The Psychology of Laughter

The Psychology of Laughter

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The Psychology of Laughter

The Psychology of Laughter

Read FREE!

Excerpt

An inquiry into the main psychological principles that underlie laughter and its various manifestations presents a number of difficulties. There is a wide range of the ludicrous, beginning with the nursery rhymes of Mother Goose, the coarse sallies of the clown, the zany, the cartoonist, the mimic, and the joker, and ending with the classical productions of Aristophanes, Lucian, Juvenal, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Molière, Voltaire, Gogol, Thackeray and Dickens. The great Russian writer, Gogol, in his famous work Dead Souls, lays special stress on the fact that a whole abyss separates the productions of elevated laughter from the contortions of the buffoon and the clown. No doubt Gogol is right: there is an abyss between the crude art of the buffoon and the "pearl of creative art" produced by the genius of comedy. Still the abyss can be bridged over. May we not similarly say that a whole abyss separates the crude idols of the stone age from the beautiful statues of a Phidias? The two extremes are, nevertheless, connected by a long series of intermediate steps. The abyss, however, as Gogol points out, is present. The difficulty is to bridge over the extremes and find the fundamental principles that underlie the almost infinite diversity of the manifestations of the ludicrous.

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