SYPHER, W., (ed.),
Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore / London, 1980. Reprint 1st ed.1956. XVI,260p. Paperback. Spine a bit wrinkled. Some foxing. Contents: G. MEREDITH: An Essay on Comedy (pp.3-61); H. BERGSON: Laughter (pp.61-193); (Appendix): W. SYPHER: The Meanings of Comedy (pp.193-256). Notes. Bibliographical Note. 'Laughter makes us human' is the theme of these two classic works, one by the English novelist George Meredith, the other by the celebrated French philosopher Henri Bergson. Written some hundred years ago, largely in response to what their authors saw as the dehumanization of man in the industrial age, the essays still convey great sense and significance today. Casting a critical eye on comic works throughout the ages, Meredith finds that the most skilled masters of the comic art - Aristophanes, Rabelais, Voltaire, Cervantes, Fielding Moliere - used comedy to grasp the essence of humanity. Comedy, according to Meredith's theory, serves an important moral and social function: it redeems us from our posturings, stripping away pride, arrogance, complacency, and other sins. 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 philosophical theory of the mainsprings of comedy. Complementing the work of Meredith and Bergson is Wylie Sypher's appendix, an essay that discusses comedy and the underlying comic structure in both anthropological and literary contexts. Sypher offers an enlightening discussion of the relationship between comedy and tragedy and their link with the ritual purging of evil from a society by means of a scapegoat. He then goes on to examine the guises of the comic hero in such figures as the Wife of Bath, Don Quixote, and Falstaff, relating them to such great tragic figures as Oedipus, Faust, and Hamlet. (Publisher's information). From the library of the late Prof. W. Geoffrey Arnott.