40 Pages

People Not of Our Time Iudif' Kagan

One of the poems written by Osip Mandelstam during his exile in Voronezh contains the following poignant lines:

(Mandelstam 1973 [1937], 91)

I quote these words because following Bakhtin's death quite a number of accounts of conversations with him appeared in the press. But at the same time Leonid Efimovich Pinskii, an outstanding literary scholar, seems to have had good reason for saying, on 31 March 1976, at one of the earliest conferences on Bakhtin, that this most profound student of dialogue was a "silent philosopher" (filosof-molchun). At least that was how Pinskii, who visited him not long before he died, saw Bakhtin; and so it was, I believe, towards the end of Bakhtin's life. Bakhtin would say to my mother, when suggesting that she and I should visit him more often, "Come to see me! You are always welcome! We have memories in common!" Bakhtin also had in mind a certain common intellectual culture. His inscription on the copy of the new edition of Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics which he gave to my

mother reads: "To dear Sof'ia Isaakovna Kagan with respect and love, and in memory of the unforgettable Matvei Isaevich." Unforgettable.