Mikhail Bakhtin Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics.
Edited and translated by Caryl Emerson.
Introduction by Wayne C. Booth.
University of Minnesota Press, 322 pages, $35

Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975), a Russian scholar, has recently found translators, expounders, and admirers in the West. In the introduction to a collection of Bakhtin’s posthumous essays, The Dialogic Imagination (Austin, Texas, 1981), Michael Holquist proclaimed him “one of the leading thinkers of the twentieth century.” Bakhtin was indeed an immensely erudite, perceptive, and acute literary scholar. His first book, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Work (1929), was known in the Thirties and after to every student of Dostoevsky who could read Russian. Just after the publication of that book, Bakhtin was arrested and banished to a small town in northern Kazakhstan, where he was made to work as a bookkeeper. Even...

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