Thursday, December 18, 2003

Stephen Greenblatt on Rabelais and carnival

Stephen Greenblatt on Rabelais and carnival: "Festive laughter - popular, universal, ambivalent in its triumph and derision, gaiety and degradation - has at its center what Bakhtin calls the 'grotesque body,' ever unfinished, ever creating, ever exceeding its limits in copulation, pregnancy, childbirth, dying, eating, drinking, and defecating. The grotesque body - open to the world in all its orifices, unbounded, abusive, devouring, and nurturing - receives its fullest visual representation in the art of Bosch and Breughel, its most masterful literary expression in Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel. Rabelais's scatology, Bakhtin suggests, must be understood in the context of rituals like the mock mass, in which excrement was used instead of incense, or processions in which the festive clergy, eating boudins, rode in carts loaded with dung and tossed it at the crowd"

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