By Bakhtin, Mikhail Mikhaĭlovich; Dentith, Simon; Bakhtin, M

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At all events, we must now consider the substantial accounts of language and literature that Voloshinov and Bakhtin provide. 1 Voloshinov and Bakhtin on language The major consideration of language produced by a member of the Bakhtin circle is to be found in Voloshinov’s Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, published in 1929. This will form the main topic of this chapter, together with Bakhtin’s own accounts of language at various moments in his writing. What Voloshinov and Bakhtin have to say about language, and the study of language, is remarkable, not only because what they wrote in the late 1920s appears to anticipate some of the directions of contemporary thought, but more importantly because it suggests some exciting and fruitful ways of thinking about language and the manner in which we act and interact with each other through language.

Formalism provided the most powerful literary position with which the members of the Bakhtin circle had to settle accounts in the 1920s. As I have suggested, this was a period of intense intellectual experiment and adventure in the Soviet Union, in which positions which would later simply be a matter for condemnation and suppression could be discussed openly. One such position was that of the new psychology of Freud, which was widely debated. The Bakhtin circle contributed to this debate with a book by Voloshinov called Freudianism: A Marxist Critique, published in 1927 (The original title was ‘Freudianism: A Critical Sketch’; the subtitle of the English translation was provided by the translator).

As I have suggested, this was a period of intense intellectual experiment and adventure in the Soviet Union, in which positions which would later simply be a matter for condemnation and suppression could be discussed openly. One such position was that of the new psychology of Freud, which was widely debated. The Bakhtin circle contributed to this debate with a book by Voloshinov called Freudianism: A Marxist Critique, published in 1927 (The original title was ‘Freudianism: A Critical Sketch’; the subtitle of the English translation was provided by the translator).

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