The Death of Comedy

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Harvard University Press, Jun 30, 2009 - Performing Arts - 604 pages
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In a grand tour of comic theater over the centuries, Erich Segal traces the evolution of the classical form from its early origins in a misogynistic quip by the sixth-century B.C. Susarion, through countless weddings and happy endings, to the exasperated monosyllables of Samuel Beckett. With fitting wit, profound erudition lightly worn, and instructive examples from the mildly amusing to the uproarious, his book fully illustrates comedy's glorious life cycle from its first breath to its death in the Theater of the Absurd.
 

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THE DEATH OF COMEDY

User Review  - Kirkus

Segal—yes, he of Love Story and, if you didn't know, a fellow at Oxford—turns his attentions to literary criticism in this survey of comic theater from the ancient Greeks to a humorless Irishman ... Read full review

The death of comedy

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Respected classics scholar and popular novelist Segal (Love Story, etc.) here presents the culmination of work begun in 1968 with Roman Laughter, a discussion of Plautus as a writer of festive comedy ... Read full review

Contents

Etymologies Getting to the Root of It
1
The Song of the Kōmos
10
The Lyre and the Phallus
27
Aristophanes The One and Only?
44
Failure and Success
68
The Birds The Uncensored Fantasy
85
Requiem for a Genre?
101
The Comic Catastrophe
124
Machiavelli The Comedy of Evil
255
Marlowe Schade and Freude
273
Shakespeare Errors and Erōs
286
Twelfth Night Dark Clouds over Illyria
305
Molière The Class of 68
329
The Fox the Fops and the Factotum
363
Comedy Explodes
403
Beckett The Death of Comedy
431

O Menander O Life
153
Plautus Makes an Entrance
183
A Plautine Problem Play
205
Terence The African Connection
220
The MotherinLaw of Modern Comedy
239
Coda
453
Notes
459
Index
575
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About the author (2009)

Erich Segal was a writer, educator, and screenwriter. He was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 16, 1937. He graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in 1958, a M.A. in 1959, and a Ph.D. in 1964. Segal began a teaching career at Harvard University before moving to Yale University in 1964. He was also a visiting professor in classics at Princeton University and the University of Munich. He achieved international acclaim for his verse translations of Roman playwright Plautus and delivered papers before the American Philological Association and the American Comparative Literature Association. Segal collaborated on the 1958 Harvard Hasty Pudding Club production and wrote several Hollywood screenplays, including the 1968 animated Beatles film, Yellow Submarine and A Change of Seasons. His most famous novel was Love Story, written in 1970. The book was made into a film in 1970. He received a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination for his screenplay. His other novels include Oliver's Story, The Class, and Doctors. He died of a heart attack on January 17, 2010 at the age of 72.

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