parody, mocking imitation in verse or prose of a literary work. The following poem by Robert Southey was parodied by Lewis Carroll:
"You are old, Father William," the young man cried;
"The few locks which are left you are gray;
You are hale, Father William—a hearty old man;
Now tell me the reason, I pray."
"In the days of my youth," Father William replied;
"I remembered that youth would fly fast,
And abused not my health and my vigor at first,
That I never might need them at last."
Southey, "The Old Man's Comforts and How He Gained Them"
"You are old, Father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has turned very white,
And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
Do you think at your age it is right?"
"In my youth," Father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why I do it again and again."
Carroll, "Father William"Parodies have existed since literature began. Aristophanes brilliantly parodied the plays of Euripides; Cervantes's Don Quixote (1605–15) parodies chivalric romances; Henry Fielding's novel Joseph Andrews (1742) parodies Samuel Richardson's moral novel Pamela (1740); and Max Beerbohm's A Christmas Garland (1912) wickedly parodies such authors as Kipling, Conrad, and Henry James. Noted 20th-century parodists include Ogden Nash, S. J. Perelman, Robert Benchley, James Thurber, E. B. White, and Woody Allen.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.