Header image  
line decor
line decor


Jesting in Earnest
Percival Everett and Menippean Satire

Derek C. Maus

A critical analysis of Percival Everett's oeuvre through the lens of Menippean satire

Percival Everett, a distinguished professor of English at the University of Southern California, is the author of more than thirty books on a wide variety of subjects and genres. Among his many honors are the American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award, the Huston/Wright Legacy Award for Fiction, the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction, and the Dos Passos Prize in Literature.

Derek C. Maus proposes that the best way to analyze Everett’s varied oeuvre is within the framework of Menippean satire, which focuses its ridicule on faulty modes of thinking, especially the kinds of willful ignorance and bad faith that are used to justify corruption, violence, and bigotry. In Jesting in Earnest, Maus critically examines fourteen of Everett’s novels and several of his shorter works through the lens of Menippean satire, concentrating on the manner in which it supports Everett’s broader aim of stimulating thoughtful interpretation that is unfettered by common assumptions and preconceived notions.

Derek C. Maus is a professor of English at the State University of New York at Potsdam, where he teaches contemporary literature. He has authored or edited scholarly books on a range of subjects, including Russian and American satire during the Cold War, contemporary African American satire, Colson Whitehead, and Walter Mosley.


Jesting in Earnest establishes a critical vocabulary that Everett scholars will find invaluable. In specifying Everett as a Menippean satirist, Maus lays an astute and essential foundation for the growing field of study of this important novelist’s work.” — Anthony Stewart, Bucknell University

“From the very specific and relevant point of view of Menippean satire, Derek Maus offers a thorough exegesis of Everett’s oeuvre. Taking his cue from Everett’s work Maus destabilizes preconceived ideas to promote genuine reflection.” — Anne-Laure Tissut, Rouen University

“Knowledgeable, accessible, and synthetic, Jesting in Earnest is a perfect introduction to Percival Everett’s complex, motley fiction. It convincingly foregrounds Menippean satire as the core subversive mode at the heart of Everett’s project of challenging all linguistic, generic, and ideological assumptions. This first monograph constitutes a tribute worthy of Everett’s remarkable achievement.” — Michel Feith, University of Nantes





April 2019
6 x 9
192 pages
ISBN 978-1-61117-962-0 Hardcover, $39.99s

ISBN 978-1-61117-963-7
Ebook, $39.99

    Copyright ©2018 The University of South Carolina Press