Historical Materialism , volume 13:4 (373–388) © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2005 Also available online – www.brill.nl 1 Cited in Brewer 1997, p. 103. 2 Shoemaker 1987, p. 273. See also Shoemaker ’s more extended and recent discussion in Shoemaker 2004. For a discussion of the differences between plebeian and patrician culture see Thompson 1974. Masses, Classes and the Public Sphere Edited by M IKE H ILL and W ARREN M ONTAG London: Verso, 2000 Reviewed by J OHN M ICHAEL R OBERTS Let the mob speak! In 1748, Chesterfield described guttural laughter as the following: ‘It is the mirth of the mob, who are very pleased with silly things; for true wit or good sense never excited a laugh’. 1 Perhaps good old Chesterfield just hadn’t heard a decent joke during his own life. Maybe this is why he thought that laughing loudly at a vulgar story was, at the same time, to descend to the depths of mind numbing stupidity. ‘True wit’, Chesterfield’s preferred drollness, was a lofty, as opposed to earthly, form of humour. It was, thus, a form of humour that sought to wrench itself away from the ‘mob’ so that only those lucky
Historical Materialism – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2005
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