Irony, again

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Wed Mar 17 14:53:31 PST 1999

Alex LoCascio wrote:

> Carrol Cox writes:
> >What in the world does this Mean
> Letterman is a fellow whose rather fond of being smug and making ironic
> statements. I assume Fagan means that as soon as someone like Letterman
> achieves fame, irony loses whatever power it might have previously had.
> > and can it be said without
> >use of the word irony?
> Not without meaning something entirely different.

You mean that your description of Letterman's show is non-paraphraseable. That is a claim often made for imaginative literature, and in the last 50 years often for all texts, but it has some consequences you might or might not want to accept.

> >If the word irony is necessary, what in the world is irony?
> In the simplest sense, saying the opposite of what is meant. You're an
> English professor, right? You know this already

Actually, as I said in the longest post I have written this Sunday (which you may have missed) I don't know what "irony" means and though I have taught it often, I was never satisfied with the definitions I gave my students. I never thought I really led them to understand the term.

If I read your response accurately, the following both would and would not be a satisfactory wording of your original statement about Letterman:

> Letterman is a fellow whose rather fond of being smug and making
> statements which mean the opposite of what they seem to mean.


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