher is going to interpret these two
novels‟ verbal ironies regarding Hutcheon‟s proposed ironic markers as well as the structural ironies
and black humors with regard to the doctrines of the mentioned postmodern critic. Therefore, the
analysis seems convincing enough not only to indicate the significant importance Hutcheon‟s critical
theories on postmodernism, but also to claim that these two novels consist of the outstanding aspects of
postmodern fiction including irony and black humor.
Keywords: Linda Hutcheon, Postmodern Fiction, Irony, Black humor, Hollywood, Pulp
ARTICLE The paper received on Reviewed on Accepted after revisions on
INFO 18/10/2018 20/11/2018 30/12/2018
Suggested citation:
Notash, Z. & Bordbari, Z. (2018). Irony and Black Humor in Bukowski‟s Hollywood and Pulp: A Study of Linda
Hutcheon‟s Two Postmodern Concepts. International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies. 6(4).
132-140.

1. Introduction playful by being ironical or using black


What has attracted the attention of the humor (1988).
current critics is the role of irony and humor Furthermore, Henry Charles Bukowski
in representing serious and significant as the author of Hollywood and Pulp is a
issues. Linda Hutcheon is one of the literary German-American prolific writer who
critics who has emphasized on such a became an important literary figure in the
specific role of humor. As a contemporary 1960s (Debritto, 2011:71). His literary
Canadian postmodern critic and university works are surrounded through the themes of
professor of English and Comparative corruption of capitalism, working-class
Literature, she has extended her misery, boredom and absurdity,
contributions to literary criticism by meaninglessness and unproductivity,
theorizing and politicizing irony in her poverty, gambling, drinking, and on the
famous book entitled Irony‟s Edge: The whole the failure of human relationships and
Theory and Politics of Irony (1994). Indeed, the subsequent loneliness of individuals.
this book might be considered as the basic Bukowski claimed that his novels are mostly
theoretical framework of this article in autobiographical except the last one, Pulp.
which the main focus is on verbal and His style of writing also resembles that of
structural irony. However, Hutcheon‟s main Hemingway; it is simple, direct,
reputation relies upon her critical theories on straightforward, and short. Apparently,
postmodernism. In A Poetics of humor is the most remarkable element in his
Postmodernism, she regards postmodern writings. In other words, he represented real
fiction as being playful; and a work could be life events and the facts of city life in a
Irony and Black Humor in Bukowski‟s Hollywood and Pulp: A Study of Linda … Zahra Notash & Zahra Bordbari

comical and ironical manner which lead to Bukowski‟s autobiographical fictions in


