Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft
The Chronotopic Imagination in Literature and Film
- In this contribution, I would like to examine the way in which Bakhtin, in the two essays dedicated to the chronotope, lays the foundations for a theory of literary imagination. […] His concept of the chronotope may be interpreted as a contribution to a tradition in which Henri Bergson, William James, Charles Sander Peirce and Gilles Deleuze have been key figures. Like these four authors, Bakhtin is a philosopher in the school of pragmatism. His predilection for what Gary Saul Morson and Caryl Emerson have called “prosaics” puts him right at the heart of a philosophical family that calls forth multiplicity against metaphysical essentialism, and prefers the mundane to the universal. It seems wise to proceed carefully in the attempt to reconstruct Bakhtin’s theory of imagination. In this contribution to the debate, I choose to develop a philosophical dialogue between Bakhtin and the above-mentioned philosophical family. More specifically, it seems to me that the ideal point of departure for examining the way in which Bakhtin attempts to get to the bottom of the mysteries of literary imagination is Gilles Deleuze’s synthesis of Bergson’s epistemological view on knowledge as “the perception of images”, as well as Peirce’s theory of experience based on a typology of images. In the following, I show that Bakhtin’s view of the temporal-spatial constellations in literature demonstrates a strong affinity to the Bergsonian view that perception of the spatial world is colored by the lived time experienced by the observer. Based on this observation, I then develop a typology of images which places the concept of the chronotope in a more systematic framework.