Showing posts with label literature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label literature. Show all posts

Saturday, 28 May 2016

The Encyclopedia of the Gothic - Review



“Infinity made imaginable.”


A review of The Encyclopedia of the Gothic (2016), edited by William Hughes, David Punter and Andrew Smith. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 978-1-119-06460-2. (880 pages).

     The general editors (William Hughes, David Punter and Andrew Smith) begin their Introduction to The Encyclopedia of the Gothic by employing the now well-known story of the Chinese encyclopedia, popularized by Jorge Luis Borges and by Michel Foucault in The Order of Things (1970). Although they choose to employ the definite article in their chosen title, their enlightened emphasis on ‘provisionality’ hints at the struggle with the ‘epistemologically firm structure of an encyclopedia’ (p. xxxiv). Indeed, the evidence of diversity and the proliferation of resources [FN1] on gothic appears to challenge the possibility of constructing an encyclopedia in fixed media. Fortunately, the online version will provide an opportunity to interact with the suggestions of readers in order to cope with ‘an ever evolving genre’ (p. xxxviii). Nonetheless, the print version marks an excellent opportunity to take stock of the current state of play in gothic studies and to critically survey this gargantuan domain of academic research.

     In one sense, it might be proposed that academic canonicity originates in the authority and the legitimacy of scholars recruited to the project. In addition to the esteemed general editors the reviewer counted some 40 professors amongst the 131 contributors writing on 244 topics. It is also reassuring for the health of the subject that many early career scholars have joined forces with the influential writers who have been transforming the theoretical directions of Gothic studies since the 1980s.

     In short, it’s a highly impressive and monumental effort of collaborative scholarship. I do not envy the task of the editors who must bear the burden of their judiciousness: what to include, what to exclude. Digging deeper reveals that there are underlying narratives and a sense of shared assumptions about the Gothic project and approaches to reflecting on the diverse phenomena conceptually and theoretically.  Given that the gothic genre is not confined to a canon of literary texts the critical project is all the more arduous and the monster of possibility spreads out in all directions. Gothic has become a global project, national and transnational in its replication and migration. As if nodding to the academic industry that has fuelled the dissemination of gothic the editors kindly offer an entry at the centre of their encyclopedia around which all other entries circulate: the International Gothic Association (IGA), whose inaugural conference was held at the University of East Anglia in 1991. Incidentally, two of the general editors, Andrew Smith and William Hughes, are co-presidents of the International Gothic Association, and the latter is also the founding editor of Gothic Studies, the refereed journal of the International Gothic Association.

     It is rather impertinent to question whether a book of this kind is really needed when so much is already available elsewhere, and more material than ever is available on open access. Indeed, the IGA website (www.iga.stir.ac.uk) is a useful place to start. Google Scholar throws up 442,000 references to ‘gothic’ so it’s undoubtedly very helpful to have some guidance to refine the search terms. Certainly this volume compares well with a range of other histories, guides, and companions that have been designed to cater for the undergraduate market. It’s obviously also a safe place to start for students who want to research a specific topic, or to improve their awareness of key themes, concepts, and theoretical approaches. The editors have managed to meet the need for accessibility without falling into the trap of a gross over-simplification of complex ideas. Entries range in length from a thousand words, up to five thousand for ‘period’ surveys. The general policy of the editors has been to offer a survey of the gothic field that covers ‘periods, places, people and media.’ (p. xxxvii) Short bibliographies accompany each entry, together with cross-references. A well-constructed traditional index also helped this reviewer to track down more minor topics that I had deemed to have been missed out.

