Aristophanes and the Carnival of Genres (Arethusa Books)

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One result of this is that Bakhtin's views of the homogenous, antidialogical tone of epic and tragedy stand in overly stark contrast with Aristophanes in light of recent adaptations and modifica- tions of this basic Bakhtinian formulation. At times Platter further entrenches this generic distinction, as when he refers to the tragic trimeter as "extremely regular" 18 without mentioning how flexible the Euripidean line eventually became.

Second, these matters are exacerbated by the fact that the bibliography is not fully up-to-date.

Aristophanes and the carnival of genres (Book, ) []

Only two items have publication dates afrer , and both are articles by Platter himself. Among the most unfortunate absences from the bibliography are the papers by John Peradotto and Gre- gory Nagy on Homeric epic in Bakhtin and the Classics and Nancy Felson's work on Euripidean dialogism.

The incorporation of such scholarship so closely related to Platter's interests would have further enriched our understanding of where Aristophanes fits into current Bakhtin- ian readings of ancient Greek and Roman literature. Platter has amply demon- strated the payoffs of reading Aristophanes through the lens of Bakhtinian philology, but in watching Aristophanes exploit the dialogical possibilities in Euripidean tragedy, we realize that Euripides was no monster of monolo- gism.

But there is far more. The famous parody of the Aeschylean "recognition scene" in Euripides' Electra, the Alcestis which usurped the tra- ditional position of the satyr play in , the seriocomic or melodramatic plays, such as Helen and Ion, and Euripides' fi-eer iambic line that began to approximate the comic version of this meter all demonstrate that the Euripi- dean points of reference for many of Platter's intertextual readings contain a chorus of voices as well. Aristophanes, then, has become to Platter what Dostoyevsky was to Bakhtin—that richest example ofthe possibilities of dialogical reading.

But this also highlights a final point: reading is key. Bakhtin banished epic and tragedy to the farthest extreme of monologic literature, yet recent Bakhtinian interpretations of Homer, Vergil's Aeneid, and Greek tragedy show that we can hear oppositional voices if we attune ourselves to such harmonies. This takes nothing away fi'om the best arguments that Platter offers, but it does open the door to understanding the "carnival of genres" as a common—perhaps even a necessary—dimension of literature more broadly.

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If "parodying is the creation of a decrowning double" Bakhtin a, , then it can already be found writ small, perhaps in the words of the Iliadic Thersites. Aristophanes may be among the most prominent, but far fi-om the only, player in an ongoing game of one- upmanship in which texts, authors, and genres cap each other only to be capped in turn by others. As Platter notes among his conclusions: "Just as no one but the 'mythical Adam' gets the first word, so no one is truly per- mitted the last" And so, while Aristophanes slumps over in his cups beside Agathon at the end of Plato's Symposium, we might imagine the upstart genre of philosophical dialogue gloating as its own seriocomic hero, the grotesque and annoying Socrates, drinks his rivals under the table and exits the stage, having gained an element of revenge for a comedy that had attacked the historical Socrates way back in Works Cited Bakhtin, M.

Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics. Theory and History of Literature, 8. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, a. Originally pub- lished Moscow Rabelais and his World. Bloomington: U of Indiana P, b. Originally published Moscow Barta, Peter I. London: Rout- ledge, Felson, N. Barta et al. Nagy, G. Peradotto, J. Platter, C. Revermann, M. Oxford: Oxford UP, Willi, A. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, Tolkien famously wrote that he "cordially disliked" allegory and that he pre- ferred the term "applicability" for his work; "the one resides in the freedom ofthe reader, and the other in the purposed domination ofthe author.

In this plausible and well-argued book, Dickerson and Evans argue that the good characters in Tolkien's legendarium use the goods ofthe earth in a way that preserves both nature and their own freedom, while the evil characters dominate nature with a short-term, profit-based mindset that ultimately harms both the environment and themselves. In the first chapter, Dickerson and Evans argue that one of Tolkien's main mythological principles in The Silmarillion is that "the beauty and value of [creation] are independent of any practical or utilitarian purposes. Their importance inheres in nature for its own sake" Dickerson and Evans note that while the race ofhobbits is connected closely to this creation, modern technological societies have broken this bond; they have much machinery and wealth, but also much more stress fi'om living in an overly complex system.

The authors illustrate such breakdowns through Tolkien's depiction of characters such as Smaug, Saruman, the Dwarves, and the Ores, who ruin themselves by overusing technology and resources. Dickerson and Evans suggest that they are bound to their wealth and "enslaved to the very machines meant tofi-eethemfi-omtoil" 17 , in contrast to characters like.

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