Honi soit qui mal y pense, this is anything but a light undertaking, a first volume of a two-part enterprise, the text here running to roughly 900 pages. In other words, more rationale giving a fuller socio-psychological sexegesis of the some 2000 jokes which are included (italicized for the convenience of the prurient skimmer?). Mr. Legman's formidable work (based on some 60,000 index cards--10,000 books) has been organized topically within a framework or ""motif-index""--in this first volume chapters on children, fools, animals, the male approach, the sadistic concept, women, marriage, adultery and pre-marital sexual acts. The contents of the second volume will be more recondite. The intention is to make understandable and/or endurable the so-called dirty joke which serves variously and subjectively as a release. To whoever contended that the good joke does not bear repetition, Mr. Legman's truly exhaustive research will prove otherwise--almost all belong to folklore and he has cross-indexed their origins through countries and centuries. The publishers are presenting this as a major work, which it unquestionably is; but it's not for the casual voyeur--the many a blue word which is spoken in jest is taken most seriously.