     Comparison with the much demonised Wikipedia reveals the value of having an erudite collection of short articles that serve as a trusted introduction to key topics in the field of Gothic studies. In terms of geography there are well-informed entries on the regional, national, or wider traditions: African American Gothic (Carol Margaret Davison), American Gothic (Charles L. Crow), Anglo-Caribbean Gothic (Carol Margaret Davison), Asian Gothic (Katarzyna Ancuta), Australian Gothic (Ken Gelder), Canadian Gothic (Faye Hammill), Dutch Gothic (Agnes Andeweg), European Gothic (Francesca Billiani), French Gothic (Terry Hale), Japanese Gothic (Katarzyna Ancuta), Jewish Gothic (Ruth Gilbert), New England Gothic (Faye Ringel), New Zealand Gothic (Timothy Jones), Russian Gothic (Neil Cornwell), Scandinavian Gothic (Yvonne Leffler), Scottish Gothic (Carol Margaret Davison), Southern [US] Gothic (Meredith Miller), and Welsh Gothic (Jane Aaron); but curiously British Gothic and English Gothic are omitted as self-standing entries. One assumes that these categories were sufficiently represented elsewhere, like a background noise that is unnoticed, or a torture to which we have so long submitted that we no longer feel the pain of its presence. (I note that Wikipedia has an entries on ‘Tasmanian Gothic’ and ‘Southern Ontario Gothic’; whereas the Encyclopedia offers ‘Fin-de- siècle Gothic’ (Emily Alder) Wikipedia supplements with an entry on ‘Mal du siècle’.)

     The notion of transnationalism and the migration of Gothic tropes and narratives is evidently becoming more urgent as a focus for international scholarship and collaboration. In this regard David Punter’s entry on ‘Theory’ notes: ‘it involves the constant contact, now prevalent more than ever before because of the globalized spread of cultural interchange, between Western textualities and “indigeneous” folktales and related material.’ (692) Undoubtedly the traffic is multi-dimensional and therefore the encyclopedic projects of a Western intelligentsia and the habits of cultural consumers need to be constantly alerted to the notion of the key role of ‘provisionality’ and ‘interaction’ previously noted.

     Psychoanalytic and other theoretical approaches to Gothic are well served in this volume, perhaps revealing the interest of the general editors and the academic readership that the book targets. Taking a lead from Dale Townshend’s The orders of Gothic: Foucault, Lacan and the subject of Gothic writing, 1764-1806 (2007) David Punter’s entry on ‘Theory’ notes that theory ‘does not have to bifurcate into, on the one hand, purely historical study and, on the other, an attempt to demonstrate “universal” aspects.’ (692)

     Many entries bear the bite marks of the kiss of theory and most are commendable for their clarity and accessibility; examples include:  Abjection (Elisabeth Bronfen); Blood (William Hughes); Commodity Gothicism (Tricia Lootens); Criticism (William Hughes); Cryptonymy (Cynthia Sugars); Doubles (Dale Townshend); Environment (Gregg Garrard); Female Gothic (Diana Wallace); the Grotesque (Maria Parrino); Liminality (Katie Garner); Monstrosity (Jerold E. Hogle); Phobia (Anthony Mandal); Poststructuralism and Gothic(Julian Wolfreys); Psychoanalysis (Roger Luckhurst); Queer Gothic (Max Fincher); Sex (Ruth Anolik); Spectrality (Julian Wolfreys); the Sublime (Max Fincher); the Uncanny (Anneleen Masschelein) and Zombies (Fred Botting). All entries pay lip service to a theoretical approach but it would not be kind to assert, or to give the impression, that a theory-driven agenda dominates and overwhelms other kinds of critical appreciation and historical enquiry. In this case, the gothic church is highly accommodating and tolerant.

     Curiously, the entry on Future Gothic (Nema Montezero) appears without any References or Further Reading. Is that the Shape of Things to Come? Media topics are represented by entries on popular TV, Film (Stephen Carver), Games (Tanya Krzywinska); Radio (Richard  J. Hand), and many more. The longest entries (up to five thousand words) in The Encyclopedia of the Gothic tend to be devoted to the surveys of periods and movements. These entries provide a convenient route for students who are embarking on the study of the gothic for the first time and who need a judicious summary rather than an awesome monograph. Given the high cost of downloading academic articles, it is evident that a modest investment in a resource such as The Encyclopedia of the Gothic clearly represents excellent value for undergraduates, independent scholars and general readers. The theoretical approaches will also prove an essential resource for those seeking to engage with current academic research on the gothic.

