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    Original Essays | January 19, 2015

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Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life


Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The puppet creates delight and fear. It may evoke the innocent play of childhood, or become a tool of ritual magic, able to negotiate with ghosts and gods. Puppets can be creepy things, secretive, inanimate while also full of spirit, alive with gesture and voice. In this eloquent book, Kenneth Gross contemplates the fascination of these unsettling objects—objects that are also actors and images of life.

The poetry of the puppet is central here, whether in its blunt grotesquery or symbolic simplicity, and always in its talent for metamorphosis. On a meditative journey to seek the idiosyncratic shapes of puppets on stage, Gross looks at the anarchic Punch and Judy show, the sacred shadow theater of Bali, and experimental theaters in Europe and the United States, where puppets enact everything from Baroque opera and Shakespearean tragedy to Beckettian farce. Throughout, he interweaves accounts of the myriad faces of the puppet in literature—Collodis cruel, wooden Pinocchio, puppetlike characters in Kafka and Dickens, Rilkes puppet-angels, the dark puppeteering of Philip Roths Micky Sabbath—as well as in the work of artists Joseph Cornell and Paul Klee. The puppet emerges here as a hungry creature, seducer and destroyer, demon and clown. It is a test of our experience of things, of the human and inhuman. A book about reseeing what we know, or what we think we know, Puppet evokes the startling power of puppets as mirrors of the uncanny in life and art.

About the Author

Kenneth Gross is professor of English at the University of Rochester. He is the author of five books, including Shakespeare’s Noise and Shylock is Shakespeare, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents


PROLOGUE: The Madness of Puppets

1 A Conversation in Rome

2 Bad Manners

3 The Scale of the Puppet

4 The Fate of Hands

5 Wooden Acting

6 Fables for a Puppet Theater

7 Destroying the Puppet Show

8 Hunger

9 The Blackened Puppet

10 Shadows

11 A Test of Innocence

CODA: Everything Else






Product Details

Gross, Kenneth
University of Chicago Press
Puppets & Puppetry
Drama-Mime and Puppetry
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
4 color plates, 24 halftones
8.5 x 5.5 x 1 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Mime and Puppetry
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Crafts » Toy Collecting
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Crafts » Toy Making
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Crafts » Toys

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Product details 216 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226005508 Reviews:
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