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152Philosophy and Literature mentation in A Dream Pky (1901): "Earthly existence is a dream, a Platonic non-reality; reality exists in the life of the spirit; and the artist who creates dreams is closest to the source of all being" (p. 643). TL· Ghost Sonata (1907) is suffused with Strindberg's late Swedenborgian mysticism as he senses his approach to the Isle of the Dead. However, his plays were not attenuated by discursive abstractions; they were vivid as art and theatre. Rhythm, tone, and nuance were of great importance; he saw them as vital aspects ofmeaning—as were gestures, shadows, movements in the physicality of the stage. Thus, his plays can be exceedingly difficult to translate. In general, Sprinchorn's renditions are superior. His voice accomplishes The Father considerably better than the "old chap" versions of the past, where too often Scandinavian forthrightness or cursing come forth stilted and silly. However, no translator gets the captain in The Father quite right, and Sprinchorn only comes close. He smudges the character with small flubs such as having him say, "The girl is guilty to some extent" (p. 144), when the Swedish says, "The girl is guilty." Period. But then, as a dog breeds fleas, almost all translations can breed cavil and quibble. After all, Sprinchorn does suggest much of the demonic energy of the play, and that is what matters. He has the plastic language and imagination thatcan almost cope with Strindberg's range— even with the thirty-odd diverse voices of A Dream Play, and with the rich theological dialectic of Master Okf. Since he can only subsist in translation, this volume is a welcome and valuable contribution to our experience of Strindberg. Whitman CollegeWalter E. Broman Problems ofDostoevsky's Poetics, by Mikhail Bakhtin; edited and translated by Caryl Emerson; xliii & 333 pp. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 1984, $35.00. Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975), leading Soviet critic of the 1920s, forced into obscurity in the 1930s and 40s, rediscovered by young Russian literary scholars after the death of Stalin in 1953, is now recognized worldwide as a major philosopher of language and theoretician of the novel, whose work has proved seminal in the development ofliterary criticism in the second half of the twentieth century. In recent years there has been a veritable explosion of Western interest in him. Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, the genesis of which dates from 1921, was originally published in 1929, but Bakhtin's arrest during that year ensured that Reviews153 it made relatively minor impact at the time. Only with its 1963 republication in revised and expanded form did it become clear that a milestone in literary theory had been reached. An English translation by R. William Ritsel was published by Ardis in 1973, but for a number of reasons this is unsatisfactory. Emerson's version is a vast improvement. It comprises a concise and incisive editorial introduction, an excellent preface by the translator which highlights the special features ofBakhtin's idiosyncratic Russian style, the translation itself, two appendices, the first containing three relevant fragments from the 1929 edition, the second a set of notes relating to Bakhtin's revisions for the 1963 version, a useful glossary of proper names and works mentioned by Bakhtin, and an index. At last the outstanding Russian critic is presented to the Englishspeaking world in a form more worthy of him. Bakhtin is famous for having identified in Dostoevsky's major novels a new genre of prose fiction, whose principal distinguishing feature is "polyphony." Whereas Turgenev's and Tolstoy's novels, for example, are "monologic," Dostoevsky 's are "dialogic." The reader becomes aware not of a single authorial voice, but of "a plurality of independent and unmerged voices and consciousnesses " (p. 6). Bakhtin develops this idea by focusing on Dostoevsky's characters, referred to as "idea-images" (p. 64 et passim), his ideas, his use of elements which relate to "adventure plot" and Menippean satire, and finally his "discourse " (the original Russian word actually means "word"), in particular the use he makes of a special narrative voice or, more exacdy, voices. Particularly stimulating is his analysis in Chapter Four ofDostoevsky's stories "Bobok" (1873) and "The Dream of a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 152-154
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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