It is (or used to be) commonly said that the two great themes in English and American literature are the vanity of human wishes and the loss of innocence. The first is said to be more characteristic of English, the second more of American literature.

Be that as it may, for certain we Americans are apt to be comedians. Twain and the Southwest humor tradition exemplify this, but even Emily Dickinson shows it: coquettes mean to be funny.