Sunday, August 7, 2011

Biblical parodies

"My favorite book of the Bible", by Harold Bloom

It may seem frivolous to speak of a favorite book in the Bible but mine is Jonah, by far. A sly masterpiece of four brief chapters, Jonah reverberates in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, where it is the text for Father Mapple’s grand sermon. Tucked away in the Book of the Twelve, with such fierce prophets as Amos and Micah, Jonah is out of place. It should be with the Writings—Song of Songs, Job, Koheleth—because it too is a literary sublimity, almost the archetypal parable masking as short story. The irony of the J Writer* is renewed by the author of Jonah, who may well be composing a parody of the prophet Joel’s solemnities. Joel’s vision is of nature’s devastation: “the day of the locust.” Jonah’s counter-vision is of survival, dependent upon divine caprice.

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