“Reading this book is a continuous pleasure. Ralph Lerner expounds his chosen texts with genuine skill, delicacy, and a rare ear for shadings of tone. His prose is at once accomplished and self-effacing, leaving us with the impression of a second voice on the scene—one of the same family as the authors he comments on, all of whom deployed an oblique style, an ambiguous genre, or a mode of impersonation that resists the direct disclosure of doctrine, always for the purpose of insinuating doubts and scruples.”
(David Bromwich, Yale University)
“In elegantly crafted essays, Ralph Lerner provides illuminating introductions to the diverse didactic strategies and substantive philosophic teachings of six modern masters of the comic genius in its subtlest forms.”
(Thomas L. Pangle, University of Texas at Austin)
“In this thoughtful and enlightening book, Ralph Lerner looks at the work of six major writers, examining the subversive power of laughter, its capacity to undercut prejudice and dissolve zeal. Lerner identifies in these works a literary strategy and explores its logic as no one has done before. Playing the Fool is elegantly composed, elusive, playful, and elliptical; it tickles the fancy and tempts the mind.”
(Paul A. Rahe, Hillsdale College)
"A compelling study that explores the ways in which, to quote Buron, 'one may speak in jexst, and yet speak the truth.'"
(Times Higher Education
"The unorthodox selection of figures and texts proves surprisingly fertile in Lerner's deft treatment."
About the Author
Ralph Lerner is the Benjamin Franklin Professor Emeritus in the College and professor emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He is the author of four other books, including Maimonides’ Empire of Light, also published by the University of Chicago Press.