create hilarious moments for his readers. which the main character is himself; an
Accordingly, Hollywood and Pulp as his last aging, alcoholic, ugly persona. Don adds
two novels might not be exceptions of that Bukowski most of the time got trapped
employing irony, black humor, and on the by excess of writing; the concept which
whole the idea of playfulness. Therefore, the made him a prolific and sometimes even a
present article aims to study Bukowski‟s last hyper-prolific author.
two novels in the light of Hutcheon‟s critical Abel Debritto, on November 2017,
theories of playfulness to see how they could also wrote an article entitled “Charles
be interpreted in respect of postmodern Bukowski Wrote So Fast His Publisher
fiction‟s characteristics. To achieve this end, Couldn‟t Keep Up,” discussing such a
various verbal ironies that are recognized prolific American writer. In this article, the
through Hutcheon‟s proposed ironic markers author describes Bukowski as a womanizer,
together with structural ironies and black drinker and dirty old man who was
humors existed in these two novels are going considered as a prolific author with just five
to be analyzed with regard to Hutcheon‟s thousands poems. He adds that Bukowski
discussed theories on irony and humor. But started to publish his works with the little
before that, the novelty of the following magazine.
article will also be investigated. Furthermore, Mark Conway wrote
2. Literature Review another article entitled “Charles Bukowski”
Considering the previous studies on on July 2017. In this article, the author refers
Charles Bukowski, previous research to Bukowski as a prolific poet, novelist, and
conductors have mostly focused on the issue short story writer who depicted both beauty
of genre and gender, alcoholism, female and brutality of the world. Then he adds that
characters and characterization, his poetry, Bukowski became wealthy from his writings
his autobiographical fictions, and the at the end of his life. He describes
importance of risk in his literary works. In Bukowski‟s life with a great focus on how
this case, the researcher provides the most he became a well-known author. According
recent books, articles, and theses on Charles to him, Bukowski was highly influenced by
Bukowski in the following: Ernest Hemingway because he read most of
David Stephen Calonne wrote a book his literary works.
entitled Charles Bukowski: Critical Lives in Another work on Bukowski is “The
2012. He provides both personal and Portrayal of Women in the Novels of
professional information regarding his life Charles Bukowski,” an extended essay
and describes the context in which each written by Jani Korhonen on 2006, in which
books were written. He also adds that the author describes how Bukowski‟s
Bukowski provided an original style as a attitude toward women has changed his
mixture of lyric, violence, desperation, and a novels as a result of the feminist movements
sense of humor throughout his career. to improve their position in the society.
Charles Bukowski written by Gay Bukowski saw positive points about women
Brewer in 1997 also could be considered as in Hollywood; however, he looked at them
another critical overview on Bukowski‟s just as an object in his earlier novels.
life. Although he set himself aside from The next article written on the author‟s
Ernest Hemingway through using his sense work is William Anthony Nericcio‟s
of humor, Brewer represents him more “Review of Pulp by Charles Bukowski”
similar to Hemingway in the aspect of heavy (Autumn 1995) in which the author
reliance on death, the male psyche, as well describes Bukowski‟s last novel as a pulp
as dialogue. fiction and sometimes as a detective story
The next one is Contemporary together with providing a brief summary on
Novelists as a book edited by D. L. it. Moreover, Lauri Leinonen from
Kirkpatrick. Jay Dougherty as the author University of Tamper submitted a thesis
claims that Bukowski‟s style of writing like titled “„Magic and Terrible‟: Female
Hemingway includes simplicity, directness, Characters and Characterization in Charles
straightforward without using any literary Bukowski‟s Post Office, Factotum and
devices. He also states that humor which Women” on April 2014. As the title shows,
creates attraction is the most important the researcher analyzes female characters as
element in his writing. flat; discussing how Bukowski characterized
Don Strachan wrote an article entitled them.
“Bukowski in Jet Stream of Words,” in In addition, Mike Ryan from
2018. In this article, Don refers to University of Louisiana in 2014 submitted a

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thesis titled “„no hope, just/booze and which is resulted in undermining or


madness‟: Connecting Social Alienation and authorizing set of beliefs or principles.
Alcoholism in Charles Bukowski‟s According to her, such capability is also
Autobiographical Fiction.” In this study, derived from the need to treat irony as a
Ryan explores social alienation as a result of discursive strategy (1994).
alcoholism in five autobiographical novels In addition, she introduces two
of Bukowski. participants involved in irony: „the ironist‟
Another instance is “„If you don‟t and „the intended audiences‟ (1994:10).
gamble, you‟ll never win‟: The Importance However, sometimes the intended audiences
of Risk in Charles Bukowski‟s Ham on Rye, fail to perceive the intended ironic meaning
Factotum, Post Office, Women, and or even misinterpret it. In this case, she
Hollywood,” a thesis submitted by Nathan proposes „the interpreter‟ along with „the
Franklin from Middle Tennessee State ironist‟ as two active parts in production and
University on 2013. Franklin focuses on the reception of irony (1994:11). Therefore, her
risk of gambling as a motif in his already- main focus is on the interpreter rather than
stated novels. the ironist unlike previous studies on irony.
According to what have been said, it As far as the interpreter might also fail to
could be inferred that the following make ironist‟s intended meaning, irony
perspective on Bukowski‟s works especially absolutely is a risky business according to
on his Hollywood and Pulp has been her.
untouched by previous researchers. Another concept that has been
Therefore, the scholar tries to add a new discussed by Hutcheon is emotional impact
study on Bukowski‟s literary works through of irony that is referred to level of irritating,
applying Hutcheon‟s critical theories of the mocking, attacking, as well as humiliating
idea of playfulness on Hollywood and Pulp. and embarrassing level that irony is able to
3. Theoretical Framework: Hutcheon’s provide. Consequently, it might be inferred
Theories on Irony and Humor that irony includes different affective
As stated in the introduction, responses from anger to delight together
Hutcheon as a postmodern critic who with various degrees of motivation from
theorized irony in her Irony‟s Edge relies engaging to detaching emotion that would
mostly on irony, humor (black humor), and not be separated from its political nature.
on the whole the idea of playfulness as Therefore, depending on who uses irony and
postmodern strategies and also the why (for what purpose) it is applied, it might
remarkable characteristics of postmodern bring a wide range from anger to delight
fiction. According to her, the definition of (1994).
irony has been changed through times from Accordingly, Hutcheon proposes two
“limited classical rhetorical trope” (1994:2) possible contradictory functions of irony that
to “a more positive mode of artistic are derived from its transideological nature:
expression with renewed power as an one is affirmative or constructive; and the
engaged critical force, that is to say, as a other is destructive or negative. Affirmative
rhetorical and structural strategy of or constructive function appears when irony
resistance and opposition. In other words, is used as a weapon against an authority and
irony today is neither trivial nor dominant power. In contrast, destructive
trivializing.” (Hutcheon, 1992:11-12). function occurs in a position of being
Apparently, Hutcheon‟s perspective on irony attacked or for those who expect absolute
is distinct from its classical definition as a seriousness (1994:26).
pessimistic and absurdist notion. In other Moreover, she insists on the
words, irony is not that simple literary seriousness of irony: “Of course, even
device; the capability which is called humorous ironies can be deadly serious”
„postmodern irony‟ in her Double Talking (1994:25). Seemingly, irony‫ـ‬whether to be
(1992). Indeed, irony has the ability to make humorous or absolute serious‫ـ‬deals with
people uneasy or put them at the level of seriousness and significance according to
uncertainty; the process that not only is Hutcheon. For her, it is an appropriate way
called „edge‟ by Hutcheon, but also makes it of being serious nowadays in order to show
different from other figures of speech. an awareness of facts and actual incidents.
Therefore, she concentrates on the There are also some functions/roles of irony
„transideological‟ nature or politics of irony; known as communicative functions that
that is to say irony might be used in political have been classified by Hutcheon in order to
situations, dealing with variety of interests avoid any confusion in discovering ironical

