New World

James H. Johnson

in Venice Incognito

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780520267718
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948624 | DOI:
New World

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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The carnival season in Venice began unofficially on December 26, when the theaters reopened after a ten-day break for Christmas. This day signaled an influx of tourists, whose numbers grew during the following two months. The government decreed the official beginning of each carnival season, which varied from year to year. During this period, carnival turned Venice into a stage and turned everyone into a performer. This chapter narrates the story of the Venice carnival. It particularly focused on the violence, the high hilarity, and the solemn ceremony that characterized the Venice carnival. The Venetian carnival was a time outside of time. It was a time when common mores and morals were suspended and identities put in flux. For connoisseurs, the Venetian carnival was a time when the society’s artificial rules gave way to the truths of nature. For the disapproving, it furnished a ready narrative for the Republic’s decline and fall: moral decay weakened foundations and the state would eventually collapse. And for those seeking political meaning in acts of transgression, the carnival granted ample evidence for equality in the moment of disguise.

Keywords: carnival; Venice; Venice carnival; mores and morals; moral decay; equality; disguise

Chapter.  4044 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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