Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Segue: Umberto Eco on comedy

From a Paris Review interview with the delightful Umberto Eco:
Compared to beauty and ugliness, comedy is terrifying. I’m not talking about laughter, mind you. No, there is an uncanny sentimentality of the comic, which is so complex that—I cannot quite explain it. And this, alas, is why I didn’t write the book.
. . . 
I think that comedy is the quintessential human reaction to the fear of death.
. . . 
In truth, what really happened with my desire to write a book on comedy was that I wrote The Name of the Rose instead. It was one of those cases in which, when you are unable to construct a theory, you narrate a story. And I believe that in The Name of the Rose, I did, in narrative form, flesh out a certain theory of the comic. The comic as a critical way of undercutting fanaticism. A diabolical shade of suspicion behind every proclamation of truth.

The whole interview is great fun, and offers a modern thoughtful man's perspective on things literary, medieval, and comic -- as we are on our way to Dante.

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