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The Little Book of Puns In today s busy world, where text speak seems to be the prevalent form of written English, and the average teenager can barely form a proper sentence without using the numbers 4 or 8 as substitutes for letters, is the pun becoming an endangered species As a society we have come to regard wordplay as old fashioned, obvious humour, because it hinges simply on one word having multiple definitions, spellings or sound alikes It may not be controversial, edgy or even topical, but it actually takes a great deal of skill, wit and general knowledge to come up with a decent pun not everyone can do it The Little Book of Puns explores the dying art of paronomasia and gives us a taste of the very best wordplay history has to offer It harks back to the heady days when intelligence was measured at dinner parties rather than from behind a school desk, when people still wrote letters instead of emails and actually read newspapers instead of checking out a website This book way as well exist in ant gravity, because you ll find it impossible to put down.NB The cover carries the strap line Ingenious Wordplay and Groan inducing Quips but that does not appear on the title page, which is as recorded here at the title. Alison Westwood gathers together some of the great wordsmiths to demonstrate the art of the pun, or in some cases the art of the one liner She selects such as William Shakespeare perhaps surprisingly , Thomas Hood, Groucho Marx, W C Fields, Dorothy Parker Oscar Wilde, Mae West and Robert Benchley among others Some of the quotes are very punny, some mildly punny and others not very amusing at all depending, of course, on one s sense of humour.I would probably never have put Shakespeare in such company but the author cites from Cymbeline, Golden lads and girls all must, As Chimney sweepers, come to dust perhaps not very punn ish but I suppose it could qualify for a groan inducing quip Thomas Hood was often the author of humorous verse and his Faithless Nelly Grey reads, Ben Battle was a soldier bold, And used to war s alarms But a cannon ball took off his legs, So he laid down his arms Macabre, yes, a pun, possibly, amusing perhaps, groan inducing quip, probably.Oscar Wilde needs no introduction as a master of the put you down and the pun but I feel sure he never really believed his quote, Whenever people agree with me, I feel I must be wrong A pun Doubtful Mae West was probably spot on when she stated, I speak two languages, Body and English and Dorothy Parker was undoubtedly correct when she said, I d rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy Groucho Marx is well known for his one liners, whatever their nature One such is Women should be obscene and not heard misogynistic or what I doubt he would get away with such a remark in the 21st century And W C Fields brought one of the other protagonists into one of his remarks when he said, Ah, yes, Mae West a plumber s idea of Cleopatra while one of Robert Benchley s efforts was Why don t you get out of that wet coat and into a dry martini Well, you could say that he had taste.There are plenty of quotes from the many people included in the volume and there are also a selection of Knock, Knock jokes, which apparently took off in 1936 when it was spoken of as a new form of summer parlour game that is doing the rounds, but it is probably just a passing fad that will be gone by autumn The writer got that one wrong In addition there are Doctor, Doctor jokes, which apparently have their origin in a third or fourth century AD Roman joke book entitled Philogenus or in English The Laughter Lover I wonder if Doctor, Doctor, I feel like a pack of cards I ll deal with you later made its first appearance therein I doubt it Accompanying all the puns and one liners are short biographical details of the protagonists that have been chosen and they make as interesting reading, if not interesting reading, than some of the quotes But it is a fun book and one that can be browsed over and over again when some of the unfunny or unpunny quotes may become amusing Don t expect deep literary analysis for that, perhaps try Walter Redfern s Puns More Senses Than One This is a lighter run through of punsters through the p ages, from Shakespeare to Tim Vine via the likes of Dorothy Parker, WC Fields, Tommy Cooper, and a Wilde West punfight , with profiles of each and a selection of their most notable calembours Westwood s writing style seems fairly pedestrian though, and whoever checked the proofs was having an off day as on p.18 we see wquivalent , on pp.19 21 the running head defaults to TITLE , and in several places paragraphs end without a full stop.

  • Hardcover
  • 159 pages
  • The Little Book of Puns
  • Alison Westwood
  • English
  • 18 June 2019

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