Harpo Marx as Trickster


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About the Book

The author invites readers to spend time in the pleasure of Harpo’s cinematic company while comparing him to tricksters from folklore, myth and legend. The book demonstrates how Harpo, the sweetest, wildest, most magical Marx brother, accomplishes the archetypal trickster’s work. Thirteen chapters examine Harpo’s trickster persona closely in each of the Marx Brothers’ films: The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races, Room Service, At the Circus, Go West, The Big Store, A Night in Casablanca and Love Happy.
Harpo as trickster embodies luck, foolishness, cleverness, mania, hunger, lust, stealing, shape-shifting, gender-bending, alliance with underdogs, attacks on the powerful, musicality, sympathy for animals, magic and mischief. His trickster behaviors in all the films are woven into a composite impression that “with a little luck, will resonate beyond the covers of this book and leak out into the world, making it a more just, flexible, resilient, amusing and magical place.”

About the Author(s)

Charlene Fix is a professor of literature and creative writing at Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio.

Bibliographic Details

Charlene Fix
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 232
Bibliographic Info: 41 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7147-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0149-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface  1

Introduction  5

 1. The Cocoanuts (1929): Trickster Appears  19

 2. Animal Crackers (1930): The Professor Professes  30

 3. Monkey Business (1931): Not Quite Chevalier  39

 4. Horse Feathers (1932): Dogging Football  50

 5. Duck Soup (1933): Taking a Scissors to War  60

 6. A Night at the Opera (1935): Cleaning with Dirt  74

 7. A Day at the Races (1937): It’s Gabriel  87

 8. Room Service (1938): Gimme Shelter, Food and Art  100

 9. At the Circus (1939): Swingali’s Sneeze  109

10. Go West (1940): Feeding the Train the Train 122

11. The Big Store (1941): Mercantile Mayhem  135

12. A Night in Casablanca (1946): Meta Marx  148

13. Love Happy (1949): Trickster’s Capstone or Hail and Farewell  159

Conclusion: A Retrospective Montage  173

Notes  211

Bibliography  216

Index  219