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.
Table of Contents
- A Note on Translation
- Epic and Novel
- From the Prehistory of Novelistic Discourse
- Forms of Time and of the Chronotope in the Novel
- Discourse in the Novel
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Bakhtin proclaims the dominance of the novel as a genre, and the difficulty of strictly defining its hegemony because of its tendency to envelop other genres. Later he discusses literature and language in general, and how it continually is changed by other systems such as subgenres, dialects, and infinitely fragmented languages constantly in "dialogue" with each other.