In this post, I mentioned that “V.N. Volóshinov’s seminal books Freudianism: A Critical Sketch (1927) and Marxism and the Philosophy of Language (1929) have recently been said to be the work of his mentor Bakhtin”; this controversy (along with the parallel one of The Formal Method in Literary Criticism, attributed to Pavel Medvedev) is thoroughly discussed in Matt Steinglass’s International Man of Mystery: The Battle over Mikhail Bakhtin, written for the late lamented Lingua Franca a decade ago. I first read about the Steinglass article on Philip Dangler’s Mikhail Bakhtin Manuscript Smoking Page, where it is said to be “(no longer online),” and I’d like to apologize to Philip now for calling his Bakhtin page “excitable” in this post—it was meant as friendly ribbing, but seems to have bothered him. (He quotes it twice, in the end saying “Minor changes to this excitable page made in January, 2008. Not intended as an authoritative source; written by a 21-year-old.”) Thanks to frequent commenter Kári for the link!


  1. John Emerson says:

    Off topic, but I’m just asking someone who reads Russian to tell me whether Bakhtin’s “material bodily lower stratum” in the Rabelais book couldn’t have been translated “physiological substrate”.

  2. Well, sure it could have; it could be translated any number of ways. Your version isn’t exact, but it gets the idea across, and the exact rendition is hopelessly clunky, as discussed in the comments to this post.

  3. John Emerson says:

    I either missed or forgot the original answer.
    That unfortunate translation virtually ruined the Rabelais book for me.

  4. “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” –> “Does rationality require a material substrate?”

Speak Your Mind