For the most part, Alexis de Tocqueville had good things to say about the young United States in his book Democracy in America, which is probably why we tend to forget that he thought Americans weren’t funny. What de Tocqueville missed, according to a new history of American humor, is the extent to which American funniness emerged from subversive groups of outsiders. In Bookforum, Ben Schwartz takes stock of the arguments in American Fun.
After nearly a quarter of a millennium, the Encyclopedia Britannica is ending its print run. While the publication plans to move to a digital subscription based model, and to continue to gather information about the known world, many are sad to note its passing. Roxane Gay offers a particularly heartfelt eulogy: ” it was exciting to open the huge box and pull out the leather bound volumes, so many of them, the pages lined in gold.”