The Comic in Theory & Practice

The Comic in Theory & Practice

The Comic in Theory & Practice

The Comic in Theory & Practice

Excerpt

These theories and examples of the comic should provide adequate materials for exercises in controlled research on the freshman level. More advanced students may find this anthology a brief introduction to a subject which has no end.

Without revealing our own views, the first part of the book presents the comic in theory from Aristotle to contemporary critics in approximately chronological order. Similarly, the comic in practice does not collect our personal favorites but balances familiar pieces and neglected ones, cheerful reports and disillusioned fantasies. Such diversity should help the student to test, expand, and eventually know his own preferences and tastes.

In choosing examples, we reluctantly omitted scenes from plays and novels because only complete selections seemed artistically justifiable. ("A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms" forms a nearly independent unit.) The appended lists suggest further readings in longer works. With a single exception, all the narratives and poems were written originally in English. Anything requiring elaborate historical annotation was ruled out. In the theories we pruned away any passage too restricted to one time or place or philosophic system.

The texts are reprinted exactly from reliable, modern editions, although a few obvious corrections have been made and some superfluous notes and chapter headings silently dropped. The date in brackets following the title of each work is the year of first publication in a book, except, of course, for those by Aristotle and Chaucer and for the two pieces taken from magazines. A superior number in the text itself indicates the original pagination. We have added questions to form bases for class discussions and themes but have not presumed to answer them. Everyone laughs, and many have supposed they understood why and how and at what. With independent research and thought, students may find their merriment less innocent and more judicious.

J. J. E. E. T. F. Madison, Wisconsin A. W.

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