Ian McCormick, M.A.(St Andrews), PhD (Leeds).

FN1: 'Nobody ever complains of having too little to read, as Richard Fisher, the managing director of Cambridge University Press’s academic division, has put it at many conferences.' See Martin Paul Eve, Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies and the Future. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

TOPICS COVERED:
  • Abjection
  • Abyss
  • Adultery
  • African American Gothic
  • Aickman, Robert
  • Ainsworth, William Harrison
  • Alcohol
  • American Gothic
  • Amityville
  • Angel
  • Anglo-Caribbean Gothic
  • Anti-Semitism
  • Apparition
  • Architecture, Gothic
  • Asylums
  • Atwood, Margaret
  • Australian Gothic
  • Avatar

  • Barker, Clive
  • Baudelaire, Charles
  • Beckford, William
  • Benson, E. F.
  • Bierce, Ambrose
  • Blackwood, Algernon
  • Blood
  • Bluebooks
  • Braddon, Mary Elizabeth
  • Brite, Poppy Z.
  • Brown, Charles Brockden
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Bulwer-Lytton, Edward
  • Burger, Gottfried
  • Burton, Tim
  • Byron, George Gordon, sixth Baron

  • Cabell, James B.
  • Campbell, Ramsey
  • Campus Gothic
  • Canadian Gothic
  • Carter, Angela
  • Coleridge, Samuel Taylor
  • Collins, Wilkie
  • Colonial Gothic
  • Comic Gothic
  • Comics and graphic novels
  • Commodity Gothic
  • Confession
  • Coover, Robert
  • Corelli, Marie
  • Counterfeit
  • Crime
  • Criticism
  • Cronenberg, David
  • Crowley, Aleister
  • Cryptonymy
  • Cult Fiction
  • Cults, Gothic
  • Curse

  • Dacre, Charlotte
  • Davis, M. E. M.
  • De Quincey, Thomas
  • de Sade, Marquis
  • Degeneration
  • Dickens, Charles
  • Disability
  • Domestic Gothic
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor
  • Doubles
  • Drama
  • Dream
  • Drugs
  • du Maurier, Daphne
  • Dutch Gothic

  • Editorship
  • Ellis, Bret Easton
  • Environment
  • European Gothic

  • Family
  • Fate
  • Faulkner, William
  • Female Gothic
  • Film, Gothic
  • Folklore and Gothic
  • Freeman, Mary Wilkins
  • French Gothic
  • French Gothic Film
  • Friday the 13th
  • Future Gothic

  • Games
  • German Expressionism
  • German Gothic
  • Ghost Stories
  • Gilman, Charlotte Perkins
  • Godwin, William
  • Goth
  • Gothic 1900 to 1950
  • Gothic 1950 to the Present
  • Gothic Revival Architecture
  • Graveyard Poetry
  • Grotesque, The

  • Halloween
  • Hammer
  • Hawthorne, Nathaniel
  • Herbert, James
  • Hill, Susan
  • Hoffmann, E. T. A.
  • Hogg, James
  • Hope-Hodgson, William
  • Horrid
  • Horror Fiction
  • Hypnotism

  • Imperial Gothic
  • Incest
  • Inheritance
  • Inquisition
  • International Gothic Association, The
  • Intertext
  • Ireland, William Henry
  • Irish Gothic

  • Jackson, Shirley
  • James, Henry
  • James, M.R.
  • Japanese Gothic
  • Jewish Gothic

  • Kafka, Franz
  • King, Stephen
  • Kipling, Rudyard

  • Lathom, Francis
  • Law and the Gothic
  • LeFanu, Sheridan
  • Lemoine, Ann
  • Lesbian Gothic
  • Lewis, Matthew
  • Liminality
  • Lovecraft, H. P.
  • Lugosi, Bela

