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Widok Farce/Farts: Divergent Styles Of Comedy In Medieval France


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( Newcastle )

The Frenchtheatre, as is well known, grew out of the ceremonies of the me­ dieval church. It is usual to distinguish between twotheatrical traditions which had theirorigin in ecclesiastical or para-ecclesiastical ceremonies : theso-called

‘serious’ or ‘high’ theatrical tradition derived from the mystery and morality

plays,and the ‘low’ orfarcetradition, derived from thepeculiaractivities asso­ ciated with the Feast of Fools (la Fête des Fous).

What Iwant to argue is that theFeast of Fools was at the origin of not one, but

two increasingly distinct styles of performance, which I shallcharacterisefor the sake of brevity as belonging tothe ‘farce’ tradition and to the ‘farts’ tradition. Thefirst is a tradition relying primarily on the use of words,andis thus thesub­

ject ofliteraryhistory :it leads ultimately tothe development of Frenchclassical

comedy (notably that ofMolière) in the seventeenthcentury, and is later reborn

ina different guise towardsthe end of the nineteenth century inthework ofGeo­

rges Feydeau andothers. While Molière retains certain elements of themedieval farce(as indeed of its cousin the commedia dell ’arte) in a numberof itsworks - though these have all-but disappearedin the‘high’ comediessuch as Le Misant­ hrope -Feydeau’s themes,on theother hand, are no more than very distant nine­ teenth- and early twentieth-century relatives of their medieval ancestors.

As to the other tradition, the ‘farts’ tradition, it isbased noton words buton actions : these include fart jokes, butalso comprise various otherforms of carni­

valpresentation, including cross-dressing,masquerade, andgeneral revelry and high spirits. Like thefarce tradition,it has its originin theFeast of Fools, but the

two styles of performance tend tomovefurther and further away from each other after the expulsion of theFeast ofFoolsfromthechurchbuilding.The farce then


becomes more and more a bourgeois theatrical form, while the farts tradition maintains a more resolutelypopularstyleof expression, finding its home inthe Carnival or whatthe French call the/etc populaire. It is the subjectof cultural, ratherthan literary, history, althoughsomeliteraryhistorians do extendthedefi­ nition of the ‘stage’ to include popular spectacles and pageants.

Letusbegin witha briefdescription oftheFeastofFools. Its dates were not definitively fixed - certainly not by the official church(which at best tolerated it

and moreusually condemned it) - and insome parts of France itbeganearlier or

ended laterthan in others. In general, however, it ran between Christmas and

Epiphany, being thus the French equivalent of the TwelveDays of Christmas,

culminating in the celebrations of Twelfth Night1.

1 It sometimes ranuntil the octave of the Epiphany. SeeOxford Companion to FrenchLiterature, article


2 See Gaignebet C., Le Carnaval: essaisdemythologie populaire, Paris, Payot, 1974,pp. 43-44. Accounts of the Fete desFousaretobefound in most standard works whichrefer to medieval French farce. Seein particular MilnerDavis J., Farce,London, Methuen 1978;Vloberg, M., Les Noelsde France, Grenoble,Arthaud 1934; Auguet,R.,Fetes et spectaclespopulaires, [Paris], Flammarion. The oldest, and stillone of thebest, accounts, isFoumelV., Les Spectaclespopulaires et les artistes

des rues, Paris, Dentu 1863.

3 On Rouen,see Vloberg, op. cit„ p.44; onBeauvais, seeFoumel,op. cit., p. 31.

Asfar as one can tell,the elements inserted intotheformal liturgyduring this period were originally quite innocuous innature, rather following the model of the little acted scenes at Jesus’ tomb which might be inserted into the Mass at

Easter-tide. But gradually, theinsertionsor interpolations -the‘stuffing’which isthe originalmeaning oftheFrench wordfarce (fromfarcir, to stuff) - which

were introduced in the post-Christmas period took on a less and less reverent form and eventually becamequite the opposite of pious worship. It ispossible,

as some writers havesuggested2, to recognise here the vestigial persistence of

those Saturnalia celebrations thathad lingered on in parts ofGaul even afterthe Romans had marchedaway. Whetheror not thatis so, the post-Christmas cere­ monies did tend to move more and more in the direction of bawdy ifnot pagan

revelry, and one can see how that might come about.

