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310 PHYLLIS GROSSKURTH possessed similar interests.' This is nonsensical when it was actually Edward who was in that position. More important than these slips is their eloquent Epilogue in which they trace the history of the various English translations of Freud's work, paying full and deserved attention to Strachey's splendid achievement, the translation of the complete works in twenty-four volumes. Such spirited appreciation is particularly necessary at a time when critics such as Bruno Bettelheim have been levelling unjust criticism at Strachey's monumental effort, which has provided the English-speaking world with its knowledge ofFreud. Strachey should never have needed this defence. Bakhtin and Dostoevsky CONSTANTIN v. PONOMAREFF Mikhail Bakhtin. Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics. Edited and translated by Caryl Emerson. Introduction by Wayne C. Booth Theory and History of Literature, volume 8. University of Minnesota Press. '984. 333. $35.00 cloth, $14.95 paper Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975) is an ingenious, enormously erudite, and profoundly original critical voice to reach us out of the Soviet socialist realist wilderness. A classicist by training and a formalist/structuralist in his literary approach, in the West he is chiefly known for his wide-ranging Rabelais and His World and for the present work, which is an excellent translation of an expanded 196) edition of a study on Dostoevsky that Bakhtin had originally published in 1929. For Bakhtin, literary evolution is defined by static or closed genres, such as the epic, which are always oriented towards an 'absolute past,' totally out of time and history and complete in themselves; and dynamic or open genres, such as the 'novel' in its many guises, which, from Greek times to the present, has always been in life and in history and therefore capable of infinite organic development. Only in the novelistic genre was the protagonist engaged in the process of realizing himself as a human being and only there was he, as a subjective entity, full of 'ideological and linguistic initiative' and 'personal experience and free creative imagination.' Bakhtin also distinguished between two distinct modem types ofnovels: the monologic, where the author spoke for his characters, and the dialogical, where the author was in dialogue with his characters (Dostoevsky's novels belonged to this second category). For Bakhtin, the novels of Rabelais and Cervantes in particular played a crucial role in the development of the modern novel. In his Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics Bakhtin does two things: one can be questioned, the other makes his study an important contribution to Dostoevsky scholarship. What I think can be questioned is Bakhtin's claim that Dostoevsky in his novels departed from the monologic or 'romantic' form of creative expression UNIVERSIlY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY, VOLUME 551 NUMBER 3, SPRING 1986 BAKHTIN 311 and created 'a new [polyphonic] form of artistic visualization' where the many consciousnesses of his characters functioned independently of the author shaping the very structure of his novels. Bakhtin, it seems to me, has taken up an impossible position, for since the characters do not create themselves out of 'nothing,' i.e. out of their own selves, they are never free of their author's omnipresent perspective and control. It seems erroneous on Bakhtin's part to suggest that 'The author does not insert into this material [for a character's 'personal voice'] any judgment or evaluation of his own: when it is only too obvious that the author by virtue of selecting this material has already fed his personal bias into it. What makes this study an important contribution to the field, however, is Bakhtin's original analysis of Dostoevsky's artistic method as the orchestration of literary material in tenns of conflicting multiple consciousnesses speaking in 'double-voiced discourse,' i.e. through stylization, parody~ and especially 'hidden dialogicalily.' I might add that, for me, Bakhtin's fourth and penultimate chapter, with its fascinating discussion of the history of genres, is the most memorable in his work. I should mention, in closing, Booth's informative and objective introduction, the editor's insightful remarks on Bakhtin's slyle of thinking and work, and her happy decision to add to our comprehension of Bakhtin by including two appendixes relevant to the study and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 310-311
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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