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Couldn't the first sentence state explicitly that poetry is what this is about? Even the second sentence, in stating that the term was introduced by a poet, doesn't really say it's about poetry; a poet can introduce a term that's about morality or nature or war and almost anything else. Michael Hardy 01:46, 8 Nov 2003 (UTC)

  • It can, except that the term isn't about poetry. Peri Bathos itself is prose, and, while Pope was talking about poetry, the term now refers to any situation in which an unintended comic effect is produced by an incongruous combination of high and low. I will try to clarify some more. Thanks for the input. Geogre 00:59, 8 Aug 2004 (UTC)

God - any decent person with a grasp of the English language will tell you that that first sentence is very poorly written. What a trainwreck. (talk) 05:54, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Where is Pope's "Rape of the Lock"?[edit]

This is his own most elegant contribution to "The Art of Sinking in Poetry"

Terry Foreman

  • Only if you consider "bathos" to be synonymous with undercutting (see below). Parody itself relies upon a countertext and an inversion. The Rape of the Lock takes the form of Virgil to discuss the apotheosis of a curl. Because Pope is fully aware that a lock of hair is not the proper cause of a feud, the joke works. If he were stupid and unaware and believed that the snipping of a curl warranted a fight, then he would be Lord Petre or Arabella Fermor and silly. (I.e. if Rape of the Lock is bathos, then so is Macflecknoe, Lines on the Death of Dean Swift, Absalom and Achitophel, The Splendid Shilling, and Namby Pamby.) Geogre 03:24, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

I highly disagree. I think "The Rape of the Lock" definitely includes bathos. Look at these examples (there are many more of course):

  • "Here Thou, great Anna! whom three Realms obey, / Dost sometimes Counsel take--and sometimes Tea."
  • "The hungry Judges soon the Sentence sign, / And Wretches hang that Jury-men may Dine; / The Merchant from th'exchange returns in Peace, / And the long Labours of the Toilette cease"
  • The entire first verse-paragraph of Canto IV
  • "Then flash'd the living Lightnings from her Eyes, / And Screams of Horror rend th' affrighted Skies. / Not louder Shrieks to pitying Heav'n are cast, / When Husbands or when Lap-dogs breath their last, / Or when rich China Vessels, fal'n from high, / In glittring Dust and painted Fragments lie!"

--Bobjohnson111980 (talk) 07:14, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

Late rewrites a bit ... eh... ungood[edit]

The article is now entirely rambling. Furthermore, it definitely conflates bathos with deflation, which is a longstanding comic technique that is totally unrelated to bathos. The first two examples are, in fact, not bathos at all. When Pope says, in Rape of the Lock, that great tragedies, like the death of a lover or Shock (the dog), he is doing it consciously for humorous effect. Consciousness of the technique means, in fact, that it is not "sinking" in poetry, but rather undercutting. (E.g. Kierkegaard saying that the self may be easily lost, and the loss of "an arm, a leg, or a wife" would be noticed more is a joke, and not bathos.) I almost reverted way back to the last version by Wetman.

I think there are some nice things said since then, but I also think it has wandered and flopped about too much. Yes, Pope applies it to all arts. Yes, the radical juxtaposition of high and low is bathos. No, it is not bathos when a person undercuts on purpose. (Peri Bathos was a satire. Not much point satirizing people who are doing it on purpose.) Further, I have yet to hear the term used in contemporary English for deflation or undercutting. I have heard it for unwitting undermining. The Mechanicals' performance of Pyramus and Thisbe in A Midsummer Night's Dream is the only case I can think of where there is conscious bathos: it is funny because it combines very lofty tragedy with very bad acting, and it only functions because the players themselves must be unaware of how bad they are.

