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Puppetry: A World History Hardcover – July 1, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
There is much more to puppetry than Jim Henson's creations or children's puppet shows, as this thoroughly researched book makes abundantly clear. Through her narrative and 350 illustrations, Blumenthal, a professor of theater arts, takes the reader through an exhaustive history of the puppet world, from prehistoric times to Tony-winning Broadway hit Avenue Q. Blumenthal's approach is different than that of previous historians: rather than giving the "where, when and how" and dividing her work by region or time period, she employs a thematic approach, including, among others, chapters on puppet characters, sex and puppets in politics. This approach pays off, and the photos here range from an African fertility puppet to the iconic Miss Piggy to a disturbing likeness of Margaret Thatcher wielding a meat cleaver. Although some images may border on creepy, the book is beautiful to look at, and the writing is largely accessible. This would be a welcome addition to the libraries of performing arts buffs who want to learn more about a lesser known form.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* In its long history, puppetry has played many parts. It has taken central roles in shamanic rites and been vilified by medieval churchmen as devilry, romanticized as a repository of folk wisdom, infantilized as a mere adjunct to children's theater, and valorized by visionaries (among them, the great designer-director Edward Gordon Craig) as a superior, potentially more expressive form of theater. Today some puppets, most notably Jim Henson's Muppets, are so popular that they are no longer recognized as mere puppets. Meanwhile, on Broadway, one of the most elaborate and expensive puppet shows ever fabricated, Julie Taymor's multimillion-dollar musical The Lion King, has been filling the house since 1997. Though most people don't think of puppetry as a high-toned cousin to Punch and Judy, Blumenthal makes that connection and many more in this rich, exhaustively researched, lavishly illustrated history spanning from prehistory to the present. In carefully polished prose, she chronicles the myriad roles puppets and puppeteers have played, and although writing from a Western European-North American perspective, she doesn't neglect non-Western forms (Javanese shadow puppets, Japanese rod puppets, the Bamana puppets of Mali, etc.). She also explores the ways this ancient art form has been reinvigorated and transformed by advances in the electronic arts. A fine addition to any library's theater arts collection. Jack Helbig
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
Judith O'Hare, You and Me Puppets
Even persons who have no interest in the subject will be fascinated and entertained by the variety,ingenuity and artfulness of the puppets.
The author structures her massive effort into chapters detailing the history of puppets, types of puppets, and uses for puppets, including sex acts, illustrations for violent stories, and political commentary, as well as public service (Sesame Street), and ventures into the spirit world.
I love her opening statement: "They can be gods, idiots, or worms. They are able to nurture children or terrify adults. They survive indefinitely without normal biological aging but also can die and come back to life again and again."
Recommended reading for anyone interested in puppets, their history and uses in popular culture.
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throughout the World from the Mists of Time to the present...Read more