Mikhail Bakhtin Questions and Answers

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Explain the concept of grotesque realism and also the main theme of the chapter Rabelais and His World which the Russian formalist Bakhtin wants to put forward to us. 

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Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the grotesque is a key element of the larger project of grotesque realism. Bakhtin insists on the importance of confronting and even emphasizing the material qualities of the body. In particular, writers such as François Rabelais who use the grotesque emphasize the unappealing qualities of bodies—especially, but not exclusively, human bodies—to appraise natural functions with a harsh, unforgiving gaze. This approach not only differs from those that romanticize the body’s operations with flowery euphemisms but also explicitly rejects that kind of cover-up. Rabelais may present characters who have exaggerated characteristics, such as the giant Gargantua, but he also calls attention to elements of “normal” humanity that have often been suppressed or prohibited from public display and in literature and other creative expressions. These functions include sexual intercourse, childbirth, displaying the penis, eating, and defecation.

Confronting and even...

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