Mikhail Bakhtin: An Aesthetic for Democracy

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9780198159605: Mikhail Bakhtin: An Aesthetic for Democracy
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This book makes a radical break with earlier interpretations of Bakhtin's work. Using recent Russian scholarship, Ken Hirschkop explodes many of the myths which have surrounded Bakhtin and his work and lays the ground for a new, more historically acute sense of his achievement. Through a comprehensive reading of Bakhtin's work, Hirschkop demonstrates that his discussion of the philosophy of language, literary history, popular festive culture, and the phenomenology of everyday life revolved around a lifelong search for a new kind of modern ethical culture. A detailed examination of the major works reveals the careful interweaving of philosophical and historical argument which makes Bakhtin at once so compelling and so frustrating a writer. Hirschkop treats Bakhtin not as a metaphysician or a philosopher for the ages, but as a writer inevitably drawn into the historical conflicts produced by a modernizing and democratizing Europe. As a consequence, Bakhtin becomes a more sober but also more original writer, with a striking contribution to make to the definition of the democratic project.

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About the Author:


Ken Hirschkop is Research Fellow in English Literature, University of Manchester

Review:

`Intellectually vigorous ... subtle and wide-ranging interpretation ... asks several compelling qustions.'
Galin Tihanov, THES 20/10/00.

`Hirschkop offers a comprehensive reading of some of Bakhtin's central texts ... He has also included a biographical survey of Bakhtin's life and work based on recent research published in Russia and the West. This readable and rhetorically seductive part sandwiched between the two more
substantiallly analytical parts of the book renders excellent service to scholars who are unable to follow the ever growing Russian Bakhtiniana ... incisive and historically scrupulous narrative.'
Galin Tihanov, THES 20/10/00.

`Undoubtedly the most reliable and up-to-date biographical excursus on Bakhtin and the Bakhtin circle available in English'
Galin Tihanov, THES 20/10/00.

`This thoughtful, erudite and committed study of Bakhtin's ideas and their role in the (re)definition of the democratic project should be welcome as a substantial contribution to our dialogue with and appropriation of Bakhtin's thought; an added advantage is Hirschkop's engaged and lively
prose style, which is likely to communicate his arguments to a wider readership.'
Galin Tihanov, THES 20/10/00.

`In this book, Ken Hirschkop builds upon recent advances in Bakhtin studies to provide the most informed critical study of Bakhtin's work to date. He draws on the extensive research that has been carried out both in Russia and in the West, and examines this research and Bakhtin's own work
through a far more philosophically astute lens than as been used hitherto ... Hirschkop provides a useful window onto the Russian-language research for English speakers.'
Craig Brandist, Radical Philosophy, 104, Nov/Dec.00.

`the central part on Bakhtin 'myths and history' ... is a masterful distillation of a very varied and widely scattered collection of materials.'
Craig Brandist, Radical Philosophy, 104, Nov/Dec.00.

`Hirschkop has made a significant contribution to our understanding of an important and influential thinker.'
Craig Brandist, Radical Philosophy, 104, Nov/Dec.00.

`Ken Hirkschop's study of Bakhtin's life and works is a thought-provoking inquiry into the interdependence of aesthetics and politics on the basis of a comprehensive and meticulously researched interpretation of Bakhtin's protean thought, together with an intelligent and de-mystifying response
to Bakhtin scholars in Russia and the West.'
Times Literary Supplement, 19th May 00.

`Hirschkop, who writes with flair, meticulously surveys both the primary and secondary sources and offers a trenchant and comprehensive critique ... an important book.'
D.B. Johnson, Choice, Jul/Aug. 2000.

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