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|If you have read An Italian Portrait Gallery, here on
Elfinspell, you may recognize the name of Poggio
Bracciolini. He was a top writer in the Renaissance,
famous throughout Europe in the dawning of the new
age of humanism.
He was one of the few scholars of his day who proved
he wasn't always high-toned and serious and that he
could sit back and relax from all that serious writing and
write down some pure fluff to amuse himself and
anybody else who enjoyed a little comic relief. It goes to
show that even the Pope’s staff had to laugh now and
then at the end of a hard day excommunicating kings
and selling off bits and pieces of skeletons to the
tourists to Rome. (They didn’t think of selling T-shirts
If you use the site search engine, you can find a little
more about some of the names that are dropped
throughout these little stories and jests on elfinspell. Of
course going to a good web-wide search engine will find
a lot more.
But these jokes are funny or interesting, sometimes
both, all by themselves.
Edward Storer, the translator, also wrote Peter the Cruel,
a history of a Medieval Spanish King, which is also on
With this collection, you will find yourself finding about 1
in 4 stories that you will think is funny. Not bad
considering the multi-century generation gap.
There is also the translator generation gap that affects
the impression. Remember these Edwardian translators
were crippled by Victorian mentality and telling anything
that somebody back then might think was a little bawdy
made them break out in hives. So re-translate the jokes
in your mind to something Jay Leno might repeat and
you will have an easier time laughing. Everybody in
Europe thought these were funny back then, it was an
international best-seller, so help Storer out by providing
the words that he couldn't say to make these stories
For more on the perils of literature in translation go
here. And here.
You will also have a great introduction to what your
basic Renaissance guy thought was pretty funny. The
Liar’s Gallery sounds like it was the Renaissance
equivalent of today’s midnight talk show full of scathing
satire, purely funny modern tales and parody of current
life and politics of the times.
There are some great stories with both stinging and
poignant messages for us today. And a few chuckles,
titters, groans and guffaws.
Here you go:
The Facetiæ of Poggio and Other Medieval Story-tellers,
translated by Edward Storer.
Or go straight to the good stuff first:
The Jokes first
And come back later to:
E. Storer’s Introduction, the translator and editor, with
the usual details of the authors and the value of this
I am imagining your smiles from here (with a few
puzzled scratches of your head in between).
Oh, I almost forgot, I am as sure as I can be that this
text is in the public domain but there is a question. I
have contacted the publishers that bought the firm that
printed this book, and they have no records pertaining
to the text in their data base. They assume, as I am
doing, that it was simultaneously published in the US
and in England (as stated on the title page which does
make it in the public domain) because there appears to
be only one edition of the book. This is an assumption,
though, and if anybody knows anything to the contrary,
please let me know and I will then grovel and beg you
for permission to use this--or take it down. Because
they couldn't find it, they could get not give or withhold
permission from their end. There is no information to
be had on Mr. Storer on the web, to try to trace his
heirs, and I have looked. I am not even certain where he
lived. Nor can a few research librarians stateside
discover anything more than the date of his life and
death and a few other of his texts.
Which reminds me, we know a lot about scholars from
400 BC, and their translators, it seems shameful that
we care nothing about far too many of those that
worked in the last 2 centuries. Paolo and Poggio would
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