Mikhail Bakhtin


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“Stylistics and the philosophy of discourse indeed confront a dilemma: either to acknowledge tha novel (and consequently all artistic prose tending in that direction) an unartistic or quasi-artistic genre, or to radically reconsider that conception of poetic discourse in which traditional stylistics is grounded and which determines all its categorie”' (Discourse in the Novel [1981], 665).

“Once rhetorical discourse is brought into the study with all its living diversity, it cannot fail to have a deeply revolutionizing influence on linguistics and on the philosophy of language. It is precisely those aspects of any discourse (the internally dialogic quality of discourse, and the phenomena related to it), not yet sufficiently taken into account and fathomed in all the enormous weight they carry in the life of language, that are revealed with great external precision in rhetorical forms, provided a correct and unprejudiced approach to those forms is used. Such is the general methodological and heuristic significance of rhetorical forms for linguistics and for the philosophy of language” (666).

“The novel is an artistic genre. Novelistic discourse is poetic discourse, but one that does not fit within the frame provided by the concept of poetic discourse as it now exists. The concept has certain underlying presuppositions that limit it” (666).

“A common unitary language is a system of linguistic norms. But these norms do not constitute an abstract imperative; they are rather the generative forces of linguistic life, forces that struggle to overcome the heteroglossia of language, forces that unite and centralize verbal-ideological thought... What we have in mind here is not an abstract linguistic minimum of a common language, in the sense of a system of elementary forms (linguistic symbols) guaranteeing a minimum level of comprehension in practical communication. We are taking language not as a system of abstract grammatical categories, but rather language conceived as ideologically saturated, language as a world view, even as a concrete opinion, insuring a maximum of mutual understanding in all spheres of ideological life. Thus a unitary language gives expression to forces working toward concrete verbal and ideological unification and centralization, which develop in vital connection with the processes of sociopolitical and cultural centralization” (667).

“The centripetal forces of the life of language, embodied in a "unitary language", operate in the midst of heteroglossia. At any give moment of its evolution, language is stratified not only into linguistic dialects in the strict sense of the word ... but also-- and for us this is the essential point-- into languages that are socio-ideological: languages of social groups, "professional" and "generic" languages, languages of generations and so forth. From this point of view, literary language itself is only one of these heteroglot languages-- and in its turn is also stratified into languages... And this stratification and heteroglossia, once realized, is not only a static invariant of linguistic life, but also what insures its dynamics: stratification and heteroglossia widen and deepen as long as language is alive and developing. Alongside the centripetal forces, the centrifugal forces of language carry on their uninterupted work; alongside verbal-ideological centralization and unification, the uninterrupted processes of decentralization and disunification go forward” (668).

“Every concrete utterance of a speaking subject serves as a point where centrifugal as well as centripetal forces are brought to bear” (668).

“Heteroglossia, as organized in these low genres, was not merely heteroglossia vis-·-vis the accepted literary language (in all its various generic expressions), that is, vis-·-vis the linguistic center of the verbal-ideological life of the nation and the epoch, but was a heteroglossia consciously opposed to this literary language. It was parodic, and aimed sharply and polemically against the official languages of its given time. It was heteroglossia that had been dialogized” (668).

“Linguistics, stylistics and the philosophy of language that were born and shaped by the current of centralizing tendencies in the life of language have ignored this dialogized heteroglossia, in which is embodied the centrifugal forces in the life of language” (668).

Select Bibliography

Bakhtin, Mikhail. (1929) Problemy tvorchestva Dostoevskogo. Leningrad: Priboj.

Bakhtin, Mikhail. (1963) Problemy poètiki Dostoevskogo. Moscow: Sovetskij pisatel'. (2nd Ed.)

Bakhtin, Mikhail. (1965) Tvorchestvo Fransua Rable i narodnaja kul'tura srednevekov'ja i Renessansa. Moscow: "Xudozhestvennoja literatura".

Bakhtine, Mikhail. (1968a) "L'énoncé dans le roman." Langages 12: 126-132.

