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Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics (Theory & History of Literature) Paperback – 21 Jun 1984

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press (21 Jun. 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816612285
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816612284
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 356,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This book is the ideal introduction to the thought of Mikhail Bakhtin. Bakhtin is becoming established as one of the giants of 20th century literary criticsm, despite his work being unknown in the West until the 1970's. This book is less about Dostoyevsky per se, rather a profound meditation on how Dostoyevsky's art exemplifies the central concern of Bakhtin, the concept of 'dialogism'. This idea defies a simple definition; the book in exploring manifold aspects of it, itself becomes truly dialogic. If you value Dostoyevsky as an artist, require an antidote to the chill winds of modern 'Theory', or simply appreciate genius at work, catch up with one of the best kept secrets in literature.
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Format: Paperback
This book offers the reader a scintillating journey through the profound psychological complexity of Dostoevsky's novels. In doing so, our understanding of the power and ambiguities of consciousness is brought to the fore and the reader feels impelled to read Dostoevsky. The translation by Emerson is absolutely excellent.
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Format: Paperback
Bakhtin was only really introduced to the west by Kristeva in the late 60s but has had a profound impact on the way in which we understand and theorise texts. Here he discusses his concepts of polyphony, heteroglossia and the dialogic, ideas which have a far wider application than only in Dostoevsky or the novel.

Emerson's brief introduction and translation are both exemplary and make this text accessible without simplifying the complexities of thought inherent in Bakhtin's work.

Since Bakhtin, we have transferred his ideas into other genres beyond the novel but it's worth going back to this as a starting point even so. For anyone interested in literary voice, the socialised view of the word and language, and dialogism in a broad sense, this is essential reading.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8a43cca8) out of 5 stars 14 reviews
60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89e21598) out of 5 stars Intense Revelations 23 July 2001
By Eric Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Bakhtin's critique of Dostoevsky's work has revealed so much more to me about the form of this great author's novels than I would have ever been able to understand for myself. What makes Bakhtin such a masterful theorist is his methodical approach to understanding an author's work discussing the historical influence of form and the critical misinterpretations that have preceded the work. He is so attentive to levels of narration that he is able to identify voices in relation to the author and the other characters. This helps to clarify the structure of the narrative and the many ways we can interpret it. Many people have marvelled at the brilliance of Doestoevsky's work but haven't been able to put their finger on why it is so great. Bahktin not only names the reason, but also gives an incredible amount of thorough evidence as to why this is so in a comprehensible way. The technical theory is easy to understand as he is very careful to define his terms and the reasons he uses them. His survey of the development of literary forms, particularly the carnavelesque is informed and inspiring, but be careful as it is slightly idealistic and, though perfectly relevant, you feel that he is assimilating it a little too easy to his critique of Doestoevsky. The narrative techniques he identifies are not only useful in understanding Doestoevskys work but are incredibly useful in thinking about current authors. This is a very important piece of critical work I have come back to again and again.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89e21880) out of 5 stars A master novelist's work explored by master critic 18 Jun. 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is the ideal introduction to the thought of Mikhail Bakhtin. Bakhtin is becoming established as one of the giants of 20th century literary criticsm, despite his work being unknown in the West until the 1970's. This book is less about Dostoyevsky per se, rather a profound meditation on how Dostoyevsky's art exemplifies the central concern of Bakhtin, the concept of 'dialogism'. This idea defies a simple definition; the book in exploring manifold aspects of it, itself becomes truly dialogic. If you value Dostoyevsky as an artist, require an antidote to the chill winds of modern 'Theory', or simply appreciate genius at work, catch up with one of the best kept secrets in literature
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89e219a0) out of 5 stars A Problem with Understanding "Demons," (better known as "The Possessed") 5 Oct. 2013
By Mary Wilbur - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was trying to read the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of what is also known in English as "The Possessed" and "Devils" and was having no end of understanding what Dostoevsky was trying to do or the way he was doing it. According to "Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics" I was reading "Demons" the wrong way, as well as every other novel of Dostoevsky' I have read. According to Bakhtin, "[a] plurality of independent and unmerged voices and consciousnesses, a genuine polyphony of fully valid voices is in fact the chief characteristic of Dostoevsky's novels. What unfolds in his works is not a multitude of characters and fates in a single objective world, illuminated by a single authorial consciousness; rather a plurality of consciousnesses, with equal rights and each with its own world, combine but are not merged in the unity of the event." (p.6) The result, with the exception of the tacked on ending to "Crime and Punishment," is an open ended novel, that is a novel with no clearly fixed ending as in the novels of Turgenev and Tolstoy. Bakhtin uses them as foils to Dostoevsky.

In the chapter "Characteristics of Genre" Bakhtin introduces the reader to carnivalized literature in history and in Dostoevsky.

Bakhtin also includes a chapter titled "Discourse in Dostoevsky." It includes a very complete discussion of discourse, including Bakhtin's classification of the types of discourse.

This is a very interesting and important book to read for a complete understanding of the way Dostoevsky created his novels, his novellas and some of his short stories. It is also a great introduction to Bakhtin's thought. He is not really a critic or a linguist but a philosopher of language.
By tarnhelm - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very important for literature students, persons studying Eastern Orthodox religious or spiritual studies. Bakhtin is the principal author of 'genre theory' in modern times. He certainly lifts lid on Dostoevsky's characters and their dialogue.
HASH(0x89c3edf8) out of 5 stars Critical Theorist Takes on Dostoyevsky 8 Dec. 2013
By Edgar L. Chapman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brilliant critical theory from one of Soviet Russia's best literary minds. In additions, it's hard to be bored by an insightful study of Dostoyevsky.
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