English, Department of


Date of this Version

January 1920


University of Nebraska Studies in Language, Literature, and Criticism Number 5. Lincoln, Nebraska 1920.


From Plato onward many of the world's greatest thinkers have attempted to tell the meaning of laughter. It is not surprising that the thing has proved alluring, for whereas a true theory of laughter might add little to our enjoyment of the comic; it would, nevertheless, help us to understand the nature of life and mind. But although laughter is perhaps the lightest of human possessions, it is the most difficult to capture for examination. Neither philosopher nor literary critic has given us a wholly satisfactory account of the comic. One difficulty is that so many things are true of comedy; it is hardly less confusing than life itself.