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Comedy: "An Essay on Comedy" by George Meredith. "Laughter" by Henri Bergson Paperback – March 1, 1980
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Probably the two best looks at the lighter side are these essays, the first by a master of the English novel of manners, the second by a philosopher who influenced a generation of French writers, including Proust... Contains a long index and appendix, the latter offering a wide-ranging historical inquiry into the comic.(Washington Post Book World)
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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
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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.Published on May 28, 2014 by BeckyE