  • Macabre, The
  • MacDonald, George
  • Machen, Arthur
  • Magazines
  • Manga
  • Marsh, Richard
  • Masks, Veils and Disguises
  • Matheson, Richard
  • Maturin, Charles 
  • McCabe, Patrick
  • McCarthy, Cormac
  • McGrath, Patrick
  • Mediumship
  • Melodrama
  • Melville, Herman
  • Misogyny
  • Modernism
  • Monster Movies
  • Monstrosity
  • Mummy
  • Music

  • Necromancy
  • New England Gothic
  • New Zealand Gothic
  • Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Nordier, Charles

  • O’Connor, Flannery
  • Oates, Joyce Carol
  • Occultism
  • Odoevsky
  • Opera

  • Penny Dreadfuls
  • Phobia
  • Poe, Edgar Allan
  • Poison
  • Polidori, John
  • Popular Culture
  • Portraiture
  • Postcolonial Gothic
  • Postmodern Gothic
  • Poststructuralism and the Gothic
  • Protestantism
  • Psychical investigation
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Psychological Thrillers

  • Queer Gothic

  • Race
  • Radcliffe, Ann
  • Radio
  • Reeve, Clara
  • Reynolds, George
  • Rice, Anne
  • Rohmer, Sax
  • Roman Catholicism
  • Romanticism
  • Rosicrucianism
  • Ruins
  • Russian Gothic

  • Scandinavian Gothic
  • Schiller, Friedrich
  • Science and the Gothic
  • Scottish Gothic
  • Secret Histories
  • Secret societies
  • Sensation Fiction
  • Sensibility
  • Sex
  • Shelley, Mary
  • Shelley, Percy Bysshe
  • Shilling Shocker
  • Sinclair, May
  • Slasher movies
  • Slavery
  • Southern Gothic
  • Spectacle
  • Spectrality
  • Spiritualism
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis
  • Stoker, Bram
  • Straub, Peter
  • Sturm und Drang
  • Sublime, The
  • Suburban Gothic
  • Supernatural, The

  • Taboo
  • Tales of Terror
  • Teaching Gothic
  • Technologies
  • Teenage Gothic
  • Tegg, Thomas
  • Television
  • Terror
  • Theory and Gothic
  • Thompson, Alice
  • Translation
  • Twilight

  • Uncanny, The
  • Urban Gothic

  • Vampire fiction
  • Victorian Gothic
  • Village Gothic
  • Voodooism

  • Walpole, Horace
  • Wells, H. G.
  • Welsh Gothic
  • Werewolf
  • Wharton, Edith
  • Wheatley, Dennis
  • Wilkinson, Sarah
  • Williams, Tennessee
  • Witchcraft
  • Wordsworth, William

  • Zombies

CONTRIBUTORS:

Aaron, Jane University of Glamorgan UK
Alder, Emily Edinburgh Napier University UK
Ancuta, Katarzyna Assumption University of Thailand Thailand
Anderweg, Agnes Maastricht University Netherlands
Anolik, Ruth Villanova University USA
Armitt, Lucie University of Salford UK
Bak, John S. Nancy Université France
Balmain, Colette
UK
Barlett, Mackenzie

Bennett, Mark
UK
Berthin, Christine Universite Paris Quest France
Billiani, Francesca University of Manchester UK
Billingham, Peter
UK
Blake, Linnie Manchester Metropolitan University UK
Botting, Fred University of Lancaster UK
Bronfen, Elisabeth Englisches Seminar Switzerland
Byron, Glennis University of Stirling UK
Campbell, James University of Stirling UK
Carver, Stephen Norwich School of Art and Design UK
Carver, Stephan University of East Anglia UK
Chaplin, Susan Leeds Metropolitan University UK
Chromik, Anna Institute of English Cultures and Literatures
Collins, Richard Louisianna State University USA
Cologne-Brookes, Bath Spa University UK
Conrich, Ian Birkbeck College, University of London UK
Cooper, Andrew Georgia Institute of Technology USA
Crow, Charles
USA
Curl, James Stevens
UK
Daly, Nick University College Dublin ROI
Davison, Carol Margaret University of Windsor Canada
Edwards, Justin University of Surrey UK
Fincher, Max
UK
Fischer, Benjamin Franklin
USA
Foley, Matt Stirling University UK
Franklin, Caroline Swansea University UK
Freeman, Nick Loughborough University UK
Garrard, Greg Bath Spa University UK
Gelder, Ken University of Melbourne Australia
Germana, Monica University of Westminster UK
Gibson, Matthew
UK
Gilbert, Ruth
UK
Hale, Terry Hull University UK
Hammill, Faye University of Strathclyde UK
Hand, Richard J. University of Glamorgan UK
Hartnell-Mottram, Elaine Liverpool Hope University UK
Heholt, Ruth Falmouth University UK
Hoeveler, Diane Long Marquette University USA
Hogle, Jerrold University of Arizona USA
Hollington, Mike