Cite this article as: Notash, Z. & Bordbari, Z. (2018). Irony and Black Humor in Bukowski‟s Hollywood and
Pulp: A Study of Linda Hutcheon‟s Two Postmodern Concepts. International Journal of English Language &
Translation Studies. 6(4). 132-140.
Page | 134
Irony and Black Humor in Bukowski‟s Hollywood and Pulp: A Study of Linda … Zahra Notash & Zahra Bordbari

values and appropriateness. These functions sudden shocks in humorous and playful
include: Reinforcing role as the most basic manner in A Theory of Parody (1985:79).
function with less critical edge; Additionally, black humor like irony might
Complicating role that reflects richness of be considered as a form of resistance against
all art; Ludic role as the irony of teasing socio-political oppressions according to her.
associated with wit and humor; Distancing Thus, Doru Pop states: “As Linda Hutcheon
role which connotes the idea of indifference; has also put it, humor is about power
Self-Protective role that rejects any relationships, and in any “tensioned” critical
superiority; Provisional role which subverts context, the subversive nature of dark
any fixed position; Oppositional role that is humor, sometimes provides the only
mostly applied in race, class, gender, and possible form of resisting social oppression
sexuality; Assailing role as a destructive (1994)” (2014:160). Seemingly, Hutcheon
attack in order to have a corrective function; believes that dark humor along with irony,
as well as Aggregative role as a social both as a kind of humor, might be
function to include those who comprehend functioned in the form of resistance and
irony and exclude those who do not opposition while encountering social and
(1994:44-50). political oppressions. In this case, these
Unlike many theorists who believe kinds of humor have the capability to deal
that it is irony which creates a relationship with political situations and power relations
between ironist and interpreter, Hutcheon and could be considered as postmodern
claims that irony by itself needs a strategies. It might also be inferred that
community to happen. Indeed, such a Hutcheon has an optimistic attitude toward
community is called „discursive community‟ black humor comparing to previous critics.
by her that is: “the norms and beliefs that Indeed, critics mostly have relied on
constitute the prior understanding we bring pointlessness of life and helplessness of
to the utterance” (1994:137). It could be said modern man in defining black humor. For
that it refers to beliefs, expectations, instance, Soukhanove and et al. define black
knowledge, norms, habits, and even humor in The American Dictionary of The
communicative strategies that are shared in a English Language: “The juxtaposition, as in
specific group as initial understanding to writing or drama, of morbid or absurd
ironical utterances. As a result, irony as a elements with comical or facial ones,
social act needs a particular community not especially so as to produce a shocking or
only in comprehending ironic meaning, but disturbing effects” (1992:847). Accordingly,
also in its coming into being and enabling it previous critics rely on the pessimistic
to happen. Therefore, it could be inferred aspect of irony rather than on its
that the same discursive community in productivity like Hutcheon.
production and reception of irony might help 4. Function of Playfulness in Hollywood
the interpreter to get ironic meaning Hollywood as Bukowski‟s fourth novel
properly. was published in 1989. It is about
Another important Hutcheon‟s Bukowski‟s personal experience of writing
theories on irony is the need for existence of Barfly as the screenplay which is called The
ironic markers or signals. Indeed, these Dance of Jim Beam in the novel and the step
signals are employed by ironist as a clue to by step process of making it into a movie. In
give hint to interpreter in recognition of other words, it is about the complicated
irony (1994:144). She classifies these ironic process of making a film in Hollywood with
markers into two broad categories of all those difficulties and threats. Given the
„Paralinguistic or Paraverbal markers‟ and instances of playful utterances including the
„The five categories of signals‟. structural ironies and black humors together
„Paralinguistic markers‟ include Gestural with the identified verbal ironies through the
markers, Phonic markers, and some Graphic mentioned ironic markers that all derived
Punctuation signs. On the other hand, „The from Bukowski‟s Hollywood, it could be
five categories of signals‟ include inferred that Bukowski‟s intended audiences
exaggeration, literalization, repetition, are not only Barbet Shroeder along with
contradiction, various changes of register, other members of Hollywood but also the
and some other signals that later were added existed absolute powers throughout the
by her. novel as well as heavy drinkers. In fact,
Likewise, Hutcheon regards black Bukowski dedicates his novel to Barbet
