Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage” as Want to Read:
Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  157 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Cavell names a new genre of American film, 'the comedy of remarriage, ' in this reading of seven romantic comedies of the '30s and '40s: It Happened One Night, The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday, The Lady Eve, and Adam's Rib.
Paperback, 296 pages
Published January 15th 1984 by Harvard University Press (first published July 1st 1981)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Pursuits of Happiness, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Pursuits of Happiness

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  157 ratings  ·  24 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bir sinema sever olarak bu kitabı çok sevdiğimi söyleyebilirim. Filmlerin yorumları sırasında felsefeye çokça başvurulduğu için kolay bir kitap olmadığını söyleyebilirim. Ayrıca ilgi alanınız değilse sıkabileceğini belirtmek isterim.
Elizabeth Knight
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Not only is this a jaw droppingly gorgeous book about the very sophisticated and enlightened Romantic Comedy of the early-mid 20th C...but I'll be doggone if it isn't the best book on MARRIAGE itself I've ever read.
We start with the premise that all the couples in the films he discusses are independent, usually wealthy and childless. This means that each partner has a no compulsion to be in the relationship...and that it is the process of choosing a life and each other that spins at the center
Elena Sala
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: film, philosophy
Brilliant analysis and serious discussion of the great American dialogue comedies of the thirties and forties.
Nancy Loe
Aug 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I hope no one ever makes me pick between screwball comedies and pre-Code dramas. This is a great analysis of the former.
Sharad Pandian
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I've read in a very long time, and I'm here to tell you why. This is a close reading by the philosopher Stanley Cavell of 7 films from the 30s and 40s which he calls "comedies of remarriage". Admittedly, I love the films in this genre independently (in no small part because of the frequency with which Katharine Hepburn turns up in these), but what makes this book spectacular is how it fills a largely unnoticed gap, which I believe exists, in the way we are able to talk ...more
Jul 20, 2018 added it
Shelves: abandoned
The subject matter is definitely interesting and worth pursuing. It's also not just about these movies, the book uses the subject matter to work through Cavell's broader philosophy (a resuscitation of the ordinary, a freshening of what has always been there, the pragmatic formation of the "next self"). But I couldn't do it. This book will remain unfinished for now as it is a case where the prose does not have the levity necessary for dealing with its subject matter.

He is worried that he is
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For me this book was about redefining education something something what it means to come into knowledge about another person ...more
Finalllyyyyyyyyyyy omg
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Glad that I took so long to finish this! The time in between reading other things makes the experience so much richer. Cavell obviously understands the connection between Kierkegaard's repetition, Nietzsche's eternal recurrence, and perhaps Heidegger's authenticity. While he says little with respect to recollection in Plato, he connects this with the Hollywood screwball comedies that effectively make divorce necessary for true marriage - in much the same way that only the second baptism is the ...more
stephen k
Jan 05, 2015 rated it liked it
If you have any interest in marriage, getting married or being married, this is an absolute must-read. As much as this is a deep reading of seven remarkably entertaining films of early Hollywood, it's also a deep reading of what it is to spend your life with someone and what justifies such a commitment. The films that compose the genre examined here all challenge whether two people should really be together, and they offer to us what it takes to prove that they should. These aren't just lessons ...more
Banu Pluie
"bir metinden fazladan anlam çıkarmak, sanki orada olmayan bir şeyi metnin içine yerleştirmek gibi birşeyi canlandırır. sonra orada ne olduğunu söylersiniz ve metinden başka birşey olmadığı anlaşılır.

ancak metnin 'satır aralarını okumak', bir eleştiri terimi olarak, oldukça dikkate değer birşeyi, gerçek bir iz üzerinde bile olsa aşırıya kaçmak gibi bir şeyi ortaya atar. öyleyse sorulacak soru, çoğu kez felsefi bir soru olan, okumanın nasıl sonlandırılacağı sorusudur. bu durum, eleştiriye
Aug 28, 2007 added it
Shelves: movie
isn't it funny that life is unfair......but looking forward to the journey we endure we may realized that everything happened has a purpose that indeed God still has a good plan for us.Even in the midst of troubles, pressures, disappointments or even uncertain things that happens in our way still God has a good plan for us....while looking at the movie i remember the word that God promise us saying "plan to prosper us and not to harm us, plan to give us hope and a future" quoted "Jeremiah ...more
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
My one regret after reading Stanley Cavell's Purstuis of Happiness was that I hadn't seen all the movies recently enough to always remember what specific moments he referred to at every moment. The movie I know the best, The Awful Truth, was also the one essay that included a synopsis. I do now want to go back and watch the other films keeping in mind everything I read about them.

