Groucho Marx: The Comedy of Existence

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Yale University Press, Jan 1, 2015 - Biography & Autobiography - 162 pages
A trenchant examination of an iconic American figure that explores the cultural and psychological roots of his comic genius

Born Julius Marx in 1890, the brilliant comic actor who would later be known as Groucho was the most verbal of the famed comedy team, the Marx Brothers, his broad slapstick portrayals elevated by ingenious wordplay and double entendre. In his spirited biography of this beloved American iconoclast, Lee Siegel views the life of Groucho through the lens of his work on stage, screen, and television. The author uncovers the roots of the performer's outrageous intellectual acuity and hilarious insolence toward convention and authority in Groucho's early upbringing and Marx family dynamics.

The first critical biography of Groucho Marx to approach his work analytically, this fascinating study draws unique connections between Groucho's comedy and his life, concentrating primarily on the brothers' classic films as a means of understanding and appreciating Julius the man. Unlike previous uncritical and mostly reverential biographies, Siegel's "bio-commentary" makes a distinctive contribution to the field of Groucho studies by attempting to tell the story of his life in terms of his work, and vice versa.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Welsh_eileen2 - LibraryThing

Although his films are rather outdated these days, Groucho Marx was genius when it came to writing comedy. This insightful biography tells of the life of a man who strove to be as good as he could in ... Read full review

Groucho Marx: The Comedy of Existence

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

Born in October 1890, Julius Henry Marx was the third of five surviving sons, and he would grow up to become Groucho, the most famous of the Marx Brothers. Drawing heavily on previous biographies and ... Read full review


A Fateful Condition
Nothing Will Come of Nothing
Human All Too Human
Fathers and Sons
A Match Made in Heaven
Beyond the Pleasure Principle
Groucho the Jewish Aristocrat
Groucho the Jewish OutsiderPhilosopher
Gone Today Here Tomorrow
A Note on Sources

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About the author (2015)

Lee Siegel, author of six books and the recipient of a National Magazine Award, has written about culture and politics for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications.

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