The Cambridge Introduction to Comedy

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Overview

'Laughter', says Eric Weitz, 'may be considered one of the most extravagant physical effects one person can have on another without touching them'. But how do we identify something which is meant to be comic, what defines something as 'comedy', and what does this mean for the way we enter the world of a comic text? Addressing these issues, and many more, this is a 'how to' guide to reading comedy from the pages of a dramatic text, with relevance to anything from novels and newspaper columns to billboards and emails. The book enables you to enhance your grasp of the comic through familiarity with characteristic structures and patterns, referring to comedy in literature, film and television throughout. Perfect for drama and literature students, this Introduction explores a genre which affects the everyday lives of us all, and will therefore also capture the interest of anyone who loves to laugh.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521540261
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/31/2009
  • Series: Cambridge Introductions to Literature Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 255
  • Sales rank: 1,204,669
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Weitz is Lecturer in Drama Studies at the School of Drama, Film and Music, Trinity College Dublin.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations vii

Preface ix

Introduction: Thinking about comedy 1

First things 1

Play 3

What is comedy? 7

Something to make us laugh? 8

Happy endings 10

The world brought down to earth 12

Summing up before moving on 18

Chapter 1 Reading comedy 20

'What kind of world is this?' 20

Formal and textual elements 23

Entering the world of comedy 26

Comedy in the end 35

Chapter 2 Comedy's foundations 39

Back to (what we call) the beginning 39

The fingerprints of Old Comedy 42

Our old friend, New Comedy 50

New Comedy in Roman hands 58

Chapter 3 Comedy's devices 63

Towards a study of comic traits 63

Humour and its mechanics 63

Humour and the dramatic text 69

Mine the gap: the reader's view 72

Mine the gap: the spectator's access 86

Chapter 4 Comedy in the flesh 93

Comedy for the stage of the mind 93

Performance fabric and outlining 95

Reading comic bodies and voices 96

The commedia dell'arte 102

The clown 110

Reading comic character (mask) 114

Reading comic dialogue (lazzi) 120

Comic metaphysics 127

Chapter 5 Comedy's range 131

Dramatic texture and the comic 131

The comic and the tragic 132

The deadly serious treated playfully 140

The comic beyond the 'realistic' 142

Comic latitude in production 161

Chapter 6 Comedy and society 171

Comedy's associates 171

Comedy's politics 190

Notes 207

Further reading 222

List of texts 224

Bibliography 227

Index 237

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