Sense and Sensibility (book)
Ask the Academic Ethicist
About Us
Your Comments

Sense and Nonsensibility: Lampoons of Learning and Literature

A small selection from among the googols of accolades that the book has received:


"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."

—Anne Fadiman, author of Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

"You're a genius!"

—Elaine Douglas, Lawrence Douglas' mother

"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."

—William H. Pritchard, author of Shelf Life and Updike

"Monty Python meets Immanuel Kant. Douglas and George have a delicious sense of the absurd."

—Anders Henriksson, author of Non Campus Mentis

"You're a genius!"

—Susan George, Alexander George's mother

"From book awards to Brian Lamb to professorial pretensions and foibles, two professors at Amherst College take aim at the worlds of literature and academia. Douglas and George, who also write humor columns for the New Yorker and the New York Times Book Review, propose that the National Book Awards add new awards to rival those of Hollywood, and suggest accolades for "Best Supporting Character" and "Best Female Protagonist-Doomed" (finalists are Emma Bovary, Anna Karenina, Lily Bart and Antigone). The authors' erudite whimsy is not for everyone, but it will entertain those similarly inclined. Their imagined literary counterparts to eBay and A.A., for example, are hilarious. (In "Graduate Students Anonymous" the dissertation-bound learn to look into the mirror and say, "I will never get a tenure-track job.") Most anyone who has spent any time in the worlds of literature and the academy will laugh, and occasionally wince, at the barbs thrown here."

Publishers Weekly (whom we thank, but whose tone of patronizing condescension in their comment that the book's whimsical erudition is "not for everyone" we regret)

"...Douglas and George chew upon the idiocies (as well as the idiohypnoglossia) of contemporary academics and publishers...Simply put, they are curs and infidels and their work ought to appeal to same."

—Melvin Jules Bukiet, author of A Faker’s Dozen and Strange Fire

"It's hard to resist chuckling quietly while reading this book, especially if one works in academia. Douglas and George, professors at Amherst College and columnists for the Chronicle of Higher Education, poke fun at just about every aspect of academe. Chapter 1, "Literary Mergers," puts forth a "Books Without Borders" series - reconstituted combinations of classics, e.g., Huckleberry Faust (Twain and Goethe), As I Lay Frying (Dante and Faulkner), and Thatcher in the Rye (Salinger and Amis). "Affected Accent Summer Camp" suggests that anyone can learn a mysterious foreign accent that will dazzle and mystify students, peers, and colleagues. In "Further Tips to Tenure," the authors offer advice for junior faculty, including "use great care in deciding which committees to join." The result is a well-written and creative reminder not to take it all so seriously, that even in the course of academic pursuits, there is humor to be found."

Library Journal Reviews

"...George and Douglas have written a book for the ages. ... Taken as a whole, Nonsense alternates between light-hearted laughs and scathing satire, between obscure allusions and illuminating observations, and between the totally novel and the tried-and-true. By the end, even though you may have forgotten many of the details, you feel good about the overall experience. In short, Nonsense is just like academia itself."

—Michael Ward [full disclosure: ex-student; read the review in full here]