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Reader ratings: 7.8
The author of the book: Howard Hibbett
Edition: Kodansha
Date of issue: July 1st 2002
ISBN: 4770028539
ISBN 13: 9784770028532
Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 1.16 MB
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Arthur Koestler claimed that the sense of humor of the Japanese was like "weak, mint-flavoured tea." Was he right? Are funny bones not part of their anatomy? Is laughter something preferably hidden behind one's hand?

In this eloquent and often deliciously amusing book, Howard Hibbett sets out to prove that, in its own way, Japanese humor is just as robust and varied as other people's. Jokes themselves are notoriously resistant to translation, but in the hands of a subtle interpreter such as Hibbett, funny stories and even puns clear the language barrier in great style. If anything, as E. B. White said of his own works in translation, they may at times "lose something in the original."

Hibbett's study begins in the mists of legend, when the Sun Goddess, sulking in a cave, is supposed to have been lured out by the laughter of lesser gods, assembled to watch a "striptease" performed by another goddess. Echoes of that bawdy laughter, we learn, can still be heard through the ensuing centuries, under the accumulation of more sophisticated wit. This, he shows us, is true not only of the age of frivolity that flowered in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the pleasure quarters of the great cities, but of later periods when a stricter public moral code was imposed from above and laughter was thought unseemly, with people resorting to the private consolation of dirty or irreverent jokes. For a while, in the first half of the twentieth century, it appeared that the Japanese were in danger of losing their sense of humor altogether, especially in literature. But not even war and Westernized intellectuals could entirely suppress the sense of fun that reemerged! , alive and well, in postwar vaudeville and films and comic books. And there Hibbett's narrative ends, as it began -- with a comic strip. Any number of solemn books have been written about "the Japanese character," which ultimately is the subject of his book as well. But here at last is one that, while it informs, never fails to entertain.

Front jacket illustration: Hokusai manga, vol. 12.




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Reviews of the The Chrysanthemum And The Fish: Japanese Humor Since The Age Of The Shoguns


LEWIS

Why do you ask me to write a phone?

MOLLY

Black and White

HARRY

Fun book for children and their parents

ANNA

Why do you ask me to drive a phone?




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