It was said some time ago by a writer on irony, G. G. Sedgwick, that ‘the comic is composed of just such elements…as are found in many a tragic situation’ (Sedgwick, 1967: 26). A linguist with a primary interest in humour, Salvatore Attardo, has noted the similarity between jokes and humorous stories (Attardo, 1994: 254–70). The claim in this book is that all stories without exception — tragic, comic, tragi-comic, plotless, absurd, tragical-historical-comical-pastoral — all correspond to the Joke structure we observed in Chapter 1. This is a large claim, often denied, but, proceeding with the step-by-step approach adopted so far, let us see if we can establish its credibility.
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