The New Student's Reference Work/Burlesques

Burlesques, a class of literary or dramatic compositions of the nature of parody or travesty, which date from classic times, and have had a considerable vogue in Italy whence the term (from the word burla which means raillery, mockery or jesting) is derived. Burlesques have also been much written in France, in England and in this country, the design of their authors being to travesty some well-known work, or to present a subject in a humorous or even a ludicrous aspect and treating it in a light, playful, jocose manner. Ancient examples can be traced back to the era of Aristophanes and to Hipponax of Ephesus (6th century B. C.), the latter being deemed the father of burlesque poetry. Its modern examples are those found in Italian literature, in the writing especially of Berni and Gozzi, whose most successful imitators were Sarrazin and Scarron in France, Chaucer, Beaumont and Fletcher, Butler in his Hudibras, the brothers Horace and James Smith in their Rejected Addresses. In dramatic burlesques the most notable example is Molière in France, and of the lighter order, Burnand, W. S. Gilbert and Plandie in England. The Gil Blas of Le Sage and Don Quixote of Cervantes are renowned examples of burlesque. In England many instances of burlesque and diverting poetic effusion are to be met with in the poems of Thomas Hood, Praed, Cocker, Calverley and Dobson. In this country plentiful examples will be found in the writings of Dr. O. W. Holmes and in our innumerable humorists and dialect writers.