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2018 | 58 | 21-28

Article title

Jurodství a klaunství: Dvě tváře karnevalového smíchu v ruské kultuře


Title variants

Holy foolishness and bufoonery: Two facets of carnival laughter in Russian culture

Languages of publication



The article revises the view that the concept of “carnival” (one of the main contributions of M. M. Bakhtin in humanities worldwide) can have a single ontological nature (either negative or positive). It argues for the necessity to differentiate within this “unofficial” area of culture — based on Russian material. Holy foolishness and buffoonery are kinds of ontological extremes of “serious-laughing” space of carnival. On the surface they are similar — as a parody of dominating world order norms. However, their “deviance” has different vectors in Russian tradition. While buffoonery in one way or another gravitates towards the area of “sin”, holy foolishness in Russian culture is related by those who represent it to the area of «holiness» one way or the other. In other words, while buffoonery indicates “unlawfulness” violating the “norms” of a generally accepted Law (even though this “violation” is always performed within certain boundaries, which are defined by Law itself), holy foolishness is a “supra lawful” cultural factor and gravitates towards another axiological extreme: Grace. In Russian literature, one should differentiate between the gravitation of authors towards either holy foolishness, or buffoonery, and in some cases one can talk about the contamination of holy foolishness and buffoonery.


  • Literární institut A. M. Gorkého v Moskvě


Document Type

Publication order reference


YADDA identifier

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