By then Amado was changing the way he wrote. He had become critical of his early novels for being «too serious, too ideological, too full of rage», and became convinced that the most effective way of dealing with political enemies was to laugh at them. He had by then read the Russian critic, MM Bakhtin, who was an exponent of what he called «the subversive power of comedy». Bakhtin’s notion of the carnivalesque, with its potential to upset the hierarchies of power and turn the world upside down, had a particular relevance for Brazil, where each year the keys of cities, such as Rio de Janeiro, are handed to Rei Momo (the king of carnival) for three days of riotous living.




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