What’s remarkable about Paravulescu’s brief history is its fresh and eclectic documentation, and this erudite trait continues throughout the book. The bulk of the work focuses on modernism and the laughs in the African-American tradition (Ellison), the philosophical avant-gardes and their focus on the experience of laughter (Bataille), feminism and the location of Medusa’s laugh (Cixous), and film from photograph to cinema and the laugh of culture industry (Adorno). Each chapter includes the context and background necessary for the uninitiated before moving into subtle analyses that allow each laugh to reverberate on the page. No summary, regardless of its completeness, can reveal the impressiveness of Parvulescu’s study.—Journal of Modern Literature—
An intellectual short circuit, and it deserves the careful attention of a broad audience, not just students of ‘laughter’.