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Glossary of Literary Theory
by Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown

Carnival / carnivalesque:

A term used by Mikhail Bakhtin to describe the "joyful relativity" and "vitality" of the novel, which, unlike the lyric poem, incorporates a rich variety and multiplicity of styles, points of view, and voices. The "polyphonic" novel, unlike the "monological" poem, is inherently "dialogical." The novelistic, together with the carnivalistic, runs in its early forms from the Socratic dialogue through the Menippean satire. For Bakhtin truth is arrived at dialectically and dialogically through the competitive cooperation of divergent voices.

© Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown,
University of Toronto
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Last modified: March 31, 1997