In general, I have to say, "no, no, no." This article now needs a major restructuring. Geogre 03:20, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

Bathos requires innocence in the author and disjunctive reception[edit]

The thing about using an example from the book of Revelation is that while it might be possible for someone to see the poetic figures as bathos, it is extremely unlikely. The verses are allegorical, and, generally, allegory regularly violates physical reality to achieve its philosophical and historical message. For example, Milton would never be accused of being bathetic for describing "the darkness visible." So, similarly, while it's possible for someone who misses the entirety of the allegory of Revelation of St. John to see the mere poetic tropes as disjunctive, the readership would never be looking at those tropes that way in the first place. In other words, there is no innocence of the author. (Bathos requires a poet unaware of the disjunction being created and therefore a significant failure ("art of sinking in poetry"), but John is aware of paradox and intent on it.) That's why I have removed the example: it simply isn't bathos. Geogre 11:39, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Fair enough. To be honest, I came to the page to find out what bathos actually was after hearing the Monty Python sketch where a gangster uses sarcasm as a weapon:

"Well, I was terrified. Everyone was terrified of Doug. I've seen grown men pull their own heads off rather than see Doug. Even Dinsdale was frightened of Doug. He used…sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and…satire. He was vicious."

Having read what bathos was, especially the 'Dover pier' example, it reminded me of the verse in Revelation which I have always found funny. I visualise angels standing around looking at their watches. That's the disjunctive reception, on my part at least. Anyway, thanks for clearing it up. I'll be looking up litotes next. Best regards, MatthewPetty 08:44, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

  • Sorry for being prickly, but there was a major rewriter who introduced a lot of ... static ... into the article, and since then people have been gradually trying to get it back in order. The rewriter also introduced some good stuff, so no one just wanted to revert him. At any rate, Pope's definition is still, I think, the operative one. Bathos is wonderful, though. It's probably like kitsch, except that it's specifically a radical disjunction between high and low. My favorite example from life was seeing a children's theatre doing MacBeth. I know that Tudor theater was often performed by children's companies, etc., but there is something surreal about 13 year olds acting out the complex grime of that play: the difference between the seriousness of the material and the youth and innocence of the actors created bathos -- a radical disjunction that the producers were unaware of. Some people have suggested that the The Langley Schools Music Project's version of The Eagles's "Desperado" is bathetic, but I disagree. A 14 year old girl signing about longing and sadness is actually sort of right on the mark. (For more unconscious humor, though, where the reader being ironic creates the humor (which is what I think your example shows) is the infamous stage direction in Hamlet that Graham Chapman said was the funniest line in literature: "All die.") The Pythons were highly educated folks and bright fellows, but I think Dougie Dimsdale may have been using the term inappropriately. :-) ("He shows up -- in a tank -- and he says, 'Come on, Reg, let's go for a little scrape.'") Geogre 09:41, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

Now someone (oh, I see it's a Scottandrewhutchins) has added a {{Fact}} notice into one of the examples. How could this little challenge have been avoided? It intentionally defaces the article. Might we expect an explanation of his action by Scottandrewhutchins here at the Talkpage, if this little tag is not to be reverted again and ignored. Perhaps a better example of bathos would be best, to demonstrate that the perpetrator is not merely tone-deaf and eliminate any possible doubts about good intents. What about it? Let's hear Scottandrewhutchins's example of bathos! Perhaps if the term is obscure to this one reader, the article needs to be made plainer and more obvious, so that everyone can understand bathos, and no one feels excluded and cross. --Wetman 04:41, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