Bakhtin, Mikhail. (1968b) Rabelais and his World. Cambridge: M.I.T. Press.

Bakhtine, Mikhail. (1970a) L'Oeuvre de François Rabelais et la Culture populaire au Moyen Age et sous la Renaissance. Paris: Gallimard.

Bakhtine, Mikhail. (1970b) La Poétique de Dostoïevski. Paris: Seuil.

Bakhtine, Mikhail. (1970c) Problèmes de la poétique de Dostoïevski. Lausanne: L'Age d'Homme.

Baxtin, Mixail. (1971a) "Discourse Typology in Prose." in Readings in Russian Poetics: Formalist and Structuralist Views. Ed. Ladislav Matejka and Krystyna Pomorska. Cambridge: M.I.T. Press. 176-196.

Bakhtin, Mikhail. (1971b) "Dostoevsky's Dialogue." Soviet Literature 1971 (2): 127-140.

Bakhtin, Mikhail. (1973) Problems of Dostoevski's Poetics. Ann Arbor: Ardis.

Bakhtin, M. (1975) Voprosy literatury i èstetiki. Moscow: "Xudozhectvennaja literatura".

Bakhtin, M. M. (1976) "The Art of the Word and the Culture of Folk Humor (Rabelais and Gogol')." Soviet Studies in Literature 12 (2): 27-39. (Now in Semiotics and Structuralism: Readings from the Soviet Union. Ed. Henryk Baran. White Plains, N. Y.: International Arts and Sciences Press, 1976. 284-296.)

Bakhtine, Mikhail (V. N. Volochinov). (1977) Le Marxisme et la philosophie du langage. Paris: Minuit.

Bakhtine, Mikhail. (1978a) Esthétique et théorie du roman. Paris: Gallimard.

Baxtin, M. M. (1978b) "Forms of Time and the Chronotopos in the Novel." PTL 3 (3): 493-528.

Bakhtin, M. (1978c) "The Problem of the Text (An Essay in Philosophical Analysis)." Soviet Studies in Literature 14 (1): 3-33.

Bakhtin, M. M. (1979a) Estetika slovesnogo tvorchestva. Moscow: "Iskusstvo".

Bachtin, Michail. (1979b,c) "Autor und Held in der ästhetischen Tätigkeit." Kunst und Literatur 6: 589-601; 7:760-779.

Bachtin, Michail. (1979d) "Riposta a una demanda della redazione di 'Novyj mir'." Il Ponte 35 (11-12): 1385-1390.

Bachtin, Michail. (1979e) "Sulla metadologia delle scienze umanistiche." Il Ponte 35 (11-12): 1391-1395.

Bakhtin, Mikhayl Mikhaylovich. (1979f) "Toward the Aesthetics of the Word." Dispositio 4 (11-12): 299-315.

Bakhtine, M. M. (V. N. Volochinov). (1980a) Ecrits sur le freudisme. Lausanne: L'Age de l'Homme.

Bachtin, Michail Michajlovich. (1980b) "Riposta ad una domanda della redazione del 'Novyj mir'." Strumenti critici 42/43: 323-330.

Bakhtin, Mikhail. (1980c) "The Word in the Novel." Comparative Criticism: A Yearbook. Vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 213-220.

Bakhtin, M. M. (1981a) The Dialogic Imagination. Ed. Michael Holquist. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Bakhtine, Mikhail. (1981b) "Préface à Résurrection." in Todorov 1981: 217-241.

Bajtín, M. M. (1982) Estética de la creación verbal. Mexico City: Siglo veintiuno editores.

Bakhtine, Mikhail. (1984a) Esthétique de la création verbale. Paris: Gallimard.

Bakhtin, Mikhail. (1984b) Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Bakhtin, Mikhail. (1984c) Problems of Dostoevsky's Art. in Bakhtin 1984b: 275-282.

Bakhtin, Mikhail. (1984d) "Toward a Reworking of the Dostoevsky Book." in Bakhtin 1984b: 283-302. .sk