E.B. White, humorist

For this week’s anniversary issue, The New Yorker pulls E.B. White’s 1931 “comic playlet,” “The Near-Demise of Mrs. Coe,” from its archives.

Anybody who’s unfamiliar with White’s humorous writings (such as Is Sex Necessary?, co-written with James Thurber) may wish to consult Charles Poore’s grandiose (but largely positive) review of Quo Vadimus? Or the Case for the Bicycle. In “Some Remarks on Humor,” White puzzled over the American conviction “that if a thing is funny it can be presumed to be something less than great, because if it were truly great it would be wholly serious.”

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