Book Review: The Pun Also Rises by John Pollack

Author: John Pollack
Title: The Pun Also Rises
Publication Info: New York : Gotham Books, 2011.
ISBN: 9781592406234

Pollack’s short but compelling narrative examines the history, etymology, and linguistics of the much-maligned pun.  The pun has not always been held in disregard as it has in history been seen as a sign of wisdom, and even today it is harder to not pun than to pun.  Pollack explains how the pun is deceptively simple and opens a window on meaning and abstract thinking.  The book is also pretty punny – er funny – no punny was correct.
Favorite Passages:

“Punning is a virtue that most effectually promotes the end of good fellowship.” – The Moral Definition of Punning according to Thomas Sheridan’s Ars Punica. – p. 81

“In a way, the pun was humanity’s first hyperlink, a way to identify and articulate potential connections that aren’t necessarily or immediately apparent.  Punning was and remains a way to sling a verbal rope, in an instant, across vast conceptual canyons.  It is this same urge to imagine, explore and establish new connections that fuels creativity generally, and science specifically.  Not that puns are a substitute for reason, but neither is reason a substitute for imagination.  If imagination didn’t exist, what cause would reason have to set out on a given journey, to prove or disprove a given proposition?  Puns reveal a mind free to roam frontiers of possibility, without shame or fear of being wrong.” – p. 143

Rating: ***1/2

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