It is a truth universally acknowledged that contemporary readers are too sceptical to believe in happy endings. But bestseller lists suggest we still demand them and we want to laugh, too. Andrew Tate considers the value of comic plots and their connections with the romance genre. Including funny bits from, among others, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, PG Wodehouse, Jonathan Coe and Nick Hornby.
Andrew Tate is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Lancaster University. He is the author of three books, the most recent of which is The New Atheist Novel: Fiction, Philosophy and Polemic After 9/11, co-written with Arthur Bradley.