“You have in your hands a uniquely beautiful book, a book of uncommon brilliance and lucidity. As wondrous as the theaters of marvels it describes, its leaps and mutabilities provide a thrilling adventure in imaginative thinking. ‘How are we devoured by the things we make?’ it asks. ‘And when might that devouring save us?’ My copy burns brightly on my favorite shelf, beside The Poetics of Space, Eccentric Spaces, and In Praise of Shadows. . . A treasure!”
—Rikki Ducornet, author The Fan-Maker’s Inquisition
“Read Puppet as you always meant to read the Bible: by chapters, by pages, persistently by sentences, readily pausing to concur, to contend, to wonder. . . . You will find the author has done that much for you, thereby achieving—by a labor of years as well as of love—the Sacred Book of an entire human undertaking, one which has ensorcelled us for all the recorded ages of what the author calls uncanny life.”
—Richard Howard, author of Without Saying
An Essay on Uncanny Life
|Publication Date: October 15, 2011 ||$25.00 • £16.00 |
|International publication date: October 24, 2011 ||978-0-226-30958-3 (cloth) |
Some puppets are little more than a simple tube sock; others are intricately designed works of art. They can be crafted from ballet slippers, carved from wood, or simply created by hands flashed in the darkness. Even as adults, we can be terrified by puppets—they are inanimate things, but also alive with gesture and voice. In this haunting book, Kenneth Gross opens up to us the vast world of puppets, exploring the mysterious fascination of these unsettling objects.
Gross takes us on a global tour of puppets onstage, traveling to the raucous Punch and Judy show, the sacred shadow theater of Bali, and experimental theaters in the United States and Europe where puppets enact everything from Shakespearean tragedy to surrealist fables of discovery and loss. At the same time, he explores the puppet in the poetry and fiction of Dickens, Kafka, and others, as well as in the work of artists such as Joseph Cornell and Paul Klee. Throughout, he teases meaning out of the puppet’s blunt grotesquery and talent for metamorphosis, revealing the puppet in the guise of angel, seducer, demon, and destroyer. A lovely, expressive book about reseeing what we know, or what we think we know, Puppet evokes the startling power of puppets as mirrors of the uncanny in art and life.
Kenneth Gross teaches English at the University of Rochester and is the author, most recently, of Shylock Is Shakespeare (2006), also published by the University of Chicago Press. He is available for interviews.