Irony may bring us stimulation,
but enters like a worm in us
betraying us with transubstantiation
if worm becomes a terminus.
Richard Taruskin reviews the biography of Shostakovitch by Esti Shteinberg (“Irony, Satire, Parody and the Grotesque in the Music of Shostakovich”) in TNR, December 24,2001. She writes:
She [Esti Shteinberg] astutely associates the watershed in Shostakovich's career in 1936 with a shift in the nature of his ironic practice. Once a (mere) satirist, for whom irony was a means toward a debunking end (irony as stimulus, in Kierkegaard's terminology) , the composer became, in the battered latter half of his career, an existential ironist for whom irony was a detached and melancholy worldview (irony as terminus) . 'Like a half-smiling, resigned Pierrot, ' she writes, 'Shostakovich's music seems to dance on a tightrope, letting its unresolvable incongruities express the infinite provisionality of existential irony.'