Every now and then you need to read a really hysterical novel to take your mind off the fact that the world in which we live is basically doomed. None of us individually can do very much about the world financial crisis, climate change, mass species extinction, the genocide in Tibet, or the dubious popularity of Lady Gaga. But we can do what great men and women throughout the ages have done when confronted from the insanity of the human condition: retreat into the world of a seriously funny book.
Here are my personal recommendations for the funniest works of fiction ever written:
5. Tie: The Decameron & The Canterbury Tales - Who says a great work can't be a laugh riot? I was forced to read both these works as a student and couldn't believe just how nasty, crude, vulgar, and tasteless they are (in a nice kind of way).
4. Pride and Prejudice - I know that some people find Jane Austen prissy, but I'm definitely not one of them. I love this book, reread it almost every year, and always laugh out loud when I do (especially when I come to any scene involving Mr. Bennett or Mr. Collins).
3. Catch 22 - See previous post.
2. Tom Jones - Joseph Andrews is also a hoot-and-a-half, but this is definitely Henry Fielding's comic masterwork. Sure its smutty and cynical, but that's what makes it so much fun!
1. A Confederacy of Dunces - Ignatius J. Reilly...That should say it all. If you are a guy between the ages of 35 and 50, you know damn well that this is the funniest work ever written. The rest of you just don't know what you're missing!
“I refuse to 'look up.' Optimism nauseates me. It is perverse. Since man's fall, his proper position in the universe has been one of misery.” (John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces)