Definition of Satire


Satire seems to be pretty much universally described as the following in dictionaries
(Cite: The American Heritage´┐Ż Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
    1. A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit.
    2. The branch of literature constituting such works.
  1. Irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity.

Satire probably comes from the Latin "satura" meaning "mixed" (literally a "dish of mixed fruits"). The Roman poet, Horace (1 B.C.) is credited as being one of the first satirists to use Satire in a stratified way in poetry. This formal way of writing satire tended to be composed of short verses, quite deliberately attacking situations and people.

Satire is, basically, a word used to describe works of art, including (and especially) literature, which is designed to ridicule and, often, parody. It is most often recognised in the political sense of making light of genuinely serious problems and issues , such as those found in the Spoof news from Laughsend.

However, since Satire is a formalised subject, one must recognise that like any written genre, it also has its forms and modes and although in ancient times satire was more likely to be presented as poetry, it clearly also is presented as narrative and dramatic text.

A good example of popular modern satire would be Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. The ironic utopia Huxley illustrates in Brave New World sets out a vision of humanity that has eradicated healthcare issues, abolished war and is technologically and, from their perspective, sociologically advanced. However, the book also describes a world which has eliminated family, diversity, art and culture, even religion and philosophy. Brave New World was written at a time where the Westernised world revelled in new breakthroughs in genetic science, technological advances, and (to an extent) self-congratulating in terms of how civilised it had become. The satire is Brave New World is, as such, probably more obvious to the western world, but is nonetheless a great introduction to modern satire.

Some of the earliest forms of satire are seen in the writings of Greek dramatist Aristophanes. Aristophanes satirized his world as someone who saw bigotry and hipocracy in his age. For more details, see his books The Clouds or The Wasps.