Polyphonic Novel

(319 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay


A description given by Bakhtin in his 1929 book Problems of Dostoevsky's Art to the kind of novel that Dostoevsky had initiated. Polyphony in the novel does not refer, as the term might perhaps suggest, to the simple co-presence of harmonising voices. The polyphonic novel is defined in Bakhtin's account by the quality of the relationship between narrator and character, in that the former allows the latter right to the final word - the character's voice is never ultimately submerged by that of the narrator. Thus Bakhtin describes Dostoevsky's novels thus: “A plurality of independent and unmerged voices and consciousnesses, a genuine polyphony of fully valid voices is in fact the chief characteristic of Dostoevsky's novels”. …

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Citation:
Clark, Robert. "Polyphonic Novel". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 14 April 2006
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=876, accessed 01 September 2015.]


Related Groups

  1. Novelistic Genres