The puppet can entertain or terrify, evoke the innocence of childhood, or become a magical entity, able to negotiate with ghosts and gods. Puppets are often creepy things, inanimate while also full of spirit, alive with gesture and voice. In this haunting and beautiful book, Kenneth Gross takes us on a meditative journey through the world of puppet theater, exploring the mysterious fascination of these unsettling objects.
Engaging particular aspects of the puppet, from its blunt grotesquery to its talent for metamorphosis, Gross teases out their meaning, showing us the puppet in the guise of angel, seducer, demon, and destroyer. On a global tour of puppets onstage, he takes us 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 poetry and fiction-including Collodi's cruel, wooden Pinocchio; puppetlike characters in Dickens and Kafka; Rilke's innocent puppet-angels; and the dark puppeteering of Philip Roth's Micky Sabbath-as well as in the work of artists such as Joseph Cornell and Paul Klee. A lovely, expressive book about re-seeing what we know, or what we think we know, Puppetevokes the startling power of puppets as mirrors of the uncanny in art and life.
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