humor as the most frequent form of satire Shroeder through which he determines his
that embodies corrective functions of main intended audience. Moreover, he
deviations, lost norms, lost confidence, entirely points to Hollywood and its

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members through his ironical language in hardworking from the lower workers.
this novel. As far as he refers to the existed According to Hutcheon, the ironical
powers like Lido Mamin, Jean-Paul Sanrah, utterances related to the represented power
the community of whites, along with relations bring delight for the suppressed
Friedman and Fischman whose manner of like Jon Pinchot on the one hand, and bring
behaviors as the absolute authorities anger for the dominated existed powers
undermine and suppress their inferiors, the including Friedman and the community of
author also intends to make them as another whites on the other hand. Consequently,
intended audiences of the related ironies. these utterances also act affirmatively when
Additionally, Bukowski admires drinking they are used as a weapon against the
and considers it as an essential means in his absolute authorities; however, they have the
writing which leads to make barflies and capability of being destructive for the
heavy drinkers as the intended audiences of existed powers like the whites which put
some of his ironical utterances. them at the level of uncertainty. Besides the
Furthermore, Bukowski in Hollywood ironical utterances, the existed black humors
discusses political issues like race are also able to provide a form of resistance
discrimination or power relations through against the existed absolute powers
employing ironical and black humorous throughout the novel. As an example,
ways of speaking. As previously stated, Bukowski depicts the existed power relation
Hutcheon concentrates on the among Friedman and Pinchot as his
„transideological‟ nature of irony and relies inferiors:
on the role of black humor in political “I LOVE it when men work for NOTHING! I
situations to provide resistance against LOVE IT!”
existed social oppressions. In this novel, “But…this is not right…those men have worked
Bukowski reflects the problems of the for months! You must give them something!”
blacks as a result of race discrimination “All right, I‟ll give them 15 thousand…”
“Only 30 thousand, for all those months of
without giving any commentary or moral work?”
judgement about such a political issue: “In “No, the 15 thousand is for both of them…”
passage such as this, Chinaski adapts the “But this is impossible…”
role of an observer, recording what he sees “Nothing is impossible…” He looked at me:
without adding anything further that might “Who‟s this guy?”
suggest he was prepared to discuss the plight “He‟s the writer.”
of his neighbors in political terms. His “He‟s an old guy. He won‟t live long. I cut him
depiction of the poverty characterizing his 10 thousand…”
neighborhood is also noticeably free of “No, he‟s paid through me…”
moral judgement” (Bigna, 2005:141). “Then I cut you ten and you cut him ten.”
According to Daniel Bigna, it could be “Harry, stop it, please…” (1989:116)
inferred that Bukowski just wants to make In this black humorous context,
his intended audiences aware of such a Bukowski represents the cruelty of Friedman
problematic issue through his playfulness. as the existed power in filmmaking in which
For instance, Chinaski states in Hollywood: Pinchot‟s suffering is depicted absurd and
“My tax consultant had suggested I purchase pointless. Indeed, such a humorous context
a house, and so for me it wasn‟t really a bring a form of resistance against
matter of „white flight.‟” (Bukowski, Friedman‟s oppression as the dominant
1989:62). Through this ironical utterance, authority over Pinchot and his group.
the author as the ironist probably intends to In accordance with what has been said,
inform the problem of race discrimination it is clear that Bukowski proposes the
by keeping himself away from the complicated process of filmmaking in
community of cruel whites. Additionally, Hollywood, race discrimination, along with
Bukowski discusses Friedman as the existed the existed authorities and power relations
absolute power dominated through the with all their injustices and oppressions as
process of filmmaking, as well. According the existed serious issues through ironical
to the context of the novel, Friedman‟s cruel and humorous language in this novel relying
behavior as a financial backer of the film on the significant nature of playfulness. In
creates power relation in companion with this case, he reflects his awareness of the
Jon Pinchot and his team of shooting represented actual events and significant
through repeatedly cancelling the movie issues through his playful language rather
which reminds the picture of the capitalist than being trivial and ridiculous.
society in which the authority just expects

