Cover image for Trading twelves : the selected letters of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray
Trading twelves : the selected letters of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray
Ellison, Ralph.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Modern Library, [2000]

Physical Description:
xiii, 237 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Tuskeegee and New York, 1950-1955 -- Rome, Casablanca, and New York, 1955-1958 -- Los Angeles and New York, 1958-1960.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3555.L625 Z49 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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British writers of the 20th century have used humor in various ways throughout their works. Some writers, such as George Bernard Shaw and W. Somerset Maughm, were known for their comedies of manners. Others, like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Alfred Hitchcock, wrote mystery novels infused with humorous elements. Political humor permeated the works of Sir Winston Churchill and George Orwell, while writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis combined humor with religion and myth. Many of the trends that began in the nineteenth century were continued into the twentieth, though these trends were shaped by the social conditions of the period. This reference surveys humor in British literature of the 20th century.

Included are authors who were active during the 20th century, ranging from Sir Arthur Wing Pinero (1855-1934) through Douglas (Noel) Adams (1952-). Each of these authors is profiled individually, with entries analyzing humor in their works and providing extensive bibliographical information. The first chapter covers includes authors born between 1855 and 1869, while each of the following chapters includes authors born during a particular decade. Within each chapter, the entries are arranged chronologically, so that the reader may trace the evolution of British literary humor over time. An index additionally allows the user to locate individual authors alphabetically.

Author Notes

DON L. F. NILSEN is Professor of English Linguistics at Arizona State University and Executive Secretary of the International Society for Humor Studies. His previous books include Humor Scholarship: A Research Bibliography (1993), Humor in Irish Literature: A Reference Guide (1996), Humor in British Literature, From the Middle Ages to the Restoration: A Reference Guide (1997), and Humor in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century British Literature: A Reference Guide (1998), all available from Greenwood Press.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Greenwood has published numerous reference works on British, Irish, and American humor by Nilsen (English linguistics, Arizona State Univ.). Entries are arranged chronologically by birth year, mid-1800s through post-1949. Entries range in length from 25 pages and 39 items in the bibliography (e.g., Tom Stoppard) to a couple of paragraphs and a single reference. Many bibliographies are quite thin. Frequently cited are volumes from Gale (particularly Contemporary Authors and Dictionary of Literary Biography) and Encyclopedia of British Humorists, ed. by Steven H. Gale (CH, Oct'96). Entries provide brief biographical information, titles of works, plot summaries, and quotations from primary and secondary sources. Cross-references are made to the author's companion volumes, predominantly for Irish writers; cross-references within the volume are cumbersome, requiring that the index be consulted rather than referring directly to the entry page. The general index cites names (of the humorists and authors in the bibliographies) and topics (e.g., "Colonial humor," "Gender humor," "Eccentrics," "Religion"). Scholars of humor are unlikely to find anything new here, and other readers might do as well with the Encyclopedia or various Gale compendia. ; University of Maryland College Park

Table of Contents

Authors Born between 1855 and 1869
Authors Born between 1870 and 1879
Authors Born between 1880 and 1889
Authors Born between 1890 and 1899
Authors Born between 1900 and 1909
Authors Born between 1910 and 1919
Authors Born between 1920 and 1929
Authors Born between 1930 and 1939
Authors Born between 1940 and 1949
Authors Born after 1949