Thoroughly absorbing, 'Laughter' is a book for anyone who enjoys a
thought-provoking approach to a basic human emotion. Henri Bergson, the
French philosopher and Nobel laureate who advanced a theory of
evolution, proves that he truly had widespread influence in a variety
of disciplines. Although the book was written in 1900, it encompasses
the very core of the subject in a theoretical, almost philosophical
approach that can still be attached to modern ideas. The intensely
quizzical form of exploration into the deeper meaning of the word
'laughter' is analysed into three main observations which lead to a
realisation that man, alas, laughs at nothing other than himself.
Bergson in a rather light, amusing exploration befitting the topic at
hand takes the reader from the very conception of laughter, from its
physical sound to the effect upon those who cross its infectious path.
It is, no doubt, an entertaining approch to the intellectual human
psyche attached to laughter.
There are numerous examples of comments that Bergson uses from various
French comedies to illustrate the relationship between wit and comic.
Using this examination, he manages to communicate how ideas can be
expressed and meanings can be taken. The notion that language
plays an important role in inducing laughter is articulated by deep,
abstract and methphoric means giving the reader plenty of food for
The book cleverly and interestingly observes the role of comedy in
laughter, portraying how comedy is the result usually not of a
deliberate action, but rather an involuntary gesture. Exceedingly
compelling ideas discussed conclude that comedy can only be truly
effective so long as no other emotions are stirred, and that we
actually find those things funny that are familiar to us.
Overall, the book embraces a notably convincing, almost psychological
analysis in trying to find the true driving factors that influence and
lead to laughter through the study of the comical element in various
forms, attitudes, movements, actions and situations. An exceptional,
in-depth look at what makes us laugh.