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Mikhail Bakhtin

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Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975) was a Russian philosopher who produced work on semiotics and the philosophy of language. Associated with the Russian Formalist School much of Bakhtin’s work was unknown outside of the USSR until after his death. As a literary critic, his work greatly influenced the notion of the novel as the major literary genre. Some of his most famous works and ideas are of the following:

  • Toward a Philosophy of the Act
  • Problems of Dostoyevsky's Poetics
  • Rabelais and His World
  • The Dialogic Imagination
  • Speech Genres and Other Late Essays
Mikhail Bakhtin

Mikhail Bakhtin's Biography

In 1924, Bakhtin moved to Leningrad, taking a position at the State Publishing House. Five years later, his first major work “Problems of Dostoevsky’s Art” was published, in which he introduced dialogism. Dialogism is communication with multiple works, carrying on a dialogue with another piece of literature. During one of Stalin’s many purges, Bakhtin was sentenced to exile in Siberia, but because of health reasons was forced into internal exile for six years. In 1938 he had a leg amputated and returned to Moscow where he continued to write.

Mikhail Bakhtin's Work

According to Critical Management, his major works include Toward a Philosophy of the Act, first published only 1986. It is an exploration of ethics and aesthetics, where Bakhtin makes three claims regarding Being: that the individual actively and passively participates in Being, that uniqueness is given but exists only to the degree the individual actualizes it, and that the individual must actualize his uniqueness because he is active and irreplaceable. Bakhtin also held the idea that the self has “unfinalizabilty,” in that people change and can never be fully revealed or known in the world.

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