It definitely gave me a new way to think about the genre--and exciting way that makes me want to see all the movies
Apr 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: film-theory
This book has been very influential in film theory and is definitely worthwhile reading if you have an interesting in the Classical Hollywood period. Cavell makes some really insightful points and identifies a number of common themes and ideas in the screwball comedies of the '40s. However, I found it pretty hard-going - the language is very flowery and Cavell approaches film theory from a philosophical and literary background, which is vastly different to the semiotic, ideological and ...more
Mar 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Cavell's reading of these films is challenging and delightful. If you've any appreciation for the old screwball comedy/romance movies discussed in this book (It Happened One Night, The Philadelphia Story, The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby, etc.) you would do well to pick up this book and watch the films in concert with reading it. Cavell demonstrates wonderfully what a sophisticated and philosophically astute reading can add to already enjoyable works of art.

And if you haven't seen the films,
Apr 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Cavell on Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday:

"These two simply appreciate one another more than either of them appreciates anyone else, and they would rather be appreciated by one another more than by anyone else. They just are at home with one another, whether or not they can ever live together under the same roof -- that is, ever find a roof they can live together under."

One of the best books about film -- and about marriage -- ever written, in my less-than-humble opinion.
Estep Nagy
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wouldn't call film criticism "life-affirming" too much, but Cavell's essay on THE AWFUL TRUTH (1937, Cary Grant/Irene Dunne) is, like the film itself, so good as to be required reading not just for film students but for anyone who cares about any narrative art form at all. I'm going to have to buy a new copy of this because my current one has so many notes and underlines that it's almost unreadable.
Jan 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book examines the remarriage comedies of the 30s and 40s - The Philadelphia Story, The Awful Truth, Adam's Rib, It Happened One Night, among others. Cavell reads the films using Kant and Freud, Milton and Luther. It's an interesting book, and one that you could even use as a sort of primer on marriage generally.
Apr 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book, while wonderfully erudite, does have one flaw. At times the prose clogs and you feel like you are reading a dense, philosophical treatise. Otherwise, it's perfect, with the best essay on "The Awful Truth" -- the greatest movie ever made -- that I have ever read. And it features this line on the ultimate screwball hero: Cary Grant "has the holiday in his eye."
Jul 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Although the writing can be turgid, this books is as much marriage manual as film history. My own copy has fallen apart I've consulted it so many times.
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
N and I are taking a class on Screwball comedies. Love screwball comedies, love Cavell!
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great feminist take on seven classical Hollywood films. Only Robin Wood does a comparable job of rewriting films of the period along the lines of gender.
rated it really liked it
Jul 22, 2009
rated it it was amazing
Jul 09, 2007
Maggie Heim
rated it really liked it
May 19, 2013
Savannah Rountree
rated it liked it
Jul 09, 2019
rated it it was amazing
Jan 31, 2008
Meghan Mcglynn
rated it really liked it
Jun 09, 2012
rated it really liked it
Jun 29, 2010
rated it it was amazing
Apr 10, 2018
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Please correct title - Stanley Cavell 2 13 Mar 06, 2020 10:35AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please add cover 2 11 Feb 16, 2018 09:46AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas
  • The Wrecking Light
  • مبانی فلسفه هنر
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search (Avatar: The Last Airbender, #2)
  • Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction
  • 暗殺教室 8 [Ansatsu Kyoushitsu 8] (Assassination Classroom, #8)
  • Abe Sapien, Vol. 1: The Drowning
  • Point Blank (Alex Rider, #2)
  • Dr.STONE 1 (Dr. Stone, #1)
  • 僕のヒーローアカデミア 5 [Boku No Hero Academia 5] (My Hero Academia, #5)
  • Who Goes There? and Other Stories
  • Trust Exercise
  • Utterly Dwarfed (The Order of the Stick #6)
  • Chew, Vol. 7: Bad Apples
  • Introducing Wittgenstein
  • Paper Girls, Vol. 6
  • Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-1976
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius
See similar books…
Stanley Cavell was an American philosopher. He was the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University. He worked in the fields of ethics, aesthetics, and ordinary language philosophy. As an interpreter, he produced influential works on Wittgenstein, Austin, Emerson, Thoreau, and Heidegger. His work is characterized by its conversational tone and ...more

News & Interviews

Some people love books. Some people fall in love. And some people fall in love with books about falling in love. Every month our team sorts thro...
55 likes · 13 comments
“On Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday:

"These two simply appreciate one another more than either of them appreciates anyone else, and they would rather be appreciated by one another more than by anyone else. They just are at home with one another, whether or not they can ever live together under the same roof -- that is, ever find a roof they can live together under.”
“(Can human beings change? The humor, and the sadness, of remarriage comedies can be said to result from the fact that we have no good answer to that question.)” 3 likes
More quotes…