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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Summary of Paul Gallico and Circus Entertainment Special Reference to Love, Let Me Not Hunger

The following was very kindly given to my by Professor Noriko Onoe. It is a summary of her academic article on the author Paul Gallico and circus culture. The main article cites "The Legend of Salt and Sauce" as a reference, but it is written in Japanese. The book is not mentioned in the summary, but it is a fascinating summary nonetheless.  

Paul Gallico and Circus Entertainment
Special Reference to Love, Let Me Not Hunger
Noriko Onoe

    Love, Let Me Not Hunger was written by Paul Gallico (18971976) who had been fascinated with the circus entertainment throughout his life, and the major theme explored in this novel includes the circus people’s burning love for their animals.  Although he was an American, Gallico loved the Mediterranean littoral, and Gallico and Prince Rainier of Monaco were very friendly with each other.  As it is well known that Rainer created the International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo in 1974 to promote circus arts for which he had a lifelong passion, we can guess Gallico and Prince Rainier must have been bound together by their common affection for circus arts.
    Since 2006, the International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo has been presided by the daughter of late Prince Rainer , S.A.S.Princess Stephanie of Monaco.  And, embodying the vision of Prince Rainier and under the patronage of Princess Stephanie, the Federation Mondiale du Cirque was established in 2008 with the aim of bringing together the global circus community to preserve and promote circus arts and culture around the world.  She considers the presentation of animals has always been an important part of the circus tradition, and she declares as follows:

    “Animals in the circus are one of the pillars of traditional circus, or of any circus….For me, it’s impossible to imagine the circus without elephants, horses, big
    cats or sea lion acts.  It would be a musical hall act, a show, but it would be something entirely different.  For me, the circus without animals is inconceivable.
    It is like imagining the circus tomorrow without clowns, without acrobats, without music, without spotlights.  They (the animals) are full-fledged artists, and I think they should be considered as artists that are part of the show.”

    As stated above, Princess Stephanie regards animal acts as the essential elements
of circus, and she emphasizes that the circus people should dedicate themselves to
lifelong relationships with their animal partners.  Her faith bears a striking resem-
blance to the belief of Paul Gallico who expressed his strong attachment to the circus entertainment in almost all of his literary works; in his novella The Day Jean-Pierre Joined the Circus (1969), we will recognize an old clown called Flippo as the most appealing character of this heartwarming story.  By comparison to The Day Jean-Pierre Joined the Circus, Love, Let Me Not Hunger (1963) is extremely tragic although it must be Gallico’s masterpiece.

  Love, Let Me Not Hunger  is a novel showing insight into the British circus entertainment in the 1960s and dealing with the lives of various members of a traveling circus, both human and animal.  Sam Marvel, the proprietor of a small but very good traveling circus, becomes aware that the telly is cutting permanent inroads into attendance at circus performances.  From the historical point of view, television has begun to affect the negative impact on live entertainments including circus since the end of 1950s.  Consequently, Sam Marvel collects a troupe of superb performers, and announces them that his circus will go to Spain where there have been no television aerials as yet. 
    Next summer, while the circus is touring in the central Spanish plain of La Mancha, it is overtaken by a dreadful storm, and the big top is struck by lightning and completely destroyed by fire.  Marvel leaves Spain for England in order to make settlement with his insurance company, and almost all of his workers decide to leave there with him.
    Before his departure, Marvel asks four people to care for the remaining animals; one of them is Mr. Albert, the old beastman; one is Fred Deeter, the American ex-cowboy; one is Janos, the Hungarian midget clown with dogs; and one is Toby Walters, the young auguste rider.  In addition to them, Rose, one of the principal character of this novel, makes her way back to the circus.  Picked up off the streets by
Jackdaw Williams, the middle-aged clown, Rose keeps house for him, but she makes up her mind to part from him, because she has fallen desperately in love with Toby, and she is an ardent lover of animals. 
    Time goes by, but Marvel’s insurance claim remains unsettled.  As a result, the animals and five people who are abandoned in a drought in the plain of La Mancha, face the crisis of famine.  The circus people cannot endure the agony of watching their animals starving.  Driven into desperation, Janos murders a horse to give the meat to his dogs.  Terribly shocked at this incident, Fred Deeter, the horseman, deserts the encampment, and never returns.  When the hunger is at its worst, Rose secretly goes to a roadhouse and prostitutes herself to get money to feed the animals.  Strongly impressed by her self-sacrificing deed, Mr. Albert summons up his courage to ask the horrible Marquesa de Pozoblanco to rescue the animals in a miserable plight.  As this tyrant queen mistakes Mr. Albert for a great clown, she promises him to help the circus animals on condition that he serves her until she releases him.  At her request, the dwarf clown Janos agrees to serve her, too, since he wants his dogs to be properly fed, but, he dies suddenly in her farm.  Unfortunately, Toby happens to know what Rose is doing in the roadhouse, and he turns her out in a rage.  Yet eventually he can appreciate her passionate love for the circus animals including his favorite elephant Judy who tried to kill her.  He admires and loves Rose from the bottom of his heart.
    On the other hand, when Sam Marvel gets the insurance cheque, he sells the assets
he still possesses to another circus proprietor who wants to present a bigger show, and he buys himself a bowling alley.
    On the Christmas day, the Marquesa dies of cancer.  Now, nobody can keep Mr. Albert from returning to England, but he decides to remain there for the great compassion on this lonely woman who pleaded him not to leave her on her deathbed.

    In this novel, we can find five human beings struggling to keep the circus animals and their own hopes alive.  Gallico emphasizes that all the deserted members of this little circus, both human and animal, are suffering from hunger not only for food but for love.  Accordingly, he suggests we cannot stand the pang of another kind of hungerlove.  And it is quite obvious that the grotesque Marquesa has also been starved for affection although she is immensely rich.
    We must be moved deeply by the description that the leading characters, Rose and Mr. Albert devote themselves to save the helpless animals because the circus animals have accepted both of them as close friends and for the first time these four-footed friends have given the significance to their lonely lives.  It is necessary for us to remember Princess Stephanie’s above-mentioned words, “Animals in the circus are one
of the pillars of circus….They are full-fledged artists, and I think they should be considered as artists that are part of the show.”  And her words will remind us of the
achievements of great animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams, who demonstrated to all the audience that humans and animals could work, live, and thrive together in harmony and should respect one another, thus forever banishing the outdated notion of  “man versus beast.”
    Love, Let Me Not Hunger  is a compelling novel because Gallico does not intend to show the gorgeous appearance of circus, but he effectively depicts the circus people who long to save their animals from starvation.  Through this novel, we must be able to understand the profound role of a true new circus in which human beings and our four-legged friends can cooperate to display the marvelous acts.


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