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Re: [xmca] Bakhtin/Volosinov
I've ordered the book, and I'll read it with great interest. But the greatest interest with which I will read it concerns this: Will Bronckart and Bota apply to THEMSELVES the same rigorous (and profoundly INDIVIDUALIST) standards that they are imposing on the Bakhtin group? That is, will they acknowledge that a LOT of these arguments have been made by others (Saul Morson, Caryl Emerson, and last but not least the translators of "Marxism and the Philosophy of Language", Ladislav Matejka and I.R. Titunik)? I hope so.
Yes, we know, from all of these scholars, that Bakhtin told little pork pies. We know, for example, that he claimed to have graduated from Petrograd U, but he never did (his brother, who ended up a Cambridge professor, did). But we also know that when he was given the chance to LEGALLY claim authorship of "Marxism and the Philosophy of Language" (by signing a copyright agreement with the VAAP he refused, and when his wife took credit for copying "Marxism and the Philosophy of Languaage", he was silent. It was people like Goncharov and V.I. Ivanov (and of course Michael Holquist and Katarina Clark, in their risible "biography" of Bakhtin) who really aggressively promoted the myth.
When my wife was doing her Ph.D. defense, she had to defend her belief that Volosinov wrote "Marxism and the Philosophy of Language" in front of Marshall Brown, who was a schoolmate of Holquist's and who had promoted his work. When Professor Brown challenged her about why she thought Volosinov was the author, she just blinked and said "the voice sounds different".
It sure does! When Volosinov says he is going to say something, he does, and then he tells you what he just said--when Bakhtin says he's going to, you have to wait a hundred pages and then he says something really very different.
So Jim Martin makes the key point: this is the moment to go back, read beyond the author's name, and get to know the voice. But maybe it's also a moment to go back and read beyond the voice. I think that when Vygotsky talks about the psychology of a text (as opposed to the psychology of the "individual" creator of that text) he knows that of which he speaks.
Take "Tool and Sign". Who wrote it? Was it Vygotsky alone? Was it Vygotsky and Luria? I think the answer is that very short passages of it were written by Luria and the vast majority of it was written by Vygotsky. (For one thing, Luria had a strong tendency to finish his work, and this manuscript is very obviously unfinished.)
But I also think that my opinion doesn't matter very much: what matters is what Vygotsky himself said, and he said it was a co-authorship. (Luria, interestingly, does not claim this, either in his autobiography or elsewhere, as far as I know, although Mike may know a bit more about this.)
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
PS: Oh, Holquist? Holquist has moved on to much greener pastures! He is doing nuclear magnetic resonance studies that demonstrate--surprise!--that different parts of your brain light up when read Dostoevsky than light up when you read Ian Fleming. (My grandmother knew that, only she phrased it somewhat differently: "Vhen your putz stand hup, your brainz zeet down...")
--- On Mon, 9/19/11, Phil Chappell <email@example.com> wrote:
From: Phil Chappell <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Bakhtin/Volosinov
To: email@example.com, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Monday, September 19, 2011, 3:57 PM
The English blurb (below) suggests obstinacy among some scholars, Mike. I'm only kicking myself that I can't read French. There will surely be some critical reviews - I'll keep my eyes peeled.
Mikhaïl Bakhtine came to be considered the « greatest literary specialist of the twentieth century » after the publication of his older manuscripts and the claim that he was the actual author of the 1920s texts by Medvedev and Voloshinov. A veritable Bakhtine literary industry grew out of this focusing on the unity and coherence of his work. Archival publications and interviews with Bakhtine released at the end of the century demonstrated that he had in fact lied about his biography and falsified and plagiarized texts. Jean-Paul Bronckart and Cristian Bota examine Bakhtine's motivations, the actual origin of the texts he claimed, as well as the obstinacy of some scholars in continuing the tradition of Bakhtine’s genius.
On 19/09/2011, at 1:25 PM, mike cole wrote:
> Fascinating, Phil.
> What in the world do people like Michael Holquist have to say about this
> On Sun, Sep 18, 2011 at 3:44 PM, Phil Chappell <email@example.com> wrote:
>> Apologies for cross posting: thought this might be of interest to some
>> folks here.
>> Just a note, for those of you who read a bit of French, to alert you to an
>> important new book by our colleague Jean-Paul Bronkart (whose work I was
>> belatedly introduced to through his participation in ISFC 38 in Lisbon in
>> The book argues convincingly that Bakhtin lied about being the author of
>> Voloshinov’s Marxism and the Philosophy of Language and Medvedev’s The
>> Formal Method in Literary Scholarship, calls into serious question his
>> authorship of Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, and shows that the key
>> concepts in famous papers such as ‘The problem of speech genres’ were
>> plagiarised from Voloshinov.
>> I am embarrassed to have been caught up myself in this scandal, having
>> quoted over and over again in talks and publications a couple of passages
>> from ‘The problem of speech genres’, wrongly crediting them to Bakhtin.
>> I guess it is time for us all to read Marxism and the Philosophy of
>> Language carefully again, give credit where credit is due, and start winding
>> back this longstanding intellectual charade.
>> Bronckart, J-P & C Bota 2011 Bakhtine démasqué: histoire d’un menteur,
>> d’une escroquerie et d’un délire collectif. Geneve: Librairie Droz.
>> Our thanks for Jean-Paul for this wonderful piece of scholarship.
>> Jim (Martin)__________________________________________
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