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The Circus-image: from Literature to Cinematography

University of Milan, Italy


CP, Number 17


No. 17 (2012)  Editorial


This study focuses on the central role of the circus and of the figure of the clown in Charles Dickens’s and Federico Fellini’s visions of life. During their lives, both the novelist and the film director were personally involved with this form of entertainment. For both, the circus represents the possibility to escape an uncomfortable reality in favour of imagination and its redeeming role. Hard Times (1854) contrasts Mr. Sleary’s positive values against Mr. Gradgrind’s “philosophy of facts” and Mr. Bounderby’s capitalist greed, while Fellini insists on the necessity to screen existence through the eyes of the clown figures, traditionally named Whiteface and Augusto. My purpose is to explore this connection, through the analysis of Dickens’s novel Hard Times and Fellini’s movies La strada (The Road, 1954), 8 ½ (Eight and a Half, 1963), and I clowns (The Clowns, 1970), in order to suggest that the novelist and the film director meet each other across time and within the circus ring.


fiction, cinema, circus, clown, carnivalesque.

Code [ID]:

CP201217V00S01A0004 [0003771]

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