On Christmas Eve, for instance, in Rouen, Beauvais and other cathedrals3,

therewas from the twelfthcentury onwards a liturgicalscene performedin ho­ nour of the donkey, whose role intheChristian story had been a favourite theme of St Augustine : in front of the cathedral doors was sung the prose sequence known as Orientispartibus, which began with the words


Orientis partibus

Adventavit asinus Pulcher et fortissimus, Sarcinis aptissimus4.

4 ‘From the East arrivedtheass, beautiful andvery strong,verysuited to bearingburdens.’ SeeCaradec F., La Farceet le sacré: Fêtes et farceurs,mythes et mystificateurs, Paris, Casterman1977,p. 43. 5 Quoted inVloberg, op. cit., pp. 46-47.

6 Caradec, op.cit.

7 Foumel, op. cit.,pp. 34-36.

The donkey or ass,along with the ox,was afterall traditionally present at the

Christmas manger scene. Itwasnotlong before the donkey itself came to bethe subjectof thecelebration, and attheendof the Kyrie, Gloria, Epistleand Credo, the deacon would shout: ‘Hi! han! ’ (‘HeeHaw!’), and the same exclamationwas

repeated at theend of Mass : ‘Ite Missaest. Hi! han!’ To which thepeople rep­ lied : ‘Deogratias. Hi! han! ’5. The nextstepwas theintroductionof thedonkey

into the actual service, with unpredictable consequences: as François Caradec

points out, ‘The loud brayingof Sir Ass, as well as his farting and perhaps an un­ timely erection, would have elicited the amusement of those present’6.

From Christmas Day onwards, each day had its own liturgical tomfoolery, with the variouslower orders inturn taking over the ceremonies. The feast of St Stephen (Boxing Day) was reserved for deacons, St John the Evangelist for priests, and so on. Eachof these orders would choose a mockbishop, even a mockPope,who would be incharge of therevelryand be the recipient of hono­ urs ina parody ofthe liturgy. The celebration on 28 December of theFeast of

HolyInnocents (theslaughtered children) provided a similar opportunity for the

choristers. Here, in a number of French cities, achild waschosen to be dressed up as a bishop, processing around the church, being enthroned and giving his blessingto the congregation7. In some places, children drove the priests out of

their stalls inthe choir. Such customs continued well into thesixteenthcentury, sometimesaccompaniedby other elements interpolated into the liturgy. Here is

one description of, orcomplaint about,what might take place during the Feast of

Holy Innocents:

‘They dressin priestly robes,tom and turnedinside out; they hold in their handsbooks turned

upside down andwrong wayround, which they pretend to read;they blowinto the censers which they swingaround in ridicule, makingthe ash fly into their facesor those ofthe others;

sometimes theymumble confusedly, at others theyutter cries asmad,as unpleasant and as


cordant as those of a herd of swine’8.

8 Quoted byGaignebet, op. cit.,p. 43.

9 Horton, A. [undated], LaughingOutLoud,quoted inClark, J.P., LaughingMatters, or, in Praise of Folly, on-linearticle (http://www.britannica.com/bcom).

Other examplescould be listed, all of them having incommona radicaldepar­

turefrom, indeed an overturningof, theaccepted customs. Althoughthe hierar­ chy sometimesrailed against these extravagant goings-on - in fact, thelittle that

we know about these elementsof farce or ‘stuffing’ is based largely on the de­ scriptions given in episcopal letters complaining about them - they tended to movefrombeing well-intentioned embroidery onsome theme or character from the Gospel, into being performances or celebrationsin their own right, as there­

maining vestiges of the Saturnalia reasserted themselves.

There is another parallel with the Saturnalia, and an important one. For they,

like the medieval liturgical interpolations,werea kind of implicit licence for an

overthrowing, a reversal, of the established social order. In the Saturnalia, which ran from the 17th to the 23rd of December, slaves would don the purple robe andwhitetogaof free Roman citizens, and fora while their masterswould serve them. In achurch ruled bya strictly definedhierarchy, the mockingof so­ metimes unintelligible Latin responses by turning them into a donkey’s braying,

or the lampooning ofpompous episcopal behaviour by dressing up a child in bishop’s robes, providedawelcome relief fromtheconstraintsofa heavily regu­ lated society. Regulated not only socially, but ecclesiastically : respect forthe Church, after all, meant not only the difference between salvation and damna­ tion, butpotentially the difference betweenlife and death (burning atthe stake

