The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays (University of Texas Press Slavic Series)
M. M. 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.
Dostoevskogo IL., 1929); Pro blemy poetiki Dostoevskogo, 2nd rev. and enl. ed. jM., 196 3 ), 3rd t:d. IM., 1972 ); Tvorcestva Fransua Rable i narodnaja kul'tura ')tednevekov 'ja i Renessansa IM., 196 5 ); Voprosy literatury i [xxxiv ] INTRO DUC T I O N estetiki (M., I97 5 ); Estetika slovesnogo tvorcestva (M., I979 ). Translations into English: Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, translation of the 2nd edition (Ann Arbor, Mich., I97 3 ); Rabelais and His World ( Cambridge, Mass., I96 8 ) .
AND CHRO N O T O P E IN THE N OVEL (97) ing any specific initiative in Greek adventure-time, nor of chance in general. In general, chance is but one form of the principle of necessity and as such has a place in any novel, as it has its place in life itself. Even in human time-sequences that are more real I that are of v ing degrees of reality) corresponding to moments of Greek ini ative-generated chance, there are moments lone cannot of co e even speak in a general way of their strict corre
the public square? " F O R M S O F T I M E AND C H RO N O T O P E IN T H E NOVEL an appraisal [133) of one's own self ? This question was resolved in the affirmative. Plutarch, by selecting material going back to Homer !whose heroes glorified themselves) established the permissibil ity of self-glorification and indicated those forms by which it should be molded, so as to avoid anything offensive. A second rank rhetorician, Aristides, likewise sorted through a wide body of material on this
novel of everyday life. But these first efforts were too feeble to stave off the collapse of the major epic forms into novelness. Here it is imperative to pause on a distinctive feature of that feeling for time that exercised an enormous and determining in fluence on the development of literary forms and images. s distinctive feature manifests itself preeminendy in what might be called a historical inversion. The essence of this inver sion is found in the fact that mythological and artistic
everything of value, everything that is valorized posi :: 1 ely, must achieve its full potential in temporal and spatial : �· rms; it must spread out as far and as wide as possible, and it is :·:c�:essary that everything of significant value be provided with ::;, power to expand spatially and temporally; likewise, every. ... [I68) ' F O RM S OF T I M E AND C H RO N O T O P E IN THE N O VEL thing evaluated negatively is small, pitiable, feeble and must be destroyed-and is helpless to resist