Carnival theory in short

One of the books I’m currently reading is Master and Margarita (I’m gonna put a book list on my blog as soon as I get settled in on WordPress). This Bulgakov novel is also known as Satan in Moscow, or simply Satan. Why? Well, because… he comes to Moscow. Mauritz said that this book makes his head twist, and warned me from reading it, because it could make me confused.

For me, ambiguity and a whole lot of ambivalence only guarantees a good reading experience. It also opens up for reader-response-type of interpretations of the written text. And this book certainly has all the attributes to fill the criterias for an ambiguous reading experience – carnevalistic elements, mythological and religious themes and motifs, surrealistic and poetical prose. Excellent, I say!

It would be interesting to interpret this novel in the light of Bakhtin’s Carnival theory. ”Carnival and its accompanying components represent a theory of resistance,” says an article at, and Bulgakov wrote literature that struggled to find a place in a new world, a changing world. It certainly could be said that a part of Bulgakov’s project was to resist oppressing politics. Lots of queer theorists have examined children’s literature with the carnival theory, and Harry Potter among others have had his share of interpretation. In children’s literature the carnevalistic aspects are seen in the weak and powerless children suddenly becoming strong and able, thus escaping the norms and the oppressive conformism that the adult world puts upon them. As in the Chronicles of Narnia, where the orphan children become kings and queens. Or in Pippi Longstocking, where the main character is a child with more strength than even adults have. Very interesting! And not least because I have two small kids of my own…

Maybe I can post back later if I decide to delve down into Master and Margarita from the Carnival perspective.

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