Cover: The Comic Hero, from Harvard University PressCover: The Comic Hero in E-DITION

The Comic Hero

Available from De Gruyter »

Product Details


$65.00 • £54.95 • €60.00

ISBN 9780674434028

Publication Date: 01/01/1978

346 pages


Related Subjects

Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »

This lively book is a portrayal and a celebration of the hero in comedy, from ancient Greek literature to modern American fiction. Robert Torrance shows us a hero who survives by continually changing, who cherishes what others mock and commands assent by adherence to the truth of his own invention.

The comic hero makes his debut as Homer’s resourceful Odysseus, a king in beggar’s rags, and reappears as the visionary jackanapes of Aristophanes’ fantasies. We meet him as a slave in Plautus, an ass in Apuleius, and a fox in the medieval saga of Reynard. He rules a festive kingdom as Falstaff and aspires to restore the Golden Age as Don Quixote. In Fielding he seems a rake and in Diderot a fatalist; a romantic lover in Byron and a hopeless bungler in Flaubert. In our own time his names have been Leopold Bloom and Felix Krull, Schweik, Gulley Jimson, Yossarian, and Randle Patrick McMurphy. Whatever his guise, the comic hero affirms a defiant vision of life and freedom that sets him apart from everyone else and makes him one with us all.

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