ENG | S Carnivalesque. For the literary theorist and philosopher. Mikhail Bakhtin. 1. The carnival was not only liberating because. – for that short period. Bakhtin’s concept of carnival laughter can be read as a subversive attack on In other words, in the carnivalesque game of inverting official values he sees the. Bakhtin begins his analysis of Rabelais with this line: “Of all great writers of world The Carnival, and Carnivalesque imagery, have the following qualities.

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His writing showed a “boundless world of humorous forms and manifestations opposed to the official and serious tone of medieval feudal culture. It is important, therefore, to ane about the nature of the carnival, both then and now.


The Carnival in medieval culture was the one time of the year in which revelry was allowed and sanctioned by the powers of the church and the king, under the premise that celebration must occasionally be allowed in order for the peasantry to work hard the rest of the year.

I often think of it like our weekends or Spring Break or Mardi Gras. The Carnival was sanctioned revelry in which all of the rules of the rest of the year are thrown off and mocked.

Bakhtin cites a letter from a school of theology in in which a writer notes, “Wine barrels burst if from time to time we do not open them and let in some air.

Bakhtin’s carnival applied to contemporary culture | Communication interne

Inverted power relationships are temporarily celebrated. The Carnival, and Carnivalesque imagery, have the following qualities: This is true of our Halloween where you can dress up as something you would never be otherwise. It is this spirit of possibility that most characterizes the Carnival. It was a moment in time in which anything could happen. The typical power relationships from the rest of the year were thrown off, and in fact inverted.


Those that had no power would temporarily inhabit the role of those that do have power. In fact, what was celebrated in the Carnival was a praise of anything that was repressed during the rest of the year.

Because the Carnival was an inversion of the typical relationships during the rest of the year, what was celebrated were those things there were typically held in suspicion by the church and the king.

Thus, there was an opposition between: The Carnival was a celebration of filthiness. The Carnival was a time of play. The Carnival celebrated many voices at once. This was because, overall, there was an Emphasis on the Body, on bodily functions.

Bakhtin’s carnival applied to contemporary culture

As opposed to the carnnival spirit of the church or the reason of official power, the Carnival emphasized the material reality of the body that defecated, smelled, drank, and died. This emphasized the levelness that we are humans and we all share these characteristics.

The king and the peasant both go to the bathroom, they both drink, they both die, they both eventually become corpses in the ground.

The Carnival celebrated these connections by emphasizing bodily functions. The upper half of the body was associated with reason, and what was official.

The upper half of the body was the mind, reason, the spirit. The lower half of the body, characterized by gross bodily functions, and rejected by what was official, was the realm of the peasant. It was the part of carivalesque body that went to the bathroom, that had sex. The upper half was characterized as being closed off, never open.

The Carnival is opposed to, in Bakhtin’s words, “all that is finished and polished, to all pomposity, to every ready-made solution in the sphere of thought and world outlook.


The Carnival does not reproduce the power of the old order, but seeks to invent new ones. But, Bakhtin is careful to note, this degradation is always in the interest of making something new. Degradation digs a bodily grave for a new birth: That’s a lot to keep in mind, and of course no piece of fiction will do all of these things.

There is a real emphasis on the bodily functions of adults in both Captain Underpants and Coralineand you might say that it is to remind the reader that adults are humans that have flaws.

Like anything it is a matter of degree there’s that continuum again. Sometimes the Carnival is mischief that is allowed because it is carnivalseque we get out of our system.

Definition: Carnivalesque | Venice and the Carnival

It is has a conservative function – by allowing us a bit of mockery, the usual system runs better the rest of the time.

Truly Carnivalesque imagery upsets power without reproducing that old power in any way and is not temporary. Here’s what you should keep in mind overall. Carnivalesque imagery draws on the mischievous and playful spirit of the Carnival which mocks authority, subverts power relationships, and, by emphasizing the body, laughter, and role play, tries to create a new world. Carnivalesque imagery is about mocking and reversing power relationships by emphasizing among other things: John Stephens offers further categories of the Carnivalesque as it is often used in children’s literature: Endemically Subversive – transgressing several received paradigms of authority, behavior, morality, even literary genre without offering a positive alternative the Ivy and Bean series; Captain Underpants series; Series of Unfortunate Events.