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The Phonemic Grail

A.C. Gimson, 17 April 1980

The Sound Shape of Language 
by Roman Jakobson and Linda Waugh.
Harvester, 308 pp., £13.50, September 1979, 0 85527 926 5
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... movement, with no obvious sound boundaries. None has sought more tenaciously and persuasively than Roman Jakobson to establish another (universal) level of analysis which would correspond more faithfully to the way in which we perceive spoken language. Jakobson, born in Moscow at the end of the last century, has been a ...

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 ...

Sycophant-in-Chief

Clarence Brown, 12 December 1996

Tangled Loyalties: The Life and Times of Ilya Ehrenburg 
by Joshua Rubenstein.
Tauris, 482 pp., £19.50, July 1996, 1 85043 998 2
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... the problem of being inescapable without bothering to be readable. That my old Harvard teacher Roman Jakobson prized the work of Mayakovsky I set down not only to his literary judgment, which I respected without sharing, but also to the fierce loyalty that Russians feel toward the friends of their youth. That he seemed also fond of Ehrenburg I could ...

Major and Minor

Frank Kermode, 6 June 1985

The Oxford Companion to English Literature 
edited by Margaret Drabble.
Oxford, 1155 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 19 866130 4
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... one notes the ample presence of D. Lessing and the absence of D. Jacobson; his near-namesake Roman Jakobson is in, and said to be still alive, though alas he is not. Why Auerbach and not Curtius or Spitzer? Why the uninteresting Richard Hengist Horne and not the fascinating Herbert Horne? There’s a conspiracy against Herbert Horne: he isn’t even ...

At MoMA

Hal Foster: ‘Inventing Abstraction’, 7 February 2013

... the belief that language referred directly to the world (here the intimacy of the linguist Roman Jakobson with Malevich is very telling). Although Dickerman alludes to the impact of new technologies and culture on abstraction, one would like to hear more on this score. The exhibition offers a strong sense of the ambiguous attractions of the ...

Beyond Zero

Peter Wollen: Kazimir Malevich, 1 April 2004

Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism 
edited by Matthew Drutt.
Guggenheim, 296 pp., $65, June 2003, 0 89207 265 2
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... notorious White Square on White of 1918. In his lively memoirs, published as My Futurist Years, Roman Jakobson, the great Russian linguist, vividly recalled his first encounter with Malevich, in 1913. ‘I am painting new pictures, non-representational ones,’ Malevich explained. ‘Let’s go to Paris in the summer, and you can give lectures and ...

Men’s Work

Adam Kuper: Lévi-Strauss, 24 June 2004

Claude Lévi-Strauss: The Formative Years 
by Christopher Johnson.
Cambridge, 208 pp., £40, February 2003, 0 521 01667 3
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... he discovered a deeper source of human reason. In New York, Koyré introduced Lévi-Strauss to Roman Jakobson. Lévi-Strauss remarked approvingly that Jakobson was ‘interested in everything – painting, avant-garde poetry, anthropology, computers, biology.’ (The first number of the journal Lévi-Strauss ...

Conversations with Myself

Michael Wood: Fernando Pessoa, 19 July 2018

The Book of Disquiet 
by Fernando Pessoa, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Serpent’s Tail, 413 pp., £9.99, August 2018, 978 1 78125 864 4
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... had heard of Fernando Pessoa, now regarded as one of the great Modernist poets, the linguist Roman Jakobson, in collaboration with Luciana Stegagno-Picchio, wrote an essay centring on Pessoa’s use of oxymorons. The piece was a complex formal study of a poem from Mensagem (1934), the single volume of verse Pessoa published in Portuguese in his ...

Episteme, My Arse

Christopher Tayler: Laurent Binet, 15 June 2017

The Seventh Function of Language 
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 390 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 910701 58 4
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... referential, emotive, conative, phatic, metalingual and poetic – outlined in a famous paper by Roman Jakobson. Those are only six functions, Bayard points out. Simon combs through Jakobson again and finds, in a passage on subsets of the conative, a mention of a ‘magic, incantatory function’. ...

The Everyday Business of Translation

George Steiner, 22 November 1979

The True Interpreter 
by Louis Kelly.
Blackwell, 282 pp., £15
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... between languages. To understand is to ‘decode’ and to ‘reinterpret’ internally. With Roman Jakobson, this theoretic scheme extends to ‘transmutation’: that is, we ‘translate’ between semantic systems when we interpret a painting, when we understand a piece of music, when we ‘read’ the meaning of human gestures or formal ...

Pairs

Maurice Bloch, 5 May 1983

The Way of the Masks 
by Claude Lévi-Strauss, translated by Sylvia Modelski.
Cape, 249 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 224 02081 1
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... France. He took a post at the New School for Social Research and met, among others, the linguist Roman Jakobson. The significance of this meeting is central, because it is the combination of Lévi-Strauss’s ethnographic knowledge and the theories of a particular school of linguistics called ‘structural linguistics’ which produced ‘structural ...

Structuralism Domesticated

Frank Kermode, 20 August 1981

Working with Structuralism 
by David Lodge.
Routledge, 207 pp., £10.95, June 1981, 0 7100 0658 6
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... an admiration for, and a desire to use, the extraordinary achievements of such theoreticians as Roman Jakobson, now mid-way through his ninth decade and hardly to be thought of as a poseur from the Left Bank. Indeed, when one thinks of that fertile and penetrating mind, it is hard to avoid the reflection that it really takes an English reviewer to ...

Naming of Dogs

Edmund Leach, 20 March 1986

The View from Afar 
by Claude Lévi-Strauss, translated by Joachim Neugroschel and Phoebe Hoss.
Blackwell, 311 pp., £19.50, June 1985, 0 631 13966 4
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... anthropology a string of brilliant ideas all closely linked with the phonological theories of Roman Jakobson, to whose memory the present volume is dedicated. Sometimes the ideas fitted with the empirical evidence, but as often as not they did not. This has subsequently led to a hopeless divergence of view between those of us (mostly Anglophone ...

Proud to Suffer

G.S. Smith: The Intellectuals Who Left the USSR, 19 October 2006

The Philosophy Steamer: Lenin and the Exile of the Intelligentsia 
by Lesley Chamberlain.
Atlantic, 414 pp., £25, March 2006, 1 84354 040 1
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... routes before and sometimes after the 1922 expulsions are considered: they include Isaiah Berlin, Roman Jakobson and Pitirim Sorokin, three members of the first wave who had a huge impact well beyond Russian-speaking circles (outside Russia, that is; their work remained unmentionable in the old country until much later). What began as an account of a ...

The [ ] walked down the street

Michael Silverstein: Saussure, 8 November 2012

Saussure 
by John Joseph.
Oxford, 780 pp., £30, March 2012, 978 0 19 969565 2
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... 20th century, led by Edward Sapir and Leonard Bloomfield in America, Daniel Jones in Britain, and Roman Jakobson and Prince Nikolai Troubetzkoy on the Continent. Saussure’s most important breakthrough, the one that later allowed a vigorous structuralism to flourish, was the notion that all semiotic systems – human languages above all – organise the ...

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