Synopses & Reviews
and#147;Christian laughter is a maze: you could easily get snarled up within it.and#8221; So says Michael A. Screech in his note to readers preceding this collection of fifty-three elegant and pithy essays. As Screech reveals, the question of whether laughter is acceptable to the god of the Old and New Testaments is a dangerous one.
But we are fortunate in our guide: drawing on his immense knowledge of the classics and of humanists like Erasmus and Rabelaisand#151;who used Plato and Aristotle to interpret the Gospelsand#151;and incorporating the thoughts of Aesop, Calvin, Lucian of Samosata, Luther, Socrates, and others, Screech shows that Renaissance thinkers revived ancient ideas about what inspires laughter and whether it could ever truly be innocent. As Screech argues, in the minds of Renaissance scholars, laughter was to be taken very seriously. Indeed, in an era obsessed with heresy and reform, this most human of abilities was no laughing matter.
This book is double-voiced: it is doing two things simultaneously, for the multitude of shattered unities we call revolution brings forth texts with peculiar forms of unity. At one level it is a guidebook for its times, and at another level it is a contribution to historical poetics with time and place.
This classic work by the Russian philosopher and literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975) examines popular humor and folk culture in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. One of the essential texts of a theorist who is rapidly becoming a major reference in contemporary thought, Rabelais and His World is essential reading for anyone interested in problems of language and text and in cultural interpretation.
About the Author
Michael A. Screech is an emeritus fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. His scholarship has roots in University College London and the Warburg Institute. He is recognized as a world authority on the Renaissance, especially for his studies on Rabelais, Erasmus, and Montaigne, as well as on Clandeacute;ment Marot, Joachim Du Bellay, Renaissance laughter, and religious ecstasy. His translation of Montaigne was immediately welcomed for its discrete learning and elegance. His concept and practice of translation arose from his living with the Japanese language as a soldier at the end of the Second World War. The same approach marks his subsequent translation of Rabelais. In recognition of his achievements, the French Republic made him a Chevalier dans landrsquo;Ordre national du Mandeacute;rite and then a Chevalier dans la Landeacute;gion dandrsquo;Honneur.
Table of Contents
FOREWORD Krystyna Pomorska
PROLOGUE Michael Holquist
ONE Rabelais in the History of Laughter
TWO The Language of the Marketplace in Rabelais
THREE Popular-Festive Forms and Images in Rabelais
FOUR Banquet Imagery in Rabelais
FIVE The Grotesque Image of the Body and Its Sources
SIX Images of the Material Bodily Lower Stratum
SEVEN Rabelais Images and His Time