MikhailBakhtin is one of the most influential theorists of philosophy as well as literary studies. His work on dialogue and discourse has changed the way in which we read texts – both literary and cultural – and his practice of philosophy in literary refraction and philological exploration has made him a pioneering figure in the twentieth-century convergence of the two disciplines. In this book, Graham Pechey offers a commentary on Bakhtin’s texts in all their complex and (...) allusive ‘textuality’, keeping a sense throughout of the historical setting in which they were written and of his own interpretation of and response to them. Examining Bakhtin’s relationship to Russian Formalism and Soviet Marxism, Pechey focuses on two major interests: the influence of Eastern Orthodox Christianity upon his thinking; and Bakhtin’s use of literary criticism and hermeneutics as ways of ‘doing philosophy by other means’. (shrink)
This book is not only a major twentieth-century contribution to Dostoevsky’s studies, but also one of the most important theories of the novel produced in our century. As a modern reinterpretation of poetics, it bears comparison with Aristotle.“Bakhtin’s statement on the dialogical nature of artistic creation, and his differentiation of this from a history of monological commentary, is profoundly original and illuminating. This is a classic work on Dostoevsky and a statement of importance to critical theory.” Edward Wasiolek“Concentrating on (...) the particular features of ‘Dostoevskian discourse,’ how Dostoevsky structures a hero and a plot, and what it means to write dialogically, Bakhtin concludes with a major theoretical statement on dialogue as a category of language. One of the most important theories of the novel in this century.” The Bloomsbury Review. (shrink)
MikhailBakhtin aimed to invent a phenomenology of the self-experience and of the experience of the other in his early work. In order to realize such a phenomenology he combined different approaches he called idealism and materialism / naturalism. The first one he linked to Edmund Husserl, but did hardly name him directly concerning his phenomenology. Does this intersubjective phenomenology give a hint that Bakhtin used Husserlian ideas more than considered yet? Or did they both invent similar (...) ideas independently from each other? Both thinkers dealt with the issue of intersubjectivity. Husserl judged statements on other psycho-physical realities as metaphysics in the Logical Investigations II, but in his Ideas I he described the others as enhancing one’s experience through their “experiential surpluses”. In the same way Bakhtin described the unique perspective of the other as a mandatory and valuable part of the world of the act in his Philosophy of the Act and his investigations on Author and Hero. In order to understand the influence of Husserl’s phenomenology for Bakhtin’s early philosophy we need to take a look closer at those contentual parallels as well as some paraphrases yet unnoticed. This gives hint for the question if for Bakhtin Husserl was more than just a name dropped. In this article I reconstructed the relations between both thinkers and answered the question if the dating of Bakhtin’s early work until 1928 has to be re-considered. (shrink)
The language theory of MikhailBakhtin does not fall neatly under any single rubric - 'dialogism,' 'marxism,' 'prosaics,' 'authorship' - because the philosophic foundation of his writing rests ambivalently between phenomenology and Marxism. The theoretical tension of these positions creates philosophical impasses in Bakhtin's work, which have been neglected or ignored partly because these impasses are themselves mirrored by the problems of antifoundationalist and materialist tendencies in literary scholarship. In MikhailBakhtin: Between Phenomenology and Marxism (...) Michael Bernard-Donals examines various incarnations of phenomenological and materialist theory - including the work of Jauss, Fish, Rorty, Althusser, and Pecheux - and places them beside Bakhtin's work, providing a contextualised study of Bakhtin, a critique of the problems of contemporary critics, and an original contribution to literary theory. (shrink)
In this introduction to MikhailBakhtin, Ken Hirschkop presents a compact, readable, detailed, and sophisticated exposition of all of Bakhtin's important works. Using the most up-to-date sources and the new, scholarly editions of Bakhtin's texts, Hirschkop explains Bakhtin's influential ideas, demonstrates their relevance and usefulness for literary and cultural analysis, and sets them in their historical context. In clear and concise language, Hirschkop shows how Bakhtin's ideas have changed the way we understand language and (...) literary texts. Authoritative and accessible, this Cambridge Introduction is the most comprehensive and reliable account of Bakhtin and his work yet available. (shrink)
This essay analyses the contribution of the knowledge of Greek culture in Antiquity for MikhailBakhtin’s achievement. It shows how the Socratic dialogue and serious-comic genres contributed to forming the novel – according do Bakhtin’s conceptions – by developing its carnavalized line. It concludes that, although Bakhtin was not properly a Hellenist, he has contributed to Ancient Greece studies, by exploring the literary creativity of Hellenist period.
