Welcome, students, to another session of Lucy’s #LitGloss! Today, we step into the looking glass with Alice, experience a deep sense of inner comfort, and get up close and personal with some fine poets. Are you ready for today’s lesson?
C is for…
“The world standing on its head.” That’s how Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin describes the carnivalesque. It’s a state where norms and restrictions fly out through the chimney so riot has the whole house to himself! Think carnival or circus. Carnivalesque moments in literature are nonsensical, grotesque, funny, or magical, even. If you enjoy the chaos, visit Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. Things there get “curiouser and curiouser”, as Alice would say.
Ever watch a movie, cry your eyes out or scream yourself deaf, then leave the cinema feeling like the world is a better place? You probably just experienced some catharsis. This #allthefeels phenomenon is much older than you think. You can even call it ‘classic’ as it traces its roots to Greco-Roman antiquity. First defined by Aristotle in his Poetics, catharsis is the purgation of emotion induced by the experience of #INTENSE fear or pity. Let’s give it a tagline: “Catharsis: Say bye-bye to bad vibes!”
Works that are considered ‘confessional’ get you thinking, ‘Am I reading fiction or someone’s personal diary?’ The genre took off late in the 1950s when W.D. Snodgrass and Robert Lowell began to richly infuse their poetry with autobiographical detail. Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, incarnates of the ‘It’s Complicated’ relationship, follow suit. She writes of her daddy issues (her marital woes are in later pieces): “I could hardly speak. / I thought every German was you.” Despite his infidelity, he cherishes the first time he saw her: “Noted your long hair, loose waves / Your Veronica Lake bang. Not what it hid. / It would appear blond. And your grin.”
It’s a reallife starcrossed tragic love story documented in personal poetry. Take that, Romero and Juliet!