Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft
The Fugue of Chronotope
- As the survey by Nele Bemong and Pieter Borghart introducing this volume makes clear, the term chronotope has devolved into a veritable carnival of orismology. For all the good work that has been done by an ever-growing number of intelligent critics, chronotope remains a Gordian knot of ambiguities with no Alexander in sight. The term has metastasized across the whole spectrum of the human and social sciences since the publication of FTC in Russian in 1975, and (especially) after its translation into English in 1981. As others have pointed out, one of the more striking features of the chronotope is the plethora of meanings that have been read into the term: that its popularity is a function of its opacity has become a cliché. In the current state of chronotopic heteroglossia, then, how are we to proceed? The argument of this essay is that many of the difficulties faced by Bakhtin’s critics derive from ambiguities with which Bakhtin never ceased to struggle. That is, instead of advancing yet another definition of my own, I will investigate some of the attempts made by Bakhtin himself to give the term greater precision throughout his long life. In so doing, I will also hope to cast some light on the foundational role of time-space in Bakhtin’s philosophy of dialog as it, too, took on different meanings at various points in his thinking.