Building the world's most sumptuous bibliography of fools and jesters

Over time, at a comfortable clip for both reader and writer, we will build a beautiful online annotated bibliography of materials covering the full spectrum of fools and jesters.   

Click on the big, bright titles below to see our comments on each splendid contribution and, where relevant, some Gap Map suggestions for those seeking new furrows to plough.  

The latest additions are given first, with others then eased into alphabetical order by author.  Once we have some critical mass, this will be searchable by time (century, dynasty, and similar), region and language, and type (primary source, research, book or article).  

Aims and approaches

Primary sources will be featured where possible in original language editions and translation. Secondary materials are selected for quality and the value of their contribution rather than to list anything and everything fool-related.

Works deemed in one way or another outstanding or indispensable will be celebrated as canon-fodder, on a companion page.  

In either case, we also aim to bring to the fore regions or angles which have been somewhat neglected in the literature, including an endeavour to overcome a strong Eurocentric bias, at least in Western languages. Fools Are Everywhere sought to redress this imbalance, bringing Chinese fools onto the global stage in some numbers, and at least hinting of other non-European traditions, but there is still much to do and treasures to uncover.  

We aim to make this all perfectly searchable by tags and categories, regions and themes and whatnot.  

Bibliography - Todd Richardson - thesis - Bruegel - Festival of Fools
Bibliography - Keith Moxey - Pieter Bruegel and the Feast of Fools

Alphabetically listed by author

Review of `Dongfang Shuo zhuan' 東方朔傳, in Hanshu 漢書, by Ban Gu 班固 (32-92)
Review of Cécile Beuzelin, '"Le Fou, le Nain et le Chien": Le monde à l'envers à la cour d'Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle' (2016)
Review of Pamela Allen Brown, 'The Mirror and the Cage'
Cavalli-Bjorkman - The Laughing Jester
Bibliography - Kenneth Craig - Proverb's Progress
Review of Davies, Gregory, and Alison Stewart, 'Head of a Jester', Print Quarterly, 19:2 (2002)
Review of Erasmus - Moriae Encomium / Praise of Folly
Review of Ibn Zūlāq, Aḫbār Sībawayh al‐Miṣrī
Bibliography - Izzo, Gianni - Playing the Fool
Review of `Huixie zhuan' 詼諧傳, in Nan Tang shu 南唐書, by Ma Ling 馬令 (c. 1105)
Review of 'Grotesque Bodies' by Robin O'Bryan (2012)
Review: `Lingguan zhuan' 伶官傳, in Xin Wudai shi 新五代史 (New History of the Five Dynasties), by Ouyang Xiu 歐陽脩
Maddalena Rumor - There's no fool like an old fool - paper on the Babylonian aluzinnu
Review of Jessica Secmezsoy-Urquhart, 'Off Evere Full that in this Regeone Duellis'
Review of Andrea Shannon, 'Uncouth Language to a Prince's Ear'
Review of Tillier, Mathieu, 'Un "Alceste Musulman": Sibawayh le fou et les Ihsidides', Bulletin d’Études Orientales, 66 (2017), pp. 117-139
Review of plays about Dongfang Shuo as a jester


  1. Toga

    I just discovered this! What a fun and positively foolish idea! I use the idea of play in my work on strategy/innovation. I wonder if this book may also deserve a place here: ‘Cunning’ by Don Herzog?

    • beatriceotto

      Many thanks for your kind comment and great you’re weaving play into your work, we need more of it! Also appreciate the book suggestion, though as I only include things after reading (or re-reading), it may take me some time … Best wishes in all you do, Beatrice

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