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By Mikhail Bakhtin

Difficulties of Dostoevsky's Poetics

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Extra resources for Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics (Theory & History of Literature)

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Within the limits of the novel the heroes' worlds interact by means of the event, but these interrelationships . . " Somewhat later Bakhtin elaborates [p. " EDITOR'S PREFACE D xli 13. "Iz zapisei 1970-1971 godov" (From Jottings of 1970-1971], in M. M. Bakhtin, Estetika slovesrtogo tvorchestva, p. 352. 14. , p. 346. 15. See "Problemy rechevykh zhanrov" [The Problem of Speech Genres], in Estetika, pp. 251-52. 16. Bakhtin often modifies the phrase "speaking subject" with the phrase "writing subject" in parentheses, and he writes (or speaks) not of periods after statements, but of pauses.

In a fragment written near the end of his life, Bakhtin in fact compared understanding itself to a sort of obligatorily imperfect translation: Understanding cannot be understood as emotional empathy, or as the placing of oneself in another's place (the loss of one's own place). This is required only for the peripheral aspects of understanding. 14 The ideal here is contiguity without fusion. Equivalence, too, is a threshold phenomenon. Thus are all students of Bakhtin sensitized to the peculiar challenges confronting his translators.

Meier-Grafe has made a similar observation. "Would it ever occur to anyone to participate in any of the numerous conversations in L'Education sentimentale"? "2 This peculiar feature of the critical literature on Dostoevsky cannot, of course, be explained solely by the methodological helplessness of critical thought, nor should it be viewed as a complete violation of the author's artistic intent. No, such an approach on the part of the critics, similar to the uninstructed perception of readers who are continually arguing with Dostoevsky's characters, does in fact correspond to a basic structural feature of Dostoevsky's works.

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