Tiel Ulenspiegel and Takuan

Tiel Ulenspiegel and Takuan

Till Eulenspiegel is a protagonist of a European narrative tradition. A German chapbook published around 1510 is the oldest known extant publication about the folk hero, but a background in earlier Middle Low German folklore is likely. The character may have been based on a historical person.

The literal translation of the High German name ‘Eulenspiegel’ is ‘owl mirror’ (hence owle-glasse). It is both innocuous and indicative of his character and has been explained as a garbled form of an expression for ‘wipe-the-arse.

Tiel and Takuan

Till is depicted as trickster who plays practical jokes on his contemporaries, at every turn exposing vices, greed and folly, hypocrisy and foolishness. Although craftsmen are featured as the principal victims of his pranks, neither the nobility nor the pope is exempt from being affected by him.

It’s a great reference for Takuan whose vocation is to expose and exploit vices: ignorance, anger, and greed.

Lamme Goedzak and Wang-Zhu Leizu

In the novel of Charles De Coster, ‘The Legend of Thyl Ulenspiegel and Lamme Goedzak,’ Till has a best friend.

Lamme is known for being a Bruegelian bon vivant who enjoys eating and drinking. When depicted on book illustrations he is usually carrying food and wine.

Lamme Goedzak is one of the references for the wandering warrior Wang-Zhu Leizu, who is also massive, fat, and always hungry. He enjoys eating and drinking, and is sometime depicted as naive yet good-natured personality.

(That said, the main reference for Leizu was, of course, Zhu Bajie from the ‘Journey to the West’.)

If you want to know more about other similarities between Tiel and Takuan, Lamme and Leizu, and between the books’ structures, you must visit the extended article in Makipedia.

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Jamie Larson