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Laughter an essay on the meaning of the comic by Henri Bergson

LAUGHTER AN ESSAY ON THE MEANING OF THE COMIC


BY
HENRI BERGSON
MEMBER OF THE INSTITUTE PROFESSOR AT THE COLLEGE DE FRANCE
AUTHORISED TRANSLATION

BY CLOUDESLEY BRERETON L. ES L. (PARIS), M.A. (CANTAB)
AND FRED ROTHWELL B.A. (LONDON)

New York
The Macmillan Company
1913

TRANSLATORS' PREFACE

    This work, by Professor Bergson, has been revised in detail by the author himself, and the present translation is the only authorised one. For this ungrudging labour of revision, for the thoroughness with which it has been carried out, and for personal sympathy in many a difficulty of word and phrase, we desire to offer our grateful acknowledgment to Professor Bergson. It may be pointed out that the essay on Laughter originally appeared in a series of three articles in one of the leading magazines in France, the Revue de Paris. This will account for the relatively simple form of the work and the comparative absence of technical terms. It will also explain why the author has confined himself to exposing and illustrating his novel theory of the comic without entering into a detailed discussion of other explanations already in the field. He none the less indicates, when discussing sundry examples, why the principal theories, to which they have given rise, appear to him inadequate. To quote only a few, one may mention those based on contrast, exaggeration, and degradation.

    The book has been highly successful in France, where it is in its seventh edition. It has been translated into Russian, Polish, and Swedish. German and Hungarian translations are under preparation. Its success is due partly to the novelty of the explanation offered of the comic, and partly also to the fact that the author incidentally discusses questions of still greater interest and importance. Thus, one of the best known and most frequently quoted passages of the book is that portion of the last chapter in which the author outlines a general theory of art.

    C. B. F. R.

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 No. 403
 Posted on 9 June, 2006
 
 
 
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