In the first extended investigation of the importance of dramatic farce in Rabelais studies, Bruce Hayes makes an important contribution to the understanding of the theater of farce and its literary possibilities. By tracing the development of farce in late medieval and Renaissance comedic theater in comparison to the evolution of farce in Rabelais's work, Hayes distinguishes Rabelais's use of the device from traditional farce. While traditional farce is primarily conservative in its aims, with an emphasis on maintaining the status quo, Rabelais puts farce to radical new uses, making it subversive in his own work. Bruce Hayes examines the use of farce in Pantagruel, Gargantua, and the Tiers and Quart livres, showing how Rabelais recast farce in a humanist context, making it a vehicle for attacking the status quo and posing alternatives to contemporary legal, educational, and theological systems. Rabelais's Radical Farce illustrates the rich possibilities of a genre often considered simplistic and unsophisticated, disclosing how Rabelais in fact introduced both a radical reformulation of farce, and a new form of humanist satire.
'This thoughtful study of Rabelais and late-medieval French farce, in demonstrating how the former subverts and radicalizes the latter, which Hayes convincingly presents as a morally and ethically conservative genre, leads us to a critically enriched understanding of both. He engages with the latest and most influential critical thinking on farce, obliging us to reflect carefully before dismissing it as low-brow popular and populist ephemera and to appreciate how central it is to Rabelais’s humanist satire. Hayes is particularly successful in helping (finally) to give farce its due.' Jeff Persels, University of South Carolina, USA 'Rabelais's Radical Farce is a thought-provoking contribution to late medieval and Renaissance studies. …as he builds upon preexisting research, the author offers new insights into the ethos of farce and our understanding of Rabelais.' Renaissance Quarterly 'Hayes offers many subtle close readings, and he is to be applauded for producing a much-needed monograph on Rabelais's theatrical intertexts.' French Studies 'In his book Hayes approaches late medieval farcical plays and products of comic theatre as serious literary texts, not as merely simplistic, mechanical works characterized by scatological humour and physical violence… In this book, Rabelais is seen as having a revolutionary and innovative approach to farce, since his works employ both traditional farcical elements as well as humanist satire, which challenges ethical system, societal norms, and institutions, in order to go beyond the status quo and provide society with new alternatives.' Sixteenth Century Studies
Contents: Introduction; Part I The World of Farce: The ethics and ethos of farce; 'Tant de langaige': the languages of farce. Part II Rabelais's Radical Farce: Humanist satirical farce in Pantagruel and Gargantua; Unresolved farce and 'tragicque farce': Tiers and Quart livres; Conclusion; Selected bibliography; Index.