Horner, Avril  Kingston University UK
Huang, Chiung-ying Bristol University UK
Hughes, William Bath Spa University UK
Inouye, Charles Tufts University USA
Jones, Tim Victoria University fo Wellington New Zealand
Joshi, S T

Kahan, Jeffrey
USA
Killeen, Jarlath Trinity College Dublin ROI
Krzywinska, Tanya Brunel University UK
Leffler, Yvonne University of Gothenburg Sweden
Lippert, Conny University of Bristol UK
Lloyd, Rebecca Falmouth University UK
Lootens, Tricia University of Georgia USA
Luckhurst, Roger Birkbeck College, University of London UK
Mandal, Anthony Cardiff University UK
Mason, Diane
UK
Masschelein, Anneleen Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Belgium
McClure, Nancy
USA
McDowell, Stacey University of Bristol UK
McEvoy, Emma University of Westminster UK
McWilliams, Ellen Bath Spa University UK
Menegaldo, Gilles University of Poitiers France
Meyers, Helene Southwestern University USA
Michasiw, Kim York University Canada
Milbank, Alison Nottingham University UK
Miles, Robert University of Victoria Canada
Miller, Meredith Falmouth University UK
Monk, Nicholas University of Warwick UK
Mousoutzanis, Aris
UK
Mulvey, Roberts University of the West of England UK
Munford, Becky Cardiff University UK
Murname, Barry Martin-Luther  University UK
Ni Chonaill, Siobhan University of Cambridge UK
Nordius, Janina University of Gothenburg Sweden
O'Gorman, Farrell De Paul University USA
O'Keefe, Ciaran

Owen, Tomos Cardiff University UK
Packham, Jimmy University of Bristol UK
Palmer, Paulina
UK
Parrinder, Patrick University of Reading UK
Parrino, Maria Bristol University UK
Peach, Linden Edge Hill University UK
Pittard, Christopher Newcastle University UK
Pittock, Murray University of Glasgow UK
Potter, Franz National University USA
Powell, Anna Manchester Metropolitan University UK
Punter, David University of Bristol UK
Purinton, Marjean Texas Tech University USA
Purves, Maria Lucy Cavendish College UK
Raghunath, Anita Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam The Netherlands
Redford, Catherine University of Bristol UK
Ringel, Faye U.S. Coast Guard Academy USA
Roberts, Marie Mulvey University of the West of England UK
Round, Julia Bournemouth University UK
Royle, Nicholas
UK
Ruddell, Caroline St Mary's University College UK
Sage, Vic University of East Anglia UK
Sausman, Justin Birkbeck College, University of London UK
Scahill, Andrew University of Texas at Austin USA
Scullion, Val
UK
Smith, Andrew University of Glamorgan UK
Smith, Andy W. University of Wales, Newport UK
Spooner, Catherine Lancaster University UK
Stelle, Ginger University of St Andrews UK
Stephanou, Aspasia University of Stirling UK
Stoddard Holmes, Martha California State University USA
Sugars, Cynthia University of Ottawa Canada
Talairach-Vielmas, Laurence Universite de Toulouse II France
Thomas, Ardel City College of San Francisco USA
Thompson, Douglass H. Georgia Southern University USA
Townshend, Dale University of Stirling UK
Voller, Jack Southern Illinois University USA
Wallace, Diana University of Glamorgan UK
Warwick, Alex University of Westminster UK
Watson, Rory University of Sterling UK
Weinstock, Jeffrey Central Michigan University USA
Whatley, John Simon Fraser University Canada
Wheatley, Helen University of Warwick UK
Williams, Anne
USA
Willis, Martin University of Glamorgan UK
Wisker, Gina University of Brighton UK
Witchard, Anne University of WestminsterUK UK
Wolfreys, Julian Loughborough University UK
Worrall, David Nottingham Trent University UK
Wright, Angela University of Sheffield UK
Wright, Elizabeth Bath Spa University UK
Wright, Angela University of Sheffield UK
Zapp, Andrea Manchester Metropolitan University UK
Zlosnik, Sue Manchester Metropolitan UK
 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Comedy: famous quotes





“Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.”
--- Charlie Chaplin.

"Dramatic comedy, from which fictional comedy is mainly descended, has been remarkably tenacious of its structural principles and character types."
(Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism)

"The days of Comedy are gone, alas!
When Congreve's fool could vie with Moliere's bete:  
Society is smooth'd to that excess, 
That manners hardly differ more than dress."
--- Byron

"Man is the merriest species of the creation, all above and below him are serious."
--- Addison
“This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.”
--- Horace Walpole.

“Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.”
--- Peter Ustinov

“The duty of comedy is to correct men by amusing them.”
--- Moliere.

"In the hands of a comic genius the pretence of stupidity is the triumph of irony."

"In my mind, there is nothing so illiberal, and so ill-bred, as audible laughter."
--- Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield. 9 March 1748.

    "For your race, in its poverty, has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, Money, Persuasion, Supplication, Persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug,—push it a little—crowd it a little—weaken it a little, century by century: but only Laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of Laughter nothing can stand."
---  Satan, in Mark Twain's "The Chronicle of Young Satan" 

 “As the purpose of comedy is to correct the vices of men, I see no reason why anyone should be exempt.”
--- Moliere.

“The most difficult character in comedy is that of the fool, and he must be no simpleton that plays that part.”
--- Miguel de Cervantes.
"The principle of the humor is the principle that unincremental repetition, the literary imitation of ritual bondage, is funny. In a tragedy - Oedipus Tyrannus is the stock example - repetition leads logically to catastrophe. Repetition overdone or not going anywhere belongs to comedy, for laughter is partly a reflex, and like other reflexes it can be conditioned by a simple repeated pattern." (Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism)
"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."
--- Albert Einstein

“One always writes comedy at the moment of deepest hysteria.”
--- V. S. Naipaul.

“In tragedy every moment is eternity; in comedy, eternity is a moment.”
--- Christopher Fry.

“Comedy, we may say, is society protecting itself - with a smile.”
--- J. B. Priestley.

“Humor is properly the exponent of low things; that which first renders them poetical to the mind. The man of Humor sees common life, even mean life, under the new light of sportfulness and love; whatever has existence has a charm for him. Humor has justly been regarded as the finest perfection of poetic genius. He who wants it, be his other gifts what they may, has only half a mind; an eye for what is above him, not for what is about him or below him.”
--- Thomas Carlyle, in 'Schiller" (1831)



Honoré Daumier: Louis Philippe Transforming into a Pear
(Le Charivari, 1835);  “Poire” (pear) - French slang for “simpleton”

“It is not funny that anything else should fall down, only that a man should fall down ... Why do we laugh? Because it is a gravely religious matter: it is the Fall of Man. Only man can be absurd: for only man can be dignified.”
--- G. K. Chesterton, "Spiritualism", in All Things Considered (1908)


“The more one suffers, the more, I believe, has one a sense for the comic. It is only by the deepest suffering that one acquires true authority in the use of the comic, an authority which by one word transforms as by magic the reasonable creature one calls man into a caricature.”
--- Søren Kierkegaard, in Stages on Life's Way (1845)

