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The Oxford Book of Humorous Prose: From William Caxton to P. G. Wodehouse: A Conducted Tour (The Oxford Books of...)

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4.45  ·  Rating details ·  69 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Focusing primarily on the 19th and 20th century, but with material dating back to Columbus, this volume is packed with an amazing range of comic material is--from the gentle, charming comedy of manners, to biting satire, to outrageous parody.
There are excerpts from the novels of Jane Austen, P.G. Wodehouse and Mark Twain, complete short stories by O. Henry and Frank O'Con
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Paperback, 1198 pages
Published December 5th 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1990)
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Anthony Buckley
Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
This really is an extraordinary volume. In the UK, Frank Muir (d.1998) was a much-loved character latterly famous as an urbane and witty radio and television performer on quiz shows, but remembered too as a comic writer who co-authored the ground-breaking radio comedy Take It From Here, which incorporate the splendidly awful radio soap-opera,The Glums.

This book reveals a new Frank Muir, a man of considerable erudition, for this is an intelligent selection of comic prose, made all the better by
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Kay
Jan 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a vast book, the kind that makes my wrists ache, and yet I dip into it from time to time for some remembered tidbit. All the greats are here, and a few unexpected writers not normally classed as humorists. The humor is of the literary rather than the 'ha-ha' sort. There are, for example, excerpts from Ulysses and Cranford, but then alongside these are selections from books more commonly regarded as humorous, such Catch-22 or Cold Comfort Farm. It's an excellent place to scout for writers ...more
Ryan Williams
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I recently finished Don DeLillo's latest novel, Zero K - thankfully not for review. Reading this, a gathering of comic writing in English from Caxton to Wodehouse, was an instant tonic.

It's absurd how people assume a piece of prose that raises a laugh should automatically rank below a piece that can't. S.J. Perelman's piece on Hollywood has the dazzling skill of a high modernist with the daring of an acrobat.

James Thurber, E.B. White and other New Yorker stalwarts are present and counted, along
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Matthew
Feb 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: humor fans looking for classics
*** I own an older edition, so some things may be different ***

The definition of a desert-island book. At over 1000 pages and spanning nearly five centuries, one can find hours of fun reading here. Muir covers all angles from aphorists to novelists, Punch magazine writers to frontier columnists. Nearly everyone who is significant in the history of humor is represented. I can't recommend it enough.
D.
Aug 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is great--snippets from the best humorous prose written in the last several centuries. I like it because I can pick it up and read something short, and put it back down again when I don't have time for reading. It's good to take on trips too.
Joy H.
Jun 13, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
I bought this book for two dollars at our library's used book sale. What a bargain!
Robert Stewart
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful book. Unlike so many other "Oxford Book of...." assemblages, this one was compiled with a great deal of thought and care, over the course of twenty years, I believe. And the notes on the pieces are considered and useful.

Most people interested in the subject will likely find they've already read a good number of the pieces, but I doubt there are many who won't find a few dozen they aren't familiar with. And in these cases, the notes are especially helpful.





Leo Simmons
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful collection of an enormous variety of approaches to humour in print. Repeatedly picking it up is also an excellent cardio workout...*smile*
Octavia Cade
Aug 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour
An enormous and weighty doorstop of a book, covering humour in the English-speaking world with extracts from various novels, plays, short stories, non-fiction etc. These extracts cover some 500 years of writing, and what really astonished me was how much humour changed over the centuries. I am prepared to believe that the contemporaries of the writers included found them highly amusing, but for my own part giant swathes of this book were deeply, painfully unfunny. (On the bright side, this meant ...more
David Potter
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very comprehensive collection with insightful introductions for each author included. All great fun.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Frank Herbert Muir was an English comedy screenwriter and radio and television personality. From 1977 on he also wrote children's books based on his family dog, What-a-Mess. In 1997 he published his autobiography.
More about Frank Muir...

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