  • Well, I'm against "citation needed" tags tossed in when what's really involved in "this makes no sense." I see from edit comments that he has a problem with the language, but I have a problem with the example itself. I don't think that the Moody Blues lyric is particularly bathetic, or at least not obviously so, and therefore we might be better off with another example. There is nothing wrong with putting "senior citizens" in. For serious bathos among contemporaries, I'd turn to Rod McKuen, whose poetry is dripping with bathos, or, in lyrics, perhaps "MacArthur Park." Some of the bad hair metal bands that attempted trolls 'n elves mythology (a la Spinal Tap's "Stonehenge") manage it, too, and Donovan's "Atlantis" is pretty bathetic, but it's difficult to use pop music for bathos. Geogre 10:26, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
I agree that "MacArthur Park" is bathetic. "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody, "Jurassic Park" is easier to take seriously[1]. But something other than pop music might be altogether better. A line form a crappy romance novel, perhaps? --Scottandrewhutchins 01:18, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
Part of the problem— which is more like the cultural equivalent of a language barrier than to tone-deafness— has been that "Decorum" in Wikipedia was merely a redirect to "Etiquette" (vivid!). So I've begun an article on literary decorum: its deconstruction by modernism has rendered post-historical readers— those lacking any historical perspective— unable to hear bathos, mock-heroic or literary burlesque, because they have no expectations. You'all might help out with decorum as well as finding some better examples of bathos here, to introduce both ideas more effectively in virgin territory. --Wetman 06:35, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Oooh, very good idea. We really, really need to explain decorum. It's an important subject, and the classical locus of the discussion is Addison in The Spectator. He, of course, had French sources, but he also interpreted and made an English version of it. You have to have decorum to understand why bathos is such a literary crime. (As for the examples in Bathos, I was getting accused of WP:OWN because this has been "my" article, so I stepped back. When a mass of stuff got added in, I asked other readers if they thought I should revert. They didn't. They thought it was a mess, but that there was too much good with the bad to just revert, and then I got overwhelmed by the task of a wholesale rewrite that wouldn't leave me open to "OWN"ership criticisms.) Geogre 11:15, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

this is complete bollocks. as far as I can tell, this article expends most of its energy piously explaining how bathos isn't the appropriate term for a joke along the lines of "the essentials of a judge are integrity, learning, and an ermine robe". And yet this is an example included with the OED's second definition: 2. Rhet. Ludicrous descent from the elevated to the commonplace in writing or speech; anticlimax. 16:55, 1 October 2007 (UTC)snaxalotl

The OED has never been wrong, of course. Not once, ever. "Anticlimax" is not bathos. Bathos may be an unintentional anticlimax, but if it is a figure of speech, then it isn't bathos. Go read a book -- preferably Peri Bathos. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Geogre (talkcontribs) 20:20, 1 October 2007 (UTC)


Why does narm redirect to here? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:51, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

No idea. :) I've changed the redirect to a more appropriate entry (National Association of Recording Merchandisers). (talk) 10:17, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

Looks like someone's idea of a joke/vandalism. Whatever "NARM" was supposed to be someone must have thought it laughable. We usually get people redirecting their least favorite person to "gay," so this is a step up the intellectual ladder, at least. Geogre (talk) 12:04, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

TV Tropes reference, most likely. Their article links here. No idea who actually did it, though, or whether they even knew it was an acronym for something else. (talk) 04:02, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

I'd suggest making a "narm" disambiguation page.
Qit el-Remel (talkcontribs) 01:57, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

Yes, "narm" is the preferred term for bathos on TV Tropes. The term has become so entrenched on that wiki that it probably wasn't vandalism to redirect it here. In fact, the term "narm" might even deserve mention as an internet slang term, whereas "bathos" is a more obscure professional literary term. - Gilgamesh (talk) 10:55, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

I propose that the article on “Peri Bathous, Or the Art of Sinking in Poetry” should be merged into this one, on the grounds that the content is almost entirely duplicated. Лудольф (talk) 14:36, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

  • The notability of Pope's essay suggests that it should have its own article.--Sum (talk) 14:32, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - the topics are discrete subjects and deserve their own articles even though they may be short. However, Лудольф is right to draw attention to duplication of content, and the articles should be edited to avoid/remove overlap. Mooncow (talk) 16:18, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose - there is no reason for an article about a particular essay by Alexander Pope should be merged into the article about the subject of that essay. --EncycloPetey (talk) 19:46, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

I am closing this discussion, since it has had no support after almost a year of being open. --EncycloPetey (talk) 19:46, 26 February 2011 (UTC)