was, let us not forget, an available punishment). The popular recognition - and,

for a time, ecclesiastical toleration - ofthese practices provided, in Andrew Horton’swords, ‘the freedom to turntheworld as we know it upsidedown and inside out without fear of punishment, pain orconsequence’9. Like the Saturna­ lia, the short-termreversal ofroles provided akindof outlet for the lowest strata of society, aperiod during which they could play at being the masters; in this

case, it was the laity (along withthe lowest clerical orders) who fora time took control of what was normally the prerogative oftheecclesiasticalhierarchy. Its

theological justification, which inhibited its over-zealousinterdiction by the aut­ horities, could be found in the Magnificat:Deposuitpotentes de sede, et

exalta-vit humiles (‘He hathput down the mightyfrom their seat, andhathexalted the


The reversal of social order (andthus of political power) was, of course, only oneoftheareas in which the Feast of Fools permitted theacting-out ofatopsy­ turvysociety: cross-dressing wasanother such manifestation, having nothing to

do - at least overtly - withhomosexualityor transsexuality. Whilst the Feast

provided an opportunity for release from strict socialregulation, we should re­

member that, just as importantly, its implicitrecognition by the authorities sanc­

tioned such behaviour on the basis that it lasted forasetperiod only, safe in the

knowledgethat at the end of that period theestablished order wouldresume.

It is when the Feast of Foolsis expelled from thechurch building andenters the market-placethatits messageis broadened intoacritiqueofthe social order gene­

rally,andthatit isno longer restrictedto acertainperiodofthechurch calendar. In

the course of the fifteenth century there arise groups of performers, known as

confréries joyeuses, bodiesnotunlike what wetoday would call ‘amateur drama­ tic societies’, whoperformscenes or playlets usually written in octosyllabic coup­

lets and generally adopting the word sot to describe themselves, rather than the

word fou used in the Fête des Fous. [Althoughwe translate the expression laFête desFous astheFeast ofFools, itismore strictly the Feastof Madmen: the word sot is more strictly the word for a fool.] And so wehave a group calling itself the

Confrérie de laMère Sotte™ (the Confraternity of Mother Fool - a role, inciden­

tally, played by a man) amongstothergroups,performing playlets known as so­ ties. A reminder of the backgroundof these performers in the Feast ofFoolscan be

foundin the donkey-earswhichbecametransformedinto the fool’s cap which was worn by some ofthe groups.There isnotspace here for a full account of the array

of medieval farce performers,but this subject iswell covered in standard works

such as JessicaMilner Davis’s study and others1011. These groupsinclude the clerks of the Basoche and the Enfants sans souci.

10 SeeOxford Companion to French Literature, articleSotie. Caradec (1977) refers to La Mère Folle (p. 45),but this appellation isnotattested elsewhere.

11 DavisM.,op.cit., pp. 10-13. Cf. Oxford Companion to French Literature, articlesFarce,Sotie, Fête

desFous,Basoche, Enfantssans souci. See alsoBédier, J.and Hazard,P. [eds] (1948), Littérature

française, 1.1, Paris, Larousse, articleLe théâtre comique,p. 138ff.

Giventhatthe membersof the confraternities weremen of a certain education and thatsome ofthem, such asthe clerks ofthe Basoche, occupiedminor posi­ tions in thecivic administration and court system, it is not unnatural that some of their performances dealt with the social order, with unscrupulous higheroffi­ cialsoften being outsmartedby their juniors. In other cases, the situation was



more ofadomestic nature, nagging wives and put-upon husbands being a particu­ larly popular theme,though this particularinversion ofthe desirable social order

needs tobe put right again (anexample ofattitudes whichtoday’ssocietywould find unacceptably sexist). In the celebratedFarce ducuvier, for example,the hen­ peckedhero Jacquinotis given byhiswife a listofallthe jobshe isto do around

the house, including helping at thewashtub; later in the farce, she herself falls (or is pushed)into the tub and calls outtoherhusband to get her out - towhich he re­

sponds by saying that this is not on the list of tasks she gave him to do.

