Sunday, February 21, 2010

Complete Book: Fous et Bouffons (1885)

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Fous et Bouffons: un Etude Physiologique, Psychologique et Historique (Fools & Buffoons: A Physiological, Psychological, and Historical Study)
by Dr. Paul Moreau

You have to hand it to the French. They have an appetite for historical research and writing, as well as a keen interest in circus and clowning. Put the two together and the happy result is a lot of good books on the variety arts. When I somehow ended up as a French major in my undergrad years at NYU, I had no real idea how or if I would ever use my meager language skills. Four years later I found myself writing a book about clowns, the research for which would have been impossible had I not been able to read French.

So as we near the end of my posting public domain books about fools and jesters, I throw in a book in French on the subject. I figure there are enough of you gringos who read French, and the blog is getting a lot of visitors from francophile countries, so it may be of use to someone out there. And as I may have mentioned, it is free.

Moreau was a member of the Paris Medical Psychology Association and his approach aspires to be scientific. He was in fact the author of over a dozen books that bridge the gap between medical and psychological issues, tackling such subjects as suicide, childhood madness, and jealous insanity. One contemporary review of the book I found questioned Moreau's science and opined that "the historical section of the book contains many anecdotes which may amuse those who have nothing better to do than to read them." Zing!

I doubt H.G. Wells knew of Moreau when he wrote Island of Dr. Moreau, but Wells' mad scientist is none other than Dr. Paul Moreau, played by Charles Laughton in the 1933 film, Island of Lost Souls. But I digress.

Fous et Bouffons by Dr. Paul Moreau

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