Off topic: Jokes with a literary background
Thread poster: Cristina intern

Cristina intern  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:24
Member (2008)
German to Italian
+ ...
Nov 23, 2009

Dear colleagues,

I would like to suggest a new topic open to all English speakers, native and not native ones.

The subject is the same as in a German topic which I have already posted: Jokes with a literary background.

My first contribution is my English version of a German joke about Schiller (probably written by Wolfgang Dorn).
By the way: Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759 –1805) was a German poet, philosopher, historian and playwright:

A Swiss and a German sit in the train. The train stops in Weimar.
"The great international poet Schiller lived here", the Swiss says.
The German protests: "Schiller was a German poet".
"Well, I am of another opinion", the Swiss answers. "For us he wrote ‘Wilhelm Tell’, for the English people the ‘Mary Stuart’, for the Spanish people the ‘Don Carlos’ and for the French people ‘The Maid of Orleans’."
"And what did he write for us?", the German asks disappointed.
"‘The Robbers’".

Here some literary background from Wikipedia, to better understand this literary joke:

The Robbers [German: Die Räuber] was the first drama by German playwright Friedrich Schiller. The play was published in 1781 and premiered on January 13, 1782 in Mannheim, Germany. It was written towards the end of the German Sturm und Drang ("Storm and Stress") movement and has been considered by many critics, such as Peter Brooks, to have influenced the development of European melodrama.[1] The play astounded its Mannheim audience and made Schiller an overnight sensation. It later became the basis for Verdi's opera of the same name, I masnadieri. -

Don Carlos [German: Don Karlos, Infant von Spanien] is a historical tragedy in five acts by Friedrich Schiller, created between 1783 and 1787. The title character is Carlos, Prince of Asturias. -

Mary Stuart [German: Maria Stuarta] is a play by Friedrich Schiller based on the life of Mary I of Scotland. The play is subdivided in five acts and each act is divided into several scenes. The play had its première in Weimar, Germany on 14 June 1800. The play formed the basis for Donizetti's opera Maria Stuarda (1834). –

The Maid of Orleans [German: Die Jungfrau von Orleans] is a tragedy by Friedrich Schiller, written in 1801 in Leipzig. During his lifetime, it was one of Schiller's most frequently-performed pieces. Plot. The play loosely follows the life of Joan of Arc. It contains a prologue introducing the important characters, followed by five acts. Each dramatizes a significant event in Joan's life. The play, however, departs from history by having Joan breaking her chains after being sentenced to be burned at the stake. She rushes into the battle that is taking place just outside her prison cell, and is mortally wounded while fighting. The line "Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens" (III, 6; Talbot) is the origin of the English expression "Against stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in vain." -

William Tell [German: Wilhelm Tell] is a drama written by Friedrich Schiller in 1804. The story focuses on the legendary Swiss marksman William Tell as well as on the Swiss struggle for independence from the Habsburg Empire in the early 14th century.

Thanks in advance to everyone willing to contribute to this topic.


[Edited at 2009-11-24 00:48 GMT]


Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:24
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Schiller's jokes Nov 24, 2009

The only thing that comes to my mind about Schiller and humour is this:
My brother was lucky enough to have the humorist, writer and TV personality Arthur Marshall as his teacher of French and German at secondary school. When taking the boys through one of Schiller's plays, Marshall sighed "Poor old Schiller. If he knew any jokes, he kept them to himself".
Best wishes,


Grayson Morr (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:24
Dutch to English
Not exactly what you asked for, but...knock-knock jokes Nov 25, 2009

Dutch friends recently asked me to explain the appeal of knock-knock jokes. After I dissected a few examples with the assistance of my nine-year-old, one of them got it; they're wordplays (though hardly literary). The other friend never did quite get it, I think.

A knock-knock joke takes two people: the knocker, and the answerer. The jokes follow a strict script. A few examples for the uninitiated:

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Boo who?
Oh, don't cry!

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Little old lady.
Little old lady who?
I didn't know you could yodel.

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Banana who?
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Banana who?
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Banana who?
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn't say banana?

[Edited at 2009-11-25 19:14 GMT]


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