Independent Research, Research Practices

Trickester, Hero, Transformer


I am interested mid-European Literature dating from the 12th- 14th Century.
The main area of interest within these folkloric tales is the role of ‘The Trickster’ who is also a heroic figure. The trickster myth is universal, ancient and still relevant today.

I am specifically interested in exploring the psychogical reasons for our identification with this recurring figure in myth, legend and popular culture and our need to identify with ‘the Other’.

The Trickster acts like a clown, plays pranks and tricks exhibits crude behaviour but he also appears as a creator, cultural hero, saviour. He is part human, part animal and almost divine, an amoral and comic troublemaker. He operates mostly outside conscious awareness but always from within the human mind. We ourselves identify with and are the Trickster, when we describe Trickster phenomena we are always describing aspects of ourselves. This is the area which interests me most and I would like to research and investigate this aspect.

Thus the Trickster has been called a speculum mentis: a mirror into the mind.
[Speculum mentis, Latin: “mirror of the mind.”] Paul Radin

Manifestly we are here in the presence of a figure and a theme or themes which have had a special and permanent appeal and an unusual attraction for mankind from the very beginning of civilization.  In what must be regarded as its earliest and most archaic form, as found among the North American Indians, Trickster is at one and the same time creator and destroyer, giver and negator, he who dupes others and who is always duped himself.  He wills nothing consciously.  At all times he is constrained to behave as he does from impulses over which he has no control.  He knows neither good nor evil yet he is responsible for both.  He possesses no values, moral or social, is at the mercy of his passions and appetites, yet through his actions all values come into being.  But not only he, so our myth tells us, possesses these traits.  So, likewise, do the other figures of the plot connected with him: the animals, the various supernatural beings and monsters, and man.” Paul Radin, The Trickster in Native American Mythology.

British Library MS  Royal 10 E IV, late 13th/early 14th century, and MS Stowe 17, “The Maastricht Hours”, early 14th century.
British Library MS Royal 10 E IV, late 13th/early 14th century, and MS Stowe 17, “The Maastricht Hours”, early 14th century.
Abbildung aus Ausgabe des Eulenspiegel von 1515
Abbildung aus Ausgabe des Eulenspiegel von 1515

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