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black comedy


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A kind of drama (or, by extension, a non-dramatic work) in which disturbing or sinister subjects like death, disease, or warfare, are treated with bitter amusement, usually in a manner calculated to offend and shock. Prominent in the theatre of the absurd, black comedy is also a feature of Joe Orton's Loot (1965). A similar black humour is strongly evident in modern American fiction from Nathanael West's A Cool Million (1934) to Joseph Heller's Catch-22 (1961) and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five (1969).

Subjects: Literature.


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