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Trickster

  • By: Weitz Eric
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

The trickster is a type of character found in myths and folk tales around the world, who throws cultural boundaries into relief by crossing them in sly and audacious ways. Tricksters often display primal and unbridled desire as well as clever thinking, pursuing gratification in an almost infantile manner even as their cravings remain decidedly adult. Ever on the move, they illuminate the centers of culture by carrying out their exploits from the margins. This entry discusses different types of tricksters, issues surrounding tricksters, and the appearance of tricksters in literature.

Trickster incarnations around the world include Eshu (Nigerian), Hermes (Ancient Greek), Loki (Norse), Till Eulenspiegel (German), Susa-No-o (Japanese), Bricriu (Irish), Maui (Maori), and Agu Tompa (Tibetan). Tricksters sometimes take animal form, such as Monkey (Chinese), ...

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