Comparative Nonsense: French Galimatias and English Fustian
Society for Renaissance Studies
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Reason for embargo
Two similar types of nonsense, ‘galimatias’ and ‘fustian’, emerged in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century France and England respectively. Although they are far from being the earliest forms of nonsense, they reveal the period’s concerns about obscure language and those who speak and write it. While both involve the parody of academic jargon, seen in, among others, Montaigne and Ben Jonson, galimatias and fustian are not limited to this, as they also denote the cant language of criminals and charlatans and are associated with tricksters; they thereby cut across high and low culture. Writers often appear to use them perversely to support poetic and rhetorical standards by playfully showing an extreme to be avoided, as is particularly apparent in Hoskyns’s fustian oration performed at the Middle Temple revels of 1597-8. Nevertheless, examples of galimatias and fustian may also hint at the arbitrariness of such standards, prompting a questioning of literary and hence social values that judgements of style are meant to underpin.
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Roberts, H. (2016), Comparative nonsense: French galimatias and English fustian. Renaissance Studies, 30: 102–119 , which has been published in final form at doi: 10.1111/rest.12205.
Vol. 30, pp. 102 - 119