Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Titel:
A history of caricature and grotesque in literature and art
Person:
Wright, Thomas Fairholt, Frederick William
Persistente ID:
urn:nbn:de:gbv:wim2-g-1429385
PURL:
https://digitalesammlungen.uni-weimar.de/viewer/resolver?urn=urn:nbn:de:gbv:wim2-g-1432676
Literature 
in 
and Art. 
273 
intermingled with Provencal verfe. A much greater advance was made 
when thefe performances were transferred to the guilds. The Latin was 
then difcarded altogether, and the whole play was written in French, or 
Englith, or German, as the cafe might be, the plot was made more 
elaborate, and the dialogue greatl.y extended. But now that the Whole 
inttitution had become fecularifed, the want of fomething to amufe 
people-to make them laugh, as people liked to laugh in the middle 
ages-was felt more than ever, and this want was fupplied by the intro- 
duetion of droll and ludicrous fcenes, which are often very Ilightly, if at 
all, connected with the fubjeet of the play. In one of the earlieft of the 
French plays, that of " St. Nicholas," by Jean Bode], the characters who 
form the burlefque fcene are a party of gamblers in a tavern. In others, 
robbers, or peafants, or beggars form the comic fcene, or vulgar women. 
or any perfonages who could be introduced acting vulgarly and ufing coarfe 
language, for thefe were great incitements to mirth among the populace. 
In the Euglith plays now remaining, thefe fcenes are, on the whole, 
lets frequent, and they are ufually more clofely connected with the 
general fubje6t. The earlielt Englith collection that has been publifhed is 
that known as the " Towneley Mytteries," the manufcript of which belongs 
to the fifteenth century, and the plays themfelves may have been compofed 
in the latter part of the fourteenth. It contains thirty-two plays, begin- 
ning with the Creation, and ending with the Afcenlion and the Day of 
Judgment, with two fupplementary plays, the " Raiting of Lazarus" and 
the " Hanging of Judas." The play of " Cain and Abel" is throughout a 
vulgar drollery, in which Cain, who exhibits the character of a bluftering 
ruilian, is accompanied by a garcio, or lad, who is the very type of a 
vulgar and infolent horfe-boy, and the converfation of thefe two worthies 
reminds us a little of that between the clown and his matter in the open- 
air performances of the old wandering mountebanks. Even the death of 
Abel by the hand of his brother is performed in a manner calculated to 
provoke great laughter. In the old mirthful fpirit, to hear two perfons load 
each other with vulgar abufe, was as good as feeing them grin through a 
horfe-collar, if not better. Hence the droll fcene in the play of " Noah " 
is a dometlic quarrel between Noah and his wife, who was proverbially 
N N a-threw,
        

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