Teachout on Tynan’s skewering of Faulkner

Terry Teachout (whose collection of critical essays received a glowing review in the Boston Globe this weekend) argues that parody “is one of the most powerful and illuminating forms of criticism.”

Some of Kenneth Tynan’s most brilliant drama reviews were parodies, including his double-edged skewering of William Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun, which he rewrote in the style of Our Town:

Well, folks, reckon that’s about it. End of another day in the city of Jefferson, Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. Nothin’ much happened. Couple of people got raped, couple more got their teeth kicked in, but way up there those faraway old stars are still doing their old cosmic criss-cross, and there ain’t a thing we can do about it. It’s pretty quiet now. Folk hereabouts get to bed early, those that can still walk….

Stellar critic though he was, Tynan is more often remembered now for his masochistic sexual impulses than for his opinions.


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