Carnivalesque

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Carnivalesque is a term coined by the Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin, which refers to a literary mode that subverts and liberates the assumptions of the dominant style or atmosphere through humor and chaos.

Bakhtin traces the origins of the carnivalesque to the concept of carnival, itself related to the Feast of Fools, a medieval festival originally of the sub-deacons of the cathedral, held about the time of the Feast of the Circumcision (1 January), in which the humbler cathedral officials burlesqued the sacred ceremonies, releasing "the natural lout beneath the cassock."Tuchman, Barbara. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

The Feast of Fools had its chief vogue in the French cathedrals, but there are a few English records of it, notably in Lincoln Cathedral and Beverley Minster. Today in the USA, carnival is primarily associated with Mardi Gras, a time of revelry that immediately precedes the Christian celebration of Lent; during the modern Mardi Gras, ordinary life and its rules and regulations are temporarily suspended and reversed, such that the riot of Carnival is juxtaposed with the control of the Lenten season, although Bakhtin argues in Rabelais and His World that we should not compare modern Mardi Gras with his Medieval Carnival. He argues that the latter is a powerful creative event, whereas the former is only a spectacle. Bakhtin goes on to suggest that the separation of participants and spectators was detrimental to the...
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