Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences
of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The Journal of Literary History and Theory
Peer-reviewed Academic Journal


Makhlin V.L.


The article analyzes Bakhtin’s 1944 notes on Flaubert. Under discussion is, first, some general background of Bakhtin’s philosophical and scientific methodology as expressed in the notes, secondly, the notes themselves. Bakhtin’s views on Flaubert and the novel of the 19th century are represented in connection with the Russian thinker’s theories of the “grotesque realism” and “novelization”as opposed to the “ideological culture of the new times”. The article discusses some principal methodological difficulties of Bakhtinian approach to literary texts as expressed in his notes on Flaubert. In contrast to most philosophical approaches to literature, Bakhtin always treats any text, in his own expression, “in the liminal spheres” of different disciplines, that is, as both a philosopher and literary critic, a theorist and a historian of literature and culture. In these notes this specificity of the Bakhtinian methodology is expressed drastically, but in principal it is quite typical to his thinking “on the borders”. In the subsequent parts of the article Bakhtin’s approach to Flaubert’s “realism” is commented on, from the point of view of those elements of his artistic vision and his world view, which, according to Bakhtin, are not congruous with the concept of the so-called “critical realism”. These elements, Bakhtin implies, belong not so much to the classical novel of the 19th century, but, rather, to what he calls “grotesque realism” before the new times and in the 20th century. These elements are: mutual reversal of “short” and “long” (or “great” time in the images of the day, Flaubert’s artistic opposition to the “straightforwardness” of the idea of “progress” typical for the European Enlightenment and the modernity at large., the artist’s interest in the “elemental life” of human beings and animals. These and some other elements characteristic of Flaubert’s art and ideology, Bakhtin treats as if from within “creative consciousness” of the author.


critical realism; grotesque realism; novel; ideological culture of the new times; humanism; creative consciousness.

DOI: 10.31249/litzhur/2021.53.09

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