Friedrich Nietzsche, Human All Too Human (Menschliches, Allzumenschliches), subtitled A Book for Free Spirits (Ein Buch für freie Geister).

First published in 1878.   A second part, Assorted Opinions and Maxims (Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche), was published in 1879, and a third part, The Wanderer and his Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten), followed in 1880.

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ORIGIN OF THE COMIC.  If one considers that for some hundred thousand years man was an animal susceptible to fright in the highest degree, and that anything sudden or unexpected meant that he was ready to do battle, perhaps to die; indeed, that even later in social relations, all security rested on the expected, on tradition in meaning and activity; then one cannot be surprised that at every sudden, unexpected word or deed, if it comes without danger or harm, man is released and experiences instead the opposite of fright.  The cringing creature, trembling in fear, springs up, expands wide: man laughs.  This transition from momentary fear to short-lived exuberance is called the comic.  Conversely, in the phenomenon of the tragic, man quickly goes from great, enduring exuberance to great fear; however, since among mortals great enduring exuberance is much less common than the occasion for fear, there is much more of the comic than of the tragic in the world; man laughs much more often than he is devastated.  
 

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