A ntonio Candido, of whom I was a pupil and a friend, was the central figure in Brazilian literary criticism from the s onwards. These articles remain interesting today, for the quality of their prose and the discernment with which they followed day-to-day publishing, whether Brazilian, European or North American. He also co-founded the cultural magazine Clima , which ran from to Advanced aesthetic positions combined with militant anti-fascism and opposition to Stalinism made for an uncommon clarity of mind that did not age with the years.
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While deeply concerned to preserve "traditional narrative motives" and "traditional perspective for space in the composition as a whole," the artist M. Escher held to a pluralistic concept of the world in which paired concepts, complementary rather than exclusive, play an important role:. Good cannot exist without evil, and if one accepts the notion of God then, on the other hand, one must postulate a devil likewise. This is balance. This duality is my life. Yet I'm told that this cannot be so.
People promptly start waxing abstruse over this sort of thing, and pretty soon I can't follow them any further. Yet it really is very simple: white and black, day and night-the graphic artist lives on these.
The self- enclosing circuit and the constant use of repetition in his work attest further to this reverence. Uniqueness interested him not at all as an artist. Professor Costa, of the Pontificia Universidade Catblica de Minas Gerais, Brazil, has done research on contemporary British and nineteenth-century British and French prose writers under the light of intertextuality, carnivali- ration, and the theory of deconstruction. Her major concern at present is a study of the novels of Anita Brookner as re-writings of Balzac and other French novelists, as well as of Charles Dickens.
Bakhtin's definition of carnivalized literature reverences infrac- tions of rules and inversions of hierarchies in a similar way, inasmuch as they constitute amalgams of the sacred and the profane, or the sublime and the vulgar; and he includes the use of parody and misalliance, and of an intentional plurality of styles and voices.
He indicates Menippean satire as one of carnival's sources because of the satire's universal approach to truth, violent contrasts, sudden changes, experimentalism, gross naturalism and symbolism, and its view of man's material life as a play on the world stage.
Picaresque tales such as the Spanish story Lazarillo de Tormes accommodate Bakhtin's principles, for carnivalization pre- supposes the existence of a given set of rules and an accepted hierarchy. Antonio Candido explains carnivalization as the dia- lectics of the positive and negative hemispheres of both the social and the ethical world, established order and transgressive behavior, with the ultimate predominance of the former.
The same appreciation for paired hierarchies informs Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews. One particular device stands out as especially effective and links Fielding across the centuries to Escher and Bakhtin: the use of two concrete planes-upstairs and downstairs-whose vertical twoness is finally leveled into one floor, where the characters nevertheless move up and down, and then to and fro, both physically and symbolically.
Fielding's Preface defines his purpose as a display of the ridiculous originating in affectation, and of the ludicrous as prevailing over the sublime.? His proposal to set an example of virtue in his biographical narrative invokes great historical figures such as Argalus and Parthenia, together with Pamela Andrews. Notwithstanding the obscurity that shrouds Joseph's ancestors, who might as well be, like the Athenians' ancestors, a dunghill, Fielding's hero has the godly function in life that was assigned by the ancients to the god Priapus: that of keeping the birds at Sir Thomas Booby's estate.
From bird-keeper he then ascends to whipper-in or hound-controller, then to stable-hand, and finally to attendant to Lady Booby. He climbs not only the social steps in this progress, but also those leading to Lady Booby's chamber. Their social ranks are there reversed, as Joseph becomes, in effect, her erotic master. When he refuses to consummate the relationship, however, Lady Booby sends him downstairs, back to his position as a servant. He meets Slipslop at the bottom of the stairs: instinct at its basest, as her appearance well attests.
She was not at this time remarkably handsome, being very short, and rather too corpulent in body, and somewhat red, with the addition of pimples in the face. Her nose was likewise rather too large, and her eyes too little; nor did she resemble a cow so much in her breath as in two brown globes which she carried before her; one of her legs was also a little shorter than the other, which occasioned her to limp as she walked.
According to C. Rawson, "Mrs Slipslop is described in terms of the harmonies of shape which she grotesquely fulfils or. Harmony of shape is thus fulfilled when her passion metamor- phoses Slipslop into a feline figure:. As when a hungry tigress, who has long traversed the woods in fruitless search, sees within the reach of her claws a lamb, she prepares to leap on her prey; or as a voracious pike, of immense size, surveys through the liquid element a roach or godgeon, which cannot escape her jaws, opens them wide to swallow the little fish; so did Mrs.
