Comedy: "An Essay on Comedy" by George Meredith. "Laughter" by Henri Bergson

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Press:The Johns Hopkins University Press Johns Hopkins University Press; Soft Cover edition (March 1, 1980)
Publication Date:1980-03-01
ISBN:9780801823275
Author Name:Meredith, George/ Sypher, Wylie
Pages:288
Language:English

Content

Bergson's essay looks at comedy within a wider field of vision, focusing on laughter and on what makes us laugh. 
His study examines comic characters and comic acts, comedy in literature and in children's games, comedy as high art and base entertainment, to develop a psychological and philosophers theory of the mainsprings of comedy.

From the Back Cover

Bergson's essay looks at comedy within a wider field of vision, focusing on laughter and on what makes us laugh. 
His study examines comic characters and comic acts, comedy in literature and in children's games, comedy as high art and base entertainment, to develop a psychological and philosophers theory of the mainsprings of comedy.

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Humor & Entertainment,Humor,Comedy,Literature & Fiction,History & Criticism,Criticism & Theory,Arts & Photography,Performing Arts


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Comment

 
 

Comment List (Total:7)

  •     interesting book
  •     Henri Bergson describes why we laugh, and subdivides this description further into three characteristics. Each of these characteristics is then divided further occassionally. Example: >We laugh at mechanical rigidity. The three types are repetition, inversion, and reciprocal interference of series. An example of repetition is a frozen facial expression (repetition) and is comical only if it's imitatable.< Then he proceeds to give examples of word play, character, actions, etc which illustrate his points.
  •     The book arrived promptly and in good condition. It was everything it said it would be the description, and I know I will be able to eventually resell it.
  •     Bergson offers a taxonomy of laughter. The description is concise, realistic, and rife with examples. He begins with a broad definition of anything that is laughable and further narrows the definition where appropriate. Never have I encountered an example not explainable by this.
  •     Bergson's _Laughter_ has been out of print for too long. It's the best theoretical study of comedy available. A meditation by the great philosopher of "elan vital" about our natural response to humans acting mechanically, _Laughter_ is also about the nuts and bolts of comedy. Moliere is the main model, but it works for Shakespeare, Chaplin and Preston Sturges just as well.
  •     This review is partial, and does not include the major essay of Wylie Sypher that serves as epilogue for the essays of Meredith and Bergson.Meredith, Bergson, and Freud are among the few who so far as I know have presented major theories of comedy and laughter. Meredith's discussion of comedy involves a distinction between the low comedy of laughing, slapstick and its varieties, and the high comedy of intellectual perception. This latter is his main interest and involves as he understands it our discernment of some distinction between ideal and real. It is this high comedy which is a moral corrective and enables us to put the arrogant, and rude in their place.For Bergson the theory is a theory of laughter. It has to do with his own major philosophical distinction between the 'mechanical ' and the ' spontaneous' between the rigid and that which flows. For Bergson laughter can come at our observation of someone walking along and falling down, comes as some kind of break in the expected pattern of motion and action.Neither of these theories begins to cover all the different kinds and ways we smile and laugh at others. They are , as I understand it a start at trying to find the essence of a set of realities which may in fact have more than one essence.These works then as I understand it are invaluable starting points for thinking more deeply about the subjects of what comedy and laughter are .And writing this I am quite dismayed how humorless it is.And this as if to remind that true comedy ( at least as literature( requires a power of invention and creation out of the ordinary.Is this perhaps the ' germ' of another way of thinking about comedy i.e. as a special kind of human inventiveness involving surprise
  •     This was required reading for a college class. The material is interesting if a bit dry. It gives a good history of comedy on the stage and in film.
 

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