Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic (Dover Books on Western Philosophy)

3.69 avg rating
( 763 ratings by GoodReads )
 
9780486443805: Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic (Dover Books on Western Philosophy)

In this great philosophical essay, Henri Bergson explores why people laugh and what laughter means. Written at the turn of the twentieth century, Laughter explores what it is in language that makes a joke funny and what it is in us that makes us laugh.
One of the functions of humor, according to Bergson, is to help us retain our humanity during an age of mechanization. Like other philosophers, novelists, poets, and humorists of his era, Bergson was concerned with the duality of man and machine. His belief in life as a vital impulse, indefinable by reason alone, informs his perception of comedy as the relief we experience upon distancing ourselves from the mechanistic and materialistic. "A situation is always comic," Bergson notes, "if it participates simultaneously in two series of events which are absolutely independent of each other, and if it can be interpreted in two quite different meanings." The philosopher's thought-provoking insights (e.g., "It seems that laughter needs an echo. Our laughter is always the laughter of a group.") keep this work ever-relevant as a thesis on the principles of humor.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Product Description:

This classic explores why people laugh and what laughter means. According to Bergson, laughter helps us retain our humanity during an age of mechanization. His belief in life as a vital impulse, indefinable by reason alone, informs his perception of comedy as the relief we experience upon distancing ourselves from the mechanistic.

Review:

Clem Kadiddlehopper wore a funny hat. Even animals other than humans seem to laugh, because they, too, possess emotions. And sometimes, when you're by yourself, you just start giggling for no reason. But that's not funny. As Henri Bergson, proto-existentialist French philosopher and author of Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, would say, you can stop laughing now. We must rethink what tickles us. For Bergson, laughter is a purely intellectual response that serves the social purpose of assuaging discomfort over the unaccustomed and unexpected. We chuckle at Lucy attempting to wrap the bonbons speeding by on a candy-factory conveyor belt because she's stuck in one place, performing the same task over and over, and failing; we hope that in similar situations we could be more flexible. Bergson recaps: "Rigidity is the comic, and laughter is its corrective."

Bergson's thinking typifies a peculiarly Gallic tendency to rationalize the apparently ephemeral and subjective (in this case, humor), discussing it in exquisitely rarefied language in order to assert that which defies common sense (a funny hat is not funny, laughter expresses no emotion, no one laughs alone) but partakes nonetheless of a logical inevitability. Laughter, first published in 1911, clearly draws upon the early years of European modernism, yet also prefigures the movement in some ways. In recognizing the comic as it embodies itself in a "rigid," absentminded person, locked into repetitious, socially awkward behavior, Bergson--even as he looks backward, primarily to Molière--seems to be spawning the sophisticated visual and physical comedy of Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd; the transformation of Léger's figures into anthropoid machines; and Nijinsky's starring role in Stravinsky's satirical clockwork ballet Pétrouchka.

This little book resurrects a British translation that has long been out of print. While Laughter won't quite explain why the French love Jerry Lewis, or keep you in stitches, it's a bracing read that will make you think twice about laughing the next time someone stumbles into a lamppost. --Robert Burns Neveldine

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Buy New View Book
List Price: US$ 7.95
US$ 7.87

Convert Currency

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.

Destination, Rates & Speeds

Add to Basket

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Bergson, Henri
Published by Dover Publications Inc., United States (2005)
ISBN 10: 0486443809 ISBN 13: 9780486443805
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Dover Publications Inc., United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 210 x 138 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In this great philosophical essay, Henri Bergson explores why people laugh and what laughter means. Written at the turn of the twentieth century, Laughter explores what it is in language that makes a joke funny and what it is in us that makes us laugh. One of the functions of humor, according to Bergson, is to help us retain our humanity during an age of mechanization. Like other philosophers, novelists, poets, and humorists of his era, Bergson was concerned with the duality of man and machine. His belief in life as a vital impulse, indefinable by reason alone, informs his perception of comedy as the relief we experience upon distancing ourselves from the mechanistic and materialistic. A situation is always comic, Bergson notes, if it participates simultaneously in two series of events which are absolutely independent of each other, and if it can be interpreted in two quite different meanings. The philosopher s thought-provoking insights (e.g., It seems that laughter needs an echo. Our laughter is always the laughter of a group. ) keep this work ever-relevant as a thesis on the principles of humor. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780486443805

