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Visions and Revisions

Studies in Literature and Culture


Edited By Grzegorz Czemiel, Justyna Galant, Anna Kędra-Kardela, Aleksandra Kędzierska and Marta Komsta

Collected under the theme of Visions and Revisions, the papers included in this volume examine different aspects of literature and culture of the Anglophone world. The first part gathers articles dealing with poetry of such epochs as the seventeenth century, the Victorian era and the modern times. Part two focuses on prose works representing such conventions and modes as the romance, the Gothic novel, the condition of England novel, Victorian and neo-Victorian fiction, the science fiction novel and gay fiction. Part three concerns various aspects of British and American culture, including the new media, drama and journalism, and advertising. In its diversity the volume reflects the dynamics of change in literature and culture, enabling the readers to investigate the multifaceted canon.
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The Bakhtinian Polyphony of Voices in Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White

← 114 | 115 →Aleksandra Tryniecka


The novel […] is determined by experience, knowledge and practice (the future).M.M. Bakhtin (2011, 15)

Polyphony, the term introduced by Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin (1895-1975) means, according to Graham Allen, “the simultaneous combination of parts or elements or […] voices” (2000, 22). Bakhtin’s theory re-enters literary discourse in the times celebrating diversity and plurality. While propounding the novel as an ideal genre and a “consciously structured hybrid of languages” (2011, xxix), Bakhtin argues for the relevance of dialogue underpinning the novelistic structure. He highlights the importance of the dialogic tradition and traces it back to antiquity, to the Socratic dialogues in particular. In the essay entitled “Epic and Novel” (1970), Bakhtin stresses the relevance of the Socratic dialogues, pointing to them as to the critical documents preluding the modern novelistic genre (2011, 24). What draws Bakhtin’s attention to the Socratic dialogues is their responsivity and interaction with the real world, as well as their rejection of the absolute past (Goethe’s and Schiller’s term) associated with the high genres. For instance, the epic, as a high genre, offers a monologic perspective on the presented events, at the same time hindering the reader’s investment in a dialogue with the text (17, 31). Moreover, what characterises the epic is its closed structure and inevitable conclusiveness. Consequently, the texts belonging to this genre (such as the French narrative poem The Song of Roland) idealise its protagonists and locate their faultless lives within a hermetic structure usually marked by the final heroic death (34). Thus,...

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