Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Occasional Series of Ideas for Papers on John Kennedy Toole, Part 4

Theories of Carnival

As the new footnote to Evidence of Influences indicates (see posting below), several earlier critics have approached Confederacy’s use of Carnival with theories of carnival that are currently fashionable among critics. However, neither the theories of Bakhtin nor Stallybrass and White were available to Toole when he wrote Confederacy. I argue that he was likely influenced by the theory of carnival fashionable in his youth: that of James Frazer’s Golden Bough. Because the Williams, Lambert, and Gatewood theses are difficult to obtain, the most accessible discussions of carnival are in Lowe and Gillespie. Lowe discusses Bakhtin briefly.

Thesis: Compare the effectiveness of two theories of carnival for interpreting Confederacy: the Bakhtin theory of carnival as discussed in Lowe’s essay and the Frazer theory of carnival as discussed in either Tallant's book or di Palma’s book. (See Evidence of Influences for full references to these texts.) There is at least one major aspect of Frazer’s theory that Ignatius fulfills that is not discussed in Bakhtin’s theory.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Minor revision to Evidence of Influences

Yesterday, I revised my online paper called Evidence of Influences on John Kennedy Toole’s "A Confederacy of Dunces," Including Geoffrey Chaucer. The reason for adding W. Bedford Clark's endorsement of the paper to the PDF version was that Google Scholar did not link to the HTML page that leads to the PDF; instead, it linked directly to the PDF. So the HTML cover page can no longer act as a definitive part of the paper that can hold the current list of endorsements.

While I was editing the paper, I decided to also add a footnote regarding New Orleans Carnival. I have been working away on a new paper regarding Ignatius Reilly as a child of the planetary god Saturn. Originally, I had planned to make the connection to Carnival and Saturnalia part of that next paper, but as the paper evolved, the point about Carnival seemed to be less newsworthy and more worthy of appearing in a footnote. The footnote also caused me to add three texts to the list of references. By reducing the font size of the references and the list of changes, I have kept the paper to forty pages, but the long footnote has thrown off the pagination of the text after page 27. My apologizes to anyone who quotes from an earlier version of the paper.

Here is the text of the added footnote:

Another connection between Saturn and chaos is the New Orleans tradition of Carnival. Numerous critics have discussed the carnival elements present in Confederacy. While some have used currently popular theories of carnival such as Bakhtin (Williams chapter 5, Lowe 160, Lambert 20) and Stallybrass and White (Gatewood), Toole himself was more likely to have drawn on the popular books about the history of New Orleans Carnival published during his boyhood which reference Frazer’s Golden Bough and identify carnival with Roman Saturnalia, the feast of Saturn (Tallant 85, di Palma 14). Neither Tallant nor di Palma appears in the Toole Papers.