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Humorists: From Hogarth to Noel Coward
     

Humorists: From Hogarth to Noel Coward

2.3 3
by Paul Johnson
 

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“It is Johnson’s gift that he can make his subjects human and fallible enough that we would…recognize them instantly, while also illuminating what made them heroes.” —Washington Post Book World on Heroes

“Johnson is a clear, intelligent, forceful writer, and nothing if not thorough.” —Wall Street

Overview

“It is Johnson’s gift that he can make his subjects human and fallible enough that we would…recognize them instantly, while also illuminating what made them heroes.” —Washington Post Book World on Heroes

“Johnson is a clear, intelligent, forceful writer, and nothing if not thorough.” —Wall Street Journal

Paul Johnson, the acclaimed author of Creators, Heroes, and the New York Times bestseller Intellectuals, returns with a captivating collection of biographical portraits of the Western world’s greatest wits and humorists. With chapters dedicated to history’s sharpest tongues and most piercing pens, including Benjamin Franklin, Toulouse-Lautrec, G.K. Chesterton, Damon Runyan, W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, and many more, Johnson’s Humorists is an exciting compendium of our most enduring comical and satirical innovators. 

Editorial Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
“Johnson masterfully weaves a narrative line among the figures, many of whom don’t spring to mind as comic, with a deep appreciation for their wit in writing, filmmaking, painting, and living.”
The Economist
“A rich set of essays . . . . Johnson casts a wide net and he hauls in good material . . . . Fine anecdotes, examples, and insights . . . . Handsomely written.”
New York Times
“Warmly appealing . . . . This book’s long view, and its deep eccentricities, are what give it a burnished glow . . . . It’s a pleasure to sit around the gently crackling fire that is Mr. Johnson’s mind.”
Washington Post
“Johnson assembles a truly enlightening and readable history of humor.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Johnson masterfully weaves a narrative line among the figures, many of whom don’t spring to mind as comic, with a deep appreciation for their wit in writing, filmmaking, painting, and living.”
Washington Post
“Johnson assembles a truly enlightening and readable history of humor.”
The Economist
“A rich set of essays . . . . Johnson casts a wide net and he hauls in good material . . . . Fine anecdotes, examples, and insights . . . . Handsomely written.”
New York Times
“Warmly appealing . . . . This book’s long view, and its deep eccentricities, are what give it a burnished glow . . . . It’s a pleasure to sit around the gently crackling fire that is Mr. Johnson’s mind.”
Booklist
"Johnson masterfully weaves a narrative line among the figures, many of whom don’t spring to mind as comic, with a deep appreciation for their wit in writing, filmmaking, painting, and living."
Dwight Garner
…warmly appealing if slightly dotty…This book's long view, and its deep eccentricities, are what give it a burnished glow. You'll want to consume it with good Scotch and (what the hell) maybe even a pipe…
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
British historian Johnson (Churchill) misses the mark with this odd collection of biographical snapshots of "humorists"--the term is debatable--throughout Western history. Noting that laughter was first recorded in words in chapter 18 of the book of Genesis, Johnson divides humorists into two categories: those who create chaos for laughs and those who analyze the inherent oddness of individual personalities to find comedy. But instead of using this basic rubric--and all points of intersection--to explore the evolution of humor from the 18th century to our current one, Johnson's portraits of these so-called humorous men (Nancy Mitford is the only woman, and she shares a chapter with Noël Coward) lose any sense of a central thesis. Particularly in the cases of painters Hogarth, Thomas Rowlandson, and Toulouse-Lautrec, Johnson's intense focus on minute details of works not reproduced in the text make his analysis difficult to grasp for readers unfamiliar with the artists' work. Chapters devoted to Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, and James Thurber are among the best, and in them Johnson is able to stifle his urge to overanalyze the biographical elements and let the subjects--and their amazing comedic work--speak for themselves. (Dec.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061825927
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/29/2011
Series:
P.S. Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,370,299
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.61(d)

Meet the Author

Paul Johnson is a historian whose work ranges over the millennia and the whole gamut of human activities. He regularly writes book reviews for several UK magazines and newspapers, such as the Literary Review and The Spectator, and he lectures around the world. He lives in London, England.

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Humorists: From Hogarth to Noel Coward 2.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous 21 days ago
Also, he includes two artists but there are no illustrations of their work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago