Originally a stage monologue premiered in Italy in 1998, "Francis, The Holy Jester" is a thought-provoking and politically charged book with many parallels for contemporary society and politics. At its simplest level, it is a comedy in which the humble yet wily Francis uses the power of words to oppose the authorities, but on re-reading, the novella emerges as a little masterpiece. The story is made up of five sections. In the first part, Francis addresses the people of Bologna, to begin with appealing to their warlike pride then cunningly twisting things round, sending them running to sign for peace with their enemies. In the second, he's seen going against his class to join rampaging townsfolk as they oust the elite and tear down their towers. In the third, he talks a wolf into making peace with people...and later realises who the real animals are. In the fourth, Francis tells a story from the Gospel at a wedding, meets the Pope, preaches to pigs and birds, and finally manages to reach humans. And in the final part, he is ill and fading, and chooses to die in the little ragged church he so loves. Dario Fo draws on his own artistic sources and the Commedia dell'Arte tradition he so admires to produce a portrait of St Francis which is at once modern, challenging and memorable. The novella has been translated by Fo's long-term collaborator, Mario Pirovano, who will perform in the world premier of the English language version in 2009.
Used availability for Dario Fo's Francis, The Holy Jester
August 2017 : USA Hardback
March 2013 : USA Hardback
May 2009 : UK Paperback