The Spirit of Carnival
Magical Realism and the Grotesque
The remarkable meshing of these two diametrically opposed yet inextricably intertwined facets of literature (and of life) makes for an intriguing sphere of investigation, for the carnival spirit is animated by a human need to dissolve borders and eliminate boundaries—including, symbolically, those between life and death—in an ongoing effort to merge opposing forces into new configurations of truth and meaning.
Expanding upon the seminal ideas of Mikhail Bakhtin, carnival, argues Danow, is designed to allow one extreme to flow into another, to provide for one polarity (official culture) to confront its opposite (unofficial culture), much as individuals engage in dialogue. In this case the result is "dialogized carnival" or "carnivalized dialogue." In their artmaking, Danow claims, human beings are animated by a periodic predisposition toward the bright side of carnival, matched by an equally strong, far darker predilection. Carnival forms of thinking are firmly embedded within the human psyche as archetypal patterns.
In this engaging exploratory book, we are shown the distinctive imprint of these primordial structures within a multitude of seemingly disparate literary works.
About the Author
"A successful tour de force! Danow skillfully weaves an analytic web of ideas from the threads of anthropology, Jungian psychoanalysis, Nietzchean esthetics, existential philosophy, and historical fact. The life-affirming and the death-dealing aspects of Carnival are pursued through a wealth of world literature."—Victor Terras, author of A History of Russian Literature
"Danow, an internationally recognized expert on the works of Mikhail Bakhtin, entertainingly and with accustomed erudition, traces into literary realms far beyond its roots in medieval folk culture the Russian master's theory of carnival."—Thomas A. Sebeok, author of Signs: An Introduction to Semiotics
Other Titles in LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature