Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nugae Venales, Or Complasent Companion, 1675

The full title of this publication is "Nugae Venales, Or Complasent Companion: Being new jests domestic and foreign, bulls, rhodomontados, pleasant novels, and miscellanies." Basically, it's a bit of light reading for Puritans, and books like these were full of little stories, folk tales, and occasionally bawdy jokes. The Nugae Venales is a jest book (nugae=jokes, venales=for sale), which is a subgenre of this literary trend. Although I'm not sure what dismemberment has to do with jests, I've tried to recontextualize it for a modern audience.

This is my new favorite book. There are some absolutely amazing "jests" contained in here (that's right, real Renaissance lolz!!!1!). Take this zinger: "A gentleman whose name was Church sitting in a chimney-corner drinking a pot of ale asked the question, whether any of the company ever saw a chimney in a church. No (said one) But now I see a Church in a chimney-corner." HAHAHA! There's actually a whole series of jests featuring Mr. Church, and trust me, they're all this sidesplitting. There's another jest that riffs on Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, where a man has to tell his wife what play is playing, and who's-on-first-esque hilarity ensues. I can't wait to be invited to a dinner party, because I'm going to dazzle everyone with my 17th century topical humor.

If you're interested in such things, check out Jules Paul Seigel's "Puritan Light Reading." The New England Quarterly. 37. 2 (Jun. 1964): 185-199. It just goes to show you that although I lol on some of these publications, the actual Renaissance lolz blow me right out of the water. I mean, a church in a chimney! Can you imagine?


Calantha said...

See, this is why I love LOL Manuscripts: it is at the same time hilarious AND educational. Awesome.


Doug said...

Wait, so this guy separated himself from the cavalry to behead people? Well then it looks like a CAVALIER took some ROUND HEADS! Haw Haw Haw!

danielle said...

So is Mr. Church the Puritan version of Boudreaux and Thibodeaux?

Sarah Redmond said...

These jokes are EXACTLY like the B&T gags...and just as terrible.

And Doug, I think you're right about the image! I was trying to look in the book to see if it illustrated a jests or not, but it's classic Cavalier/Roundhead visual humor. Well done. And I'm printing this whole book out for you and and giving it to you for Christmas, because my guess is that 70% of the jests are awful puns. You will love it.

Linda - Nickers and Ink said...

Cracking up.