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Rabelais and His World Paperback – January 9, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (January 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253203414
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253203410
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Bakhtin richly documents the range and scope of the popular-festive culture that is the hero of his book, its ancient roots, the vigorous life it enjoyed in the Middle Ages, its entry into important literature in the Renaissance, even the considerable traces of it that still survive after centuries of repression."
Modern Language Quarterly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English, Russian (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Chuck on June 20, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is simply the best analysis of the "Carnivalesque" and is a valuable preface to Rabelais' novel itself. Bakhtin's book alerts the reader of Rabelais to his (Rabelais') masterful use of language and explores the sources of medieval popular culture that served his purposes. I have enjoyed Rabelais with much deeper understanding having first read Bakhtin.
Bakhtin and Rabelais both negotiated cultural minefields to produce their works. Both deserve to be more widely read.
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lyons on September 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Mikhail Bakhtin first began "Rabelais and His World" in 1917 during the heady days of the Russian Revolution. Like some of the colleges of today, the University of St. Petersburg at the height of the Revolution boasted a flexible curriculum and encouraged free thought among its students. While the gunfire echoed in the streets, Bakhtin and his colleagues gathered to declare the Russian Revolution the "Third Renaissance". This comparison between the Italian Renaissance and the Russian Revolution inspired him to begin his dissertation on Rabelais. The events of the Revolution swept everyone up into the societal transitions. No one could just be a bystander. From this all-encompassing mood of social interaction arose Bakhtin's concept of the "theater without footlights". As for the significance of the individual in the Carnivalesque one has only to look to the Fool. Bakhtin considered his first reading of Friedrich Nietzsche an epiphany. The great German philosopher remained one of Bakhtin's most important influences throughout his writing career. The Fool, as an extension of the carnival, is the ultimate Nietzschean character. Able to move between worlds, he demonstrates the power of the individual to transcend societal norms. Bakhtin states, "the images of folk culture are absolutely fearless and communicate this fearlessness to all". The Fool is representative of this utopian ideal personified in the individual.
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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful By T. Elmanovich on June 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Take your time with this academic book and you will be rewarded. It rediscovers the spirit of the Medieval carnival. The tradition stemmed from ancient Greek and Rome and its function was to give a vent to people's death fear and anger over social injustice. "Everything was allowed" and for a short period of time the social taboos were erased. Fools and prostitutes were "crowned" to embody Kings, Queens, Pope, saints, monks and nunns. And the chosen ones were mocked, ridiculed, assailed and beaten and stoned and "dethrowned" and "impeached."
Is this tradition dead today? Think twice -- think David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and especially Howard Stern, and you will be amazed to find astoundig parallels between the past and modern times.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Martin Asiner on April 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
Those who come to RABELAIS AND HIS WORLD by Mikhail Bakhtin with little or no knowledge of either the author or his topic are likely to find the first chapter arcane and scholarly but all the following ones engrossing if not gross. It helps to know that Mikhail Bakhtin grew up in post-Czarist Russia, lived through the terrors of Lenin and the worse evils of Stalin. As an academic, Bakhtin well knew of the stifling intellectual and social tyranny of his native Russia. He grew to prize freedom because he had so little of it. Slowly, he developed the thesis that of all the literary genres he could use as a bully pulpit to exhort his fellow countrymen to seek liberty it was only the novel that held any promise. Bakhtin saw the novel in a manner totally unlike any of his contemporaries. For him, a novelist like Dostoevsky or Rabelais could people his novels with characters who could speak their lines not as a mouthpiece for the author (monologic) but as a collective howl of pain of those whose voices might otherwise be stilled (dialogic). In his mind, the novel became synonymous as a tool of literary freedom, and thus dangerous to the Powers That Be. Bakhtin uses Rabelais as the focal point for his thesis that the spirit for freedom of an oppressed people can never be halted only delayed. He notes that Rabelais, who lived in the 16th century, wrote GARGANTUA AND PANTAGRUEL, an extended fiction that permitted and encouraged a carnivalesque atmosphere in which the commoner, the fool, the prostitute, and other dispossessed voices could for one single day shout out their derision at an otherwise dominant power structure. No royalty or government VIP would be safe from vituperation.Read more ›
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