Wit

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'The feast of reason, and the flow of soul,' - i.e. - the wits of the age, setting the table in a roar, by James Gillray (1797) 'The feast of reason, and the flow of soul,' - ie - the wits of the age, setting the table in a roar by James Gillray.jpg
'The feast of reason, and the flow of soul,' - i.e. - the wits of the age, setting the table in a roar, by James Gillray (1797)

Wit is a form of intelligent humour, the ability to say or write things that are clever and usually funny. [1] Witty means a person who is skilled at making clever and funny remarks. [1] [2] Forms of wit include the quip, repartee, and wisecrack.

Humour tendency of experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement

Humour, also spelt as humor, is the tendency of experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement. The term derives from the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks, which taught that the balance of fluids in the human body, known as humours, controlled human health and emotion.

Contents

Forms

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.

Dorothy Parker American poet, short story writer, critic and satirist

Dorothy Parker was an American poet, writer, critic, and satirist based in New York; she was best known for her wit, wisecracks, and eye for 20th-century urban foibles.

Algonquin Round Table

The Algonquin Round Table was a group of New York City writers, critics, actors, and wits. Gathering initially as part of a practical joke, members of "The Vicious Circle", as they dubbed themselves, met for lunch each day at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919 until roughly 1929. At these luncheons they engaged in wisecracks, wordplay, and witticisms that, through the newspaper columns of Round Table members, were disseminated across the country.

Epigram brief poem

An epigram is a brief, interesting, memorable, and sometimes surprising or satirical statement. The word is derived from the Greek: ἐπίγραμμα epigramma "inscription" from ἐπιγράφειν epigraphein "to write on, to inscribe", and the literary device has been employed for over two millennia.

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".) [3]

Sarcasm is "a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter gibe or taunt". Sarcasm may employ ambivalence, although sarcasm is not necessarily ironic. Most noticeable in spoken word, sarcasm is mainly distinguished by the inflection with which it is spoken and is largely context-dependent. Sarcasm does not translate into text-only mediums, such as online chat.

Oscar Wilde 19th-century Irish poet, playwright and aesthete

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. He is best remembered for his epigrams and plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the circumstances of his criminal conviction for homosexuality, imprisonment, and early death at age 46.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler American painter

James Abbott McNeill Whistler was an American artist, active during the American Gilded Age and based primarily in the United Kingdom. He was averse to sentimentality and moral allusion in painting, and was a leading proponent of the credo "art for art's sake". His famous signature for his paintings was in the shape of a stylized butterfly possessing a long stinger for a tail. The symbol was apt, for it combined both aspects of his personality: his art is characterized by a subtle delicacy, while his public persona was combative. He found a parallel between painting and music and entitled many of his paintings "arrangements", "harmonies", and "nocturnes", emphasizing the primacy of tonal harmony. His most famous painting is Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (1871), commonly known as Whistler's Mother, the revered and often parodied portrait of motherhood. Whistler influenced the art world and the broader culture of his time with his artistic theories and his friendships with leading artists and writers.

In poetry

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". [4] 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. [5]

Poetry form of literature

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.

William Shakespeare English playwright and poet

William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His extant works, including collaborations, consist of approximately 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Word play literary technique

Word play or wordplay is a literary technique and a form of wit in which words used become the main subject of the work, primarily for the purpose of intended effect or amusement. Examples of word play include puns, phonetic mix-ups such as spoonerisms, obscure words and meanings, clever rhetorical excursions, oddly formed sentences, double entendres, and telling character names.

Further meanings

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.

Common sense set of widely accepted beliefs

Common sense is sound practical judgment concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge that is shared by nearly all people. The first type of common sense, good sense, can be described as "the knack for seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done." The second type is sometimes described as folk wisdom, "signifying unreflective knowledge not reliant on specialized training or deliberative thought." The two types are intertwined, as the person who has common sense is in touch with common-sense ideas, which emerge from the lived experiences of those commonsensical enough to perceive them.

Opportunism Taking advantage of circumstances

Opportunism is the conscious policy and practice of taking advantage of circumstances – with little regard for principles or with what the consequences are for others. Opportunist actions are expedient actions guided primarily by self-interested motives. The term can be applied to individual humans and living organisms, groups, organizations, styles, behaviours, and trends.

Frustration

In psychology, frustration is a common emotional response to opposition, related to anger, annoyance and disappointment, frustration arises from the perceived resistance to the fulfillment of an individual's will or goal and is likely to increase when a will or goal is denied or blocked. There are two types of frustration; internal and external. Internal frustration may arise from challenges in fulfilling personal goals, desires, instinctual drives and needs, or dealing with perceived deficiencies, such as a lack of confidence or fear of social situations. Conflict, such as when one has competing goals that interfere with one another, can also be an internal source of frustration and can create cognitive dissonance. External causes of frustration involve conditions outside an individual's control, such as a physical roadblock, a difficult task, or the perception of wasting time. There are multiple ways individuals cope with frustration such as passive–aggressive behavior, anger, or violence, although frustration may also propel positive processes via enhanced effort and strive. This broad range of potential outcomes makes it difficult to identify the original cause(s) of frustration, as the responses may be indirect. However, a more direct and common response is a propensity towards aggression.

Wry wit is to exercise one's amused thoughts while mixing lines, tastes, non-sequitur, coy musing, dialogue about formality or limerance, suggestions, such as for future or from past social events, or imitation. Examples include; "... at the same time", "If I owned/did that I would ...", "From a something perspective its ... but weird/cool/uncool/wild", "You ... like a something", "This something changes the game or everything or life *exaggerated or dramatic line about changes*", "Its time to ... and bring back or put away ...", "I'm moving in-between something and its more than something", "This is something and something ... and/but/are its more than style", "We could ... but we didn't actually and its turned out something". Other lines can be reversals to denote the sudden and unalterable changes people should be cautious about; "Keeping in style/tune/fashion we ... but probably not", "We could ... but probably not", "I will always in the moment ...", "I'm keeping this for future posterity while you ...", "I'm finding your progress to be ...", "We are in the middle...".

See also

Related Research Articles

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Sonnet 144 poem by 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.

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William Charles Kingsbury Wilde was an Irish journalist and poet of the Victorian era and the older brother of Oscar Wilde.

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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.

<i>A Conversation with Oscar Wilde</i> memorial sculpture in London by Maggi Hambling

A Conversation with Oscar Wilde is an outdoor sculpture by Maggi Hambling in central London. Unveiled in 1998, it is the first public monument dedicated to Oscar Wilde outside his native Ireland. It takes the form of a bench-like green granite sarcophagus, with a bust of Wilde emerging from the upper end, with a hand clasping a cigarette.

References

  1. 1 2 "Wit". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2012-05-27.
  2. "wit". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  3. Monty Python: Oscar Wilde sketch
  4. Salingar, Leo (1976). Shakespeare and the Traditions of Comedy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 245–6. ISBN   978-0-521-29113-2.
  5. Daley, Koos (1990). The triple fool: a critical evaluation of Constantijn Huygens' translations of John Donne. De Graaf. p. 58. ISBN   978-90-6004-405-6 . Retrieved 6 October 2010.

Bibliography