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Humorists: From Hogarth to Noel Coward
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Humorists: From Hogarth to Noel Coward

3.22 of 5 stars 3.22  ·  rating details  ·  87 ratings  ·  22 reviews
The author of the masterly volumes Intellectuals, Creators, and Heroes returns with a collection of biographical portraits of the greatest humorists and wits in history.

In Intellectuals, Paul Johnson offered a fascinating portrait of the minds that have shaped the modern world. In Creators, he examined a host of outstanding and prolific creative spirits. And in Heroes, he
ebook, 272 pages
Published November 30th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published October 29th 2010)
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I don't know what to say about this one. Johnson presents a series of short biographies about people he considers the greatest Western humorists. He also introduces a thesis -- that all humor either stems from order or chaos -- and attemps to prove that point through the work of his selected funnymen. (And they are all men, btw.) Little mini-biographies arranged around a central theme are actually a great pleasure: you learn just enough to stay interested, you're given a lens through which to co ...more
Sergiu Pobereznic
This is a collection of biographical vignettes about several humorists in the western world such as Hogarth, Rowlandson and Coward to name but a few.
There are some funny anecdotes, he analyses stand-up comedy, one liners and much more. His storyline manages to weave its way through countless more people than are listed in the book's blurb.
By the end I was quite interested in doing some research of my own.
An interesting and quick read.
Sergiu Pobereznic (author)
«Johnson es un escritor con un don genuino. La habilidad de transformar vastas extensiones de la historia en una narrativa absorbente le asegura público durante años.»

«El talento de Johnson contando historias vívidas se combina con un asombroso dominio de grandes y complejos temas y con una inagotable capacidad de convertirlas en algo comprensible y absorvente.»

«Johnson teje de forma magistral un hilo narrativo entre estas figuras, muchas de las cua
Mariano Hortal
Publicado en

Una de mis películas favoritas es el musical Cantando bajo la lluvia (1952) dirigido por Stanley Donen y el propio Gene Kelly, protagonista de la inolvidable escena que da título a la no menos inolvidable cinta. Tiene tantas escenas memorables que sería difícil quedarse solo con una.

De hecho, me quería centrar en una de ellas que considero un paradigma metanarrativo de lo que cuesta hacer humor, conseguir que la gente se ría. Para los que no sepa
This book is a collection of short biographical sketches about notable humorists -- many of whom I had never thought of as humorists, e.g., Benjamin Franklin, Dr. Johnson, and G.K. Chesterton. I found Paul Johnson’s analysis and insights highly perceptive as usual. And the sketches are short introductions that give you a taste of the individual's life; for the full meal you'll need to consult a biography. I was also impressed by the author’s diction and vocabulary: I often had to scramble for a ...more
Mary Blye
I didn't think I'd like this book so I began by skimming. By the time I realized how fabulous it is, I was nearly halfway through. I savored all the rest, written by a great and very knowledgable author, learned a lot and had fun. Now I have to start all over at the beginning and absorb what I missed by skimming
I read this book because I love almost everything Paul Johnson has written. I learned several things about characters, including ...

• William Hogarth
• James Thurber
• Marx Brothers
• Benjamin Franklin
• Charles Dickens
• Damon Runyon
• WC Fields
• Samuel Johnson
• Laurel and Hardy
• Thomas Rowlandson
• G. K. Chesterton
• Chaplin

Most of Johnson books are about major historic events or personalities. This book was about people from the arts which is not really my area of interest and certainly not my area o
Summary of historical figures who have been funny. A lot of the emphasis was on people's visual wit (cartoons) rather than verbal wit. Though there were interesting examples and anecdotes, there was little actual analysis of why the humorists were funny or how their life influenced their humor
Humorists is a very pleasant read. The introduction, explaining humor, laughter, and comedy, makes the book worthwhile by itself. However, it seems that Johnson is trying to do something that is perhaps left untried. He creates some broad categories that are useful in understanding the subjects' humor, and he gives some hilarious examples of the humor. (The Dickens examples are particularly good.) Yet, I did not fully understand what warranted some of the characters' inclusion in the book, altho ...more
3.5 maybe. Adept analysis. Definitely made me want to bone up on Chesterton silent film comics.
Paul Johnson always writes captivating stories. Several of the chapters in this book very fascinating as they delved into the lives of a colorful cast of humorists and explain the basic art forms used by those who evoke laughter.

A couple of the chapters were less compelling, almost having a Freudian feel to them. But I did find the book a good and informative read. The analysis is notable for its historical breath, scope of genres and collection of an unusual collection of personalities.
Humorists is a step down for Johnson after his engaging works on Creators and Heroes (and, I believe, Intellectuals, which I have not yet read). I still enjoyed getting to know many of these famous and not-so famous greats, but the prose wandered more, and his characters' sexual oddities seemed to occupy vastly more of Johnson's attention than they deserved. Still, he got me to watch two great Chaplin movies (Gold Rush and The Kid), for which I am grateful.

Karl Rove
Anything by the great British writer Paul Johnson is worthy ready. Anything. This is an idiosyncratic book about humor and those who made it in their books, speeches, appearance, films, and plays. You may wonder at his choices (or omissions) but you will find yourself alternately chuckling, giggling, guffawing, snorting and just plain laughing as Johnson recounts the humorous antics of his picks as history’s greatest wits.
One of those books that doesn't work for an audiobook. Considering at least 3 of the humorists (honestly, I lost count because I started tuning out the audiobook about 2/3rds through - never a good thing) in this book are artists, verbose descriptions of the humor in their drawings & etchings just doesn't cut it.
Shaon Castleberry
Humor tends to be very personal and cultural. It is interesting to see the choice of subjects used to illustrate the humorists - bare bottoms & pie throwing. The choices seem to be between "chaos" humor and one liners. But then I have always heard that comedy is hard.
Vikas Datta
Engaging analysis of set of the most magical wordsmiths of all times...
Humorists: From Hogarth to Noel Coward by paul Johnson(Harper Collins 2010)(920) contains mini-biographies of a number of humorists. None of these are my favorites, and none were of any real interest to me. 3/10, finished 8/24/11.
I enjoyed reading this book but the focus was too arbitrary. There didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for the humorists Johnson chose to write about when there were so many he left out.
Some parts of this were quite good; however, some of the humorists indulged in various kinds of bawdy humor, which was not exactly pleasant reading.
So far, so good. I thoroughly enjoyed the chapter on Benjamin Franklin. It gave great insight into a prominent historical figure.
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Paul Johnson works as a historian, journalist and author. He was educated at Stonyhurst School in Clitheroe, Lancashire and Magdalen College, Oxford, and first came to prominence in the 1950s as a journalist writing for, and later editing, the New Statesman magazine. He has also written for leading newspapers and magazines in Britain, the US and Europe.

Paul Johnson has published over 40 books incl
More about Paul Johnson...
Churchill A History of the American People Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties, Revised Edition A History of the Jews (Perennial Library) Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky

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