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Reviews385 Olga Anna Dull. Folie et Rhétorique dans la Sottie. Geneva: Droz, 1994. Pp. 228. SF 40,80. In this study of some aspects of the sotties the author admits, to begin with, the difficulty of definition. She cannot be blamed either for the justice ofthis observation or for the phenomenon it indicates. At the end of the argument, however, the term still remains a difficulty, and along with it goes the problem of the variety of plays which come into this category and the difficulty of producing a chronology for them. This last problem does have a particular bearing because Erasmus' Moriae Encomium is material to the argument, and the general tenor of this study is about development and influence from him and from other writers. The method adopted is to state such problems and then to press on with the elaboration of an argument and a dependent demonstration of how it can be sustained in some plays. There is perhaps a similar selectivity in the parts of the works of two scholastic authors, St. Thomas Aquinas and William of Ockham, who are essential to the argument. Again the whole of scholasticism or the whole of the work of these authors cannot be surveyed in the compass of so short a book, and one has to settle, as the author does, for the construction of an argument with evidence adduced, however selectively . Once the argument is under way, however, it proves itself to be very cogent. The author brings to a detailed reading of certain sotties considerations arising from epistemology in certain medieval authors, a review of certain rhetorical characteristics within the plays, a view of the theory of folly based largely upon the contrast between Brant's, in The Ship ofFools, and that of Erasmus, and a consideration of some political and social matters and events which are the object of comment or attack in the plays. The epistemological investigation leads to an opposition between realism and nominalism which is seen as important because the genesis of the sottie is related to changes in philosophical outlook: a shift between medieval and Renaissance outlooks, from an essentially rational view to one in which the intuitive has a role to play. The importance for the fools in the sotties is that the natural fool can express an intuitive wisdom or perception which is denied the artificial fool (sage-fou). Such a distinction is sustained by the Pauline concept of the fools of God which was further developed by Erasmus and which is contrasted with the more sinister medieval view of them as wholly evil, as in Brant. This argument bypasses the inversion of Bakhtinian Carneval. This change is manifest in a development of rhetoric from the demonstrative , which showed underlying truths not in doubt, to a deliberative one whereby the values shift from the immutable to the political here and now. This shift is discussed in relation to a number of rhetorical matters including eulogy, which may be ironic, the 'cri,' parody, and particularly paradox, a key feature. The latter is worked 386Comparative Drama out, for example, in a discussion of the Sotise a huit personnaiges in which Sotte Folle paradoxically praises her own beauty when in fact she is moving from the natural to the artificial kind of folly. The impact on the other sots is such that fiiough they are initially diverse in rhetoric they become more alike. This brings us to what is perhaps the most striking aspect of the book, a consideration of dramatic aspects of the sotties. On the one hand Dull is no doubt correct in suggesting that in spite of their names which are sometimes abstract, the sots are not presenting an allegory (seen by many as a basis for the sotties) because the figurative aspects become transient under me impact of folly radier than remaining immutable . But beyond this, dynamic aspects ofthe drama are investigated wherein the nature of folly is revealed as changing, and the rhetorical aspects are supported by other semiological elements in the text. A striking example is given from Sots triumphans qui trompent Chascun whereby the verbal motif of trompeur trompé is changed by the use of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 385-386
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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