Borislav Pekić’s New textuality in the light of Bakhtin's concept of the open text of the polyphonic novel

in The Dostoevsky Journal
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In this paper I analyze two of Pekić’s novels in the light of Bakhtin’s concept of the open text of the polyphonic novel which Pekić develops by means of a new Narrator Figure and a new poetics based on an encyclopedic embedded text structure. Among several literary techniques developed from the beginnings of Pekić’s writing, crucial importance belongs to what I call the Explicit Narrator Figure (for instance, in The Time of Miracles, 1965), who speaks in his own voice as interpreter of found texts, and the Implicit Narrator Figure, who adopts the literary and non-literary voices of (many) others, to whose diction and style he assimilates his own voice (for example, in Pilgrimage of Arsenije Njegovan, 1970). This new (postmodern) narrator figure, both explicit and implicit, acts as an interpreter of «found» texts. What connects these two types of Narrator Figures is the document and related Embedded Narration: both narrators thus deal with the pre-texts as well as texts-in-texts, levels and layers of texts, proto-texts and meta-texts – various types of Framed/Embedded Narratives. The Implicit Narrator Figure deals with Biblical witnessed texts and the Explicit Narrator Figure uses personal testamentary texts. In such a way, both Implicit and Explicit Narrator Figures become the researchers of different types of literary and non-literary documents. These complex inter-textual explorations of the “library” of culture are “encyclopedic” in magnitude and reveal, in combination with the new Narrator Figure’s status as Editor and Interpreter, a new type of narrative text, constituted in the encyclopedic open novel structure. Pekić thus introduces a new form of inter-textuality into Serbian literature, implicitly extending Bakhtin’s (and Dostoevsky’s) legacy by drawing on the Serbian national literary canon and the entire Western cultural “library”.

Borislav Pekić’s New textuality in the light of Bakhtin's concept of the open text of the polyphonic novel

in The Dostoevsky Journal

Sections

References

BakhtinMikhailThe Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Ed. Michael Holquist trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. (Austin and London: University of Texas Press1981).

BakhtinMikhail [1963]. Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics. Trans. and ed. Caryl Emerson.(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press1984).

Батуран Радомир “Слој литерарних конструкција (супстанце)” in: Романи Борислава Пекића. Ed. Ново Вуковић. (Никшић: НИО Универзитетска ријеч 1989).

BorgesJorge Luis (2013). Collected Fictiones of Jorge Luis Borges Andrew Hurley trans www.posthegemony.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/borges_collected-fictions.pdf.

EcoUmbertoThe Open Work. Trans. Anna Cancogni. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press1989).

PalavestraPredragPosleratna srpska književnost 1945–1970 i njena istorija. (Beograd: Službeni glasnik2012).

Palavestra Predrag Građanski i gradski roman. Politika 15. 1. 1972.

PekićBorislav [1965] Vreme čuda in: PekićB.Odabrana dela Vol. II ed. Aleksandar Postolović. (Beograd: Partizanska knjiga1894).

PekićBorislav [1970]. Hodočašće Arsenija Njegovanaportret in: PekićB.Odabrana dela Vol. IV ed. PostolovićAleksandar. (Beograd: Partizanska knjiga1894).

PekićBorislavForma se nalazi pisanjem” in: PekićB.Vreme reči afterword by KoprivicaBožo; ed. TasićDimitrije. (Beograd: Beogradski izdavačko-grafički zavod/Srpska književna zadruga1993).

PekićBorislavNisam Japanac izgubljen u džungli” in: PekićB.Vreme reči afterword by Božo Koprivica; ed. TasićDimitrije. (Beograd: Beogradski izdavačko-grafički zavod/Srpska književna zadruga1993).

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RonMosheFree Indirect Discourse, Mimetic Language Games and the Subject of Fiction” in: Poetics Today22 (1981):1739.

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Published in 1944this Borges story even has a similar motif of heresy which is recycled in Pekič’s story. However the heretic motif has the function of explaining the attitudes of one of the fictional scriptwriters about Judas (whose name is Nils Runeberg) in the imaginary work Kristus och Judas [Christ or Judas] – a fictional scholarly work attributed to Antiquity. Borges references Axel Borelijus’ analysis and explanation of the same theme of heresy. According to this explanation Runeberg was accused by “Axel Borelius of rekindling the Docetic heresy which denied Jesus’ humanity”. (See: Collected Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges Andrew Hurley trans www.posthegemony.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/borges_collected-fictions.pdf Accessed 24/10/2014).

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Ibid p. 43.

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