Wit is a form of intelligent humour, the ability to say or write things that are clever and usually funny.Witty means a person who is skilled at making clever and funny remarks. Forms of wit include the quip, repartee, and wisecrack.
As in the wit of Dorothy Parker's set, the Algonquin Round Table, witty remarks may be intentionally cruel (as in many epigrams), and perhaps more ingenious than funny.
A quip is an observation or saying that has some wit but perhaps descends into sarcasm, or otherwise is short of a point, and a witticism also suggests the diminutive.
Repartee is the wit of the quick answer and capping comment: the snappy comeback and neat retort. (Wilde: "I wish I'd said that." Whistler: "You will, Oscar, you will".)
Wit in poetry is characteristic of metaphysical poetry as a style, and was prevalent in the time of English playwright Shakespeare, who admonished pretension with the phrase "Better a witty fool than a foolish wit".It may combine word play with conceptual thinking, as a kind of verbal display requiring attention, without intending to be laugh-aloud funny; in fact wit can be a thin disguise for more poignant feelings that are being versified. English poet John Donne is the representative of this style of poetry.
More generally, one's wits are one's intellectual powers of all types. Native wit — meaning the wits with which one is born — is closely synonymous with common sense. To live by one's wits is to be an opportunist, but not always of the scrupulous kind. To have one's wits about one is to be alert and capable of quick reasoning. To be at the end of one's wits ("I'm at my wits' end") is to be immensely frustrated.
John Donne was an English scholar, poet, soldier and secretary born into a catholic family, a remnant of the Catholic Revival, who reluctantly became a cleric in the Church of England. He was Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London (1621-1631). He is considered the pre-eminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His poetical works are noted for their metaphorical and sensual style and include sonnets, love poems, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs, satires. He is also known for his sermons.
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, the early 1890s saw him become one of the most popular playwrights in London. He is best remembered for his epigrams and plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the circumstances of his criminal conviction for "gross indecency", imprisonment, and early death at age 46.
The pun, also called paronomasia, is a form of word play that exploits multiple meanings of a term, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use of homophonic, homographic, metonymic, or figurative language. A pun differs from a malapropism in that a malapropism is an incorrect variation on a correct expression, while a pun involves expressions with multiple interpretations. Puns may be regarded as in-jokes or idiomatic constructions, especially as their usage and meaning are usually specific to a particular language or its culture.
Screwball comedy is a subgenre of the romantic comedy genre that became popular during the Great Depression, originating in the early 1930s and thriving until the early 1940s. It is widely known for satirizing the traditional love story. Many secondary characteristics of this genre are similar to film noir, but it distinguishes itself for being characterized by a female that dominates the relationship with the male central character, whose masculinity is challenged. The two engage in a humorous battle of the sexes, which was a new theme for Hollywood and audiences at the time. What sets the screwball comedy apart from the generic romantic comedy is that "screwball comedy puts its emphasis on a funny spoofing of love, while the more traditional romantic ultimately accents love." Other elements of the screwball comedy include fast-paced, overlapping repartee, farcical situations, escapist themes, physical battle of the sexes, disguise and masquerade, and plot lines involving courtship and marriage. Screwball comedies often depict social classes in conflict, as in It Happened One Night (1934) and My Man Godfrey (1936). Some comic plays are also described as screwball comedies.
The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde. First performed on 14 February 1895 at the St James's Theatre in London, it is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personae to escape burdensome social obligations. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play's major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of Victorian ways. Some contemporary reviews praised the play's humour and the culmination of Wilde's artistic career, while others were cautious about its lack of social messages. Its high farce and witty dialogue have helped make The Importance of Being Earnest Wilde's most enduringly popular play.
Sir William Empson was an English literary critic and poet, widely influential for his practice of closely reading literary works, a practice fundamental to New Criticism. His best-known work is his first, Seven Types of Ambiguity, published in 1930.
This article focuses on poetry from the United Kingdom written in the English language. The article does not cover poetry from other countries where the English language is spoken, including Southern Ireland after December 1922.
Shakespeare's sonnets are poems that William Shakespeare wrote on a variety of themes. When discussing or referring to Shakespeare's sonnets, it is almost always a reference to the 154 sonnets that were first published all together in a quarto in 1609; however, there are six additional sonnets that Shakespeare wrote and included in the plays Romeo and Juliet, Henry V and Love's Labour's Lost. There is a partial sonnet found in the play Edward III.
