Meaning of BAKHTIN, MIKHAIL (1895-1975):
A Russian writer concerned with literature and language, Bakhtin’s life was inextricably caught up with the history of the Soviet Union. Like many unorthodox intellectuals he was arrested in the late 1920s and was forced into internal exile. Later, one of his books was destroyed at the publisher’s premises during the attempted Nazi invasion of the USSR; the book never appeared because, though he had kept notes, he famously used up a large share of them as make-shift cigarette paper during the war. Bakhtin was a pioneer in the socio-linguistic analysis of fiction, particularly novels. He was also fascinated by the phenomenon of carnival, specifically in camivals dating from the European Middle Ages during which grotesque and improper behaviour was encouraged and social hierarchies were disrupted. For Bakhtin, carnival indicated the widespread potential for I subverting established world-views and the status quo. It is this aspect of his work that has most appealed to contemporary cultural commentators.