Positivism in the Mirror of Carnival: The Rabelaisian Chronotope in the Works of E. Zola

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This paper deals with using the Rabelaisian “cultural code”, which the author of the article suggests to be applied to the reading and interpreting of some novels by E. Zola. From the author’s point of view, such an experiment allows us to look at French naturalism from a new point of view, as a variant of a typologically recurring phenomenon in the history of literature. For the French naturalistic novel Rabelaisianism is considered as a kind of meaning-generating model, as “appropriated communication” or as an element of traditional literary discourse. The latter is actualized in a period when the cultural conditions and the nature of the main ideological and aesthetic conflicts became similar to the time of the French Renaissance. The author attempts to apply the theory of the “carnival chronotope”, which is developed by M.M. Bakhtin, to the interpretation of some of E. Zola’s texts. Meanwhile, the concept of the chronotope is considered more widely than that of M.M. Bakhtin: it is proposed to understand the chronotope as a universal model of space-time relations in the novel. The author also views the poetics of the “real” in the naturalistic novel through the prism of the carnival (i. e. extremely detailed material world); as examples, the motives of food and wine, as well as the motive of rebellion and war as a variant of the “war for food” and the carnival battle of Shrovetide (pancake week) and Lent are analyzed in the article. The main material used for the analysis is taken from the novels Le Ventre de Paris , 1873 ( The Belly of Paris ), L’Assommoir , 1877 ( The Trap ), and Germinal , 1885, by E. Zola.

About the authors

Olga V. Albrekht

Maxim Gorky Institute of Literature and Creative Writing

Author for correspondence.
Email: ars-kos@yandex.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9359-8237

Post-graduate Student of the Department of Foreign Literature of the Maxim Gorky Institute of Literature and Creative Writing; Senior Lecturer of the Department of Slavic Philology of the Orthodox St. Tikhon’s University

25 Tverskoy Boulevard, Moscow, 123104, Russian Federation


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