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City of Ideas: A Bakhtinian Reading of Saul Bellow's Herzog

Esmail Yazdanpour


September 1998

THESIS SUBMITTED TO THE SCHOOL OF GRADUATE STUDIES IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS (M. A.) IN ENGLISH LITERATURE SHIRAZ UNIVERSITY SHIRAZ, IRAN

EVALUATED AND APPROVED BY THE THESIS COMMITTEE AS: EXCELLENT


THESIS COMMITTEE:

PARVIN GHASEMI, Ph.D., ASSISTANT PROF. OF ENGLISH LITERATURE (CHAIRPERSON)

FARIDEH POURGIV, Ph.D., ASSISTANT PROF. OF ENGLISH LITERATURE.

ALIREZA ANOUSHIRVANI, Ph.D., PROF. OF ENGLISH LITERATURE


Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER TWO FROM IDEA OF NOVEL TO NOVEL OF IDEAS: A SURVEY OF THE IDEAS OF BAKHTIN

  • Introduction
  • From Dialectical Thinking to Dialogiacal Imagination: Hegel, the Marxists, and Bakhtin
  • Heteroglossia: All Words Are Borrowed from Others, Directed Towards Others
  • From Allegorical Reading to Satirical Writing: Bakhtin and the New Critics
  • How Many Centers May a Text Have?
  • A Carnivalistic Approach to Power

CHAPTER THREE "THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE IS THE VOICE OF GOD": BELLOW AND THE POLYPHONIC NOVEL

  • Introduction
  • Bellow in the Naturalist Tradition
  • Bellow and the Ideas Inside the Canon
  • Bellow's Politics of Polyphony
  • Bellow's Dismantling of Authority

CHAPTER FOUR "THOU MOVEST ME": DIALOGUES OF TEXTS IN HERZOG

  • Introduction
  • Bakhtin's City vs. Bellow's City
  • A Game of Mirrors
  • Herzog as a Dialogic Character
  • The Dialogues of Herzog

CHAPTER FIVE CONCLUSION

BIBLIOGRAPHY

DEDICATION

DEDICATED TO SEYYED MOHAMMAD KHATAMI AND ALL THOSE WHO ARE WORKING TO REBUILD THE WORLD ON THE PRINCIPLES AND ARCHITECTONICS OF DIALOGUE AND ANSWERABILITY


ABSTRACT

Novel, because of its structure and certain characteristics, is a genre in which a variety of ideas find expression. In his studies on the genre Mikhail Bakhtin has stressed on this essential variety and the interaction of the ideas with each other. Bakhtin's dialogic approach has proved as more successful in dealing with the protean genre of the novel. Part of this study is a survey of the ideas of Bakhtin, where a dialogue is maintained between his and the other theories (including Aristotelians, Marxists, the New Critics, Freudians, and the deconstructionists).

Then, Saul Bellow's Herzog is selected as a case study and without imposing the theory to the text, the theoretical basis of the text is juxtaposed to the theories of Bakhtin. In this novel, Bellow's representation of a multiple of ideas, decentralizes and decanonizes the discourses (such as psychoanalysis and the Wasteland outlook) that in the American society of postwar era has become dominant and hegemonic. In his carnivalistic approach to ideas, Bellow creates an opportunity for the other discourses that has been repressed.

The strategy of representing ideas in a horizontal way and with no hierarchically higher idea leads to the contact and a free dialogue of ideas. The heterogeneous and dialogic mind of the title character intensifies these contacts and at the same time itself becomes a location intersection and interaction of ideas.

The example of Herzog clearly shows how in a polyphonic text the author cannot impose his or her ideology to the process of the dialogues. Indeed in the city of ideas that novel provides, the ideas of the author become just one idea beside others and in a constant process of give and take with them.