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Bakhtinian Thought: An Introductory Reader (Critical Readers by Simon Dentith

By Simon Dentith

In Bakhtinian Thought, Simon Dentith presents a lucid and approachable advent to the paintings of Bakhtin and his circle, helpfully taking the reader in the course of the many components in their idea. Dentith exhibits the numerous issues of competition, hassle and value. The ebook not just attracts jointly the usually disparately gathered writing of Bakhtin, but additionally that of Voloshinov and Medvedev, language theorists of commensurable value as well.

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Additional info for Bakhtinian Thought: An Introductory Reader (Critical Readers in Theory and Practice)

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Yet there are several points at which Bakhtin’s religious orientation is perhaps operating: in that undoubted ethical commitment which we saw as fundamental to his understanding of aesthetic activity in ‘Author and hero’, and, paradoxically, in his celebration of the body-based meanings affirmed in carnival against a modernity drained of emotional affect. At all events, we must now consider the substantial accounts of language and literature that Voloshinov and Bakhtin provide. 1 Voloshinov and Bakhtin on language The major consideration of language produced by a member of the Bakhtin circle is to be found in Voloshinov’s Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, published in 1929.

Here it is sufficient to note a remarkable historical irony, which continues to give force to these polemics from the Russia of the 1920s. Some key Russian INTRODUCTION 17 formalist themes re-emerged in France and elsewhere in the 1950s and 1960s under the name of ‘structuralism’; the characteristic formalist stress on ‘estrangement’ or ‘defamiliarization’ can even be thought of as a version of the deconstructive emphasis on literature as a system of differences in which there is no positive term, so that full and definitive meaning is constantly deferred.

So this is a convenient place to turn to Bakhtin’s various explicit accounts of language. II To move directly from Voloshinov to Bakhtin invites, of course, some interesting questions about the ‘authorship question’. The situation is full of ironies, some of them ferocious ones. Voloshinov wrote Marxism and the Philosophy of Language as an explicit Marxist, indeed as a member of the Communist Party, in the full expectation of publication and of BAKHTINIAN THOUGHT: AN INTRODUCTORY READER 31 contributing to a public debate.

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