Let us move on to what is generally considered the finest of all medieval

French farces, knownasLaFarce de Maistre Pierre Pathelin. Written probably between 1461 and 146912 and theworkof an unknown author, it isthe storyof a

rascally lawyer(Pathelin) who tricksa draperout ofa piece of cloth. The draper

also discoversthat he is being robbed ofhis sheep by his shepherd. The latter

casegoes tocourt, andPathelinishired as the shepherd’slawyer. His advice to

the shepherd is that,whenever he isaskeda question, heshould respond by blea­

ting (Bée), the explanation tothejudgebeingthat he has spent too longin theco­

mpany of hissheep. Needless to say, the draper recognises Pathelin as theman who tricked him outof his cloth. Thetwo cases keep becoming mixed up,the ju­ dge making continued attempts to get the partiesto ‘returnto their muttons’ (Re­ venons à ces moutons), a phrase which wasto enter the language. Eventually, theshepherdis allowed to go free, the judgeconcluding that he is anidiot. Pat­

helin, delighted that his advice tothe shepherdhas proved successful, now de­

mands his fee - to which the shepherd merely responds: Bée.

12 These are the dates suggested by F.K.Turgeon ( 1964), Cinq Comédies du Moyen Age à nosjours, New

York, Holt, Rinehart, p.4. Lagarde, A. and Michard, L. (1955), MoyenAge: Les Grands auteurs français, p. 168,suggest a date between 1460 and1465.

Pathelin contains many of the elements of the standard farce : Pierre

Pathelin’s wife appears early,naggingathimforhaving no money and thus pro­

voking him to hisduping ofthe draper, and in thiswecan recognise acommon medieval farce-theme. When the draper comes to collect the money owed to him,Pathelin (with hiswife’s assistance) feigns illness andin his supposed deli­ rium talks nonsensein half-a-dozen different dialects and finally in Latin- anot­ her standard element ofthe farce style which Molièrewas to take up two centu­

ries later in his play Monsieur de Pourceaugnac. Pathelin is himself the prototype of the rascalwhose side we are on -another typeofcharacter later de­


Sganarelle in hisDom Juan (who became Leporello in the da Ponte/Mozartver­ sion, Don Giovanni) and whose ultimate incarnation is Figaro.

The most interestingaspect ofthe play is perhaps the twist at theend : for it

adds to the usual farce-theme- that of the wealthy andunlikable character being

duped byan amiable rogue - a newdevelopment, in that the rogueis himself ou­

twitted by someoneeven more cunningthan he. It is precisely this subtlety of dra­

matic situation, and indeed the movement beyondreliance on situation and to­ wards the development of character, whichled thegreat critic Gustave Lanson to

claimthat Pathelin (despiteits title) isnot in fact afarce but a comedy13. Thereis some pointin this notion,though perhaps a preferable view isthat the expression

‘farce’ means different things in differentages, so that Pathelin may simply be

considered adifferent form of farcefromthat of the stockmedieval examples, just as the work ofFeydeauand others some450 years later can stillbe called ‘farce’

even though it is avery differentform ofthe genre. Consultation ofany good Frenchdictionarywill indicate what a wide varietyof dramaticworks have been

includedunderthe heading of ‘farce’ in Francealone - not to mention the diffe­ rent applications of the word in English and other European theatre.

13 Lanson, G. (1951; originaled. 1894), Histoire delalittérature française,Paris, Hachette,p. 219.

14 Gaignebet, op.cit.,pp. 51-52.

To return now tothealternativetradition, one of themost interesting -andin­ formative - of thepractices originating with the Feast of Foolsandlater develo­ ped in theCarnival was preciselythe public farting ofwhich mention was made above. The highly originalstudy by Claude Gaignebet, LeCarnaval,is themost

authoritative guide tothe French carnival tradition, which although centred on Mardi Gras covers the entire periodfromthe Feast of Foolstothe beginningof

Lent. Gaignebet’s thesis is that, to have a correctunderstandingof the spirit of thecarnival, one needs tocomprehendproperly the notionof thefou — not mere­

ly a clownon theonehand, or aninsane person on the other, butsomeone po­ ssessed by a form ofinnocence.

‘To be amadman[fou],’he writes, ‘is to have one’s head sufficiently emptied, one’sspirit suffi­

ciently liberated fromday-to-day preoccupations,to allow the pneuma[the Greek word for spi­

rit] to fillus and to speak directlythrough our mouths. [...]It is in this very positive sense of madnessthat St Paul speaks ofthe foolishness of the Cross and the foolishness ofChrist’14.

In this sense,Gaignebet argues,we can understand the rites ofthe Feastof Fo­

olsintheir full significance. It was not simplya matter of turning upside-down

the order of theworld,but also of emptying one’sheadoftheworld’s wisdom in


order to allow the spirit to enter. It was,as it were, a way inwhich the humblest

lay-person could receivetheHolySpirit without(or even in defiance of) episco­

pal authority.

