The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity
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222 pages

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This ambitious and vivid study in six volumes explores the journey of a single, electrifying story, from its first incarnation in a medieval French poem through its prolific rebirth in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Juggler of Notre Dame tells how an entertainer abandons the world to join a monastery, but is suspected of blasphemy after dancing his devotion before a statue of the Madonna in the crypt; he is saved when the statue, delighted by his skill, miraculously comes to life.

Jan Ziolkowski tracks the poem from its medieval roots to its rediscovery in late nineteenth-century Paris, before its translation into English in Britain and the United States. The visual influence of the tale on Gothic revivalism and vice versa in America is carefully documented with lavish and inventive illustrations, and Ziolkowski concludes with an examination of the explosion of interest in The Juggler of Notre Dame in the twentieth century and its place in mass culture today. In this volume Jan Ziolkowski follows the juggler of Notre Dame as he cavorts through new media, including radio, television, and film, becoming closely associated with Christmas and embedded in children’s literature.

Presented with great clarity and simplicity, Ziolkowski's work is accessible to the general reader, while its many new discoveries will be valuable to academics in such fields and disciplines as medieval studies, medievalism, philology, literary history, art history, folklore, performance studies, and reception studies.



Publié par
Date de parution 30 octobre 2018
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781783745371
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 21 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0022€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


volume 5

The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity
Vol. 5: Tumbling into the Twentieth Century
Jan M. Ziolkowski
© 2018 Jan M. Ziolkowski

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC BY 4.0). This license allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work; to adapt the work and to make commercial use of the work providing attribution is made to the author (but not in any way that suggests that he endorses you or your use of the work).
Attribution should include the following information: Jan M. Ziolkowski, The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity. Vol. 5: Tumbling into the Twentieth Century . Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2018,
Copyright and permissions for the reuse of many of the images included in this publication differ from the above. Copyright and permissions information for images is provided separately in the List of Illustrations.
Every effort has been made to identify and contact copyright holders and any omission or error will be corrected if notification is made to the publisher.
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Further details about CC BY licenses are available at
All external links were active at the time of publication unless otherwise stated and have been archived via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine at
Digital material and resources associated with this volume are available at
ISBN Paperback: 978-1-78374-534-0
ISBN Hardback: 978-1-78374-535-7
ISBN Digital (PDF): 978-1-78374-536-4
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 978-1-78374-537-1
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 978-1-78374-538-8
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0148
Cover image: Illustration of the juggler performing before the Virgin. From Anatole France, Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame , illustrated by Maurice Lalau (Paris: A. & F. Ferroud, 1924), p. 23.
Cover design: Anna Gatti
All paper used by Open Book Publishers is SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes) and Forest Stewardship Council(r)(FSC(r) certified.
Printed in the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia by Lightning Source for Open Book Publishers (Cambridge, UK)

Note to the Reader
Juggling across Print
Printed Books as Pseudomanuscripts
Image-Makers Go Mainstream
Missal Attack
Handwriting the Medieval
Typing a Translation
Medieval French for Amateurs
A One-Novel French Novelist
French Language-Study
Juggling across New Media
Making a Spectacle of Miracle
Sister Beatrice
Sister Angelica
Audio Recording
Silent Film
Charlie Chaplin: Tramp Meets Tumbler
Juggling across Faiths
The Ecumenical Juggler
The Hasidic Whistle-Blower
The Jewish Jongleur
The Catholic Juggler
The Juggler and the Paulines
Two Bills: Buckley Jr. and Bennett
The Lyric Juggler and Patrick Kavanagh
“The Chapel at Mountain State Mental Hospital”
The Yuletide Juggler
Easter Tumbling
The Commercial Aesthetic of “Ye Olde”
Noel Juggling: The Gift That Keeps on Giving
The Juggler in Holiday Books and Cards
Amateur Theater
Mass Radio
Mid-Century Medieval US Television
Postwar Britain
The French Connection
Juggler Film
Juggler Christmas Books Live On
Related Stories of the Season
Children’s Juggler and Child Juggler
Suitable for Children
Downsizing the Juggler
American Children’s Literature
European Children’s Literature
Global Children’s Entertainment
Folktale or Faketale?
Tomie dePaola’s The Clown of God
Notes to Chapter 1
Notes to Chapter 2
Notes to Chapter 3
Notes to Chapter 4
Notes to Chapter 5
Referenced Works
List of Illustrations

To Mary Carruthers
Nothing that has ever happened should be granted as lost for history. Admittedly, only redeemed humanity inherits its past fully; that is to say, only redeemed humanity has its past in each of its moments become citable.
—Walter Benjamin

Note to the Reader
This volume is the fifth of a half dozen. Together, the six form The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity . The book as a whole probes one medieval story, its reception in culture from the Franco-Prussian War until today, and the placement of that reception within medieval revivalism as a larger phenomenon. The study has been designed to proceed largely in chronological order, but the progression across the centuries and decades is relieved by thematic chapters that deal with topics not restricted to any single time period.
This fifth installment, labeled “Tumbling through the Twentieth Century,” documents the explosion of interest in the story after the success of Massenet’s opera Le jongleur de Notre Dame in the early twentieth century. One manifestation of popularity comes to the fore in books, typescripts, and manuscripts. Another can be traced in performances, recordings, and films. A third category of evidence appears in the appropriation of the story by members of different faiths, especially but not solely as it is made into stock Christmas fare for theater, radio, television, and film.
The final volume will follows the story of the story from the Second World War down to the present day. The narrative was put to an astonishing range of uses during the war years. In the fifties and sixties, it experienced what turned out to be a last hurrah in both high culture and mass culture. Afterward, it became the occasional object of playfulness and parody before slipping into at least temporary oblivion.
The chapters are followed by endnotes. Rather than being numbered, these notes are keyed to the words and phrases in the text that are presented in a different color. After the endnotes come the bibliography and illustration credits. In each volume-by-volume index, the names of most people have lifespans, regnal dates, or at least death dates.
One comment on the title of the story is in order. In proper French, Notre-Dame has a hyphen when the phrase refers to a building, institution, or place. Notre Dame, without the mark, refers to the woman, the mother of Jesus. In my own prose, the title is given in the form Le jongleur de Notre Dame , but the last two words will be found hyphenated in quotations and bibliographic citations if the original is so punctuated.
All translations are my own, unless otherwise specified.

1. Juggling across Print

© 2018 Jan M. Ziolkowski, CC BY 4.0
In these times of plenteous knowledge and meager performance, if we do not study the ancient work directly and learn to understand it, we shall find ourselves influenced by the feeble work all round us, and shall be copying the better work through the copyists and without understanding it, which will by no means bring about intelligent art. Let us therefore study it wisely, be taught by it, kindled by it; all the while determining not to imitate or repeat it; to have either no art at all, or an art which we have made our own .
—William Morris
The first two and a half decades of the twentieth century turned over a new leaf in the story of the tumbler or jongleur. In both Europe and North America, the tale is attested first and foremost in what might be called high culture. The ground for this interest, and for this specific mode of making the medieval modern, was readied in more than one way. In the initial stage, philologists from within the Germanosphere participated, alongside peers from other European traditions, by establishing the text of the French poem from the Middle Ages after its discovery. Augmenting their work, Gaston Paris promulgated appreciation of the original to a larger public in France, through concise but glowing praise of Our Lady’s Tumbler in his lectures and literary histories.
The next phase came thanks to the reception of Anatole France’s short story. His prose narrative would hav

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