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I Contain Multitudes

Terry Eagleton: Bakhtin is Everywhere, 21 June 2007

Mikhail BakhtinThe Word in the World 
by Graham Pechey.
Routledge, 238 pp., £19.99, March 2007, 978 0 415 42419 6
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... For the past three decades, Mikhail Bakhtin has been more of an industry than an individual. Not only an industry, in fact, but a flourishing transnational corporation, complete with jet-setting chief executives, global conventions and its own in-house journal. In the field of cultural theory, this victim of Stalinism is now big business ...

Lunacharsky was impressed

Joseph Frank: Mikhail Bakhtin, 19 February 1998

The First Hundred Years of Mikhail Bakhtin 
by Caryl Emerson.
Princeton, 312 pp., £19.95, December 1997, 9780691069760
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... Up until the late Fifties, Mikhail Bakhtin was completely unknown in his own country. Then a group of graduate students at the Gorky Institute of World Literature, who had come across the first version of his book on Dostoevsky (1929) and wondered about his fate, discovered to their astonishment that he was still alive and teaching at an obscure institute in the Russian provinces ...

Jamboree

John Sturrock, 20 February 1986

Handbook of Russian Literature 
edited by Victor Terras.
Yale, 558 pp., £25, April 1985, 0 300 03155 6
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Verbal Art, Verbal Sign, Verbal Time 
by Roman Jakobson, edited by Krystyna Pomorska and Stephen Rudy.
Blackwell, 208 pp., £25, July 1985, 0 631 14262 2
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Historic Structures: The Prague School Project 1928-1946 
by F.W. Galan.
Croom Helm, 250 pp., £22.50, May 1985, 0 7099 3816 0
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Mikhail Bakhtin 
by Katerina Clark and Michael Holquist.
Harvard, 398 pp., £19.95, February 1985, 0 674 57416 8
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The Formal Method in Literary Scholarship: A Critical Introduction to Sociological Poetics 
by M.M. Bakhtin and P.M. Medvedev, translated by Albert Wehrle.
Harvard, 191 pp., £7.50, May 1985, 0 674 30921 9
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Dialogues between Roman Jakobson and Krystyna Pomorska 
translated by Christian Hubert.
Cambridge, 186 pp., £15, August 1983, 0 521 25113 3
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The Dialogical Principle 
by Tzvetan Todorov, translated by Wlad Godzich.
Manchester, 132 pp., £25, February 1985, 0 7190 1466 2
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Rabelais and his World 
by Mikhail Bakhtin, translated by Hélène Iswolsky.
Indiana, 484 pp., $29.50, August 1984, 0 253 20341 4
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... Roman Jakobson and Mikhail Bakhtin agree on so little as theorists of literature that they must count as alternatives. To read one and then the other, preferably Jakobson first and then Bakhtin, as a sort of anti-Jakobson, is a literary theoretical education. Where Jakobson is dry, Bakhtin is convivial; where Jakobson is technocratic, Bakhtin is impulsive; where Jakobson is magisterial, Bakhtin is a groundling ...

Thinking Persons

John Ellis, 14 May 1992

Addressing Frank Kermode: Essays in Criticism and Interpretation 
edited by Margaret Tudeau-Clayton and Martin Warner.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £40, July 1991, 9780333531372
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The Poverty of Structuralism: Literature and Structuralist Theory 
by Leonard Jackson.
Longman, 317 pp., £24, July 1991, 0 582 06697 2
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Inconvenient Fictions: Literature and the Limits of Theory 
by Bernard Harrison.
Yale, 293 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 300 05057 7
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Reading Minds: The Study of English in the Age of Cognitive Science 
by Mark Turner.
Princeton, 298 pp., £18.99, January 1992, 0 691 06897 6
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Mikhail BakhtinCreation of a Prosaics 
by Gary Saul Morson and Caryl Emerson.
Stanford, 530 pp., $49.50, December 1990, 0 8047 1821 0
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... Kermode’s principle (theory that does not arise from and flow back into practice is suspect), Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics, by Gary Saul Morson and Caryl Emerson gives powerful positive evidence of its essential correctness. This is a careful and comprehensive account of the work of a sophisticated thinker who was thoroughly immersed in ...

Rabelais’s Box

Peter Burke, 3 April 1980

Rabelais 
by M.A. Screech.
Duckworth, 494 pp., £35, November 1979, 9780715609705
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... just as much about the place of Rabelais in the history of literature. To the Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin, it is obvious that Rabelais belongs to ‘the culture of folk humour’; to the French Marxist, Henri Lefebvre, he is the spokesman of the bourgeoisie; to other critics, from Northrop Frye to Dorothy Coleman, he is a humanist, reviving the ...

Outside the Academy

Robert Alter, 13 February 1992

Authors and Authority: English and American Criticism 1750-1990 
by Patrick Parrinder.
Macmillan, 392 pp., £40, August 1991, 0 333 43294 0
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A History of Modern Criticism 1750-1950. Vol. VII: German, Russian and Eastern European Criticism, 1900-1950 
by René Wellek.
Yale, 458 pp., £26, October 1991, 0 300 05039 9
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... But when he is dealing with original critics of real intellectual power like Erich Auerbach, Mikhail Bakhtin, Ernst Robert Curtius, Georg Lukacs, Viktor Shklovsky and Leo Spitzer, he offers trenchant and detailed critiques of their key concepts and methods, while also conveying a sense of their achievement. Auerbach’s Mimesis is a masterwork of ...

