Mikhail Bakhtin and Walter Benjamin: Experience and Form
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This first comparative study of the philosophers and literary critics, Walter Benjamin and Mikhail Bakhtin, focuses on the two thinkers' conceptions of experience and form, investigating parallels between Bakhtin's theories of responsibility, dialogue, and the novel, and Benjamin's theories of translation, montage, allegory, and the aura.
it: On the one hand, the Bakhtins had always led a simple and ascetic life, but on the other, their habits were so fixed at this point that there 19 20 Mikhail Bakhtin and Walter Benjamin was very little flexibility [ ]. Bakhtin drank tea all day which [Elena] insisted on both making and serving herself. She would not agree to using an electrical kettle, so that whatever new accommodations were found would have to provide a stove on which she could boil water.3 Aspects of Bakhtin’s life were
changed; here, the author has relinquished the position of absolute authority and has descended to the level of his characters, and the author’s word is to be no more authoritative than those of his characters. By the time of the essays on the novel, this position has changed yet again. Here, ‘it is as if the author has no language of his own’: The author is not to be found in the language of the narrator, not in the normal literary language to which the story opposes itself [ ] but rather the
dead: Artistic vision presents us with the whole hero, measured in full and added up in every detail; there must be no secrets for us in the hero with respect to meaning; our faith and hope must be silent. From the Totalities 149 very outset, we must experience all of him, deal with the whole of him: in respect to meaning, he must be dead for us, formally dead. (AH 131) This is unacceptable to the later Bakhtin. On the one hand, during the course of his career, Bakhtin’s fear of false
otherwise absent (neglected, unread, unreadable) objects.’ Rebecca Comay, ‘Benjamin and the Ambiguities of Romanticism’, in Ferris, Companion to Benjamin, pp. 134–51 (140). 53. One can compare this position to Benjamin’s comments: ‘The survival of artworks should be represented from the standpoint of the struggle for existence. Their true humanity consists in their unlimited adaptability’ (GS VII 678; SW III 141). 54. It is possible to discern here the influence of late Formalist theories of
‘Poetics Hermeneutics Dialogics: Bakhtin and Paul de Man’, in Morson and Emerson (eds), Rethinking Bakhtin, Evanston IL, 1989, pp. 115–34 (118). MPL, p. 39. I analyse Voloshinov’s use of Simmel in the next chapter. Logos was published simultaneously in Russian and German editions in Tübingen and Moscow. Hirschkop notes that it had on its joint editorial board figures such as Husserl, Weber, F. F. Zelinsky, Peter Struve and Heinrich Rickert, and that it published, amongst other things, articles by