Friday, June 01, 2007

Bakhtin on "The Feast of the Ass"


"The feast of fools is one of the most colorful and genuine expressions of medieval festive laughter near the precincts of the church. Another of its expressions is "the feast of the ass" commemorating Mary's flight to Egypt with the infant Jesus. The center of this feast is neither Mary nor Jesus, although a young girl with an infant takes part in it. The central protagonist is the ass and its braying. Special "asinine masses" were celebrated....Each part of the mass was accompanied by the comic braying, "hinham!" At the end of the service, instead of the usual blessing, the priest repeated the braying three times, and the final Amen was replaced by the same cry."

- Rabelais and His World, p. 78

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