Feminist Perplexities

Dinah Birch, 11 October 1990

Seductions: Studies in Reading and Culture 
by Jane Miller.
Virago, 194 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 86068 943 3
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... inspect the contribution of a range of forceful male theorists – Raymond Williams, Edward Said, Mikhail Bakhtin – in a similarly sceptical light. Given her suspicion of the theoretical, her concentration on these figures looks incongruous. In fact, she demonstrates no wish for a wholesale renunciation of theoretical analysis, and her essays are ...

Pork Chops and Pineapples

Terry Eagleton: The Realism of Erich Auerbach, 23 October 2003

Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature 
by Erich Auerbach.
Princeton, 579 pp., £13.95, May 2003, 9780691113364
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... of a particular text the bustling, workaday life of the common people. For Auerbach as for Mikhail Bakhtin, who was writing his classic work on Rabelais and realism at much the same time that Auerbach was holed up almost bereft of books in Istanbul, realism is in the broadest sense a matter of the vernacular. It is the artistic word for a ...

There’s a porpoise close behind us

Michael Dobson, 13 November 1997

The Origins of English Nonsense 
by Noel Malcolm.
HarperCollins, 329 pp., £18, May 1997, 0 00 255827 0
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... nothing but Rebellious Warres inciting’ – Malcolm is so vehemently opposed to the ideas of Mikhail Bakhtin, for whom nonsense writings such as those of Rabelais enacted an uprising of the low against the restraints of high culture (a view with which Taylor himself seems in the instance above to have concurred), that he is inclined to overlook the ...
... economy was very interesting for us. R.B.: From reading your book I gather that the Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin had an influence on you? B.K.: Yes, he did. He died in the Seventies and no sooner was he dead than everybody began to study his writings and to appreciate his theses on the necessity for a dialogic structure in true art – that is to ...
Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England 
by Stephen Greenblatt.
Oxford, 205 pp., £22.50, April 1988, 0 19 812980 7
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Representing the English Renaissance 
edited by Stephen Greenblatt.
California, 372 pp., $42, February 1988, 0 520 06129 2
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... like Greenblatt, a number of contributors draw on contemporary social and cultural theory, from Mikhail Bakhtin and Roman Jakobson to Jacques Lacan and Georg Lukacs: given the concern with collective representations, it is surprising to find no reference to Emile Durkheim. However, other essays in the volume have little in common with Greenblatt’s ...

What happened to MacDiarmid

David Norbrook, 23 October 1986

Hugh MacDiarmid: The Man and his Work 
by Nancy Gish.
Macmillan, 235 pp., £25, June 1984, 0 333 29473 4
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Complete Poems 
by Hugh MacDiarmid.
Penguin, £8.95, February 1985, 0 14 007913 0
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... again it may not. There is some overlap between Shestov and a thinker who is now better-known, Mikhail Bakhtin; both celebrate forms of discourse that dispense with a fixed subject position and set opposing viewpoints in vigorous dialogical collision. The aim is to challenge the reader’s preconceptions – or, in MacDiarmid’s expressive Scots ...

Burying Scott

Marilyn Butler, 7 September 1995

The Life of Walter Scott: A Critical Biography 
by John Sutherland.
Blackwell, 386 pp., £19.99, January 1995, 1 55786 231 1
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... medieval period as rumbustious and festive, the Rabelaisian moment long afterwards developed by Mikhail Bakhtin. The doyen of the group in Scott’s lifetime was the book-collector and cultural historian Francis Douce. In his Illustrations of Shakespeare (1807), Douce traces many of Shakespeare’s sources and allusions to the late Middle Ages, and ...

Unquiet Deaths

Patrick Parrinder, 3 September 1987

Two Lives and a Dream 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Walter Kaiser.
Aidan Ellis, 245 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 85628 160 3
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The Wedding at Port-au-Prince 
by Hans Christoph Buch, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Faber, 259 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 571 14928 6
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Saints and Scholars 
by Terry Eagleton.
Verso, 145 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 86091 180 2
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Imperial Patient: The Memoirs of Nero’s Doctor 
by Alex Comfort.
Duckworth, 206 pp., £10.95, June 1987, 0 7156 2168 8
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... up in a sort of Shavian house-party consisting of Leopold Bloom, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Nikolai Bakhtin (the brother of Mikhail), and a trooper called Molloy, all of whom just happen to fetch up in a lonely Connemara cottage. What follows is often highly amusing, since Eagleton is (as one had suspected) pretty good at the ...

Normal People

Sheila Fitzpatrick: SovietSpeak, 25 May 2006

Everything Was For Ever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation 
by Alexei Yurchak.
Princeton, 331 pp., £15.95, December 2005, 0 691 12117 6
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... saw the government’s basic concern as ‘caring for people, free hospitals, good education’. Mikhail, similarly, ‘had always thought’ that the ‘actual idea’ of socialism was ‘profoundly correct and that this was how things should be … I had realised,’ he said, ‘that there were distortions … But I thought that if we managed to get rid of ...

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