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Is there a word for the style/device of making one aspect of a literary work contrast with another drastically? E.g., a comic book about the Holocaust[1] or a very upbeat tune with very depressing lyrics?


[1] Nowadays, there are many serious graphic novels, but I strongly suspect that that was not the case when Maus came out, so Maus would have been seen as having ​contrasting aspects of the sort I'm asking about.

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Already asked elsewhere (temporary link, but it should thereafter be archived), but I thought I might get a good answer here and haven't gotten any answer there. –  msh210 Jan 1 '12 at 6:44
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This should be on the English site. –  Matthew Read Jan 1 '12 at 20:42
    
@MatthewRead, it would be on-topic there, I agree (as they allow what they call single-word requests, i.e. reverse-look-up question where people seek the word for a definition), but it seems to be on-topic here also, no? –  msh210 Jan 1 '12 at 20:51
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The only word I can come up with is "ironic" –  TML Jan 2 '12 at 5:21
    
meta discussion: meta.literature.stackexchange.com/questions/322/… –  DForck42 Jan 2 '12 at 14:44
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migrated from literature.stackexchange.com Jan 4 '12 at 7:26

This question came from our site for literary enthusiasts and those passionate about the written word.

1 Answer

Juxtaposition is the putting of things not similar next to each other (to contrast them). For example, in the upbeat tune with depressing lyrics, the tune and lyrics are of opposite nature and put together in the same song.

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+1: nice thinking. But is it used for two things that are not truly next to one another but, rather, are qualities inherent in the same physical thing? –  msh210 Jan 4 '12 at 15:10
    
+1 I think it's the right word for Maus. –  slim Jan 4 '12 at 15:15
    
I do not think juxtaposed is right, as it refers to the ironic or contrasting side-by-side placement of items. They need not be physical items, but they do need to be separate— one could juxtapose songs in a setlist, or words in a sentence. Here, a word is sought for two qualities present in a single entity. –  choster Jan 4 '12 at 15:46
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Agreed with Jasper (+1). You can be in conceptual juxtiposition as well as in physical juxtiposition. In this case the message and the medium can be the two things which contrast. Another example germane to the OP's examples would be Mel Brooks' Busby Birkley-style musical number in History of the World: Part I about the genocide of the Spanish Inquisition. The stark contrast between the style of delivery and the content of the message makes it more poignant. –  Joel Brown Jan 4 '12 at 20:34
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