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The book offers us new perspectives on Baudelaire and caricature, as well as a close analysis of his theory of laughter.
Like art, Renaissance comedy plodded on in the ancient theory of laughter as ridiculous, literally ridiculous for the correction of the venial or the ugly.
It begins by setting forth the problems in prior research that stem from construct fuzziness and atheoretical grounding and then presents Henri Bergson's theory of laughter as the basis of a taxonomy dividing comedy into four types -- verbal/physical and romantic/satiric.
Contemporary literary theorists such as Levin (1987) have gone back to Old and New Comedy to construct comic taxonomies, and have re-examined other traditional sources -- especially Bergson's theory of laughter (1900) -- to link classification schema with audience response effects.
There are also chapters on the comic arts and a penetrating analysis of Baudelaire's theory of laughter that considerably adds to our understanding of these works.
Most of the essays in this collection, whose central image of the lookingglass has analogies with Glasgow's theory of laughter, are dominated by the feeling that American society is determined to persecute all minorities, and especially those whose sexual tastes do not conform to the prejudices of the silent majority.

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