When little known philologist Micheal Sophianos (ca 1530-1565) died, his Greek manuscripts (several of them centuries old) traveled through Italy and Greece before most of them finally settled in Ambrosiana Library, Milan; this gem of a collection includes a few pieces originally used as school texts, allowing us to cast some more light upon the students’ habit of adding fun to their learning of the Classics, entertaining themselves with doodles, riddles, and games we can still see on the pages today.
Based on the question of the social situatedness of late medieval specialised literature in urban contexts, the function of comical elements in Hans Folz’s works has to be extensively reviewed with reference to established theories of the comical (Bakhtin, Iser, Bergson). In fact, exemplary texts such as Das Hausratbüchlein or Das Branntweinbüchlein exhibit stylistic devices (irony, diminutives, hyperboles, crudity) which are generally considered atypical of the genre. Furthermore, specific narrative elements contribute to the breaking with traditional forms with the aim of depicting a reverse world as a kind of class satire. Using an author-specific comparison of the different literary genres, the presentation will address the functional expansion of late medieval specialised literature, which has received surprisingly little attention so far.
Through comical ‘Bisoziation’ (Koestler) of aesthetics (Man lobet uns den chorgesank, der ist hubsch und clug; II, 1-2) and simplicity (Dafur lob ich den pawern singen hinten an dem pflug; II, 3-4) the folk-like song ‘Lerche und Nachtigall’ by Hans Rosenplüt breaks with traditional forms. Only within the ‘protective function of laughter’ (Bakhtin), social criticism becomes possible: by means of self-irony, Rosenplüt guarantees that the text is not going to be censored by the magistracy. In this way, humour becomes a tool of the writing craftsman – a functional phenomenon which has not yet been analysed with the help of common theories of the comical. The presentation addresses this desideratum.