First published in 1969, The Compass of Irony is a detailed study of the nature, qualities, classifications, and significance of irony.

Divided into two parts, the book offers first a general account of the formal qualities of irony and a classification of the more familiar kinds. It then explores newer forms of irony, its functions, topics, and cultural significance. A wide variety of examples are drawn from a range of different authors, such as Musil, Diderot, Schlegel, and Thomas Mann. The final chapter considers the detachment and seeming superiority of the ironist and discusses what this means for the morality of irony.

The Compass of Irony will appeal to anyone with an interest in the history of irony as both a literary and a cultural phenomenon.

part |115 pages

Part One

chapter I|11 pages


chapter II|26 pages

The Elements of Irony

chapter III|24 pages

Basic Classifications

chapter IV|35 pages

The Four Modes

chapter V|17 pages

Ironic Situations

part |131 pages

Part Two

chapter VI|40 pages

General Irony

chapter VII|57 pages

Romantic Irony

chapter VIII|32 pages

Irony and the Ironist