The chief ritual means ofachieving this statewas by the consumption of food which caused flatulence, notably the consumption ofbeans- the fève, or broad

bean, ratherthan thestring bean or haricot. Andso were bom the ceremonies of the Feastof Kings (la Fête des Rois), which in England were celebratedon the

eve of the Feast,the 5th of January (known as Twelfth Night). Tothis day, the Feastof Kings- the Epiphany - is celebrated in France by theeatingof aspecial

cake, containing a smalltoken still known as a fcve or bean. Theperson who finds the fève in hisor her sliceofthe cake isproclaimed kind or queen (original­

ly, only the men feasted on beans, one of them beingproclaimed king andbeing

able to choose his queen); andindeed,in England too the ceremoniesof Twelfth Night were markedby the appointmentof the BeanKing15. Gaignebet points out that the post-Christmas (i.e. post-midwinter) celebrations were a kind of fores­ hadowing of the coming Spring, always associated with flatulence. In French

folklore, for instance, the hibernatingbearlookedout of its cave at thistime,and

if Springwas on theway it markedthe event by farting16. We maycompare the thirteenth-century English poem Sumer is icumen in, with its phrase

15 See Brewer's Dictionaryof Phrase and Fable, article TwelfthNight.

16 See Gaignebetop. cit., p. 11,p. 123.

17 Anon., c 1250. Cf. Jeffares, A.N. (1955), Seven Centuries ofPoetry,London, Longmans Green.

ProfessorJeffares glosses vertet(orverteth) as ‘harbours in the green’. This is incorrect:see OED

under ‘fart’.

18 ‘Segnors, dist il, venez grand oire! L’archeprestres commencheapoire’ (Renart, Br.Vii, v. 388).

Poire (or poirre)- fromLatinpedere - was replaced about1380 by peter, ‘to fart’.

Bullucstertet, bucke vertet

[‘The bullock starts up, the buck farts’]17 18

as anotherexample of this tradition, which isalso found inFrancein thethir­

teenth-century Roman de Renard.

Whilst themore bourgeois traditionof thefarce was continued and developed mainly incentresof learning,and notably inParis, thealternativestyleof perfor­

mance (that of the Carnival) was equally strong - at times stronger - in provin­

cial centres and small towns. Profoundly rooted in folk-memory, it was the people’s celebration and has to some extentremained so even in its later (and contemporary) manifestations.


It is an enormous simplification, but not without a grain of truth, to observe

that, in the Paris ofahundredyears ago,people in search of comic entertainment might make their choice ofvenue according tothesocial class to which they be­

longed : while theeducatedupper classes might choose towatch a high comedy byMolière atthe Comédie-Française, the bourgeoisie might prefer to take in a

Feydeau farce at thevaudeville theatre, and the lower classes might choosetoat­

tend thevariety theatrewhere (amongst the jugglers,strongmen, knife-throwers,

ventriloquists and the like) theycould havethe experience of being present at a

performance by Joseph Pujol,known as Le Pétomane (‘the fart-fanatic’), who amongst other remarkable skills could extinguish a candle by breaking wind

from half-a-metre away. Asthedictionaiysoelegantly putsit,he was‘capable

of controlling his intestinal gasses andmodulating their pitch’19. [Whilst prodi­

giously skilled,the Pétomane was by no means unique in his field : theroyal co­

urts of Francehad been familiar with court entertainments based on controlled

flatulence;and indeed thegreatsixteenth-century philosopher Montaigne quotes

St Augustine as considering control overthebreakingofwind to be proof of the

supremacy of thehuman will20.] True, the social significance of the fart joke has been somewhat attenuatedsince the timeofthemedieval carnivalandthe Feast ofFools; no longer a temporary reversalof socialnorms but rather a way of re--assertingthefundamental(no pun intended) roleof the body in a society where bodilyfunctionshave, forthe last three centuries or so, been discreetlyunmen­

tionable in polite company. In such contemporary manifestations as the Japane­ seperformers knownastheTokyo Shock Boysor the American TV series The

Simpsons,thefart joke still carries with it the connotations of naughtiness, of the

breaking of asocial taboo; whilein other contexts - Gay andLesbian Pride mar­

ches, for example - cross-dressing still retains an element of shock value(tho­

ugh admittedly less so in cities such as San Francisco or Sydney where such

events have almost become institutionalised).

