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Mikhail Bakhtin
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Philosopher
    (November 16, 1895-March 7, 1975)
    Born in Oryol, Russian Federation
    Theorized that meaning and context involving the author, work, and reader are constantly influencing each other, resulting in the term heteroglossia
    Developed the theory of polyphony, or dialogics, in which language is constantly evolving and is affected by, as well as affects, the culture that uses it, as exemplified by the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    Also devised the terms carnival, where individuals are released from the status quo to become free and equal members of the collectivity, grotesque realism, where the collective revels in worldly pleasures provided by the carnival, and chronotope, the temporal and spatial relationships expressed in literature
    Namesake of the Bakhtin Circle, a group of intellectuals who discussed various topics, such as the Russian Revolution's impact on the social and cultural life of citizens and the role of social reality in language and artistic works
    Graduated from University of St. Petersburg (1918)
    Writings include 'Problems of Dostoyevsky's Art' (1929; re-titled 'Problems of Dostoyevsky's Poetics' in 1963), 'Rabelais and His World' (1965), 'The Dialogic Imagination' (1975), 'Questions of Literature and Aesthetics' (1975), 'The Aesthetics of Verbal Art' (1979), 'Speech Genres and Other Late Essays' (1986), 'Toward a Philosophy of the Act' (1986), and 'Art and Answerability' (1990)
    Arrested for allegedly practicing Christianity and exiled to the Solovki Prison Camp in Siberia (1929-1930), and then to Kostanay (1930-1936)
    Taught at the Mordovian Pedagogical Institute in Saransk (1936-1937, 1945-1961)
    Died in Moscow
    Some works written by his friends V. N. Voloshinov and P. N. Medvedev were originally attributed to him, though it's later revealed that he had a hand in influencing them.
    He used paper from preparatory material of an unpublished book as cigarette paper during World War II.
    'Rabelais and His World', which started as a dissertation evaluated after World War II ended, sparked heated arguments between scholars who accepted it and those who rejected it.
    He was eventually denied a doctorate and given a lesser degree by the State Accrediting Bureau when government intervention ended the debates on his dissertation. (1949)
    His ideas didn't gain widespread recognition outside his circle of friends until the mid-1950s, and even then it was limited in scope.
    He was more popular after his death, when more of his works have been published, than he was in life.
    His works have been described as allusive and repetitive, which doesn't sit well with readers who want a logical and economical presentation.
    There's a debate on whether he was a Marxist or he disguised his works as such to avoid censorship.
    When archives on his life became public, it was revealed that much of what scholars knew of him were false or distorted by him.
    The manuscript of 'Towards a Philosophy of the Act' was found in bad condition with pages missing and sections of text illegible.
    He was diagnosed with osteomyelitis, which rendered him an invalid and hampered his productivity. (1923)
    The same disease led to the amputation of his leg. (1938)
    He said that texts should be read from their context, not through a contemporary perspective.
    He insisted on the uniqueness of every individual, which he considered inherent and realized through life at the same time.
    'Problems of Dostoyevsky's Art' is considered one of the finest critical works on Dostoyevsky.
    His analysis of Dostoyevsky's works enabled a fresh perspective on reading them, as Dostoyevsky had previously been criticized for lack of style.
    His analysis of Rabelais's 'Gargantua and Pantagruel' allowed its appreciation among readers.
    He ardently supported the novel, then considered inferior to poetry, for its ability to embrace other genres while maintaining its base form.
    He influenced other philosophical schools of thought, such as Neo-Marxism, structuralism, social constructivism, and semiotics.
    He was also credited with giving new meaning to rhetoric because he rejected the separation of language and ideology.

Credit: Big Lenny


 
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