Slipslop prepare to lay her violent amorous hand on the poor Joseph, when luckily her mistress's bell rung, and delivered her intended martyr from her clutches. Slipslop is now an "upstairs" figure, similar to Lady Booby, while the latter, overtaken by lust, is debased to the point of downstairs servitude. Rawson argues that Fielding uses "parody to desolemnify without deflating a character of his own," l1 opposing "the gentle and cultivated mind of the Lady Booby" to "the less polished and coarser disposition of Mr,s.
Artfully, the narrator juxtaposes florid language and plain English, effecting a linguistic interchange that endows the novelist with the same artfulness as that of "the great Cibber, who confounds all number, gender, and breaks through every rule of grammar at his will," parallel to love's power to "make a molehill appear as a mountain, a Jew's harp sound like a trumpet, and a daisy smell like a violet.
Joseph interprets her actions as a condescension, as though he were below her in social terms, while his virtue remains, in the moral scale, above her pleasure. Her surprise at his refusal is described through the grandiloquent examples of Phidias and Praxiteles. Down goes Joseph, and up comes Slipslop, whose new7 style of speech includes terms such as "morphrodites," "whatsomdever," and "rag- matically," elevated, as she has been, to a higher order.
Her certainty that her lady will change her mind about Joseph "before she was got half-way downstairs"I4 points at the sudden changes typical of the carnival genre, such as the reversal of Lady Booby's position into that of the offended and humiliated woman whose reputation seems to be in the hands of her servants. Like Escher's print Relativity see page , in which two figures walk on the same stairs and in the same direction, one ascending and the other descending, this reciprocal doubling contains a basic contradiction that makes opposites become synonymous.
Examples of this reciprocal doubling abound in Fielding. Her honor must be defended in the figure of her maid, Mrs. Honour, who comes upstairs shouting against the innkeeper's accusation. Ambiguity remains, however, as Tom is no other than a pretender to the throne in Allworthy's estate, and consequently to Sophia's hand, the bastard finally become legitimate. Furthermore, Sophia's virtue is counterpointed by her cousin's supposed unfaithfulness to her husband with an Irish peer, whose climbing of the stairs represents the ascension of villainy side by side with honor.
Joseph's insistence on his virtue causes his dismissal, and he receives his wages downstairs, on the level where accounts are made, but he is taken upstairs at an inn after being attacked by.
Ronald Paulson defines the inn as one of the "basic metaphors of eighteenth-century fiction: life as a journey and as an inn. The inn projected a milieu through which a traveller passes, encountering strangers not his family or estab- lished friends and new configurations out of which he tries to make some order.
Barnabas, the clergyman, who goes downstairs, where punch is being served, while the "case above- stairs. It is for the reader, therefore, to climb the stairs up and down, trying to make order of the characters' different perspectives. Again, Escher's words are illuminating:. The border line between two adjacent shapes having a double function, the act of tracing such a line is a complicated business.
On either side of it, simultaneously, a recognizability takes shape. But the human eye and mind cannot be busy with two things at the same moment, and so there must be a quick and continual jumping from one side to the other.
The passage under consideration offers, likewise, a constant reversal of roles. The doctor's pompous, pseudo-scientific language evinces his lack of qualification as well as his lack of concern for the patient. Joseph, angel-like in his assumption of virtue as the supreme guide in life, is indeed dead, or spiritually superior, to the pleasures and vices of reality below.
But deprived of money and clothes, he remains socially inferior. When the piece of gold produced by the thief in the kitchen is taken upstairs, it immedi- ately reverses the scales, for, being a higher value than goodness, gold turns its possessor into a gentleman. Just as the elements in Escher's print entitled Sky and Water I see page can exchange roles, birds forming in empty space the figures of fish, and vice- versa,lg so Joseph's honesty is delineated by the thief's dishonesty, and his virtue is shaped in contrast with Lady Booby's lust.
The reader may recall Fielding's address to vanity: "nor is the meanest thief below, or the greatest hero above, thy notice. Moral values, metaphorically contained in the nine volumes of Adams's sermons, are discarded by the landlord as guarantee for a. The Adamic conception of the world is set against the prosaic evidence of human vice, as the manuscripts prove worthless even to Barnabas, who must preach at the funeral of a man who was addicted to liquor and kept a mistress. The three planes mentioned by Bakhtin as forming the cosmos of Menippean satire, Olympus, the Earth, and Hell, are suggested by Adams going upstairs to Joseph, Barnabas to his earthly task, and the exciseman to the cellar to measure the vessels.
