Bakhtin Circle and Ancient Narrative (excerpt)
by edited by R. Bracht Branham
Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin (1895-1975) has become a name to conjure with. We know this because he is now one of those thinkers everyone already knows - without necessarily having to read much of him! Doesn't everyone now know how polyphony functions, what carnival means, why language is dialogic but the novel more so, how chronotopes make possible any "concrete artistic cognition" and that utterances give rise to genres that last thousands of years, "always the same but not the same"? Like Marx and Freud in the twentieth century, or Plotinus and Plato in the fourth, a familiarity with Bakhtin's thinking is so commonly assumed, at least in the Humanities, as to be taken for granted. He is no longer an author but a field of study in his own right. As Craig Brandist (of the Bakhtin Centre at Sheffield University) reports: "the works of the [Bakhtin] Circle are still appearing in Russian and English, and are already large in number...There are now several thousand works about the Bakhtin Circle."