The metaphysical dimension of dialogicity: Bakhtin's speech types and Dostoevsky's poetics of the gaze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


In this essay, a theoretical connection is posited between the “third type” of word in Mikhail Bakhtin's typology of discourse, and the phenomenological gaze as defined by Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Starting from an aesthetic definition of perception, originating in Charles Baudelaire's “Salon” series on art, the essay goes on to claim that in Dostoevsky's works, Bakhtin uncovered the representation of the process of perception, encapsulated in the representation of “the word” (slovo) as a function of the unconscious processes of language. In Dostoevsky's poetics, this represented word is the word in the stream-of-consciousness of his fictional characters which defines the embedded narrative structure of the polyphonic novel. However, Dostoevsky's dialogic word, as described by Bakhtin, is an on-stage embodiment of dialogicity in the communication situation. This dialogic word transcends the structural dimension of narrative. The point of view, which Bakhtin describes as the entire mental orientedness («цeльнaя дуxoвнaя уcтaнoвкa») of the speaker, belongs to the phenomenology of “the gaze,” which is outlined in aesthetics and poststructural (psychoanalytic) theory as the salient feature of representation in the art and literature of modernity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-91
Number of pages16
JournalThe Dostoevsky Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Dialogicity as intertextuality
  • Kantian aesthetics
  • Segregation or separation
  • Subject of ideology
  • Subject of power
  • The gaze

Cite this