Sicilian Epic and the Marionette Theater

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About the Book

This study analyzes the folkloric genres that comprise the repertoire of the marionette theater in Sicily. Here, epic, farce, saints’ lives, bandits’ lives, fairytales, Christian myth, and city legend offer the vehicles by which puppeteers comment upon, critique—perhaps even negotiate—the relationships among the major classes of Sicilian society: the aristocracy, the people, the clergy and the Mafia. The lynchpin of the repertoire is the Carolingian Cycle and, in particular, a contemporary version of The Song of Roland known in Sicily as The Death of the Paladins, a text which illustrates the means by which the Carolingian heroes—Charlemagne, Roland, Renaud, Ganelon, and Angelica—augment saints, bandits, Biblical figures and Sicilian folk heroes to provide the marionette theater its rhetorical function: the articulation and dissemination of the tools of Sicilian identity.

About the Author(s)

Michael Buonanno is professor of English and anthropology at the State College of Florida: Manatee/Sarasota. His previous publications have appeared in The Journal of American Folklore and New York Folklore. He lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Michael Buonanno
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 236
Bibliographic Info: 19 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7767-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1500-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments v

Preface: A Storied Island 1

Introduction: The Genius of Palermo 5

One: The Cultural Context of Sicilian Epic 27

Two: The Marionette Theater 52

Three: Knights and Masques 70

Four: Saints and Bandits 88

Five: On Christian Soil 109

Six: The Carolingian Cycle 128

Seven: The Song of Roland in Sicily 141

Eight: Social Order and the Fairy Tale 153

Nine: City Legend and Secret Societies 172

Conclusion: The Last Adventure 183

Appendix: The Death of the Paladins 199

Chapter Notes 207

Bibliography 217

Index 221

Book Reviews

“Fascinating and well-researched…an expert, articulate, and sensitive work…valuable…insightful and intelligent”—Journal of Folklore Research.