Skip to Main Content

About The Book

Two widely published humor columnists and "bad boys" of academia take their wit and wisdom to dazzling new lows in this irreverent send-up of highbrow literary culture.

At last, the thinking person's take on the life of the mind in today's increasingly mindless age. Sense and Nonsensibility pokes fun at everyone from spoof-proof scholars to pompous professors; from anal-retentive authors to plagiarizing poets; from snake-oil therapists to bestselling illiterati.
This singular collection by Professors Lawrence Douglas and Alexander George brings together their most popular pieces, along with many brand-new ones, including:

• The Academy Awards for novels -- with categories for "Best Female Protagonist -- Doomed," "Best Narrator -- Unreliable," and "Best Novel -- Unfinishable by Reader"
• Home Shopping University -- offering the greatest ideas in Western history at rock-bottom prices
• I'm Okay, I'm Okay: Accepting Narcissism -- the best in "Self-helplessness books"
• The Penis Orations -- Iron Man's answer to The Vagina Monologues
• "Ask the Academic Ethicist" -- their notorious advice column, which has shocked higher education



This book is for people who, like ourselves, believe in culture -- in its existence and commercial value. It is for people who still believe in the "canon," that great body of learning and literature that has guided study and cultural debate for the last couple of thousand years. The canon has come under fire recently as the tired legacy of a small clique of dead white European males, most of whom rarely bathed and suffered from terrible gum disease. This is a book for those who disagree, those who strongly believe that Hegel remains as incomprehensible today as he was two centuries ago, and that Shakespeare is still as rewarding and relevant as SpongeBob.

This is also a book for scholars, students, and all those who have chosen to dedicate their existence to intellectual pursuits in a deeply anti-intellectual age. As professors writing about the rewards of learning, we hope to show that there is more to life than generous remuneration, social prestige, political power, erotic adventure, and basic happiness.

And yet, this is a book of modest ambition. Long ago we realized that we could not single-handedly reverse civilization's inexorable decline. We could, though, contribute to it. This is the path we have chosen. If we cannot revive the life of the mind from its increasingly vegetative state, then at least we could put a smile on the patient's face.

Copyright © 2004 by Lawrence Douglas and Alexander George

About The Authors

Lawrence Douglas is a professor of law and jurisprudence at Amherst College. He is the author of several scholarly books, including Will He Go? and The Right Wrong Man. He has also authored several novels and parody books, including The Catastrophist and The Vices. His writing has appeared in Harper’s MagazineThe New York Times, and The Washington Post.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Gallery Books (November 1, 2007)
  • Length: 192 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781416584827

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

Anders Henriksson, author of Non Campus Mentis Monty Python meets Immanuel Kant. Douglas and George have a delicious sense of the absurd.

Anne Fadiman, author of Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader Most humor writing is either smart but not funny or funny but not smart. In Sense and Nonsensibility, you have -- at long last -- a book that will not only make you laugh out loud but persuade those who see you reading it that your SAT scores were at least fifty points higher than they really were.

William H. Pritchard author of Shelf Life and Updike These "Lampoons of Learning and Literature" are both learned and extremely funny. The authors are thoroughly, indeed obsessively, in touch with the technology, sociology, and general weirdness of contemporary life (especially its academic aspects) and they provide us with original takes on crucial matters like Home Shopping, Footnotes, SAT scores, Crossover Bestsellers, and many others. The literary firm of Douglas and George should receive a medal for these satiric correctives of current foibles.

Melvin Jules Bukiet author of A Faker's Dozen Tired of reading about war crimes and the semiotics of quilting bees? Then perhaps Sense and Nonsensibility by Lawrence Douglas and Alexander George is for you. Biting any benign hand that has fed them and their progeny for years, Douglas and George chew upon the idiocies (as well as the idiohypnoglossia) of contemporary academics and publishers. This makes one ponder three fascinating questions: 1. how the hell did they get tenure? 2. how did any sane publisher accept this manuscript? 3. how can the rest of us continue to exist in a universe that also contains them? Simply put, they are curs and infidels and their work ought to appeal to same.

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images