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Toaster's Handbook

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Nothing so frightens a man as the announcement that he is expected to
respond to a toast on some appallingly near-by occasion. All ideas he
may ever have had on the subject melt away and like a drowning man he
clutches furiously at the nearest solid object. This book is intended
for such rescue purpose, buoyant and trustworthy but, it is to be hoped,
not heavy.
Let the frightened toaster turn first to the key word of his topic in
this dictionary alphabet of selections and perchance he may find toast,
story, definition or verse that may felicitously introduce his remarks.
Then as he proceeds to outline his talk and to put it into sentences, he
may find under one of the many subject headings a bit which will happily
and scintillatingly drive home the ideas he is unfolding.
While the larger part of the contents is humorous, there are inserted
many quotations of a serious nature which may serve as appropriate
literary ballast.
The jokes and quotes gathered for the toaster have been placed under the
subject headings where it seemed that they might be most useful, even at
the risk of the joke turning on the compilers. To extend the usefulness
of such pseudo-cataloging, cross references, similar and dissimilar to
those of a library card catalog, have been included.
Should a large number of the inclusions look familiar, let us remark
that the friends one likes best are those who have been already tried
and trusted and are the most welcome in times of need. However, there
are stories of a rising generation, whose acquaintance all may enjoy.
Nearly all these new and old friends have before this made their bow in
print and since it rarely was certain where they first appeared, little
attempt has been made to credit any source for them. The compilers
hereby make a sweeping acknowledgment to the "funny editors" of many
books and periodicals.
"Man," says Hazlitt, "is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he
is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what
things are and what they ought to be." The sources, then, of laughter
and tears come very close together. At the difference between things as
they are and as they ought to be we laugh, or we weep; it would depend,
it seems, on the point of view, or the temperament. And if, as Horace
Walpole once said, "Life is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to
those who feel," it is the thinking half of humanity that, at the sight
of life's incongruities, is moved to laughter, the feeling half to
tears. A sense of humor, then, is the possession of the thinking half,
and the humorists must be classified at once with the thinkers.
If one were asked to go further than this and to give offhand a
definition of humor, or of that elusive quality, a sense of humor, he
might find himself confronted with a difficulty. Yet certain things
about it would be patent at the outset: Women haven't it; Englishmen
haven't it; it is the chiefest of the virtues, for tho a man speak with
the tongues of men and of angels, if he have not humor we will have none
of him. Women may continue to laugh over those innocent and innocuous
incidents which they find amusing; may continue to write the most
delightful of stories and essays--consider Jane Austen and our own Miss
Repplier--over which appreciative readers may continue to chuckle;
Englishmen may continue, as in the past to produce the most exquisite of
the world's humorous literature--think of Charles Lamb--yet the
fundamental faith of mankind will remain unshaken: women have no sense
of humor, and an Englishman cannot see a joke! And the ability to "see a
joke" is the infallible American test of the sense of humor.
But taking the matter seriously, how would one define humor? When in
doubt, consult the dictionary, is, as always, an excellent motto, and,
following it, we find that our trustworthy friend, Noah Webster, does
not fail us. Here is his definition of humor, ready to hand: humor is
"the mental faculty of discovering, expressing, or appreciating
ludicrous or absurdly incongruous elements in ideas, situations,
happenings, or acts," with the added information that it is
distinguished from wit as "less purely intellectual and having more
kindly sympathy with human nature, and as often blended with pathos." A
friendly rival in lexicography defines the same prized human attribute
more lightly as "a facetious turn of thought," or more specifically in
literature, as "a sportive exercise of the imagination that is apparent
in the choice and treatment of an idea or theme."
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940014276948
  • Publisher: Tea Time eBooks
  • Publication date: 5/23/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 506
  • File size: 2 MB

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