THE GUIZER by Alan Garner


A Book Of Fools
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Garner begins his brief introduction by naming his subject, The Fool in folklore-but this is no collection of numbskull tales, though a few such anecdotes are included. To Garner, the Guizer (the name refers to an actor in a mumming play) is not only fool--and trickster as well, but, in his various incarnations--arranged here in evolutionary sequence--no less than animal instinct, demiurge, culture hero, and "the dawning godhead in man." Gardner's broad interpretation of the "fool" concept is reflected too in the variety of the tales collected here from world folklore--it is hard to imagine what folk tale would not fit his view of the subject--and, considering the bare minimum of commentary (the two-page introduction and brief appended notes on sources, changes, and problems of translation), sometimes hard to see how those that are here specifically fit the scheme. As an aid, Garner divides the selections into three sections--on the Guizer as Fool, Man, and God--though in some of the episodes the Ashanti Anansi, featured in the first, and the Winnebago Hare, who ends the last, seem much alike. What is clear is Garner's exclusive interest in a universal psychology ("everywhere the myth is the same") as distinguished from cultural anthropology. Only in the notes (which toss off words like "apotropaic" and "theriomorphic") is the cultural origin of each tale identified, and even there readers will find no hint as to who Finn and the Fianna are, though they are subjects of two of the tales in part one. But, in Garner's words, "the book is an entertainment rather than a thesis," and--though it might better have been expanded into a thesis--his versions are both entertaining and closer to their beginnings than you are likely to find in collections for young people. And if readers can't always be expected to follow Gamer's train of thought, he well might prod them to speculation of their own.
Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 1976
ISBN: 068886001X
Page count: 213pp
Publisher: Greenwillow
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1976


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by Alan Garner
by Alan Garner