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Characterized or constituted by the interactive, responsive nature of dialogue rather than by the single-mindedness of monologue. The term is important in the writings of the Russian theorist Mikhail Bakhtin, whose book Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics (1929) contrasts the dialogic or polyphonic interplay of various characters' voices in Dostoevsky's novels with the ‘monological’ subordination of characters to the single viewpoint of the author in Tolstoy's . In the same year, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language (probably by Bakhtin, although published under the name of V. N. Voloshinov) argued, against Saussure's theory of lalangue, that actual utterances are ‘dialogic’ in that they are embedded in a context of dialogue and thus respond to an interlocutor's previous utterances and/or try to draw a particular response from a specific auditor. See also carnivalization, multi-accentuality. Noun: dialogism. For a fuller account, consult Michael Holquist, Dialogism (1990).

http://www.shef.ac.uk/bakhtin/ Site of the Bakhtin Centre, University of Sheffield.

Subjects: Literature.

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