THE CRISTIANIS by Richard Hubler


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The circus is one of the very oldest and most comprehensive art forms; the Cristianis are -- in America at least -- the biggest and most diversely-talented circus family. Branches of the clan still follow the traditional seasonal routes across Europe, and the American branch (numbering forty-two in 1965) has played Canada, Latin America, Alaska and Hawaii in addition to cities and towns all over the continental United States. Papa Ernesto Cristiani and his wife, born to the special traditions, raised a huge brood of tumbling, leaping, dancing, whirling children and taught them the best of what they knew, including their especially strict safety code: ""We don't do anything in the ring unless we're ninety-nine per cent sure that it will go right."" The offspring who took to the profession (and most of them did) developed specialty acts of their own (with or without horses, dogs, and elephants), clung to the family patterns, usually married within the circus fraternity, and reared their own children to love the same ideals of professionalism. Hubler has sought to interpret the meaning of ""live"" (as opposed to films or TV) art: ""Man...desires, whether he knows it or not, more than the illusion of entertainment."" The proliferation of other distractions has cut deeply into circus box office lately; Hubler makes the Big Top sound very tempting once again.

Publisher: Little, Brown