Carnival Culture and the Soviet Modernist Novel by Craig Brandist

By Craig Brandist

This e-book examines the paintings of 5 Soviet prose writers - Olesha, Platonov, Kharms, Bulgakov and Vaginov - within the mild of the carnivalesque components of Russian pop culture. It exhibits that whereas Bakhtin's account of carnival tradition sheds massive mild at the paintings of those writers, they should be thought of with regards to either the concrete different types of Russian and Soviet pop culture and the altering institutional framework of Soviet society within the Nineteen Twenties and 1930s.

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Nikolai Bakhtin, who on the eve of the October Revolution was a 'belated adherent to the bankrupt Symbolist movement', noted how Mayakovsky evoked in him and his peers 'an obscure realization that his revolt was something more than a mere outburst of high animal spirits; that it really threatened the standards and values to which we were still clinging with senseless and passionate obstinacy'. Mayakovsky was seen as a 'rebel who ruthlessly disrupted the sweet and solemn lyrical diction and made complete havoc of the accepted standards of verbal behaviour'.

These were sometimes set up in poor areas of the major cities by philanthropic capitalists or, as is the case with a famous one in Nizhny Novgorod, by radical intellectuals (Maxim Gorky), and would be organized according to the sympathies of their sponsors. The aim may have been to provide 'wholesome' entertainment to divert workers from the bottle, prostitution or, worst of all, political 34 Carnival Culture and the Soviet Modernist Novel radicalism. Alternatively, they aimed to facilitate the education of the working class to radical ends.

While aestheticism had made the content of works of art its own distance from the 'meansend rationality of the bourgeois everyday', revolution now ripped apart the bourgeois everyday itself. The end of this life-praxis, which aestheticism had rejected, now appeared to present the possibility of what Peter Burger calls a Hegelian sublation of art, its transferral 'to the praxis of life, where it would be preserved, albeit in a changed form'. Art could become a base for 'an attempt to organize a new life-praxis from a basis in art'.

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