Cite this article as: Notash, Z. & Bordbari, Z. (2018). Irony and Black Humor in Bukowski‟s Hollywood and
Pulp: A Study of Linda Hutcheon‟s Two Postmodern Concepts. International Journal of English Language &
Translation Studies. 6(4). 132-140.
Page | 136
Irony and Black Humor in Bukowski‟s Hollywood and Pulp: A Study of Linda … Zahra Notash & Zahra Bordbari

Whereas Hutcheon presents multiple proposed ironic markers. In comparison to


functions of irony, Bukowski‟s represented other signals, he mostly uses exaggeration,
ironical utterances in Hollywood are no ellipsis, and changing tone of voice to give
exception of following some of these hint the existence of ironical utterances to
communicative functions. By concluding the the interpreter as one of his reader. For
identified ironical utterances in the novel example, Chinaski states: “The business
under study, it could be claimed that hasn‟t killed you yet” (Bukowski,
Bukowski mostly operates the Ludic role 1989:138). Apparently, Bukowski operates
and then the Assailing role of irony. For the exaggerated way of speaking with
Hutcheon, these two functions include the changing from disappointment to delighted
similarity of having playful teasing, except tone of voice in this ironical statement that is
for the Assailing role which also includes said by his alter-ego to Hector Blackford.
the corrective function of satiric irony: In addition to what has been already
Another related and also relatively said, Hollywood includes some black
benign function of irony would be the humorous contexts whose aims are to
LUDIC. When viewed favorably, this is correct the existed deviations. Indeed,
seen as the affectionate irony of benevolent Hutcheon regards black humor as a humor
teasing; it may be associated as well with of deviations that is able to reform the
humor and wit; of course, and therefore be existed inconsistencies and Hollywood is no
interpreted as an estimable characteristic of exception of these humorous contexts. As
playfulness. far as he represents Jon Pinchot‟s feeling of
The next function is one that I have terror and being threatened by that unknown
rather awkwardly called the ASSAILING person, privation and suffering of buying a
one, because I want to be able to draw upon house caused by the capitalist society, as
the meaning of its Latin root, assilire, to well as Friedman‟s cruel behavior to
leap upon. Yet, there does exist what could subordinate Jon Pinchot and his team in the
be interpreted as a positive motivation for form of black humor, it could be inferred
“leaping upon” something, however that he tries to reform such deviations and
vigorously, and that lies in the corrective lost norms.
function of satiric irony, where there is a set As stated in the introduction,
of values that you are correcting toward. Hutcheon considers irony, black humor, and
(1994:46, 49-50) on the whole the idea of playfulness as
Accordingly, Bukowski probably specific features of postmodern fiction. As
intends to reform the existed deviations far as Bukowski also employs the idea of
including the Hollywood absurd lifestyle as playfulness to some extent in this literary
well as the represented relentless power work, it might be inferred that Hollywood is
relations in the light of employing these two among other examples of postmodern fiction
particular roles of irony. according to the critic. Therefore,
As far as Hollywood‟s ironical Bukowski‟s playful language including both
utterances based on the content of the novel humor and irony makes his Hollywood as a
criticizes some issues regarding the postmodern fiction.
Hollywood members and their futile way of 5. Ironical and Humorous Language in
life as well as the existed power relations, it Pulp
is obvious that the interpreter is better to be Bukowski‟s last novel, Pulp, revolves
belonged to some certain discursive around Nick Belane as a private detective
communities related to the discussed issues. who is trapped by some complicated cases.
In other words, if the interpreter is a Initially, Lady Death asks him to find Celine
participant in the film industry or even who was dead some years ago according to
belongs to the minor groups in relation to Belane. Then, he has been asked to
the dominant powers like Jon Pinchot and investigate some other similar cases like the
his team as certain discursive communities, Red Sparrow or Jeannie Nitro that finally
he/she gets a better comprehending of end in his death. Absolutely, this novel that
Bukowski‟s ironical intents in this novel. is the only one in which the narrator is Nick
Considering Bukowski‟s existed Belane rather than Bukowski‟s alter ego,
verbal ironies in this novel, it could be stated Henry Chinaski, was published in 1994.
that he uses both types of ironic signals Like previous section, studying Pulp‟s
including Paralinguistic markers and the examples of playfulness including verbal
mentioned categories of signals in and structural ironies together with black
recognition of Hollywood‟s verbal ironical humorous contexts with regard to
statements depending on Hutcheon‟s Hutcheon‟s critical perspective bring a series

