A grotesque carnival on the sea: twentieth-century revisitings of the “Ship of fools” (from Conrad to Fellini)

Paolo Lago

Abstract


This essay offers, through a comparative reading, an analysis of the survival of the grotesques and carnival elements, studied by Michail Bachtin, in the representation of new “ships of fools” in some novels and films in the twentieth-century. Some ships in Joseph Conrad’s and Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s novels (Typhoon, 1902, The Shadow-Line, 1917, Voyage au bout de la nuit, 1932) are full of sick bodies depicted as grotesques carnival masks, the same bodies that we can find on the “death ship”, destined to shipwreck, in the homonymous novel by B. Traven (The Death Ship, 1926). In the tale Un viaje terrible (1941) by Roberto Arlt and in the novel Ship of Fools (1962) by Katherine Anne Porter, the ship of fools is a metaphoric microcosm where is reflected the whole humanity. On the other hand, Federico Fellini reproposes the grotesques and carnival characteristics in the representation of body, especially regard to characters embarked on Lica’s ship in the Fellini-Satyricon (1969) or on the ship in E la nave va (1983). The survival of the ship of fools, in the twentieth-century, therefore, is characterized by a constant reference to ‘grotesque’ and carnival studied by Bachtin.

Keywords


Ship; Fool; Other; Carnival; Grotesque

Full Text:

PDF (Italiano)

References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/2176

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-20293

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