Book: The Humanist Comedy

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The Humanist Comedy

Alexander Welsh, the Emily Sanford Professor Emeritus of English Literature

(Yale University Press)

For about 3,000 years comedy has applied a humanist perspective to the world’s religious beliefs and practices. From the ancient Greek comedies of Aristophanes, the famous poem by Lucretius, and dialogues of Cicero to early modern and Enlightenment essays and philosophical texts, together with the inherent skepticism about life after death in tragicomedies by Plautus, Shakespeare, Molière, and 19th-century novels by authors such as Dickens and Hugo, Alexander Welsh analyzes the prevalence of openness of mind and relieving good humor in Western thought. “The Humanist Comedy” concludes with close examination of a postmodern novel by the Nobel Prize winner José Saramago.

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