A Present of Laughter

edited by Bryan Holme. Viking, $14.95. As long as their work is protected by copyright, authors and artists tend to demand payment when it is reprinted in an anthology. Editors and publishers tend to view this practice as a nasty habit deserving minimal indulgence. The result, exasperatingly noticeable in this assemblage of “Wit & Nonsense in Pictures & Verse,” is collections feather-light on the modern and heavy with the ancient and familiar. How often does anyone wish to meet that misguided young lady of Niger?