chapter  9
30 Pages

Heteroglossia in the poetry of Bertolt Brecht and Tony Harrison

The homogenization of the language of poetry has probably been analysed most impressively by Mikhail Bakhtin (1981). For him it serves as a foil to his pioneering theory of the novel in the 1930s. In this theory, he takes the dialogic nature of language as a basic principle. He thus replaces the traditional poetic model of language as a medium of expression and impression, characterized by saturated subjectivity, with a model of language seen as communication between subjects. In Bakhtin's theory every word bears the traces of the social and ideological contexts in which it has been used. These social, ideological and historical shadows which the linguistic units automatically cast when they are actualized in speech represent in Bakhtin's theory the dialogic principle inherent in language. Each word is inextricably bound up in the dissemination of its social contexts.