Humour and Humanism in the Renaissance  book cover
1st Edition

Humour and Humanism in the Renaissance

ISBN 9781138375642
Published June 10, 2019 by Routledge
314 Pages

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Book Description

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.'

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Humanist Wit: Renaissance collections of facetiae, 1344-1490: a new listing; Renaissance collections of facetiae, 1499-1528: a new listing; Roman jokes and the Renaissance prince, 1455-1528; Ciceronian wit and Renaissance rhetoric; The collection of facezie attributed to Angelo Poliziano; Paolo Cortesi's laughing cardinal; Festive humanism: the case of Luscinius; Rabelais: Rire est le propre de l'homme; Rabelais's Panurge as homo rhetoricus; Rabelais et le propos torcheculatif; Lenten eels and Carnival sausages; Bragueta juris: notes sur Rabelais et le droit; Rabelais and the Library of Saint-Victor; Janotus de Bragmardo in the limelight (Gargantua, ch. 19); Rabelais and Folengo once again; French Humanist Humour: 'Honneste' et sens de l'humour au XVIe siècle; Facétie/sententia/apophtegme: les Divers propos memorables de Gilles Corrozet; Tabourot facetus: le sieur Gaulard; 'Lasciuetez' et scatologie: la rhétorique des Escraignes dijonnoises; Béroalde de Verville and the self-destructing book; 'Il faut donner dedans': sexe ou/et rhétorique dans le Moyen de parvenir; 'Serious' Humanists: Geofroy Tory's Champ Fleury and its major sources; Cornelius Agrippa's De vanitate: polemic or paradox?; Jacques Tahureau revisited; Emblems, elephants, and Alexander; Index.

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Barbara C. Bowen is Professor of French, Emerita, at Vanderbilt University, USA.


'... the volume is a further tribute to a scholar the breadth and depth of whose researches have long been an example to us all.' Renaissance Studies 'The main reason for scholarly neglect of old jokes is presumably that they are no longer funny, but Bowen reminds us by both precept and example that this does not make them any the less interesting.' Sixteenth Century Journal