The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 5: Tumbling into the Twentieth Century - cover image


Jan M. Ziolkowski

Published On





  • English

Print Length

408 pages (vi + 402)


Paperback178 x 28 x 254 mm(7" x 1.11" x 10")
Hardback178 x 32 x 254 mm(7" x 1.25" x 10")


Paperback2095g (73.90oz)
Hardback2583g (91.11oz)



OCLC Number





  • ACK
  • JFHF
  • D
  • AMX
  • AVGC


  • LIT022000
  • LIT011000
  • LIT025040
  • ARC005060
  • ART035000


  • PQ1534.T5


  • Middle Ages
  • reception studies
  • Modernity
  • medieval studies
  • medievalism
  • philology
  • literary history
  • art history
  • folklore
  • performance studies
  • classical music
  • Jules Massenet
  • Mary Garden
  • Le jongleur de Notre Dame
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The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity

Volume 5: Tumbling into the Twentieth Century

This ambitious and vivid study in six volumes explores the journey of a single, electrifying story, from its first incarnation in a medieval French poem through its prolific rebirth in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Juggler of Notre Dame tells how an entertainer abandons the world to join a monastery, but is suspected of blasphemy after dancing his devotion before a statue of the Madonna in the crypt; he is saved when the statue, delighted by his skill, miraculously comes to life. Jan Ziolkowski tracks the poem from its medieval roots to its rediscovery in late nineteenth-century Paris, before its translation into English in Britain and the United States. The visual influence of the tale on Gothic revivalism and vice versa in America is carefully documented with lavish and inventive illustrations, and Ziolkowski concludes with an examination of the explosion of interest in The Juggler of Notre Dame in the twentieth century and its place in mass culture today. In this volume Jan Ziolkowski follows the juggler of Notre Dame as he cavorts through new media, including radio, television, and film, becoming closely associated with Christmas and embedded in children’s literature. Presented with great clarity and simplicity, Ziolkowski's work is accessible to the general reader, while its many new discoveries will be valuable to academics in such fields and disciplines as medieval studies, medievalism, philology, literary history, art history, folklore, performance studies, and reception studies.


A lifetime’s knowledge has been poured into these pages with passion and dedication, and the reader feels, and shares, the author’s enthusiasm along the Juggler’s journey from the Middle Ages to the present. From medieval French manuscripts we follow the tale through early modern religious literature, post-Romantic editorial endeavours, anthologies of national literature and children’s fiction, to modern adaptations in ballet, opera, and the visual arts. Such wide-ranging enterprise is matched by a fluent, witty narrative which succeeds in making complex terminology and concepts accessible to non-specialist readers. As such, the work is a major achievement.

Prof. Barbara Ravelhofer

Durham University


By mapping out a peculiar kind of medieval trajectory, Ziolkowski provokes us to think about productive meanders that might be carried out in our own fields of interest. In that sense the book is not only an encyclopedic anatomy of the medieval in all its richness but a nursery of forms with the power to give life to any number of parallel endeavors. […] His book is continually awakening to new intriguing possibilities.

James H. S. McGregor, University of Georgia, Emeritus

"Jan M. Ziolkowski, The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity". Speculum (0038-7134), vol. 95, no. 2, 2020. doi:10.1086/708200

Full Review

Table of Contents

Note to the Reader
1. Juggling across Print

Printed Books as Pseudomanuscripts

Image-Makers Go Mainstream

Missal Attack

Handwriting the Medieval

Typing a Translation

Medieval French for Amateurs

A One-Novel French Novelist

French Language-Study

2. Juggling across New Media

Making a Spectacle of Miracle

Sister Beatrice

Sister Angelica

Audio Recording

Silent Film

Charlie Chaplin: Tramp Meets Tumbler

3. Juggling across Faiths

The Ecumenical Juggler

The Hasidic Whistle-Blower

The Jewish Jongleur

The Catholic Juggler

The Juggler and the Paulines

Two Bills: Buckley Jr. and Bennett

The Lyric Juggler and Patrick Kavanagh

"The Chapel at Mountain State Mental Hospital”

4. The Yuletide Juggler

Easter Tumbling

The Commercial Aesthetic of "Ye Olde”

Noel Juggling: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

The Juggler in Holiday Books and Cards

Amateur Theater

Mass Radio

Mid-Century Medieval US Television

Postwar Britain

The French Connection

Juggler Film

Juggler Christmas Books Live On

Related Stories of the Season

5. Children’s Juggler and Child Juggler

Suitable for Children

Downsizing the Juggler

American Children’s Literature

European Children’s Literature

Global Children’s Entertainment

Folktale or Faketale?

Tomie dePaola’s The Clown of God


List of Illustrations



Jan M. Ziolkowski

Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Medieval Latin at Harvard University