By Simon Dentith

ISBN-10: 0415077516

ISBN-13: 9780415077514

In Bakhtinian Thought, Simon Dentith presents a lucid and approachable advent to the paintings of Bakhtin and his circle, helpfully taking the reader during the many parts in their proposal. Dentith shows the numerous issues of rivalry, trouble and value. The publication not just attracts jointly the usually disparately accrued writing of Bakhtin, but in addition that of Voloshinov and Medvedev, language theorists of commensurable value as well.

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

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The heart of Medvedev’s critique of his ‘good opponent’ concerns precisely formalism’s attempt to divorce literature from practical language, and thus to remove from criticism and scholarship all questions of content and values. Against this Medvedev insists upon the ‘ideological environment’ in which all writing occurs, so that every literary utterance necessarily draws upon and contests the values that are articulated around it, inside and outside literature itself. As he puts it in one striking formulation, ‘the language of art is only a dialect of a single social language’ (FM 36).

But such questions of reported speech are also a matter of style, in which the relations between writer, topic and reader are managed (these questions are especially acute in writing, though they apply to speech also). Grammar, style and questions of sociology are therefore inseparable. In addition, such phenomena are the most evident way in which the interlocutive character of language appears at the grammatical and stylistic level. Direct and indirect speech, and the different kinds of indirect speech, obviously dramatize the fact that language is something that exists between people.

The drama, the conflicts and the tensions of psychic life, as revealed by Freud, are not disputed by Voloshinov but recast as versions of the conflicts of the social milieu. This is a suggestive but also a reductive account of Freud. It should be stressed that the book is a schematic and avowedly popular account of the topic, a large part of which is made up of straightforward exposition of the various phases of Freud’s thought. Its suggestiveness lies in its insistence on the verbal content of both the ‘official’ and the ‘unofficial’ conscious—a suggestion which, in the best spirit of the Bakhtin circle, sees in the operation of ‘inner speech’ the inextricably social coming-to-consciousness of the historical subject.

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Bakhtinian Thought: An Introductory Reader (Critical Readers in Theory and Practice) by Simon Dentith


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