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Literary Precedents for Miss Lonelyhearts

This Study Guide consists of approximately 5 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Miss Lonelyhearts.
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West's works follow in the tradition of the most famous deadly serious satirist, Jonathan Swift, who wrote, besides Gulliver's Travels, "A Modest Proposal" (1729) for improving the British treatment of the Irish by having them raise the Irish children for meat.

Swift follows the tradition identified with the Latin satirist, Juvenal.

Miss Lonelyhearts, as a holy fool, is also represented in Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov (1879-1880), A Raw Youth (1875), The Idiot (1868), and Crime and Punishment (1866); in Voltaire's Candide (1759); and in Isaac Bashevis Singer's short story "Gimpel the Fool" (1957).

Franz Kafka gives a similar intense, unnatural, disordered, violent effect using similar incredible-but-convincing imagery and a similarly deadly-serious humor. Dashiell Hammett, e.g., in The Maltese Falcon (1930), is noted for his similarly harsh stylization.

The barren world of West's books resembles that in T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land (1922). West's use of images is like that of the Imagists, including Eliot...

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This section contains 188 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Miss Lonelyhearts Short Guide
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