(By the way, I'd be willing to bet that Brandon had never heard of the genre before he took it upon himself to tell me that I don't understand it. He clearly hasn't read Bakhtin on the subject, or he would know that the “characterization of the genre” — that's precisely what it is, just look it up and you'll see — doesn't appear in a “philosophy of dialogue” but in a work of literary criticism that at that point is tracing the generic pre-history of Dostoevsky's novels. That was an especially blustery day on Brandon's blog, Pooh! )
I actually, whenever I teach Consolatio Philosophiae, teach Relihan's and Marenbon's interpretation of Boethius in terms of Menippean satire, and just given what he gives in his argument, I have probably read much more in the actual field than Jacobs shows any signs of having done. He shows no signs, for instance, of anything more than a second-hand acquaintance with the genre, whereas I've read most extant Menippean satires at one point or another. The Bakhtin point could certainly have been more clear, I will grant, but Jacobs again shows no signs of recognizing that Bakhtin's handling of the genre is in terms of a broader philosophy of dialogue; and, indeed, it presupposes Bakhtin's specific philosophical commitments on the subject. I would have expected, for instance, that his uncritical acceptance of Bakhtin as straightforward characterization rather than an adaptation for philosophical ends was a result of intense enthusiasm for Bakhtin, for instance; but it's difficult not to conclude that Jacobs has read a few works by Bakhtin and doesn't have any conception of how they fit into Bakhtin's larger projects. (This is a common danger with reading Bakhtin; he is always doing more than he looks like he's doing.)
Much of the rest of Jacobs's ill-formed argument makes an elementary logical confusion. As he says, Menippean satires unite multiple generic subelements. It does not follow that the uniting of generic subelements makes something a Menippean satire. And we see how thoroughly this elementary mistake messes up Jacobs's argument when we look at the next steps in Jacobs's arguments:
And this should be no surprise, because versions of the menippea are scattered throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The combination of dream vision and satire may be found in Piers Plowman; the insertion of long theological debates in fabulous narrative is especially characteristic of Guillame de Lorris's continuation of the Romance of the Rose; the alternation of argument and song may be found not only in The Pilgrim's Progress but also, in a very different way, in a book whose influence on CSL has not been well-enough noted, Sidney's Arcadia.
None of these are Menippean satires. (I am, incidentally, going to do Jacobs the courtesy of assuming that when he, a professor of literature, attributed the continuation of the Romance of the Rose to Guillaume de Lorris, who wrote the initial section which was continued by Jean de Meun, this was a slip of the keys or an unintended effect of an incomplete revision, and not Jacobs showing that he doesn't even know the most basic facts about such a significant piece of literary history.) For one thing, none of these things are satire in the sense that a Menippean satire is (Jacobs seems not to understand that the 'satire' in 'Menippean satire' indicates a very specific kind of indirect intellectual satire, much closer to the irony of Romantic philosophers like Schlegel than satire in the usual sense), but neither the allegory The Pilgrim's Progress nor the polyphonic romance Arcadia are very like Menippean satires at all, as anyone can see who sets them next to the works of Lucian of Samosata, who writes what are probably the best typical Menippean satires (the most widely read Menippean satire in history is the Consolation of Philosophy, but it is in many ways in a class by itself, and not all that typical). (Jean de Meun obviously draws on Boethius and other late Menippean satire; his continuation of the Romance of the Rose is the work on the list that is most like a Menippean satire.) They all have an interest in (at least some) ideas as such; they all make extensive use of the implicit dialogue of juxtaposition (which is one reason, incidentally, for Bakhtin's interest in the genre and its influences) and often explicit dialogue on abstract topics; they occasionally use allegorical elements as ways of tying different levels together; they mix generic subelements. There would certainly be a historical connection -- practically everyone writing in the Middle Ages and Renaissance would have read some genuine Menippean satires (the Consolation, if nothing else), allegorical literature is heavily indebted to Menippean satire in its origins, etc. But this is not a strong genre-connection at all. These are things that might be found anywhere in an infinite variety of forms; if we're using it this broadly, we might as well just say that the bulk of everything written is Menippean satire. We certainly get these things in blogging. Who knew that blogging was really a revival of Menippean satire? (Actually, as a figure of speech or a use of the terms in a stretched sense that wouldn't be a bad characterization. But treating this as genre classification is, indeed, nonsense.)
And when we take, as Jacobs does, to treating Kierkegaard as Menippean satire we are clearly engaging in an abuse of terms. He's clearly getting it from Bakhtin again, since it is only as colored by Bakhtin's more abstract philosophical interests that one would take Kierkegaard to be writing Menippean satire, rather than writing something that has certain loose analogies to Menippean satire. Kierkegaard, at least, is a much, much better candidate for being counted in the genre than almost any other work Jacobs has mentioned -- the continuation of the Romance of the Rose perhaps is the only better candidate. (And I can't help but notice that Jacobs has mentioned no obvious Menippean satires -- nothing at all from the era of Apocolyntosis, which, while certainly not the first Menippean satire, is the earliest extant, to the era of the Consolation, in which our ability to trace direct participation in the genre as a literary tradition begins to break down. We've gotten abstract ideas from Frye and Bakhtin -- but talk of 'menippea' is talking not about the genre but about an abstract concept derived from selecting out certain features of actual Menippean satires; we've gotten a list that is dangerously near to turning into a list of all major works of fiction prior to the novel. But nothing that's actually, unquestionably, a Menippean satire, even when defending his appeal to it. Not one. The obvious way to defend the claim that X is a Menippean satire is to do direct comparison with Menippean satires. This is what Relihan et al. have done with Boethius, for instance. But actually doing that would show that even That Hideous Strength, the Lewis work most like a Menippean satire, is not all that much like one.)
So, no, my assessment of his botching of the genre of Menippean satire not only stands; it is confirmed in spades. (Jacobs doesn't respond to what primarily led me to call his original post nonsense, namely, the putting of his own personal tastes in the place of critical taste, which must draw out the riches of the common experiences of readers. The point he actually attacks is the point that I explicitly said I wasn't going to treat in detail. So all the weight gets put on it here; it is not what I thought was most important to criticize in Jacobs's argument.)
Having read back over this post, I want to reiterate an essential point noted in my prior post: Jacobs's original argument was against Lewis's storytelling. But Menippean satires are a form of storytelling. Indeed, even if we were to look only at what Jacobs himself has explicitly committed to as menippea, we see this as a blindingly obvious truth. So if Lewis were writing Menippean satire, the standard for his storytelling would be the kind of storytelling relevant to Menippean satires. If Lewis were a good writer of Menippean satire, his work would be good storytelling in the Menippean satire form; if Lewis were a weak storyteller and a Menippean satirist, he would be a weak writer of Menippean satire. Menippean satire is not merely story, and it would suffer less from bad or weak storytelling than the novel. It also has its own storytelling standards. But storytelling is an essential part of it. This whole part of Jacobs's argument, besides being poorly built, is poorly suited for supporting his original claims.