Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2016


On March 15, 2013, Radio Svoboda (Radio Liberty) broadcast a recording of selections from a series of interviews with Mikhail Bakhtin conducted in 1973 by philologist and dissident Victor Duvakin (Komardenkov 1972, 18).1 At this key moment in the Soviet era, Professor Duvakin, who had been dismissed from his position at Moscow State University, decided to create a phono-history of the epoch (Timofeev-Resovsky 1995, 384). Among the three hundred people whom Duvakin interviewed was Mikhail Bakhtin (Bocharova and Radzishevsky1996, 123), the seventy-eight-year-old retired professor of literature who was known familiarly by many as “chudak.”2 Bakhtin had continued to write about Dostoevsky, the theory of the novel, and “the great time” (большого времени) of the historicity of meaning. After a number of weeks spent with Bakhtin (seeBakhtin 2002, 12), Duvakin left us an enormous archive of “Bakhtin in his own voice”—eighteen hours’ worth of conversations with the philosopher, of which the broadcast portions are translated here.

In these interviews Bakhtin discusses literature and poets, and talks very personally as if he is lecturing at the university to his students. He mentions some of the most important figures of [End Page 592] the literary movement in Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century—figures like Fyodor Sologub, Valery Bryusov, Maxim Gorky Vladimir Mayakovsky Velimir Khebnikov, and Alexander Blok.

The interview has never been translated into English and, consequently has been inaccessible to English-speaking audiences interested in the life and works of Mikhail Bakhtin. This annotated translation attempts to fill the gap and to bring Bakhtin to the Western audience in “his own voice” (Gratchev and Gyulamiryan 2014, 2). Brief notes are included to identify important Russian literary figures and historical events in order to help Western readers contextualize Bakhtin’s observations.3


The copy of record is available from the publisher at Copyright © Johns Hopkins University Press and West Chester University 2016.

doi: 10.1353/lit.2016.0028