Tuesday, April 1, 2008

noodleheads, nincompoops, mooncalfs, ninnyhammers & fools

"The highest form of bliss is living with a certain degree of folly."
-Erasmus

When I was little one of my favorite books was an edition of The Wise Men of Gotham, retold and illustrated by Malcolm Carrick. The people of Gotham were said to have feigned foolishness to keep King John from staying in their village in the 13th century. The stories recount villagers drowning eels, sending rent away tied to a hare, failing to trap a cuckoo in a hedge and other misadventures.

The book is silly and wonderful and had an incredible smell the way some books do, a bit like a mature cheese. When I was very small I somehow thought this was because one of the tales was about a man rolling his cheeses down a hill in the belief they would take themselves to market. This and other Gotham tales can be read on Project Gutenberg.

Another story about a fool who is not entirely foolish is the Russian fairy tale The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship. It is about a simple young man who wins the hand of the Tsar's daughter with a flying ship and the help of a strange band of travelers. Here is the first part of a 1990 stop motion puppet version by Cosgrove Hall:

A full version of the story can be read here.

Happy April Fool's Day to you!

3 comments:

Rima said...

Hello Christa.. What a lovely animation and book..
I am chuffed to see someone else using the lovely word mooncalf :)
Have you stumbled into this room of my website perchance?

Crista Noel Smith said...

It is a good word.. and I love your use of the word slubberdegullion!

Blog Princess said...

I've never heard of this book, but it looks magical.