Humor, Tragedy, And a Nobel Prize for Literature

Humor, Tragedy, And a Nobel Prize for Literature

Today, August 17, 2018, Sir. V.S. Naipaul celebrates his 86th birthday.

Recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001, British author Sir V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad to parents of Indian descent. Sir Naipaul earned a government scholarships, attended Oxford and worked for the BBC for a short time. His early novels and short stories received a number of recognitions and awards.  A House for Mr Biswas (1961), was based on his father’s life in Trinidad and received high praise.  Later in his career, he wrote about colonial and post-colonial societies and alienation of the individual in the process of decolonization. Sir Naipaul was knighted in 1989 and holds honorary doctorates from Cambridge University and Columbia University in New York, and honorary degrees from the universities of Cambridge, London and Oxford.

“One always writes comedy at the moment of deepest hysteria” ~ Sir. V.S. Naipaul

An insightful man, Sir. Naipaul.  And he nails it, doesn’t he?  Humor and tragedy are a mere knife-edge apart, and comedy emerges in force when things seem to be at their very worst.

My thoughts….

V.S. Naipaul Quote and HeadshotComedy cushions the blow. Humor can be used to soften an intimidating (or terrifying) message. The reality may not be any easier, but swallowing the pill is less unpleasant.

For as long as governments have existed, satirists have used humor not only to poke fun at leaders, but to call them out.

Humor helps normalize overwhelming experiences and nudges us to look at a situation from different angles. That may reduce some of the stress and fear.

As with shorter skirts during wartime, humor offers a distraction.  A bit of silliness, maybe some physical comedy provide an opportunity to turn away from the awfulness around us and just smile a bit.  At the darkest times, those little bits of light sustain us.

And finally, humor draws us together, providing a bond with others. We’re all in this together, after all, right?

And with that, I will refrain from sharing further my thoughts on the buckets of funny stuff emerging in these last few years. Because, even with humor, that is just a depressing place to go. Instead, I’ll share that A House for Mr Biswas has been added to my ever-growing to read list.

You can learn more about Sir V.S. Naipaul here.


Photo credit JackNL under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.  Quote from brainyquotes.com

Gabrielle V Brown

Gabrielle V. Brown has put words to paper since she could hold a crayon. She is published in technical and academic nonfiction and currently writes humor, speculative fiction, short stories and literary fiction. Gabrielle has lived all over the United States and now resides in the Colorado Rocky Mountains with her husband, daughter, and dog.