Fools Are Everywhere: The Court Jester Around the World

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University of Chicago Press, 2001 - History - 420 pages
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In this lively work, Beatrice K. Otto takes us on a journey around the world in search of one of the most colorful characters in history—the court jester. Though not always clad in cap and bells, these witty, quirky characters crop up everywhere, from the courts of ancient China and the Mogul emperors of India to those of medieval Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. With a wealth of anecdotes, jokes, quotations, epigraphs, and illustrations (including flip art), Otto brings to light little-known jesters, highlighting their humanizing influence on people with power and position and placing otherwise remote historical figures in a more idiosyncratic, intimate light.

Most of the work on the court jester has concentrated on Europe; Otto draws on previously untranslated classical Chinese writings and other sources to correct this bias and also looks at jesters in literature, mythology, and drama. Written with wit and humor, Fools Are Everywhere is the most comprehensive look at these roguish characters who risked their necks not only to mock and entertain but also to fulfill a deep and widespread human and social need.
 

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Fools are everywhere: the court jester around the world

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Mention a court jester, and one pictures a whimsical creature in a belled hat or, perhaps, the ill-fated character in King Lear. Otto's lively, well-researched text proves that there are centuries of ... Read full review

Contents

2 The Scepter and the Bauble
47
3 In Risu Veritas or Many a True Word Spoken in Jest
97
The Limits of His License
133
5 Religion Erudition and Irreverence
157
6 All the Worlds a Stage
187
7 Stultorum Plena Sunt Omnia or Fools Are Everywhere
233
Future Fooling?
267
Table of Named Jesters
271
Glossary of Chinese Characters
291
List of Abbreviations
295
Notes
297
Bibliography
345
Illustration Credits
401
Index
405
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About the author (2001)

Beatrice K. Otto is a freelance consultant in London.

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