In this essay I will argue that verbal dialogue, when realized successfully in a novel and measured by the tools appropriate to it, approximates that moment in real life we recognize as a “quickening of consciousness.”.
This paper seeks to explore the relationship between Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin’s theoretical apparatus and ideas of the immediate precursors of the Jena Romantik school of German Romanticism: Johann Georg Hamann (1730–1788) and Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803). In doing so, it examines the themes and treatments that are common to these two thinkers and Bakhtin, tracing the tradition of anti-systematic thought through Hamann, Nietzsche and Bakhtin, and the transmission of Herder’s philosophy of Bildung through the Russian cultural (...) milieu and Goethe. Initially, the paper briefly outlines the early German Romantic ‘school’ of philosophy as a prelude to a more detailed examination of the ways in which Bakhtin assimilated German philosophy in general. The paper’s section on Hamann commences with a review of his background, using this as a basis for establishing connections between Hamann’s approach to communication and that of Bakhtin, based on a common epistemology focused on the self. The section on Herder is centred on his concept of Bildung and his historicist approach to literature, both of which interests Bakhtin shared. The paper then examines a number of conduits for Herder’s thought to Bakhtin, including Kant and Goethe. The paper concludes by examining Isaiah Berlin’s notion of the ‘Counter-Enlightenment’—in which movement he includes both Hamann and Herder—and the extent to which Bakhtin could be said to form part of this tradition. (shrink)
The aim of Language for those who have Nothing is to think psychiatry through the writings of MikhailBakhtin. Using the concepts of Dialogism and Polyphony, the Carnival and the Chronotope, a novel means of navigating the clinical landscape is developed. Bakhtin offers language as a social phenomenon and one that is fully embodied. Utterances are shown to be alive and enfleshed and their meanings realised in the context of given social dimensions. The organisation of this book (...) corresponds with carnival practices of taking the high down to the low before replenishing its meaning anew. Thus early discussions of official language and the chronotope become exposed to descending levels of analysis and emphasis. Patients and practitioners are shown to occupy an entirely different spatio-temporal topography. These chronotopes have powerful borders and it is necessary to use the Carnival powers of cunning and deception in order to enter and to leave them. The book provides an overview of practitioners who have attempted such transgression and the author records his own unnerving experience as a pseudopatient. By exploring the context of psychiatry's unofficial voices: its terminology, jokes, parodies, and everyday narratives, the clinical landscape is shown to rely heavily on unofficial dialogues in order to safeguard an official identity. (shrink)
All of MikhailBakhtin’s work stands under the sign of plurality, the mystery of the one and the many. Unlike the third eye of Tibetan Buddhism, which gives those who possess it a vision of the secret unity holding creation together, Bakhtin seems to have had a third ear that permitted him to hear differences where others perceived only sameness, especially in the apparent wholeness of the human voice. The obsessive question at the heart of Bakhtin’s (...) thought is always “Who is talking?” It was his sense of the world’s overwhelming multiplicity that impelled Bakhtin to rethink strategies by which heterogeneity had traditionally been disguised as a unity. In his several attempts to find a single name for the teeming forces which jostled each other within the combat zone of the word—whether the term was “polyphony,” “heteroglossia,” or “speech communion”—Bakhtin was at great pains never to sacrifice the tension between identity and difference that fueled his enterprise. He always sought the minimum degree of homogenization necessary to any conceptual scheme, feeling it was better to preserve the heterogeneity which less patient thinkers found intolerable—and to which they therefore hurried to assign a unitizing label.Bakhtin’s metaphysical contrariness has the effect of making at times appear to be indiscriminate, as when he refused to recognize borders between biography and autobiography or, more notoriously, between speaking and writing. But, as I hope to show, these apparently cardinal distinctions are for Bakhtin only local instances of unity that participate in and are controlled by a fare more encompassing set of oppositions and differences. All this places an extra burden on those who seek an overarching design in Bakhtin’s legacy: the apparently unitizing term “Bakhtin” proves to be as illusory—or more illusory—in its ability to subsume real distinctions as any other, if we submit it to a Bakhtinian analysis. Michael Holquist is professor and chairman of the department of Slavic languages and literatures a Indiana University. With his wife, Katerina Clark, he has just completed MikhailBakhtin, a study of Bakhtin’s life and works, forthcoming in the autumn of 1984. He is currently working in Moscow. (shrink)
