Playboys and Killjoys
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Playboys and Killjoys : An Essay on the Theory and Practice of Comedy

3.66 (6 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Harry Levin-one of America's major literary critics-offers a brilliant and original study of the whole world of comedy, concentrating on playwrights through the centuries, from Aristophanes and Plautus in classical times to Bernard Shaw and Bertolt Brecht and their recent successors. Viewing the comic repertory as a richly varied yet broadly unified whole, Levin provides a synthesis of theories and practice. Isolating two fundamental aspects of comedy-the ludicrous and irreverent "playboy," whom we laugh with, and the ridiculous and forbidding "killjoy," whom we laugh at-he traces the dialectical interplay of these components throughout history and across various cultures and media. While mainly focusing on the plays and the stage, with discussions of such major dramatists as Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Moliere, and William Congreve, Levin also includes essays on such related topics as humor, satire, and games.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 138 x 208 x 16mm | 322.05g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0195048776
  • 9780195048773

Back cover copy

Harry Levin--one of America's major literary critics--offers a brilliant and original study of the whole world of comedy, concentrating on playwrights through the centuries, from Aristophanes and Plautus in classical times to Bernard Shaw and Bertolt Brecht and their successors.show more

About Harry Levin

About the Author: Harry Levin is Irving Babbitt Professor of Comparative Literature Emeritus at Harvard University and author of The Gates of Horn: A Study of Five French Realists, The Question of Hamlet, and Shakespeare and the Revolution of the Times.show more

Review quote

"Levin's book is literary, beautifully written, Latinate, highly nuanced, and leisurely in its approach to comedy."-Society "A comprehensive study of one of the broadest and most mercurial of subjects-comedy....What makes Levin's book not only valuable but entrancing is its author's seemingly boundless acquaintance with comedies from Aristophanes to Albee, Plautus to Pinter, Moliere to the Marx Brothers....His quotations and comments are in themselves a mine of humor."-Modern Language Studies "This superb study of comedy as a dramatic art form touches on virtually every point of departure-history, ethos, plotting, characterization, atmosphere."-Library Journal "Levin's prose reflects the highest degree of polish and sophistication....His stature among scholars matches that of many of his creative subjects."-The Harvard Book Review "Levin's prose reflects the highest degree of polish and sophistication....The ease with which he moves from Aristophanes and Aristotle to Brecht and Bakhtin, making sense in the process, can only be attributed to his forty plus years of scholarship....His stature among scholars matches that of many of his creative subjects."-The Harvard Book Review "Levin brings an impressive pedigree to Playboys and Killjoys....The result is a book that ranges widely, and easily, through comedies of the Western tradition. It discusses comic theory in clear, understandable terms and, best of all, allows the comic spirit plenty of room to breathe."-The Philadelphia Inquirer "Levin brings an impressive pedigree to Playboys and Killjoys....[He] discusses comic theory in clear, understandable terms and, best of all, allows the comic spirit plenty of room to breathe."* "Levin's persuasive and zestful discussion of theatrical comedy and comic theory demonstrates...that humor is not a fragile bud about to shrivel under the wintry pinch of analysis."-The Boston Globe "Exhilarating, wide-ranging and immensely civilized....Levin lucidly and richly demonstrates...a very fruitful and illuminating way to look at comedies through the ages."-The New York Times Book Review "Levin conveys his extensive, polyglot learning with an elegance, deftness, and old-fashioned zest that make his exposition about pleasure a pleasure to read."-Modern Language Review "...the student-as every other reader-will revel in the suitable and striking formulations that mark every chapter."-Ronald W. Tobin, The French Review "Valuable addition to a neglected area of the study of human experience; that is, comedy, as much a part of the human experience as grief, but rarely addressed."-Carol B. Welborn, Barat Collegeshow more

Rating details

6 ratings
3.66 out of 5 stars
5 17% (1)
4 33% (2)
3 50% (3)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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