Whilst the farcetradition has lostall traces of its medieval origin in the Feast ofFools,the alternative performance-style stillretains something of the spirit of the ancient festivities. Partofit is, to be sure,thespiritof sheer fun,of thetaking of‘time out’ -albeit for a short period only - from theinstrumentalnatureof life

in contemporarysociety. Butthere is another side aswell, which has beenwell characterised by the theologian Harvey Cox. He writes:

‘TheFeastof Fools[...] hadan implicitly radicaldimension. It exposed the arbitraryquality of social rank and enabled people to see that things neednot alwaysbe asthey are. Maybe that is

why it made the power-wieldersuncomfortable and eventuallyhad togo. The divine right of

kings, papalinfallibility, and the modern totalitarianstate allfloweredafter the Feastof Fools



21 Сох H.,The Feast ofFools: A Theological Essay on Festivity and Fantasy,New York:Harper & Row 1970,p. 5.

22 LansonG., 1951, p. 218. 23CoxH., op. cit., p.6.

24Quoted bySchama S., Landscape and Memory, London: Fontana Press 1995, p. 134.

Whatever the fate of the Feastof Fools, thedemise of the medieval farceispro­

bably notto belamented : as the greatnineteenth-century critic Lanson was the first to point out22, it was lacking in tenderness and charity,it reduced moralityto

the shame ofbeingduped by someone smarter than you, and one of its favourite

themeswasdomesticantagonism, with an accent on misogyny. The alternative

mode of performance, onthe other hand, remainsalive andvibrantto thisday : though somewhat transformedinnature, it isatoneandthe same time a reminder

of how farwehavecome since the Middle Ages, and of the need for perpetual vi­ gilance against social tyranny. To quote againthe words of Harvey Cox,which are even more relevant in 2001 than they were when he wrote them in 1969:

‘In a success- and money-oriented society, we need a rebirthof patently unproductive festivity

andexpressive celebration. In an age thathasquarantined parody andseparated politics from

imaginationwe need more socialfantasy. We needforour time and in our own culturalidioma rediscovery of what was rightand good about the Feast ofFools’23.

This comment may serveperhapsas a summaryof what this article setsoutto assert. In preparing the article, however, and inreflecting on the apparentlyflip­

panttopic I have chosen todiscuss, I was reminded of some words of the great Talmudic scholar Saul Liebermann,writing aboutthe Kabbalah. Hiswords co­ uld well apply to any discussion oftopics such as the present one. ‘Nonsense

(when all is said and done),’ says Liebermann, ‘isstill nonsense. But the study of nonsense, that is science’24.

Farsowe bąki






Wyrzucenie Uczty głupców z kościoła jest zwykle uznawane za moment narodzenia się farsy w średniowiecznej Francji. Uczta zapoczątkowała rozwój dwu nurtów nowej tradycji komediowej. W jej wystawieniach odgrywano odwrócenie ustalonego porządku społecznego oraz porządku kościelnego.

Pierwszy nurt - farsowy - został podchwycony przez grupę aktorów, określających się jako współbracia głupców {confraternités des sots'). Przedstawienia bazują zwykle na


dialogu. Ich tematyka dotyczy obyczajów, a farsowymi bohaterami są próżniaccy mężowie, gderające żony, kler albo lokalni urzędnicy. Stopniowo farsa staje się ga­ tunkiem coraz bardziej wyrafinowanym. Kładziono większy nacisk na rozwój akcji oraz przedstawianych postaci. Za szczytową postać średniowiecznej farsy należy uznać osiągnięcia Pierra Pathelina. Jest to zarazem początek nowego francuskiego gatunku - komedie, poprzedzającej o dwa wieki Moliera.

Drugi nurt wywodzący się z Uczty głupców jest charakterystyczny raczej dla karnawału niż dla scenicznej farsy. Większą rolę odgrywają w nim czyny niż słowa. W odwracaniu ustalonego porządku wykorzystuje się przebieranki i grube żarty, co odz­ wierciedla potrzebę uwolnienia się od opresywnego porządku społeczno-religijnego. Ta tradycja utrzymała się przez wieki zarówno w karnawale (i w dworskiej tradycji), jak też na francuskiej scenie wodewilowej w przedstawieniach takich jak Le Petomane. Dzisiaj reprezentują ją występy Tokyo Shock Boys oraz demonstracje takie jak parady gejów (np. Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras).


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