Dostoevsky's Difference

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It is Dostoevsky's achievement to have envisaged human life in this unfinalizable way and to have found the artistic means of representing it. To do so he rejects the authorial excess of seeing and in a Copernican revolution of novelistic form he centers the whole novel upon the interactive consciousnesses of the characters. Authorial consciousness is brought on to the same plane as that of the heroes and interacts with them dialogically as autonomous subjects not as objectified images held within the author's vision. Significantly, this shift of authorial position goes along with a shift of focus from seeing to hearing. Dostoevsky's new novelistic form is a design for discourse; a great dialogue of interacting voice, a polyphony. (PM, BR, 88)
  • Though what's notable about this passage (like so many in Bakhtin's own writing) is that it doesn't say anything much about how this takes place...How is it that characters "resist" objectification in the world of Dostoevsky's novels?

...[Dostoevsky's] work doesn't fit into any of the preconceived frameworks or historico-literary schemes...The character's word...does not serve as a mouthpiece for the author's voice. It posses extraordinary independence in the structure of the work; it sounds, as it were, alongside the author's word and in a special way combines both with it and with the full and equally valid voices of other characters. (MM, BR, 89)
  • Ordinary pragmatic links at the level of the plot operate differently - the novel is not plot driven (MM, BR, 89) The way the story is told - the way it is oriented to the world - is distinct: The characters are autonomous subject not objects (Skaz - this is a Russian term that refers to narration that imitates the form of an individual oral narrator; there's no equivalent in English)
  • There's a plurality of equally valid consciousnesses - each with its own world
The fundamental category of in Dostoevsky's mode of artistic visualizing was not evolution, but coexistence and interaction. He saw and conceived of his world primarily in terms of space, not time... (MB, BR, 90)
See The Spatio-temporality in the Heterglosic Novel

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