Rabelais and His World

Rabelais and His World

Paperback, 474 pages

Published January 1st 2009 by Indiana University Press


This classic work by the Russian philosopher and literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin (1895—1975) examines popular humor and folk culture in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, especially the world of carnival, as depicted in the novels of

. In Bakhtin's view, the spirit of laughter and ir......more



[This is a review of three interrelated books:

, and Baktin’s study,

. Same review posted in all three places.]

Ishmael, on first beholding Queequeg.


Millions of words have been written about these books, so this will b......more


Dostoevsky and Rabelais may strike you as a pears and pepper combination but for literary critic and collective farm bookkeeper Mikhail Bakhtin the two went as naturally together as rice and peas or bread and cheese.

In both of them he found the spirit of the medieval carnival, boy bishop......more


I love to use Bakhtin's ideas in my teaching. I'm particularly partial to his early thought, but this book is great for helping student see the importance of humor.

Bakhtin discusses mideval humor and how it was deeply political. In fact, he finds it deeply revolutionary.

You c......more

Michael Perkins

"Laughter must liberate the gay truth of the world from the veils of gloomy lies spun by religion, politics and economics."


Some fascinating connections between Don Quixote (which I just reread) and the humor of Rabelais (d. 1553) and his world that influenc......more


In our present new Dark Age, I recommend this book highly. Bakhtin’s hilarious tome contains currents of resistance, subversion, and the return of grotesque humor (i.e. Rabelasian) of carnival fused with mockery of religion & the so-called ‘ruling class.’ Bakhtin’s compelling argument is that the ye......more


I had a pet boa constrictor years ago, and I popped him in a bag along with this book for a cross-country drive, during which time he shat all over the book. I think that's kickass appropriate, but perhaps no more appropriate than had it been kristeva, bataille, or deleuze.


Wow! At one time trash talking and irony wasn't just to cut the other guy down to size. It was meant to revitalize, revivify and renew. Feasting, loosing of bowels, a bit of the old in and out, beating someone until they are bloodied, crushed and readied for eating as mince meat and general debaucer......more


This work is both exhausting and exhaustive. Bakhtin pushes one's patience to the limits while describing the images in Rabelais due to the time he spends on each thing he encounters in his examination. For the reason of his tirelessness, I have rated this book five stars. However, after about two-h......more


A philosophy of laughter, public space, the carnival, the banquet, the grotesque body, and other bodily and material baseness in the middle ages, the Renaissance and in the work of Rabelais. Interesting ideas on the flattening of hierarchical, vertical space, and the shift towards historical time in......more


Call it the history of laughter.

why is carnival culture and the humorous side of folk-culture so little documented in historical books?

The fact that humor and carnival culture of the lowest people beholds a ancient reappearing wisdom - that it is something revolutionary that ......more

About the author(Mikhail Bakhtin)

Russian philosopher, literary critic, semiotician and scholar who worked on literary theory, ethics, and the philosophy of language. His writings, on a variety of subjects, inspired scholars working in a number of different traditions (Marxism, semiotics, structuralism, religious criticism) and in d......more

Read More From Mikhail Bakhtin

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