FOOL [aside] Wit, an ’t be thy will, put me into good
fooling! Those wits that think they have thee do very
oft prove fools, and I that am sure I lack thee may
pass for a wise man. For what says Quinapalus?
“Better a witty Fool than a foolish wit.”—God bless
An apocryphal philosopher mentioned by the clown in Twelfth Night1, Quinapalus is a wonderful example of Shakespeare's way with words. As Isaac Asimov found, "It is useless to try and find Quinapalus in a reference book; the name is invented. The Clown apparently has had an education and it is his particular comic device to speak in pseudo-learned jargon."2 The "imaginary authority" 3 of Quinapalus has the deliberate effect of elevating the fool. "The genius of Twelfth Night is Feste, the most charming of all Shakespeare's fools, and the only sane character in a wild play" states Harold Bloom. 4 With one made up name, the fool Feste shows us Shakespeare's amazing ability to shape a character with language.
1. [Schmidt, Alexander. Shakespeare Lexicon and Quotation Dictionary, vol. 2. 1902. Dover, 1971.]
3. [Stokes, Francis Griffin. Who’s Who in Shakespeare. 1924. Dover, 2007.]
4. [Bloom, Harold. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. Riverhead Books, 1998.]