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Playing the Fool
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Playing the Fool: Subversive Laughter in Troubled Times

Ralph Lerner

Abstract

The role of the fool is to provoke the powerful to question their convictions, preferably while avoiding a beating. Fools accomplish this not by hectoring their audience, but by broaching sensitive topics indirectly, often disguising their message in a joke or a tale. Writers and thinkers throughout history have adopted the fool's approach, and here the book turns to six of them — Thomas More, Francis Bacon, Robert Burton, Pierre Bayle, Benjamin Franklin, and Edward Gibbon — to elucidate the strategies these men employed to persuade the heedless, the zealous, and the overly confident to pause ... More

Keywords: fool, Thomas More, Francis Bacon, Robert Burton, Pierre Bayle, Benjamin Franklin, Edward Gibbon, humor, skepticism, tyranny

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2009 Print ISBN-13: 9780226473154
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226473178.001.0001

Authors

Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Ralph Lerner, author