Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Bulgakov and Bakhtin

I finally finished re-reading Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita last night. Translators do matter. It seems odd, to re-read the book, and feel like I'm reading it for the first time.

Bulgakov wrote around the same time as Mikhail Bakhtin, a Russian literary theorist. Both writers formulated their philosophy during the Stalin regime. Specifically, Bulgakov's novel made me think in the line of Bakhtin's idea of the carnivalesque. The carnivalesque serves as a strategy for destabilising the status quo which has become rigid and oppressive. It comes from the tension between that which is permitted and that which is forbidden, and is of particular significance to writers under a totalitarianism society.

In The Master and Margarita, Satan visits Moscow and causes much chaos. No one can stop him, because no one believes Satan exists in an atheist Socialist Russia. Society is unarmed by its own rigid worldview.

Will write more. I need to re-read Bahktin.

P/S: I've finally received my order of Colette's Earthly Paradise. It's out of print, but thank you for Abebooks.

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