Top positive review
14 people found this helpful
Interesting study (not intended to be funny)
on 7 February 2015
This is an academic study, and I sympathise with the reviewer who suggested that its title does not adequately suggest that; I would add, neither does the cover which uses cartoons by John Leech. I have read both academic and more popular books by Mary Beard and find her writing lucid, her arguments clear, and her sense of perspective on disputed issues very refreshing. ( I am an historian but not a Classicist. ) I had to concentrate harder than usual when reading this; because so much is not known and unknowable about laughter in classical times, the writer had to keep posing unanswerable questions - fair enough, but the proliferation of question marks got to me a bit. Much of it, however, was interesting, with attractive insights. I liked her survey on theories seeking to explain laughter, and I enjoyed the chapter on the Roman joke book. One niggle - I realise this is published by an American press, but I found the American spelling in a book written by a distinguished British scholar from a famous British university very annoying. But if that's OK with Mary Beard, who am I to quibble !!??