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of results which are going to be discussed in undermine the resulted ideologies of the
the following: capitalist society including the materialistic
Bukowski like any other ironist might view or the class conflict through such an
determine his intended audiences that should ironic language. In this case, it is obvious
be recognized in the first step of analysis that the existed ironic language regarding
process. At the beginning of Pulp, Bukowski capitalism as the power are able to destruct
states: “Dedicated to bad writing” (1994:6). the position of the capitalists. On the
Apparently, Bukowski introduces some of contrary, they have also capability of
his intended audiences through such a affirming the subordinates who are always
particular dedication together with choosing suppressed by these capitalists. Therefore,
„Pulp‟ for the name of his novel. Pulp‟s ironical utterances play a minor role
Furthermore, some reviewers regard this in the existed power relations comparing to
novel as a pulp fiction in which the author the previous novel.
criticizes the conventions of this specific As far as the critic insists on the
genre writing. Consequently, the author serious and significant role of irony and play
determines pulp fiction writers including in her theoretical framework, the author‟s
both detective and science fiction genre last novel might not be an exception of
writers as his initial intended audiences. In following such a critical theory. As
addition, he discusses futile lives of previously discussed, Bukowski proposes
individuals in today modern world from some serious issues consisting the
various aspects of life like solving detective convention of pulp fiction writing, the futile
cases, romantic relationships, and everyday life style in the modern world, the idea of
conversations with bartenders in ironical death, as well as the destructive ideologies
manner according to the content of the novel of capitalism through ironical and playful
under study. As a result, the modern language. For this reason, his employing
individuals who are trapped in the ironical and humorous utterances are not
represented futility might be regarded as mean to be insignificant and funny.
another part of Bukowski‟s intended Given various roles of irony arranged
audience. In addition to what have been said, by Hutcheon, the writer mostly operates the
Alex Thornber declares in his review: “The Ludic and Assailing roles of irony in using
looming nature of death is prevalent Pulp‟s verbal ironical statements like the
throughout this work. It is perhaps not previous novel. As Hutcheon claims that
surprising that Bukowski finished the novel these two functions include the similarity of
just before his death.” (2012:para.7). having playful teasing, except for the
Consequently, death as the dominant theme Assailing role which also includes the
is prevailed throughout the novel in the form corrective function of satiric irony, it is clear
of Lady Death or Jeannie Nitro. In this case, that Bukowski intends to highlight the
those who are near to death might be represented problems in subtle and witty
considered as another Bukowski‟s intended manner in order to provide an opportunity to
audiences. To conclude, Bukowski intends correct them. Consequently, the ironist aims
his ironical utterances to three particular to reform various issues like the
groups of pulp fiction writers, the modern psychological sufferings and chaotic
individuals, and those who are close to die. situation of the modern life, or the
Unlike the previous novel, this one destructive effects of capitalism through
deals less with political issues. In other employing these two functions.
words, Bukowski briefly criticizes the Relying on the important role of socio-
ideologies of the capitalist society as a kind cultural framing in comprehending ironic
of existed power relations through the ironic intent for Hutcheon, it is essential to
language of the narrator in this novel relying consider that the interpreter should be
on Hutcheon‟s role of irony in political belonged to what discursive communities in
situations and power relations. For instance, order to get the appropriate ironic meanings
Nick Belane says: “I always carried my existed in the mentioned novel. Since Pulp‟s
wallet in my left front pocket” (Bukowski, ironical statements are going to criticize the
1989:66). This statement is said ironical, conventions of pulp fiction writing and
dealing with the materialistic view of the capitalism along with the existed futility and
capitalist society in which money is just the idea of death, the interpreters should be
important to be considered rather than belonged to the related communities to get
humanistic values like establishing financial better comprehension of these ironic intents.
security. Apparently, the author tries to