The term metaphysical poets was coined by the critic Samuel Johnson to describe a loose group of 17th-century English poets whose work was characterized by the inventive use of conceits, and by a greater emphasis on the spoken rather than lyrical quality of their verse. These poets were not formally affiliated and few were highly regarded until 20th century attention established their importance.
Robert Armin was an English actor, a member of the Lord Chamberlain's Men. He became the leading comedy actor with the troupe associated with William Shakespeare following the departure of Will Kempe around 1600. Also a popular comic author, he wrote a comedy, The History of the Two Maids of More-clacke, as well as Foole upon Foole, A Nest of Ninnies (1608) and The Italian Taylor and his Boy.
The comedy of manners, also called anti sentimental comedy, is a form of comedy that satirizes the manners and affectations of contemporary society and questions societal standards. Social class stereotypes are often represented through stock characters such as the miles gloriosus in ancient Greek comedy or the fop and rake of English Restoration comedy, which is sometimes used as a synonym for "comedy of manners". A comedy of manners often sacrifices the plot, which usually centers on some scandal, to witty dialogue and sharp social commentary. Oscar Wilde's play, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), which satirized the Victorian morality of the time, is one of the best-known plays of this genre.
Iambic pentameter is a type of metric line used in traditional English poetry and verse drama. The term describes the rhythm, or meter, established by the words in that line; rhythm is measured in small groups of syllables called "feet". "Iambic" refers to the type of foot used, here the iamb, which in English indicates an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. "Pentameter" indicates a line of five "feet".
Richard David Ellmann was an American literary critic and biographer of the Irish writers James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and William Butler Yeats. He won the U.S. National Book Award for Nonfiction for James Joyce (1959), which is one of the most acclaimed literary biographies of the 20th century. Its 1982 revised edition was similarly recognised with the award of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Ellmann was a liberal humanist, and his academic work focused on the major modernist writers of the twentieth century.
The Mermaid Tavern was a tavern on Cheapside in London during the Elizabethan era, located east of St. Paul's Cathedral on the corner of Friday Street and Bread Street. It was the site of the so-called "Fraternity of Sireniacal Gentlemen", a drinking club that met on the first Friday of every month that included some of the Elizabethan era's leading literary figures, among them Ben Jonson, John Donne, John Fletcher and Francis Beaumont, Thomas Coryat, John Selden, Robert Bruce Cotton, Richard Carew, Richard Martin, and William Strachey. A popular tradition has grown up that the group included William Shakespeare, although most scholars think that was improbable.
Ada Esther Leverson was a British writer who is known for her friendship with Oscar Wilde and for her work as a witty novelist of the fin-de-siècle.
Touchstone is a fictional character in Shakespeare's play As You Like It.
The Shakespearean fool is a recurring character type in the works of William Shakespeare.
Sonnet 144 was published in the Passionate Pilgrim (1599). Shortly before this, Francis Meres referred to Shakespeare's Sonnets in his handbook of Elizabethan poetry, Palladis Tamia, or Wit's Treasurie, published in 1598, which was frequently talked about in the literary centers of London taverns. Shakespeare's sonnets are mostly addressed to a young man, but the chief subject of Sonnet 127 through Sonnet 152 is the "dark lady". Several sonnets portray a conflicted relationship between the speaker, the "dark lady" and the young man. Sonnet 144 is one of the most prominent sonnets to address this conflict.
William Shakespeare's style of writing was borrowed from the conventions of the day and adapted to his needs.
Pierce Penniless, His Supplication to the Divell is a tall tale, or a prose satire, written by Thomas Nashe and published in London in 1592. It was among the most popular of the Elizabethan pamphlets. It was reprinted in 1593 and 1595, and in 1594 was translated into French. It is written from the point of view of Pierce, a man who has not met with good fortune, who now bitterly complains of the world’s wickedness, and addresses his complaints to the devil. At times the identity of Pierce seems to conflate with Nashe's own. But Nashe also portrays Pierce as something of an arrogant and prodigal fool. The story is told in a style that is complex, witty, fulminating, extemporaneous, digressive, anecdotal, filled with wicked descriptions, and peppered with newly minted words and Latin phrases. The satire can be mocking and bitingly sharp, and at times Nashe’s style seems to relish its own obscurity.
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