First Hundred Years of Mikhail Bakhtin by
"Caryl Emerson has
given us a major book on a major phenomenon, as readable as it
is important, one that moves authoritatively from biography
through literary and philosophical analysis to the cultural
frameworks in which those matters take on their specific and
complex resonances."--Donald Fanger, Harvard University
Among Western critics, Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975) needs no
introduction. His name has been invoked in literary and cultural
studies across the ideological spectrum, from old- fashioned
humanist to structuralist to postmodernist. In this candid
assessment of his place in Russian and Western thought, Caryl
Emerson brings to light what might be unfamiliar to the
non-Russian reader: Bakhtin's foundational ideas, forged in the
early revolutionary years, yet hardly altered in his lifetime.
With the collapse of the Soviet system, a truer sense of
Bakhtin's contribution may now be judged in the context of its
origins and its contemporary Russian "reclamation." A
foremost Bakhtin authority, Caryl Emerson mines extensive
Russian sources to explore Bakhtin's reception in Russia, from
his earliest publication in 1929 until his death, and his
posthumous rediscovery. After a reception-history of Bakhtin's
published work, she examines the role of his ideas in the
post-Stalinist revival of the Russian literary profession,
concentrating on the most provocative rethinkings of three major
concepts in his world: dialogue and polyphony; carnival; and
"outsideness," a position Bakhtin considered essential
to both ethics and aesthetics. Finally, she speculates on the
future of Bakhtin's method, which was much more than a tool of
criticism: it will "tell you how to teach, write, live,
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By Douglas Eyman.
As an abstract concept, Bakhtinian dialogue is the dialectical relationship between self and other where "self" occupies a relative
center, and thus requires the other for existence. Dialogue as I refer
to it in this essay is the use of language which allows voices of the "other" to emerge in dialogue with the voice of the individual, as
opposed to "monologic" speech, or the use of language which seeks to suppress the voice of the "other."
Luiz Ernesto Merkle. Extensive Reference List.
By Mary Klages.
Bakhtin was not exactly a Marxist, but a theorist writing in Soviet Union starting in the 1920s, and thus he was very much aware of
Marxist theories and doctrines, and how they were being implemented. He was also associated with the school known as
Russian Formalism, a kind of precursor to our own American movement (in the 1940s and 50s) called New Criticism. (Peter
Barry, in Beginning Theory, has a good explanation of Russian Formalism). Bakhtin got in trouble with Soviet
regime, was exiled, and did a lot of his best work in exile; because of his political
conflicts with the Soviet Union, as well as the problem of translation, and of
Western cultures getting access to his texts, Bakhtin's works weren't published (or translated) till the 1970s (after the end of
By Paula Rosinski.
...it was out of a traumatic and politicized historical context that Bakhtin developed his theories about language,
literature, identity, and the material body: Bakhtin lived in the Russia between 1895
and 1975, a period which witnessed intense political struggle and tyrannical
regularization of the people. With the Russian Revolution in 1917, official ideology forced the narrow role and dehumanizing
identity of "worker" upon the collective body of the people. Bakhtin believed that when ideologies and ways of thinking became
orthodox, they became totalitarian and essentializing. Therefore, he was
concerned with debunking official ideology and its accompanying binary modes of thought which reinforced peoples'
subjugation to tyrannical power structures.