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Fools Are Everywhere: The Court Jester Around the World

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In this lively work, Beatrice K. Otto takes us on a journey around the world in search of one of the most colorful characters in history—the court jester. Though not always clad in cap and bells, these witty, quirky characters crop up everywhere, from the courts of ancient China and the Mogul emperors of India to those of medieval Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the A In this lively work, Beatrice K. Otto takes us on a journey around the world in search of one of the most colorful characters in history—the court jester. Though not always clad in cap and bells, these witty, quirky characters crop up everywhere, from the courts of ancient China and the Mogul emperors of India to those of medieval Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. With a wealth of anecdotes, jokes, quotations, epigraphs, and illustrations (including flip art), Otto brings to light little-known jesters, highlighting their humanizing influence on people with power and position and placing otherwise remote historical figures in a more idiosyncratic, intimate light. Most of the work on the court jester has concentrated on Europe; Otto draws on previously untranslated classical Chinese writings and other sources to correct this bias and also looks at jesters in literature, mythology, and drama. Written with wit and humor, Fools Are Everywhere is the most comprehensive look at these roguish characters who risked their necks not only to mock and entertain but also to fulfill a deep and widespread human and social need.


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In this lively work, Beatrice K. Otto takes us on a journey around the world in search of one of the most colorful characters in history—the court jester. Though not always clad in cap and bells, these witty, quirky characters crop up everywhere, from the courts of ancient China and the Mogul emperors of India to those of medieval Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the A In this lively work, Beatrice K. Otto takes us on a journey around the world in search of one of the most colorful characters in history—the court jester. Though not always clad in cap and bells, these witty, quirky characters crop up everywhere, from the courts of ancient China and the Mogul emperors of India to those of medieval Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. With a wealth of anecdotes, jokes, quotations, epigraphs, and illustrations (including flip art), Otto brings to light little-known jesters, highlighting their humanizing influence on people with power and position and placing otherwise remote historical figures in a more idiosyncratic, intimate light. Most of the work on the court jester has concentrated on Europe; Otto draws on previously untranslated classical Chinese writings and other sources to correct this bias and also looks at jesters in literature, mythology, and drama. Written with wit and humor, Fools Are Everywhere is the most comprehensive look at these roguish characters who risked their necks not only to mock and entertain but also to fulfill a deep and widespread human and social need.

30 review for Fools Are Everywhere: The Court Jester Around the World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Geri Hoekzema

    Am reading this again (first time was about 10 years ago) because over the last few months, trickster figures kept popping up in books I was reading, shows I watched, websites I stumbled across while looking up information for a library patron, and on posters in store windows. This book gives a fascinating overview of tricksters in societies throughout history and around the world. Ironically, characters such as the medieval Yuletide's Lord of Misrule, the mythological Loki or Raven and even our Am reading this again (first time was about 10 years ago) because over the last few months, trickster figures kept popping up in books I was reading, shows I watched, websites I stumbled across while looking up information for a library patron, and on posters in store windows. This book gives a fascinating overview of tricksters in societies throughout history and around the world. Ironically, characters such as the medieval Yuletide's Lord of Misrule, the mythological Loki or Raven and even our own Wile E. Coyote may be crazy but they keep us sane. A culture that can't laugh at its own foibles is lost.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joey Warner

    As of February 7th I've only read about 50 pages of this book. It's about the history of the court jester around the world, not just in Europe. Because I am only interested (for now) in court jesters and fools in Spain, France, and Italy from the 14th - 17th centuries, only half the work is of much use to me. As of February 7th I've only read about 50 pages of this book. It's about the history of the court jester around the world, not just in Europe. Because I am only interested (for now) in court jesters and fools in Spain, France, and Italy from the 14th - 17th centuries, only half the work is of much use to me.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jake McAtee

    Pretty fascinating history of Jesters from around the world.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elena

    A well researched book with an interesting topic! At the same time, It's quite unorganized and full of unnecessary details, which makes it hard to comprehend and enjoy. A well researched book with an interesting topic! At the same time, It's quite unorganized and full of unnecessary details, which makes it hard to comprehend and enjoy.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Yes, someone has written a global history of court jesters. Otto, coming from a Chinese language background, anchors this in the Chinese and Indian courts, which I knew the least about--including telling anecdotes from the jester of the First Chinese Emperor, Akbar, Tamerlame and Babur before moving west to the more familiar Will Somers (Henry VIII), the dwarfs of Velazquez's Spanish court paintings, Lear's Fool and James I's Archy the foul-mouthed Scot. She argues convincingly that absolute mon Yes, someone has written a global history of court jesters. Otto, coming from a Chinese language background, anchors this in the Chinese and Indian courts, which I knew the least about--including telling anecdotes from the jester of the First Chinese Emperor, Akbar, Tamerlame and Babur before moving west to the more familiar Will Somers (Henry VIII), the dwarfs of Velazquez's Spanish court paintings, Lear's Fool and James I's Archy the foul-mouthed Scot. She argues convincingly that absolute monarchs required a dependent but still outsider confidante to speak truth to power and defuse the inevitable conflicts that came from cooping up ambitious nobles in an honor culture. Otto includes an epilogue with more modern fools--Lincoln's sidekick Dan Rice, Will Rogers and Woodrow Wilson and the brief time in which British Airways employed a full-time corporate jester.

  6. 4 out of 5

    T.C. Jester

    Fascinating history of jesters and their amazing ability to appear across the globe throughout history whenever a humor-deprived leader needed to find the funny.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Robyn Hunt

  8. 5 out of 5

    David

  9. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Armstrong

  10. 5 out of 5

    Semiramissis

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brett Stortroen

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kévin Paré

  14. 4 out of 5

    Darryl King

  15. 5 out of 5

    Piper Perry

  16. 4 out of 5

    André Pimenta

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tấn Dũng

  18. 4 out of 5

    Yasmin Foster

  19. 5 out of 5

    Milantropio

  20. 4 out of 5

    Darcie Cooper

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kelley

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jane Gardiner

  23. 4 out of 5

    Noah Gittell

  24. 5 out of 5

    Iain

  25. 5 out of 5

    Macdonald L. Ryntathiang

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lanny

  27. 5 out of 5

    Oleg Axolotl

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marcia

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joost Perreijn

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