Fools and Jesters in Literature, Art, and History: A Bio-bibliographical Sourcebook

Front Cover
Vicki K. Janik
Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998 - Performing Arts - 552 pages


Jesters and fools have existed as important and consistent figures in nearly all cultures. Sometimes referred to as clowns, they are typological characters who have conventional roles in the arts, often using nonsense to subvert existing order. But fools are also a part of social and religious history, and they frequently play key roles in the rituals that support and shape a society's system of beliefs. This reference book includes alphabetically arranged entries for approximately 60 fools and jesters from a wide range of cultures. Included are entries for performers from American popular culture, such as Woody Allen, Mae West, Charlie Chaplin, and the Marx Brothers; literary characters, such as Shakespeare's Falstaff, Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel, and Singer's Gimpel; and cultural and mythological figures, such as India's Birbal, the American circus clown, the Native American Coyote, Taishu Engeki of Japan, Hephaestus, Loki the Norse fool, schlimiels and schlimazels, and the drag queen.

The entries, written by expert contributors, are critical as well as informative. Each begins with a biographical, artistic, religious, or historical background section, which places the subject within a larger cultural and historical context. A description and analysis follow. This section may include a discussion of the fool's appearance, gender role, ethical and moral roles, social function, and relationship to such themes as nature, time, and mortality. The entry then discusses the critical reception of the subject and concludes with an extensive bibliography of general works.

 

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Contents

IV
19
V
27
VI
35
VII
44
VIII
49
IX
56
X
65
XI
73
XL
275
XLI
283
XLII
289
XLIII
292
XLIV
302
XLV
310
XLVI
323
XLVII
330

XII
79
XIII
85
XV
91
XVI
100
XVII
107
XVIII
114
XIX
121
XX
130
XXI
140
XXII
149
XXIII
163
XXIV
170
XXV
179
XXVI
188
XXVII
192
XXVIII
201
XXIX
209
XXX
214
XXXI
220
XXXIII
225
XXXIV
231
XXXV
240
XXXVI
244
XXXVII
248
XXXVIII
259
XXXIX
267
XLVIII
337
XLIX
345
L
355
LI
362
LII
368
LIII
374
LIV
380
LV
387
LVI
392
LVII
398
LVIII
403
LIX
411
LX
420
LXI
430
LXII
437
LXIII
445
LXIV
451
LXV
458
LXVI
463
LXVII
477
LXVIII
483
LXIX
491
LXX
496
LXXI
504
LXXII
528
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Page 17 - The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: This also is vanity.
Page 17 - As for Comedy, it is (as has been observed) an imitation of men worse than the average ; worse, however, not as regards any and every sort of fault, but only as regards one particular kind, the Ridiculous, which is a species of the Ugly. The Ridiculous may be defined as a mistake or deformity not productive of pain or harm to others ; the mask, for instance, that excites laughter, is something ugly and distorted without causing pain.

About the author (1998)

VICKI K. JANIK is Assistant Professor of English at the State University of New York at Farmingdale, where she teaches courses in Shakespeare, drama, comparative mythology, drama, and other topics.

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