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October 28 , 2009

Between Philosophy and Literature

Bakhtin and the Question of the Subject


This is an original reading of Mikhail Bakhtin in the context of Western philosophical traditions and counter-traditions. The book portrays Bakhtin as a Modernist thinker torn between an ideological secularity and a profound religious sensibility, invariably concerned with questions of ethics and impelled to turn from philosophy to literature as another way of knowing.

Most major studies of Bakhtin highlight the fragmented and apparently discontinuous nature of his work. Erdinast-Vulcan emphasizes, instead, the underlying coherence of the Bakhtinian project, reading its inherent ambivalences as an intersection of philosophical, literary, and psychological insights into the dynamics of embodied subjectivity. Bakhtin's turn to literature and poetry, as well as the dissatisfactions that motivated it, align him with three other "exilic" Continental philosophers who were his contemporaries: Bergson, Merleau-Ponty, and Levinas. Adopting Bakhtin's own open-ended approach to the human sciences, the book stages a series of philosophical encounters between these thinkers, highlighting their respective itineraries and impasses, and generating a Bakhtinian synergy of ideas.

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