"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,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.
"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"
In literature, a work in which the style of an author is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule. Differing from both burlesque (by the depth of its technical penetration) and travesty (which treats dignified subjects in a trivial manner), parody mercilessly exposes the tricks of manner and thought of its victim and therefore cannot be written without a thorough appreciation of the work it ridicules. Examples date from as early as ancient Greece and occur in nearly all literatures and all periods.
Learn more about parody with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Sometimes critics use the word figuratively to mean the artist's style and preoccupations appear as strongly (and perhaps as ineptly) in some work as they would in a parody. Such works may result from habit, self-indulgence, or an effort to please an audience by providing something familiar. Ernest Hemingway has frequently been a target for such comments. An example from Paul Johnson's book Intellectuals:
Political polemicists use the term similarly, as in this headline of a 2004 blog posting. "We Would Satirize Their Debate And Post-Debate Coverage, But They Are So Absurd At This Point They Are Their Own Self-Parody".
The following are deliberate self-parodies or are at least often considered to be so: