Barrels roll. In a mythological, folk, or literary text, they set off a reciprocal dynamic of emptying out and filling in. Where Diogenes filled his barrel with his own cynical self, Francois Rabelais removed him, then poured back in the wine drained off to accommodate his asceticism. On the basis of this example, Mikhail Bakhtin demonstrates the need to re-embody the disembodied; in connection with the folk laughter that replenishes the hollow chill of mortality, he notes that Rabelais celebrated the “cheerful death” of the Duke of Clarence in a barrel full of malmsey. In Vladimir Propp’s analysis of myth, folktales, and initiation rites, barrels stand in for the bellies of great fish; these swallow and then regurgitate the hero, supplying in the interim “temporary death,” mystic instruction, and the makings of a leader or a savior of the people. It is in an ocean-going barrel that Aleksandr Pushkin’s Prince Gvidon, condemned to an infant death, grows “not by days, but by hours” (“Skazka o tsare Saltane” [Tale of Tsar Saltan, 1831]), repeating the pattern of reversals in birth dreams, through exposure on the water and entombment in womb-like receptacles, studied by Otto Rank. Il'ia Erenburg’s apostle of absolute and universal negation had planned to start his mission by crossing the Atlantic in a beer barrel (Julio Jurenito, 1922). The dual or schizophrenic narrator of Sasha Sokolov’s Shkola dlia durakov (School for fools, 1976), though otherwise anonymous, is moved to fill his mentor’s barrel with his own singular name.