The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays by Mikhail Bakhtin, edited by Michael Holquist, translated by Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist, from University of Texas Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“Here in English translation are four selections from Voprosy literatury i estetiki (Problems of literature and esthetics), published in Moscow in 1975.
Bakhtin claims for the novel vastly larger territory than has been traditionally accepted. For him, the novel is not so much a genre as a force, ‘novelness.’ He examines the difficulty of arriving at a generic definition of the novel and attempts a classification of novelistic works based on the philosophic attitude toward time and space that each presumes. Finally, Bakhtin discusses literature and language in general, which he sees as stratified, constantly changing systems made up of subgenres, dialects, and almost infinitely fragmented ‘languages’ in battle with one another.” — back cover
Rabelais and His World by Mikhail Bakhtin, translated by Hélène Iswolsky, from Indiana University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“This classic work by the Russian philosopher and literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin (1895–1975 examines popular humor and folk culture in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, especially the world of carnival, as depicted in the novels of François Rabelais. In Bakhtin’s view, the spirit of laughter and irreverence prevailing at carnival time is the dominant quality of Rabelais’s art. The work of both Rabelais and Bakhtin springs from an age of revolution, and each reflects a particularly open sense of the literary text. For both, carnival, with its emphasis on the earthy and the grotesque, signified the symbolic destruction of authority and official culture and the assertion of popular renewal. Bakhtin evokes carnival as a special, creative life form, with its own space and time.
Written in the Soviet Union in the 1930s at the height of the Stalin era but published there for the first time only in 1965, Bakhtin’s book is both a major contribution to the poetics of the novel and a subtle condemnation of the degeneration of the Russian revolution into Stalinist orthodoxy. One of the essential texts of a theorist who is rapidly becoming a major reference in contemporary thought, Rabelais and His World is essential reading for anyone interested in problems of language and text in a cultural interpretation.” — back cover