Cover: The Feast of Fools: A Theological Essay on Festivity and Fantasy, from Harvard University PressCover: The Feast of Fools in E-DITION

The Feast of Fools

A Theological Essay on Festivity and Fantasy

Available from De Gruyter »

Product Details

E-DITION

$65.00 • €48.00

ISBN 9780674285002

Publication Date: 01/01/1969

Related Subjects

Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »

In this fascinating interpretation of contemporary culture and theology, Harvey Cox examines both the loss and reemergence of festivity and fantasy in Western civilization. He evaluates both processes from a theological perspective, defining festivity as the capacity for genuine revelry and joyous celebration and defining fantasy as the faculty for envisioning radically alternative life situations. He asserts that both are absolutely vital to contemporary human life and faith; both are a precondition for genuine social transformation. In a success and money-oriented society we need a rebirth of unapologetically unproductive festivity and expressive celebration. In an age that has quarantined parody and separated politics from imagination, we need a renaissance of social fantasy.

It has been said over and over again that affluent Western man has been gaining the whole world while losing his soul. In the face of this Cox affirms the possibility and necessity of a resurgence of hope, celebration, liberation, and experimentation. The medieval Feast of Fools, from which he has taken his title, symbolizes both the problem and the process. Centuries ago it provided an opportunity for the choirboy to play bishop and for serious townsfolk to mock the stately rituals of church and court. The eventual disappearance of the custom in the sixteenth century, unlamented if not welcomed by those in authority, illustrates the concerns of this provocative and controversial essay. Cox does not propose that a medieval practice should be revived, but he does argue for a rebirth in our own cultural idiom of what was right and good about the Feast of Fools.

It is likely that this book will become significant in wide circles. It speaks directly to such contemporary movements as the theology of hope, the rapidly disappearing radical theology, and the theology of culture. For many it will provide a new perspective on the renewal of religious life and the secular search for religious experience. For others it will function as a window into the experimental laboratories of the so-called “underground church.” For everyone it is a refreshing encounter with a wholly new set of perceptive observations about the problems that plague us.

Recent News

From Our Blog

Jacket, In Mrs. Tully’s Room: A Childcare Portrait by Vivian Gussin Paley, Harvard University Press

Remembering Vivian Gussin Paley

Renowned educator and author Vivian Gussin Paley died recently. Her former editor at Harvard University Press, Elizabeth Knoll, looks back on her life and work, which emphasized storytelling as an important tool in children’s learning. Vivian Gussin Paley was a small, gray-haired schoolteacher

‘manifold glories of classical Greek and Latin’

The digital Loeb Classical Library (loebclassics.com) extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature.