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

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

the greatest of all Marx Brothers scenes" (114). Groucho peers into what once was a mirror. As he slowly steps forward, his image appears, played by Harpo. Groucho begins to walk and jump and tiptoe back and forth across the mirror's frame. His image reflects back his movements. Then suddenly a second image of Groucho appears in the mirror, following Groucho's actions, and there are three Grouchos. The identity between self and self-image undergoes a Lacanian revelation: I am mysteriously more than any image of me. Clowns acknowledge their own incomplete self-images, and they laugh at and rejoice in their own limited vision, encouraging us to go and do likewise.


CRITICAL RECEPTION

The Marx Brothers have always been popular, but during the iconoclastic 1960s their films began to receive even greater interest and sometimes near reverence, which continues today. Gehring notes four areas of comedy in which they are most influential: they demonstrate "the potential comic artistry of sound films" (118); they present the "complex, multifaceted nature" of twentiethcentury comedy (117); they serve as icons of so-called pure comedy and the antiestablishment spirit (110); and they are key figures in the antiheroic school of comedy and black comedy. Eugène Ionesco claimed that the brothers were the single greatest influence on his work.

Neither innovative formal culture nor fashionable popular culture has the powerful effect of the Marx Brothers. Their artistry merged formal and popular culture so that both the permanence of aesthetic design and the uniqueness of artistic implementation were immeasurably strengthened by one another.


NOTES
1
See Arce and Gehring (1-107) for major biographical details in the lives of the Marx Brothers. Other texts listed in the bibliography cite additional information.
2
Serving consecutively as straight men for the team, neither Gummo nor Zeppo enjoyed show business, and both left the team as quickly as financially possible, in 1917 and 1931, respectively.

SELECTEID BIBLIOGRAPY

Selected Filmography

See Gehring for complete filmography.

Animal Crackers. Dir. Victor Heerman. Paramount, 1930.

The Cocoanuts. Dir. Robert Florey and Joseph Santley. Paramount, 1929.

A Day at the Races. Dir. Sam Wood. MGM, 1937.

Duck Soup. Dir. Leo McCarey. Paramount, 1933.

-306-

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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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