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 7.87
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Bergson, Henri
Published by Dover Pubns (2005)
ISBN 10: 0486443809 ISBN 13: 9780486443805
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
Paperbackshop-US
(Commerce, GA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Dover Pubns, 2005. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # V0-9780486443805

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 3.89
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Bergson, Henri
Published by Dover Publishers
ISBN 10: 0486443809 ISBN 13: 9780486443805
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
INDOO
(Avenel, NJ, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Dover Publishers. Book Condition: New. Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 0486443809

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 4.39
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.50
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Bergson, Henri
Published by Dover Publications
ISBN 10: 0486443809 ISBN 13: 9780486443805
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Movie Mars
(Indian Trail, NC, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Dover Publications. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0486443809 Brand New Book. Ships from the United States. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee!. Bookseller Inventory # 4798980

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 4.38
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Bergson, Henri
ISBN 10: 0486443809 ISBN 13: 9780486443805
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Grand Eagle Retail
(Wilmington, DE, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: New. 141mm x 6mm x 216mm. Paperback. This classic explores why people laugh and what laughter means. According to Bergson, laughter helps us retain our humanity during an age of mechanization. His belief in life as a vital im.Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. 98 pages. 0.127. Bookseller Inventory # 9780486443805

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 10.76
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Bergson, Henri
Published by Dover Publications Inc., United States (2005)
ISBN 10: 0486443809 ISBN 13: 9780486443805
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Dover Publications Inc., United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 210 x 138 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In this great philosophical essay, Henri Bergson explores why people laugh and what laughter means. Written at the turn of the twentieth century, Laughter explores what it is in language that makes a joke funny and what it is in us that makes us laugh. One of the functions of humor, according to Bergson, is to help us retain our humanity during an age of mechanization. Like other philosophers, novelists, poets, and humorists of his era, Bergson was concerned with the duality of man and machine. His belief in life as a vital impulse, indefinable by reason alone, informs his perception of comedy as the relief we experience upon distancing ourselves from the mechanistic and materialistic. A situation is always comic, Bergson notes, if it participates simultaneously in two series of events which are absolutely independent of each other, and if it can be interpreted in two quite different meanings. The philosopher s thought-provoking insights (e.g., It seems that laughter needs an echo. Our laughter is always the laughter of a group. ) keep this work ever-relevant as a thesis on the principles of humor. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780486443805

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 11.56
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Bergson, Henri
Published by Dover Publications (2005)
ISBN 10: 0486443809 ISBN 13: 9780486443805
New Softcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Book Deals
(Lewiston, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Dover Publications, 2005. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: Philosopher Henri Bergson was best known for his works on intuition, consciousness, time, and creative evolution. His writings included Matter and Memory, An Introduction to Metaphysics, and Creative Evolution, and he was said to have influenced thinkers such as Marcel Proust, William James, Santayana, and Martin Heidegger. After a career as a professor at the College de France, Bergson turned to diplomacy and writing, and was deeply involved with the League of Nations. While he won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1927, for a time his writings were shunned by devout Catholics. In Laughter, Bergson considers the meaning of the comic element in forms and movements, situations, words, and character. He regards the comic as a living thing with a logic of its own. It requires an absence of feeling, "something like a momentary anesthesia of the heart. Its appeal is to intelligence, pure and simple." It must have a social signification; it must be within the human realm. Above all, since laughter inspires fear, the comic is seen as a check on our more eccentric impulses. Bergson wrote: "In laughter we always find an unavowed intention to humiliate and consequently to correct our neighbour.". Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0486443809

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 15.42
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Bergson, Henri
ISBN 10: 0486443809 ISBN 13: 9780486443805
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Castle Rock
(Pittsford, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 97804864438051.0

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 15.66
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Bergson, Henri
Published by Dover Publications (2005)
ISBN 10: 0486443809 ISBN 13: 9780486443805
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Dover Publications, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0486443809

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 24.46
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Bergson, Henri
ISBN 10: 0486443809 ISBN 13: 9780486443805
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
AussieBookSeller
(SILVERWATER, NSW, Australia)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: New. 141mm x 6mm x 216mm. Paperback. This classic explores why people laugh and what laughter means. According to Bergson, laughter helps us retain our humanity during an age of mechanization. His belief in life .Shipping may be from our Sydney, NSW warehouse or from our UK or US warehouse, depending on stock availability. 98 pages. 0.127. Bookseller Inventory # 9780486443805

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 13.19
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 28.00
From Australia to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book