by Laurent Joubert
translated by Gregory David de Rocher
University of Alabama Press, 1980
Paper: 978-0-8173-5963-8 | eISBN: 978-0-8173-9055-6 | Cloth: 978-0-8173-0026-5
Library of Congress Classification BF575.L3J6513 1980
Dewey Decimal Classification 152.4


Translation from French of an essay on the nature and character of human laughter

Until its translation, Treatise on Laughter remained accessible solely to readers of French for nearly four centuries. Joubert’s treatise offers a curious and stimulating experience: the sensation of moving through another epistemology.

His theory was composed during a period of great turmoil in the history of France when the human race was becoming much more aware of the organic structure of man and nature. He begins with the immediately observable phenomena before penetrating into the more hidden aspects of one of the most admirable of human acts, amirables accions de l’homme, laughter. Joubert is keenly aware of the difficulty of his subject matter. Rather than discouraging him, however, this becomes an incentive, making the study of such a formidable mystery more enticing.

His ideas can appear quaint, and many of his beliefs can make us smile. Yet our smile may well disappear when we wonder which of today’s accepted ideas might seem laughable half a millennium hence.