Polyphonic Novel

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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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”. The full and independent validity of the voices is as…

319 words

Citation: Clark, Robert. "Polyphonic Novel". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 14 April 2006 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=876, accessed 23 February 2024.]

876 Polyphonic Novel 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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