The Bakhtin Circle and Ancient Narrative
Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin (1895-1975) has become a name to conjure with. We know this because he is now one of those thinkers everyone already knows-without necessarily having to read much of him! Doesn't everyone now know how polyphony functions, what carnival means, why language is dialogic but the novel more so, how chronotopes make possible any concrete artistic cognition and that utterances give rise to genres that last thousands of years, always the same but not the same? Like Marx and Freud in the twentieth century, or Plotinus and Plato in the fourth, a familiarity with Bakhtin's thinking is so commonly assumed, at least in the Humanities, as to be taken for granted. He is no longer an author but a field of study in his own right. As Craig Brandist (of the Bakhtin Centre at Sheffield University) reports: the works of the [Bakhtin] Circle are still appearing in Russian and English, and are already large in number...There are now several thousand works about the Bakhtin Circle.The freedom given to contributors to address any text or topic under the general rubric of The Bakhtin Circle and Ancient Narrative has produced a remarkable variety of essays ranging widely over different periods, genres, and cultures. While most of the contributors chose to explore Bakhtin's theory of genre or to take issue with his account of one genre, Greek romance, the remaining contributions defy such convenient categories. What all the essays share with one another (and those collected in Bakhtin and the Classics) is the attempt to engage Bakhtin as a reader and thinker.
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