Shakespeare's Practical Jokes : An Introduction to the Comic in His Work
There is a mountain of work on Shakespeare's comedies but very little on what, in all the plays, can be described as comic. In this book that topic is approached via a number of practical joke episodes, some of them well known - the deceptions Hal and Poins practice on Falstaff, the tricking of Malvolio or Parolles - the others a little less so (the 'Induction' to The Taming of the Shrew for example). In order to define more closely the many different kinds of comedy Shakepseare can find in the practical joke, comparisons are made with the use of the beffa in both Boccaccio and later Italian writers, and with similar episodes from the work of Jonson. Frequent references are also made to practical jokes as they occur in later literature or in our current popular culture and, throughout the book, there is a running argument with Freud and Bergson, still always cited (surprisingly enough) as the two chief authorities on the comic.
- Hardback | 236 pages
- 167 x 247 x 18mm | 503g
- 01 Oct 2007
- Bucknell University Press
- Cranbury, United States
'This reviewer was especially impressed with Ellis's wide-ranging discussion of what defines a practical joke, a discussion that brings in Candid Camera and Boccacio and also draws on Freud and contemporary humor theorists....All in all, this is an excellent study of a subject that deserves further exploration.' -- A. Castaldo, Widener University * CHOICE, May 2008 * David Ellis's <I<Shakespeare's Practical Jokes: An Introduction to the Comic in His Works sounds like a title you might pick up at an airport bookstore, but it is in fact a highly learned interrogation of 'what makes us laugh' in Shakespeare, framing the discussion around the surprising number of practical jokes in the plays. . . . no scholar serious about Shakespearean comedy should overlook this important book.... -- Paul Whitfield White, Purdue University * American Behavioral Scientist, Spring 2009 * 'Studies of Renaissance comedy have long been constrained by applications of such domineering models as the anthropological-genre study of Northrop Frye, the festive-carnivalesque mode of C. L. Barber and Mikhail Bakhtin, the New Historicists' subversion-containment paradigm, the psychological theory of Freud, and the sociological approach of Bergson. Anyone who has worked extensively with comedy recognizes the limitations of these universalizing theories and the need for thoughtful new work challenging them. David Ellis has written such a book, one that begins to recover the richness, flexibility, and nuance of Renaissance comedy. . . . David Ellis's book, then, is a thoughtful, engaging work - essential reading for anyone researching or teaching comedy.' -- Robert Hornback, Oglethorpe University * Renaissance Quarterly * David Ellis's sounds like a title you might pick up at an airport bookstore, but it is in fact a highly learned interrogation of 'what makes us laugh' in Shakespeare, framing the discussion around the surprising number of practical jokes in the plays. . . . no scholar serious about Shakespearean comedy should overlook this important book. -- Paul Whitfield White, Purdue University * American Behavioral Scientist, Spring 2009 *
About David Ellis
David Ellis is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Kent at Canterbury.