Carnival Culture and the Soviet Modernist Novel by Craig Brandist

By Craig Brandist

This booklet examines the paintings of 5 Soviet prose writers - Olesha, Platonov, Kharms, Bulgakov and Vaginov - within the gentle of the carnivalesque components of Russian pop culture. It indicates that whereas Bakhtin's account of carnival tradition sheds huge mild at the paintings of those writers, they should be thought of near 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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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'.

19 The mystery play was adopted as the modern form of tragedy, polarizing the social world into pre- and post-salvation time and the present as the threshold on which the struggle is played out. The very nature of the mystery play, however, seemed to assume that the unification of the population had already taken place or was, at least, underway. For although the mystery play was based on the notion of a threshold, it strove to reconcile or even to avoid conflict. Crossing the threshold around which the action was organized was a movement between two levels of a single mode of being, held in a timeless suspension and sealed off from the everyday world.

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.

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