Monday, 15 February 2010

Kundera to Gypsy Rose Lee

"What does Cervantes's great novel mean? [ ] Some see it as a rationalist critique on Don Quixote's hazy idealism. Others see it as a celebration of that same idealism. Both interpretations are mistaken because they both seek at the novel's core not an inquiry but a moral position".

This quote from The Art of the Novel got me thinking about the role of literature in moral education.  Today we were looking at the concept of 'carnivalesque', this brought to mind the painting by Joan Miro (my favourite artist) titled Carnival. The term is derived from the Latin carnem levare, 'to put away flesh'. In the past a carnival was symbolic of the disruption and subversion of authority, in literature the term reflects an introduction of alternatives, a kind of liberating influence, a marked characteristic of burlesque, parody and personal satire.

BURLESQUE: we were also talking about this today, and on investigation things started to get a bit weird. I was not aware that burlesque in fact originated as a literary genre in folk poetry and theatre, connected to 16th C playwright/poet Miguel de Cervantes, who ridiculed medieval romance in many of his satirical works, it turns out that this is a genre that he was particularly fond of and excelled in. Don Quixote, his seminal work, considered the first modern novel; contains a collection of burlesque sonnets. 

There is a book that can be accessed for free on-line through Google books called 'Cervantes and the Burlesque Sonnet' by A.L.Markin, the introduction makes an interesting point "Paradoxically, through exaggeration, burlesque is a call to truth and anti dogmatism", where would we be without the freedom to mock authority and ourselves? - Back to the history of burlesque. In 18th century Europe the term was used to describe musical works in which serious and comic elements were juxtaposed or combined to achieve a grotesque effect. It was only in 20th century America that burlesque gained its connections with striptease.

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