Literature Review

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  • Topic: Orality, Mikhail Bakhtin, Secondary orality
  • Pages : 4 (1181 words )
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  • Published : September 29, 2008
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Assessment Task #1
Literature Review Write-Up

This literature review concerns the texts ‘Introduction’ from Rabelais and His World by Mikahail Bakhtin and ‘Some Psychodynamics of Orality’ from Orality and Literacy by Walter Ong.
Mikhail Bakhtin was born in Orel, Russia on November 17 1895. He was associated with the Russian formalists, and this text was not well received when first written. He claimed that Rabelais’ a French writer during the renaissance, book was misinterpreted, but his dissection, written during World War I, of it contained controversial ideas and was dismissed. It was not defended until years later and was first published in 1965.

Bakhtin wrote ‘Introduction’ because he believed that in the writing of Rabelais, exists the evidence to discover the history of folk humour, and the practices of the Renaissance Carnival, the carnival being an example of a predominately oral culture which is often misinterpreted.

The aim of Bahktin’s introduction is to try and shed some light on the culture of folk humour in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and to offer a description of it’s original traits. (4) Bahktin commences the writing by introducing Rabelais and his understated position in the world of literature. He recognises the importance of Rabelais’ works and this is seen in one of the opening quotes, “His work, correctly understood, casts a retrospective light on this thousand year old development of the folk culture of humour.”(3-4).

Bahktin then goes on to introduce the medieval carnival culture. “ A boudless world of humourous forms and manifestations opposed the official and serious tone of medieval ecclesiastical and feudal culture” (4).

He then divides the culture of folk carnival humour into three categories, the first being ritual spectacles. He states that carnival images closely resemble the artistic forms of spectacle and belong to the borderline between art and life. (7). He goes onto explain how carnival celebrated...
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