The Dialogic Imagination Four Essays By Mm. Bakhtin Pdf

270Philosophy and Literature tion quickened in the late 1940s and early 1950s, materialism proved too strong an alternative to the vision ofthe poets and philosophers. The breakdown ofdie wartime coalition affected politics in all the European states and prevented the building of die new political structures envisaged by die intellectuals. In a short time diey found themselves once more in dieir accustomed roles as social critics. Professor Wilkinson argues diat although the desired new society did not come into being, the spiritual legacy of the resistance survived and contributed to such developments as the European Economic Community and the decolonization movement. This is certainly debatable. Factors other than the ideals developed during die resistance played important causative roles in these events. The failure of the intellectuals to see their hopes become reality forces the reader to wresde with the perennial problem of the relation of ideas to politics. The Intellectual Resistance in Europe is an important book. Informative and intellectually stimulating, it should be of interest to anyone concerned with the ideas and movements that have helped to shape diis alternately horrifying and promising century. Whitman CollegeFrederickJ. Breit The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, by M. M. Bakhtin, edited by Michael Holquist, translated by Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist; 444 pp. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981, $27.50. Soviet political authorities are to be credited for preventing Michael Bakhtin, a leading intellectual of our time, from becoming a major voice in the criticism of the thirties, forties , and fifties. After two decades of internal banishment and severe restriction of his scholarship he virtually had to be rediscovered and reinstated both in Russia and in the West. In 1968 his magisterial Rabefais and his World, in 1973 Problems ofDostoevsky's Poetics, and 1978 The Formal Method in Literary Scholarship were finally published in English. The appearance of The Dialogic Imagination, featuring "Epic and Novel," "From the Prehistory of Noveletic Discourse," "Forms of Time and the Chronotope in the Novel," and "Discourse in the Novel," completes the series of Bakhtin's major works. All four essays were written under aberrant conditions of the Stalinist reign in the thirties. At the risk of simplification they are adumbrated as follows: First: the novel is a narrative form in continuous becoming. As Holquist states, it can "include, ingest, devour other genres and still retain its status as a novel" (p. xxxii). As such, it radically affects the temporal coordinates of the literary image, and establishes a maximal contact with the present. These attributes "keep the genre from congealing." The Reviews271 novel, and in extenso die entire process of the novelization of literature, focuses on hic et nunc with all the existential and ideological consequences thereof. Second: the novel reflects better than any other genre life's actuality as it is rendered by heteroglossia, i.e., a coexistence of "languages" within a given national language. Historically, the novel emerged and matured precisely when intense activization and internal heteroglossia was at its peak. Third: time and space, or chronotope, since the classical Greeks has had an intrinsic generic significance as well as a constitutive effect upon the artistic representation ofman. Beginning with the Greek romances of Heliodorus, Xenophon of Ephesus, Roman adventure novels of Apuleius and Petronius, the Chivalric romances, Rabelais's celebrated Gargantua and Pantagruel, through to the nineteenth-century novels, chronotopes have been affected by specific epistemologies, authorial intentions, and compositional strategems of their times. As a result, novels contain disparate chronotopic systems and arrangements which in turn generate different meanings and values. Hence, Bakhtin, essentially a Kantian, differed "from Kant in taking [these forms of cognition] not as 'transcendental' but as forms of the most immediate reality" (p. 85). Fourth: the study of stylistics must be complemented by a simultaneous philosophical and sociological study of die work's semantic components. The aim of these studies, in a narrow sense, is the apprehension of the work's unity, and in a larger sense of the unity of language and truth. Such a unity is to be sought in the socio-ideological stratification and die dialogized heteroglossia that mark every concrete utterance of a speaking subject. The theoretical relevance of these four essays, as indeed Bakhtin...

These essays reveal Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975)—known in the West largely through his studies of Rabelais and Dostoevsky—as a philosopher of language, a cultural historian, and a major theoretician of the novel. The Dialogic Imagination presents, in superb English translation, four selections from Voprosy literatury i estetiki (Problems of literature and esthetics), published in Moscow in 1975. The volume also contains a lengthy introduction to Bakhtin and his thought and a glossary of terminology.

Bakhtin uses the category "novel" in a highly idiosyncratic way, claiming for it vastly larger territory than has been traditionally accepted. For him, the novel is not so much a genre as it is a force, "novelness," which he discusses in "From the Prehistory of Novelistic Discourse." Two essays, "Epic and Novel" and "Forms of Time and of the Chronotope in the Novel," deal with literary history in Bakhtin's own unorthodox way. In the final essay, he discusses literature and language in general, which he sees as stratified, constantly changing systems of subgenres, dialects, and fragmented "languages" in battle with one another.


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