Cite this article as: Notash, Z. & Bordbari, Z. (2018). Irony and Black Humor in Bukowski‟s Hollywood and
Pulp: A Study of Linda Hutcheon‟s Two Postmodern Concepts. International Journal of English Language &
Translation Studies. 6(4). 132-140.
Page | 138
Irony and Black Humor in Bukowski‟s Hollywood and Pulp: A Study of Linda … Zahra Notash & Zahra Bordbari

Now, what should be considered is to In this case, it is clear that in both novels he
determine which ironic markers Bukowski presents the political situations and power
mostly operates to make the interpreter relations through his ironical and humorous
aware of the existence of ironical utterances language.
in the novel under study. Considering the Relying on the issues he has discussed
existed verbal ironies in Pulp, the author in his novels, he determines the intended
mostly employs the Phonic marker of audiences of his ironical utterances. The
changing tone of voice, re-contextualizing Hollywood members especially Barbet
the familiar, as well as exaggeration in Shroeder, heavy drinkers, and the
comparison with Hollywood. In this case, community of absolute authorities like Lido
the traces of Hutcheon‟s proposed ironic Mamin or Harry Friedman are consequently
markers are obviously seen throughout this among Bukowski‟s intended audiences of
novel, as well. Hollywood‟s ironical language; however, the
In this interpretive level, some pulp fiction writers, the modern people, and
corrected inconsistencies through the existed those who are close to die are considered as
black humorous contexts of Pulp are going the intended audiences of his last novel. In
to be discussed. Relying on the content of addition, the author employs the Ludic and
the novel, these black humors refer to some Assailing functions of irony in both works
issues regarding high depression, fear, under study in order to reform the existed
threat, mental incapability, hopelessness, deviations. As a result, he intends to correct
betrayal, crime, murder, and on the whole the already-said inconsistencies through his
the chaotic and absurd situation of the black humorous contexts in his last two
modern life. Therefore, Bukowski makes his novels, as well. He also makes his readers
readers to think in order to reform the aware of the existed verbal ironies in respect
mentioned deviations and improve the of Hutcheon‟s ironic markers like
existed situation by presenting these exaggeration and changing tone of voice.
deviations in the form of black humor. Therefore, Bukowski‟s both discussed
As also mentioned in the introduction, literary works could be analyzed in the light
Hutcheon relies on the idea of playfulness as of Hutcheon‟s theories of irony and humor
remarkable aspect of postmodern fiction. and include the remarkable characteristics of
Accordingly, Bukowski‟s Pulp could be postmodern fiction.
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Volume: 06 Issue: 04 October-December, 2018
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International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies (www.eltsjournal.org) ISSN:2308-5460
Volume: 06 Issue: 04 October-December, 2018

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Cite this article as: Notash, Z. & Bordbari, Z. (2018). Irony and Black Humor in Bukowski‟s Hollywood and
Pulp: A Study of Linda Hutcheon‟s Two Postmodern Concepts. International Journal of English Language &
Translation Studies. 6(4). 132-140.
Page | 140

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