Bakhtinian thought : an introductory reader by Bakhtin, Mikhail Mikhaĭlovich; Dentith, Simon; Bakhtin, M

By Bakhtin, Mikhail Mikhaĭlovich; Dentith, Simon; Bakhtin, M

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It is certainly true that a comparatively short book like Marxism and the Philosophy of Language is unlikely to provide more than suggestive pointers to these problems of general linguistics, especially since by its own account some of the modes of thought with which it is grappling have long histories in Western— and indeed Indian—thought. Moreover, when Voloshinov does provide a substantive and extended analysis of particular linguistic usage, he does so as an analysis of the various phenomena of reported speech, which might not be thought of as central to these more general problems we have been discussing.

MPL 100) This rather dense formulation attempts to capture the relationship between any particular whole utterance—by definition unrepeatable—and the repeatable linguistic elements on which the utterance depends. ), which always has a different theme whenever it is asked, but always uses the same combination of meanings. In the light of this distinction you can see the unsatisfactoriness of related distinctions, such as those between usual and occasional meanings, or central and lateral meanings, or between denotation and connotation.

So the most profound influence on Bakhtin was not Marxism so much as the profound social upheavals that occurred in Russia in the early twentieth century and which provided an overwhelming sense of the transfigurative power of collective life. The particular formulations of Marxism are surely secondary to this. Nevertheless, we can see that certain different emphases within it were more or less attractive to Bakhtin. In the first place, Marxism as the philosophy of historical materialism, which stresses the socio-historical ground of all action, is certainly at least cognate with Bakhtin’s characteristic emphasis on the social and historical particularity of all actions, particularly linguistic and literary utterances.

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