No Joke by Ruth R. Wisse
Making Jewish Humor (Library of Jewish Ideas)

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 4 Critic Reviews

Seriously funny, humorously serious, scholarly, witty and wise.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

Humor is the most celebrated of all Jewish responses to modernity. In this book, Ruth Wisse evokes and applauds the genius of spontaneous Jewish joking--as well as the brilliance of comic masterworks by writers like Heinrich Heine, Sholem Aleichem, Isaac Babel, S. Y. Agnon, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Philip Roth. At the same time, Wisse draws attention to the precarious conditions that call Jewish humor into being--and the price it may exact from its practitioners and audience.

Wisse broadly traces modern Jewish humor around the world, teasing out its implications as she explores memorable and telling examples from German, Yiddish, English, Russian, and Hebrew. Among other topics, the book looks at how Jewish humor channeled Jewish learning and wordsmanship into new avenues of creativity, brought relief to liberal non-Jews in repressive societies, and enriched popular culture in the United States.

Even as it invites readers to consider the pleasures and profits of Jewish humor, the book asks difficult but fascinating questions: Can the excess and extreme self-ridicule of Jewish humor go too far and backfire in the process? And is "leave 'em laughing" the wisest motto for a people that others have intended to sweep off the stage of history?

 

About Ruth R. Wisse

See more books from this Author
Ruth R. Wisse is the Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and professor of comparative literature at Harvard University. She is the author of "The Modern Jewish Canon: A Journey through Language and Culture", which won a National Jewish Book Award. Her other books include "Jews and Power" (Schocken) and "The Schlemiel as Modern Hero".
 
Published May 21, 2013 by Princeton University Press. 284 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for No Joke
All: 4 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Anthony Gottlieb on May 31 2013

It is not clear what Wisse wants us to do with the thought that too much humor may be dangerous for the Jews.

Read Full Review of No Joke: Making Jewish Humor ... | See more reviews from NY Times

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Apr 01 2013

Accessible to nonacademic audiences as well as scholars, this cultural history is a welcome addition to the study of humor in a sociopolitical context.

Read Full Review of No Joke: Making Jewish Humor ... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Kirkus

Good
on Mar 31 2013

Seriously funny, humorously serious, scholarly, witty and wise.

Read Full Review of No Joke: Making Jewish Humor ... | See more reviews from Kirkus

The Economist

Good
on May 18 2013

To her credit, Ms Wisse offers no general theory of Jewish humour in her book, preferring description and textual analysis, at which she excels, to psycho-historical puffery.

Read Full Review of No Joke: Making Jewish Humor ... | See more reviews from The Economist

Reader Rating for No Joke
70%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 38 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×