The Bakhtin Circle’s conception of language is very much still alive, still productive, in the language sciences today. My claim in this paper is that to understand the Bakhtin Circle’s continuing relevance to the language sciences, we have to look beyond the linguistic theory itself, to the philosophical groundwork laid for this project by Bakhtin in what he himself referred to as his philosophical anthropology. This philosophical anthropology, at the center of which stands an architectonics of self—other (...) relations, opens the door for a radical rethinking of what language is and how it works; a rethinking that in turn opens up and coincides with new directions being explored in the language sciences today. Within the context of Bakhtin scholarship, this paper also argues for taking Bakhtin’s early philosophical works more seriously when discussing the Bakhtin Circle’s conception of language. (shrink)
At the core of Dostoevskij's philosophy and theology lies a concept according to which the Truth (Istina) is antinomical: it contains both a thesis and its antithesis without expectation of synthesis. This concept can be traced to Eastern Patristics. After Dostoevskij, the theory of antinomies was elaborated by 20th century Russian religious thinkers such as Pavel Florenskij, Sergej Bulgakov, Nikolaj Berdjaev, Semën Frank, and Vladimir Losskij. Their ideas help us to understand that Dostoevskij's dialogism, made famous in its secular guise (...) by Bakhtin, has a theological underpinning. Dostoevskij's exposition of conflicting truths should therefore be seen not as a case of irresolvable contradiction or paradox but as an organic wholeness. (shrink)
Critical Inquiry’s Forum on MikhailBakhtin [Critical Inquiry 10 : 225-319] is the latest contribution to the spectacular effort of interpretation and assimilation that is being applied to the work of this recently recovered critic. In such a situation, analysis proceeds with one eye on the work in question and the other on current debates in the field; in the case of Bakhtin, interpretation is at the same time an attempt to come to grips with challenges posed (...) by recent literary theory to certain axiomatic critical assumptions about intentionality, textuality, and the human subject. But the matter is also complicated by the fact that we are dealing here with a critic who was active in the USSR. This brings into play additional ideological pressures, generated by the cold war, which bear on the scholarly assimilation of his work.The debate on Bakhtin is made yet more difficult by the nature of his writing: immensely varied stylistically and topically but also—and more importantly, I believe—writing which strives for solutions it cannot quite articulate. It moves between alternative and contradictory formulations in a single essay and thus produces a set of concepts whose explanatory importance is matched by an unnerving tendency to slide from one formulation to the next with disturbing ease. Such ambiguities are not the sign of an open and skeptical mind, but neither are they mere inconsistencies which can be safely ignored. These internal contradictions dictate that argument over concepts like “dialogism” and “heteroglossia” cannot be settled by a definitive decision as to what they ‘really’ mean; instead, we must discuss how to manage these complexities and contradictions, and to what ends. Certain definite strategies of management are emerging, and the articles presented in the forum, while by no means reducible to a single position, share key lines of interpretive strategy that I think ought to be brought out into the open and contested. With the notable exception of Susan Stewart’s article [“Shouts on the Street: Bakhtin’s Anti-Linguistics,” pp. 265-81], the contributions share an ideological drift, the ultimate effect of which is to evade the most radical aspects of Bakhtin’s work in favor of an interpretation that renders him useful in the argument against the recent advances of post-structuralism and recent literary theory in general. Ken Hirschkop is a postgraduate student at Saint Antony’s College, Oxford University, working on a book about MikhailBakhtin. (shrink)
At the core of Dostoevskij's philosophy and theology lies a concept according to which the Truth is antinomical: it contains both a thesis and its antithesis without expectation of synthesis. This concept can be traced to Eastern Patristics. After Dostoevskij, the theory of antinomies was elaborated by 20th century Russian religious thinkers such as Pavel Florenskij, Sergej Bulgakov, Nikolaj Berdjaev, Semën Frank, and Vladimir Losskij. Their ideas help us to understand that Dostoevskij's dialogism, made famous in its secular guise by (...)Bakhtin, has a theological underpinning. Dostoevskij's exposition of conflicting truths should therefore be seen not as a case of irresolvable contradiction or paradox but as an organic wholeness. (shrink)
Søren Kierkegaard’s influence on the thought of MikhailBakhtin has received relatively little attention from Bakhtin scholars (and hardly any attention from Bakhtin scholars in the English-speaking world). Yet, as I argue in this paper, Kierkegaard was among the most important formative influences on Bakhtin's work. This influence is most evident in Bakhtin's early ethical philosophy, but remains highly relevant in later periods. Reading Bakhtin as a follower and developer of Kierkegaard's fundamental philosophical (...) insights provides us with a key to the unity of Bakhtin's thought. (shrink)