Friday, January 27, 2012


Did Adam Laugh Before the Fall?

Joseph Addison, The Spectator, no. 249 (Saturday, December 15, 1711):
I have read a Sermon of a Conventual in the Church of Rome, on those Words of the Wise Man, I said of Laughter, it is mad; and of Mirth, what does it? Upon which he laid it down as a Point of Doctrine, that Laughter was the Effect of Original Sin, and that Adam could not laugh before the Fall.
The "Words of the Wise Man" come from Ecclesiastes 2.2.

Manfred Pfister, A History of English Laughter: Laughter from Beowulf to Beckett and Beyond (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002), p. 52 (discussing Milton):
Having tried to account for God's and the fallen angels' laughter in Paradise Lost, we have to take a closer look at yet another set of protagonists. Do Adam and Eve laugh? They don't, since they live peacefully, fear no enemies and are in a state of utter contentment. There is no place and necessity for laughter in paradise. Prelapsarian mirth finds other ways of expression.
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