Timely Reflections on his Art of Comedy
This book began by assuming as a principle that Molière’s whole art of comedy and laughter derived from the reconfiguration of distress. No one would be so foolish as to claim that Molière invented this strategy: the idea of pain and distress producing laughter is built into the basic term slapstick, and it is fundamental as well to all the nasty/funny tricks played by clowns. Pain/distress has always been the main element of low comedy. But in Molière, as is typical of his dynamism, the strategy is blended into a texture that elevates and socializes it to the point of seeming an almost three-dimensional representation of reality, becoming part – in fact a major part – of situations that are not only believable as belonging to human expe- rience but have social and intellectual consequences as well. Needless to say, it is these larger implications that endow his comedies with a universality unique among comic authors of modern times. But Molière is unique and universal as well in his often-unspoken acknowledgment that the basis of our laughter is the painfulness of the human condition. As we have traveled through his major works, comedy as reconfigu- ration of this underlying reality has been visible at every stage along the way. Perhaps it is time to mention another aspect of the situation: almost by definition, distress involves some threat to the life processes. Distress is always caused by what hinders, spoils or endangers the things most essential to our well-being,...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.