The cellar is a level never visited by Joseph and Adams, who remain a long time praying together on the second floor, while business is carried out by the bookseller below. Adams is forced to admit that money can place man above the law, and his sermons, which he believes to be under his shirts, have been left behind. The best endorsement of such moral lawlessness are lawyer Scout's words to Lady Booby: "The utmost that was in the power of a lawyer was to prevent the law's taking effect.
A debased literary tradition also turns values on their head, to the point of Milton's division of poems into books being compared to a butcher's jointing of meat. Theocritus's verse "signifies no more than that sometimes it rains, and sometimes the sun shines. The sportsman whom Adams meets comments on the relative meaning of courage with examples taken from Homer, Cicero, and Paterculus, but proposes running away when he hears a woman crying for help.
Fielding ironically equates physical courage with stupidity, "those ingredients [brains] being entirely useless to persons of the heroic calling. And indeed, in some who are predestined to the command of armies and empires, that part [is] perfectly solid. At the approach of strangers, however, the ravisher claims to have been attacked by Fanny and Adams, the latter seeming to have "the most villainous countenance they ever beheld.
The Irish peer who sets Mrs. Fitzpatrick free in Tom Jones. He was indeed as bitter an enemy of the savage authority too often exercised by husbands and fathers, over the young and lovely of the other sex, as ever knight-errant was to the barbarous power of enchanters. Indeed, the peer manages to set his lover free from confinement "by corrupting the governor, in conformity with the modern art of war, in which craft is held to be preferable to valor, and gold is found to be more irresistible than either lead or stee1.
Social rank is frequently mistaken because of improper clothes, as when Slipslop takes Adams for someone going to a fair and when Bellarmine boasts of having mistaken English ladies for chambermaids at the opera.
Yet Trulliber trusts "the dignity of the cloth or rather gown ," 28and wonders at Adams's being without a horse. It is one of the features of carnivalized literature that such artifacts of identity are misused, as when clothes are worn inside out or inadequately. In debt to his tailor, Mr. Wilson is found out by a bailiff wearing female clothes, and Adams is discovered looking discomposed in a torn cassock and a red, spotted handker- chief, while he holds a wig turned inside out.
The device of a ladder is endemic to carnival stories. It can be found, for instance, in Lazarillo de Tormes, an account of social ascension in life counterpointed by moral decline. Not only does the hero go "upstairs and down" trying to clean his master's empty house where the bathroom, significantly, is placed at the top of the stairs , but he also complains, "All I did was upside-down.
Each chapter is a step the hero climbs up or down, according to different perspectives, until the last is finally leveled with the first. Under the light of the ironic tone, "over" and "under" as applied to people suffer constant reversal in the literature of carnival, and "the term 'great' becomes particularly open to moral ironies which expose the gap between moral character and social rank," as Rawson explains, in pointing out how Slipslop behaves "uppishly" towards Fanny ,30 and as Fielding makes explicit in his discourse on "high" and "low" people corresponding to people of fashion and no fashion.
Fielding compares respectively what he calls the "picture of dependence" to a ladder by which the postillion serves the footman, who, in his turn, works for the squire's gentleman, himself at the service of the squire, who pays his homage to the lord, whose servitude is to the favorite courtier, who finally pleases the sovereign.
The movement backwards is then considered by the person involved to be a form of "conde- scension," if not "degradation. The host scorns the term "betters" used by Joseph with reference to Adams, whose doubtful superiority is further carnivalized by a comparison to Othello's ghost. Graveairs's assertion of her superiority is counterpointed by her father's low origin, similar to the coachman's; and general comments rank her as "some low creature" without "even the looks of a gentlewoman," a "wretch" belonging to a "mean kind of people," "more of a Turk than a Christian.
He ends up poor. Horatio, on the other hand, ends up rich. Trulliber calls Adams a "beggar" and a "vagabond," but the hostess treats him well, believing he is Trulliber's brother, and changes her attitude when she is told the truth.
Such an interchangeability of the "high" and the "low" planes presupposes the idea of deceit. The sacred in Lazarillo de Tormes, for instance, is always profaned by the deceitful attitude of clergymen who are distinguished by their money-grubbing and worldliness. The characters in Joseph Andrews are especially duplicitous, deceiving each other, themselves, and the reader with sudden alterations in mood and behavior.
Slipslop reports to Adams a "strange alterationJ' in her ladyship's behavior since Sir Thomas's death, as if she had gone mad, while Slipslop herself is certain her late master is in heaven, although she has customarily praised her mistress and censured her master.
Antonio Candido 1918–2017
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