Humour and Humanism in the Renaissance

1st Edition

Barbara C. Bowen

Published February 28, 2004
Reference - 314 Pages
ISBN 9780860789543 - CAT# Y233536
Series: Variorum Collected Studies

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Of the articles in this volume, eight concern a world-famous author (François Rabelais); the others are studies of little-known authors (Cortesi, Corrozet, Mercier) or genres (the joke, the apophthegm). The common theme, in all but one, is humour: how it was defined, and how used, by orators and humanists but also by court jesters, princes, peasants and housewives. Though neglected by historians, this subject was of crucial importance to writers as different as Luther, Erasmus, Thomas More and François Rabelais. The book is divided into four sections. 'Humanist Wit' concerns the large and multi-lingual corpus of Renaissance facetiae. The second and third parts focus on French humanist humour, Rabelais in particular, while the last section is titled '"Serious" Humanists' because humour is by no means absent from it. For the Renaissance, as Erasmus and Rabelais amply demonstrate, and as the 'minor' authors studied here confirm, wit, whether affectionate or bitingly satirical, can coexist with, and indeed be inseparable from, serious purpose. Rabelais, as so often, said it best: 'Rire est le propre de l'homme.'

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