1.1.3 language and the specific possibilities it

1.1.3 Mikhail Bakhtin: from ‘The Prehistory of Novelistic Discourse; I … Five different stylistic approaches to novelistic discourse may be observed: (1) the author;s portions alone in the novel are analyzed, that is, only direct words of the author more or less correctly isolated-an analysis constructed in terms of the usual, direct poetic methods of representation and expression (metaphors, comparisons, lexical register, etc.); (2) instead of a stylistic analysis of the novel as an artistic whole, there is a neutral linguistic description of the novelist;s language;(3) in a given novelist;s language, elements characteristic of his particular literary tendency are isolated (be it Romanticism, Naturalism, Impressionism, etc.

);(4) what is sought in the language of the novel is examined as an expression of the individual personality, that is, language is analyzed as the individual style of the given novelist;(5) the novel is viewed as a rhetorical genre, and its devices are analyzed from the point of view of their effectiveness as rhetoric. All these types of stylistic analysis to a greater or lesser degree are remote from those peculiarities that define the novel as a genre, and they are also remote from the specifis conditions under which the word lives in the novel. They all take a novelist;s language and style not as the language and style of a novel but merely as the expression of a specific individual artistic personality, or as the style of a particular literary school or finally as a phenomenon common to poetic language in general. The individual artistic personality of the author, the literary school, the general characteristics of poetic language or of the literary language of a particular era all serve to conceal from us the genre itself, with the specific demands it makes upon language and the specific possibilities it opens up for it. As a result, in the majority of these works on the novel, relatively minor stylistic variations-whether individual or characteristic of a particular school-have the effect of completely covering up the major stylistic lines determined by the development of the novel as a unique genre. And all the while discourse in the novel has been living a life that is distinctly its own, a life that is impossible to understand from the point of view of stylistic categories formed on the basis of poetic genres in the narrow sense of that term.

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The differences between the novel (and certain forms close to it) and all other genres-poetic genres in the narrow sense-are so fundamental, so categorical, that all attempts to impose on the novel the concepts and norms of poetic imagery are doomed to fail. Although the novel does contain poetic imagery in the narrow sense (primarily in the author;s direct discourse), it is of secondary importance for the novel. What is more, this direct imagery often acquires in the novel quite special functions that are not direct. Here, for example, is how Pushkin characterizes Lensky;s poetry Evgenij Onegin, 2. 10, 1-4:He sang love, he was obedient to love,And his song was as clearAs the thoughts of a simple maid,As an infant;s dream, as the moon…

. (a development of the final comparison follows).The poetic images (specifically the metaphoric comparisons) representing Lensky;s ‘song; do not here have any direct poetic significance at all. They cannot be understood as the direct poetic images of Pushkin himself (although formally, of course, the characterization is that of the author).

Here Lensky;s ‘song; is characterizing itself, in its own language, in its own poetic manner. Pushkin;s direct characterization of Lensky;s ‘song;-which we find as well in the novel-sounds completely different 6. 23, 1:Thus he wrote gloomily and languidly … .

In the four lines cited by us above it is Lensky;s song itself, his voice, his poetic style that sounds, but it is permeated with the parodic and ironic accents of the author; that is the reason why it need not be distinguished from authorial speech by compositional or grammatical means. What we have before us is in fact an image of Lensky;s song, but not an image in the narrow sense; it is rather a novelistic image: the image of another;s language, in the given instance the image of another;s poetic style (sentimental and romantic). The poetic metaphors in these lines (‘as an infant;s dream;, ‘as the moon; and others) no way function here as the primary means of representation.

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