Laughter at the Foot of the Cross

 
9780140124903: Laughter at the Foot of the Cross

Takes as its starting point the group of concepts centred on "good" madness - and, consequently, on laughter and comedy - which were discovered and developed in the Renaissance as objects of historical study and which led to a subtle shift of emphasis in many domains such as theology, literature, law and medicine.

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About the Author:

Michael A. Screech is an emeritus fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. His scholarship has roots in University College London and the Warburg Institute. He is recognized as a world authority on the Renaissance, especially for his studies on Rabelais, Erasmus, and Montaigne, as well as on Clément Marot, Joachim Du Bellay, Renaissance laughter, and religious ecstasy. His translation of Montaigne was immediately welcomed for its discrete learning and elegance. His concept and practice of translation arose from his living with the Japanese language as a soldier at the end of the Second World War. The same approach marks his subsequent translation of Rabelais. In recognition of his achievements, the French Republic made him a Chevalier dans l’Ordre national du Mérite and then a Chevalier dans la Légion d’Honneur.

Review:

“Lavishly erudite, digressive. . . . Screech commands the intellectual and literary history of the sixteenth century. . . . The finished book is a provocative, wide-ranging work of cultural history.” (Anthony Grafton Times Literary Supplement)

“Laughter can be innocent. . . . But suppose there is an exultation over the foe, can this be Christian? Psalm II suggests it can. For after describing the rage of the heathen and their plots against God’s anointed, it says: ‘He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh them to scorn: The Lord shall have them in derision.’ What gives Laughter at the Foot of the Cross its sinew and muscle is the way Screech takes this mocking triumph with the utmost seriousness. . . . Apart from numerous fresh insights along the way and the scholarly erudition, the great importance of this book is a paradoxical one. It is a book about laughter but it forces us to face the reality of evil.” (Rt Revd Lord Richard Harries, former Bishop of Oxford Times Higher Education)

“A splendid and exciting book, and a learned one. It takes the maxim that man is a laughing animal and enlarges it to encompass the concept that Christianity is a religion centred on laughter. . . . Laughter at the Foot of the Cross is a book that is historical in its thrust, philological at every step in its argument, and vigorously celebratory of the achievement of Erasmus and Rabelais both for their own times and for our own.” (R. J. Shoeck Journal of Ecclesiastical History)

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Screech, M. A.
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M. A. Screech
Published by Penguin UK (1999)
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