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From Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales to Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary, this is a comprehensive guide to comedy in the English literary canon. Beginning with a critical exploration of historical and philosophical theories of humour, the book then supplies close-readings of a wide range of major texts, authors and genres from the Medieval period to the present. The Comic Mode in English Literature examines such texts as: "Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream" Pope's The Rape of the Lock Austen's Emma "Dickens" The Pickwick Papers Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest Amis's Lucky Jim Covering poetry, prose and drama, this comprehensive guide will be essential reading for students of comic writing, literary history and genre.