What Wit is, How it Works, and Why We Need It
Wit is often thought of as simply being funny. But wit is more than just having a knack for snappy comebacks. Wit is the quick, instinctive intelligence that allows us to think, say or do the right thing at the right time in the right place.
Forthcoming from Norton in November!
I Is an Other
The Secret Life of Metaphor and
How It Shapes the Way We See the World
New York Times bestselling author James Geary offers a fascinating look at metaphors and their influence in every aspect of our lives, from ordinary conversation and commercial messaging to news reports and political speeches.
Geary's Guide to the
World's Great Aphorists
Geary's Guide is the result of a lifetime's obsession with aphorisms and a year's death-defying research in the British Library. More than 350 authors from around the world, some of whom appear here in English for the first time, are brought together in this lively and thought-provoking compendium.
The World in a Phrase
A Brief History of the Aphorism
The World in a Phrase is a whimsical, humorous tour through the history of this remarkable literary form and its extraordinary practitioners. The book chronicles the varied, often idiosyncratic backgrounds of the world’s key thinkers and shows, as eighteenth-century aphorist Vauvenargues puts it, just how much “the maxims of men reveal their hearts”.
The Body Electric
An Anatomy Of The New Bionic Senses
Drawing on fields as diverse as artificial intelligence and neuroscience, The Body Electric provides an exciting synthesis of the people and technology making the convergence between biology and technology possible, while addressing the psychological, social and philosophical implications of these startling developments.
Advance praise for Wit's End
"I have been reading Wit's End in juxtaposition to rereading and again writing about James Joyce's Ulysses. Geary prompts me to think that Joyce's title could have been No End to Wit. Goethe wrote an essay called No End to Shakespeare. There seems to be no end to James Geary's versatility."
– Harold Bloom
"Wit’s End is delicious. James Geary has managed to produce a witty book about wit that steers an elegant path between waggishness and wisdom."
– Stephen Fry, comedian, actor, and writer
"Comedy is famously impossible to describe without destroying it, so James Geary — in this entertaining and informative and funny book — makes a very smart and effective move: he does the police in different voices. He embodies the many different forms that wit takes, from poems to jokes to jive to rap. In a time of constant, unintentional humor, here is a purposeful and valuable reminder that sometimes it's on purpose and sometimes it's very nearly life-saving."
– David Shields, bestselling author of Reality Hunger and The Thing About Life Is One Day You'll Be Dead
"Playful, fiercely intelligent, silly, funny and immensely informative - [Wit's End] makes for a breathless read that leaves you feeling enormously enriched. The reinvention from chapter to chapter is a masterstroke and keeps the subject matter joyously buoyant."
– Reece Shearsmith, actor and writer, The League of Gentlemen, Psychoville, and Inside No. 9
"If you've ever spent hours overanalyzing your favorite standup special or sitcom episode, this is the kind of insightful, carefully reasoned deep dive you'll love."
– David Litt, New York Times bestselling author of Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years
"James Geary has produced a rich cornucopia of wit and its origins in the wittiest literary way possible. A delight."
– Julia Hobsbawm, founder Editorial Intelligence, the Names not Numbers ideas conference, the UK Comment Awards, and author of Fully Connected: Surviving and Thriving in an Age of Overload
Aphorisms by Jack Mitchell
April 9, 2018
François de la Rochefoucauld (Geary's Guide, pp. 131–134) cast a cynical, clinical eye on human vanity and personal weakness. Jack Mitchell, associate professor, Roman history at Dalhousie University, translates—literally and figuratively—the Duc's devastating aphoristic observations for contemporary readers. The literal translation comes in Reflections, or Moral Opinions and Maxims: A Bilingual Edition, Mitchell's rendering of Rochefoucauld's Maxims in English; the figurative translation comes in D, or 500 Maxims, Aphorisms, & Reflections, Mitchell's own aphorisms, which parallel the themes of the Duc's rueful exploration of the human psyche. The books refresh Rochefoucauld's voice and add Mitchell's own to the grand tradition of the moral aphorism. A selection from Mitchell's sayings...
The apocalypse is the easy way out.
Misers live for a moment that never arrives.
The wise suffer from an excess of moderation.
Life would not seem so short if we could remember it.
A reader's library is his only true biography.
Sketches are the aphorism of the hand.
Only the studious discover what is not worth learning.
To learn, read; to know, reread.