ABSTRACT

The notion of the chronotope, which I use in my study of fantasy, The Magic

Code, was introduced into literary criticism by the Russian scholar Mikhail

Bakhtin. Bakhtin defines the chronotope as “ the intrinsic connectedness of

temporal and spatial relationships that are artistically expressed in litera­

ture.” 1 In other words, and in what is probably a more correct translation

from the Russian, it means: “ a unity of time and space” presented in a liter­

ary work. Bakhtin notes that he has borrowed the term from the natural

sciences, where it is widely used nowadays (the word itself comes from Greek

“ chronos”—time and “ topos”—place). In Bakhtin’s literary theory the term

acquires a specific meaning, denoting the unity of fictional time and place,

or, in his own words, “ a formal category,”2 an abstract literary notion. We are justified in asking whether there is any reason at all to resort

to the notion of the chronotope, or whether this is simply another fancy term

introduced instead of the old, well-approved literary terms “ place of action”

(or “ setting” ) and “ time of action.” On the rare occasions these concepts

are treated in handbooks on children’s literature, they are regarded as sepa­

rate entities, and herein is the principal difference.3 The chronotope denotes

the indivisible unity of time and space, which according to Bakhtin are mu­

tually dependent.