"Laughter, while it lasts, slackens and unbraces the mind, weakens the faculties, and causes a kind of remissness and dissolution in all the powers of the soul; and thus far it may be looked upon as a weakness in the composition of human nature."
 --- Addison

Parody is critical intelligence in humorous mode.
“A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.”
--- Ludwig Wittgenstein, as quoted in "A View from the Asylum"

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

“Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith.”
--- Christopher Fry

“The perception of the comic is a tie of sympathy with other men, a pledge of sanity, and a protection from those perverse tendencies and gloomy insanities in which fine intellects sometimes lose themselves. A rogue alive to the ludicrous is still convertible. If that sense is lost, his fellow-men can do little for him.”
--- Ralph Waldo Emerso

“Comedy naturally wears itself out -- destroys the very food on which it lives; and by constantly and successfully exposing the follies and weaknesses of mankind to ridicule, in the end leaves itself nothing worth laughing at.”
--- William Hazlitt

"Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of humour is not joy but sorrow. There is no humour in Heaven."
--- Mark Twain 



‘Laughter, while it lasts, slackens and unbraces the mind, weakens the faculties, and causes a kind of remissness and dissolution in all the powers of the soul; and thus far it may be looked upon as a weakness in the composition of human nature. But if we consider the frequent reliefs we receive from it, and how often it breaks the gloom which is apt to depress the mind and damp our spirits, with transient unexpected gleams of joy, one would take care not to grow too wise for so great a pleasure of life.’ 
--- Addison


“A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.”
--- Ernest Hemingway.

"The onset is sudden, with attacks of laughing and crying lasting for a few minutes to a few hours, followed by a respite and then a recurrence. The attack is accompanied by restlessness and on occasions violence when restraint is attempted. The patient may say that things are moving around in the head and that she fears that someone is running after her. The examination is notable for the absence of abnormal physical signs. No fever was detected, although some reported that they had had fever after a few days. The only abnormalities found were in the central nervous system. The pupils were frequently more dilated than controls, but always reacted to light. The tendon reflexes in the lower limbs were frequently exaggerated. There were no tremors or fits or losses of consciousness. The neck was not stiff." 
--- Rankin, A.M. & Philip, P.J. (1963). An epidemic of laughing in the Bukoba district of Tanganyika. Central African Medical Journal, 9, 167–170.


“A pleasant comedy, which paints the manners of the age, and exposes a faithful picture of nature, is a durable work, and is transmitted to the latest posterity. But a system, whether physical or metaphysical, commonly owes its success to its novelty; and is no sooner canvassed with impartiality than its weakness is discovered.”
--- David Hume

“The comic spirit is given to us in order that we may analyze, weigh, and clarify things in us which nettle us, or which we are outgrowing, or trying to reshape.”
 ---Thornton Wilder.

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
--- William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream.

“The comic and the tragic lie close together, inseparable, like light and shadow.”
--- Socrates.

“Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit.”
---  Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)

"If we may believe our logicians, man is distinguished from all other creatures by the faculty of laughter. He has a heart capable of mirth, and naturally disposed to it. "
--- Joseph Addison

"Laughter relieves us of superfluous energy, which, if it remained unused, might become negative, that is, poison. Laughter is the antidote. "
--- George Gurdjieff

"In the vain laughter of folly wisdom hears half its applause."
--- George Eliot

"But whoever gives birth to useless children, what would you say of him except that he has bred sorrows for himself, and furnishes laughter for his enemies."
--- Sophocles

"The sound of laughter is like the vaulted dome of a temple of happiness."
---  Milan Kundera

“Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place.”
---  Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

“Humor is also a way of saying something serious.”  
---  T. S. Eliot (1888 - 1965)


Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(2013) Also available on Kindle, or to download.

Also worth a look: The PhD Roadmap: A Guide to Successful Submission of your Dissertation / Thesis.

FLASHCARD LEARNING: