Enjoyment of Laughter

Front Cover
Transaction Publishers, 1936 - Literary Criticism - 367 pages
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Humor at its best is a somewhat fluid and transitory element, but most books about it are illustrated with hardened old jokes from the comic papers, or classic witticisms jerked out of their context. Max Eastman, in this work, avoids this catastrophe by quoting mainly from contemporary American humor. This is not an anthology in that selections have been made with a view to making a point rather than covering the field.

The purpose of Eastman's fabled work is to make the reader laugh. Since his early school days, it has seemed to him that textbooks are wrongly written in that they are conducted in a way which ignores the natural operation of the mind. As a result, the opinion is universal, and under the circumstances a fact, that in order to learn anything you have to study. Since this introduction to humor is itself near to writing a textbook, Eastman uses the very text he constructs to illustrate the manner in which textbooks should be written.

Examination and classification of the kinds of humorous experience upon the basis of a theory is a science. As such, this work offers a fair chance to illustrate a method of instruction. However, the distinction between a good joke and a bad one will not prevent the reader from making bad jokes nor enable one to make good ones. There is an artistic and playful element that simply cannot be taught. Enjoyment of Laughter presents a total view of the science of laughter and draws upon some of the great American humorists to do so.

Max Eastman (1883-1969) was an American writer, patron of the Harlem Renaissance, and was best known for his views as well as his rejection of the ideas of socialism and communism. He wrote numerous controversial critiques of contemporary literature authors as well as many books including Seven Kinds of Goodness, Love and Revolution: My Journey through an Epoch, and Enjoyment of Living.

William Fry is Emeritus Associate Clinical Professor at Stanford University, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry.

 

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this is really cool. i really like the book and the poems that you have written on laughter are cool

Contents

FUN AND FUNNY
3
HOW TO ENTERTAIN A BABY
9
THE IMPORTANCE OF NOT BEING EARNEST
15
INFANT LAUGHTER
25
ADULT LAUGHTER
34
EDDIE CANTOR ON THE AUCTION BLOCK
41
WITTY JOKES AND LUDICROUS PERCEPTIONS
49
THAT NONSENSE MUST BE PLAUSIBLE
62
MATRIMONY AND OTHER PAINFUL PLEASURES
222
SOME MORE
254
TO DIAGRAM A JOKE
279
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF THE COMIC ARTS 200
290
Be Interesting
291
Be Unimpassioned
294
Be Effortless
298
Remember the Difference Between Cracking Prac tical Jokes and Conveying Ludicrous Impressions
303

FUNNY PICTURES
72
POETIC HUMOR
76
TWO KINDS OF COMIC ACTION
90
A NOTE ON COMIC STYLES
95
CARTOONS
101
THAT RICH JOKES ARE BOTH WITTY AND LUDICROUS
109
ATROCIOUS PUNS
115
EXAGGERATION
149
CARICATURE BURLESQUE
156
UNDERSTATEMENT AS A WEAPON IRONY
192
PLAYTHINGS OF THE MOMENT
213
Be Plausible
307
Be Sudden 39
309
Be Neat
313
Be Right with Your Timing
317
Give Good Measure of Serious Satisfaction
319
Redeem All Serious Disappointments
323
SUPPLEMENTARY
327
SOME HUMORISTS ON HUMOR
329
NOTES
345
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