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

By Vicki K. Janik; Emmanuel S. Nelson | Go to book overview

Forrest Gump
Innocent Fool

( United States: In Winston Groom's Forrest Gump and Robert Zemeckis's film Forrest Gump: 1986; 1994)

James M. O'Brien


BACKGROUND

America in the 1990s remains haunted by the 1960s. Though the two narratives of Forrest Gump in the novel ( 1986) and on film ( 1994) provide a snapshot survey of America's incidents and institutions in the 1960s and 1970s, the essential backdrop for the narratives is the dark, unresolved presence of Vietnam and pervasive racism; that is, their unresolved shadowing of the American psyche. In the novel, Vietnam is just one more example of America's pointless exercises in power and technology, like college football and NASA, with social institutions indifferent, if not oblivious, to the individuals they process and exploit. In the film, America's racial divisions are foregrounded, as are the plight of the Vietnam veteran in the postwar United States and that of the lost, doomed, countercultural flower child Jenny. Gump, the holy innocent fool, offers a nonjudgmental acceptance and single-minded fidelity that transform the lives of Lieutenant Dan and Jenny and realize, postmortem, the dreams of Bubba the shrimp man.

There are, of course, two Gumps, the ubiquitous cinema Gump, crafted by director Robert Zemeckis, screenwriter Eric Roth, and actor Tom Hanks, and the ur-Gump of Winston Groom's 1986 novel. Groom's Gump as innocent fool, awash in guileless purity, unquestioning trust, and quixotic unpredictability, has a clear and acknowledged literary genealogy, including Faulkner's Benji, Prince Myshkin of The Idiot, Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird, and especially Lennie from Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Although Groom does not specifically allude to it, Gump's progress through American history is very much like

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Fools and Jesters in Literature, Art, and History: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 20
  • Woody Allen - The Clown as Tragic Hero 25
  • The Anthropology of Fools 33
  • Notes 39
  • Robert Armin 41
  • Notes 48
  • Archy Armstrong 50
  • The Badin 55
  • Lucille Ball 62
  • Jean-Louls Barrault 71
  • Critical Reception 77
  • Beckett's Postmodern Clowns - Vladimir (Didi), Estragon (Gogo), Pozzo, and Lucky 79
  • Jack Benny 85
  • Birbal 91
  • Selected Bibliographv 96
  • The Bishop of Fools 97
  • Note 104
  • George Burns and Gracie Allen the Jewish Vaudeville Tradition 106
  • The Camp 113
  • Canio-Pagliacco and Petrouchka - Two Contrasting Images of Pierrot 120
  • Charlie Chaplin 127
  • The American Circus Clown 136
  • Commedia Dell'Arte 146
  • Selected Bibliograph 153
  • Native American Coyote Trickster Tales and Cycles 155
  • Notes 164
  • The Drag Queen 169
  • Sir John Falstaff 176
  • Feste 185
  • W. C. Fields 194
  • Folly in the Enduring Tradition 198
  • The Fop - Apes and Echoes of Men": Gentlemanly Ideals and the Restoration 207
  • Notes 212
  • Gimpel 215
  • Joseph Grimaldi 220
  • Notes 224
  • Forrest Gump - Innocent Fool 226
  • Hamlet 231
  • Hephaestus, Hermes, and Prometheus - Jesters to the Gods 237
  • Note 245
  • The Heyoka of the Sioux 246
  • Clowns of the Hopi 250
  • Selected Bibiliography 253
  • Knaves and Fools in Ben Jonson 254
  • Buster Keaton 265
  • William Kemp 273
  • Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy Yin and Yang 281
  • Lear's Fool - (England: in William Shakespeare's King Lear: 1605 289
  • Loki, the Norse Fool 295
  • The Marx Brothers 298
  • Notes 306
  • Selecteid Bibliograpy 306
  • Merry Report 308
  • Paul the Apostle 316
  • Notes 325
  • Penasar of Bali - Sacred Clowns 329
  • Note 335
  • Pierrot - Dramatic and Literary Mask 336
  • Plautus's Clowns 343
  • Puck/Robin Goodfellow 351
  • Punch and Judy 363
  • FrançOis Rabelais 370
  • Martha Raye 376
  • Rigoletto 382
  • Schlemiels and Schlimazels 388
  • The Sleary Circus 395
  • Socrates as Fool in Aristophanes and Plato 400
  • Note 404
  • Will Sommers 406
  • The Sottie, the Sots, and the Fols 411
  • South African Political Clowning Laughter and Resistance to Apartheid 419
  • Ciritical Reception 427
  • Country Squires and Bumpkins 428
  • Selected Bibliographv 436
  • The Three Stooges 438
  • Taishu Engeki - Subverting the Patterns of Japanese Culture 445
  • Note 452
  • The Tarot Fool 453
  • The Tarot Fool in English and American Novels 459
  • Touchstone 466
  • The Vice Figure in Middle English Morality Plays 471
  • The Vice in Henry Medwall's Nature 485
  • Mae West 494
  • The Yankee 500
  • Zanni 508
  • Critical Reception 512
  • Selected General Bibliography 513
  • Index 521
  • About the Editor and Contributors 545
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