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

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Vicki K. Janik
Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 552 pages
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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
25
V
33
VI
41
VII
50
VIII
55
IX
62
X
71
XI
79
XXXVIII
281
XXXIX
289
XL
295
XLI
298
XLII
308
XLIII
316
XLIV
329
XLV
336

XII
85
XIII
91
XIV
97
XV
106
XVI
113
XVII
120
XVIII
127
XIX
136
XX
146
XXI
155
XXII
169
XXIII
176
XXIV
185
XXV
194
XXVI
198
XXVII
207
XXVIII
215
XXIX
220
XXX
226
XXXI
231
XXXII
237
XXXIII
246
XXXIV
250
XXXV
254
XXXVI
265
XXXVII
273
XLVI
343
XLVII
351
XLVIII
363
XLIX
370
L
376
LI
382
LII
388
LIII
395
LIV
400
LV
406
LVI
411
LVII
419
LVIII
428
LIX
438
LX
445
LXI
453
LXII
459
LXIII
466
LXIV
471
LXV
485
LXVI
491
LXVII
499
LXVIII
502
LXIX
502
LXX
502
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Page 23 - 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 23 - 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.

References to this book

Prometheus
Carol Dougherty
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Prometheus
Carol Dougherty
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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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