The furore over the categorisation of “Get Out” is misjudged

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COMEDY is a multiplicitous genre. It is both “low”—farcical, vulgar, reliant on physical gags—and “high”, dealing in sophistication and witty repartee. There are both “Old” and “New” forms, one offering political commentary and the other relying on archetypal characters and everyday situations. It runs the gamut of styles, from stand-up to situational; slapstick to cerebral. Some writers, like Shakespeare, managed to bring many of these different elements into harmony. But it is largely true that what constitutes humour, and therefore what defines the genre, is in the eye of the beholder.

Because this definition is so slippery, arguments inevitably break out about whether a certain work deserves the label. Nowhere is this argument more ferocious than in the world of film around awards season. The latest round has centred upon “Get Out”, the work of Jordan Peele. It was announced last week that the film will be competing for a Golden Globe as a comedy (unlike the Academy Awards, the Globes splits its…Continue reading

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Personal pronouns are changing fast

NOT so long ago a man could be jailed in Texas for sex with another man. In 2015 a county clerk in Kentucky was jailed for refusing to certify the marriage of two men. Gay rights in America proceeded at an extraordinary rate between Lawrence v Texas (2003), in which …

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Giorgio Vasari, the man who created art history

Vasari made craftsmen into stars The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art. By Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney. Norton; 432 pages; $29.95 and £23.99. TOWARDS the end of his life Michelangelo Buonarroti, the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance, began burning his drawings. He did …

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Esther Kinsky muses on a river in England

Esther Kinsky goes with history’s flow River. By Esther Kinsky. Translated by Iain Galbraith. Fitzcarraldo; 368 pages; £12.99. To be published in America this autumn by Transit Books. IN HER post-war childhood beside the Rhine, the narrator of Esther Kinsky’s third novel learns that “every river is a border.” Flowing …