Playing the Fool: Subversive Laughter in Troubled Times - download pdf or read online

By Ralph Lerner

The position of the idiot is to impress the strong to question their convictions, ideally whereas warding off a beating. Fools accomplish this no longer via hectoring their viewers, yet by means of broaching delicate themes ultimately, frequently disguising their message in a funny story or a story. Writers and thinkers all through heritage have followed the fool’s technique, and the following Ralph Lerner turns to 6 of them—Thomas extra, Francis Bacon, Robert Burton, Pierre Bayle, Benjamin Franklin, and Edward Gibbon—to elucidate the ideas those males hired to cajole the heedless, the zealous, and the overly convinced to pause and reconsider.


As Playing the Fool makes simple, these kinds of males lived via classes marked through fanaticism, fairly with reference to faith and its relation to the country. In this type of context, advocating on behalf of skepticism and opposed to tyranny might simply result in censure, or maybe, as in More’s case, execution. And so, Lerner unearths, those critical thinkers trusted humor to maneuver their readers towards a extra reasoned knowing of the realm and our position in it. instantaneously erudite and exciting, Playing the Fool is an eloquently thought-provoking examine the lives and writings of those masterly authors.

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Playing the Fool: Subversive Laughter in Troubled Times by Ralph Lerner

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