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Research Strategies?
November 10, 2006 11:34 PM   Subscribe

I want to find if and where a given literary critic (Mikhail Bakhtin in Rabelais and his World) comments on a specific passage (Chapter 32 of Book 2 of Rabelais's Gargantua and Pantagruel), can anyone recommend a strategy?

If you know where in Bakhtin's oeuvre to find references to that specific chapter, I'll gladly take that answer. If not, I have both books, I read them both in 2004, but my notes in the Bakhtin book haven't led me anywhere: can anyone recommend a strategy for quickly and effectively locating it? I suppose this can be rephrased as a general question to any academics, grad students, etc. out there: how do you find a specific citation or cross-reference like this, when an index won't be helpful, without thumbing through the books for four hours?
posted by jrb223 to Writing & Language (3 answers total)
 
Well, this is the center of the new titanesque war between Google and the publishing world. Till five years ago, a researcher like yourself will have no other choice than re-reading and taking notes. But now you can either buy the digital version of Bakhtin (still under copyright), and then making a three-seconds search in the Adobe reader, or searching persistantly all of the Google possibilities for free. I found two-three academic journals treating the subject (although more chapter 22 then 32), and apparently they are available if you're connected to an edu domain. I even found entire pages of a similar research in Google Books:

Rabelais and Bakhtin By Richard M. Berrong
posted by dov at 12:29 AM on November 11, 2006


In my copy of Rabelais and his World (trans. Helene Iswolsky; MIT 1968) the discussion of 2: 32 occurs in chapter 5, on pp 337-8:

The chapter that follows (Book Two, Chapter 32) relates how, during a torrential rain, Pantagruel covered a whole army with his tongue. We have next the description of the journey of the author (Alcofribas) into Pantagruel's mouth. Finding himself inside these gaping jaws, Alcofribas discovers an entirely new unknown world: wide fields, woods, fortified cities, and more than twenty-five kingdoms. The citizens living in Pantagruel's mouth are convinced that their world is more ancient than the earth. Alcofribas spends six months in the giant's mouth; he feeds on the morsels of food that enter it and defecates in Pantagruel's throat.

This episode, inspired by Lucian, is an excellent conclusion to the series of images of the gaping mouth already described. Pantagruel's mouth contains an entire universe, a kind of buccal underworld. Like Epistemon's Hades, this hell is also organized as a world "turned inside out". Here, for instance, men are paid not for working but for sleeping.

The story of a universe older than earth expresses the idea of the relativity of the evaluation of time and space, presented in its grotesque aspect.


Is this the reference you're looking for?

As for your supplementary question, how do you find a specific citation or cross-reference like this .. without thumbing through the books for four hours? I'm not sure what to say except 'welcome to the world of research'. I'm not convinced that Google's wizardry will ever completely take the pain out of academic research, or even make it significantly less labour-intensive.
posted by verstegan at 6:22 AM on November 11, 2006


As for your supplementary question, how do you find a specific citation or cross-reference like this .. without thumbing through the books for four hours? I'm not sure what to say except 'welcome to the world of research'.

And if you do work it out, Google will be happy to give you several million dollars.
posted by holgate at 10:32 AM on November 11, 2006


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