"Discourse in the novel" in The dialogic imagination. Tr. by C. Emerson and M. Holquist. Austin: University of Texas Press. 1981
.. the study of verbal art can and must overcome the divorce between an abstract "formal" approach and an equally abstract, "ideological" approach. From and content in discourse are one, once we understand that verbal discourse is a social phenomenon--... from the sound image to the furthest reaches of abstract meaning.
p. 260-1 fn. (quote from Zirmunskij):
.. poetry appears authentically a work of verbal art, due to its choice and combination of words ... all of which are completely subordinated to the aesthetic project..."
This is also Jakobson's analysis of the poetic function in his model of verbal communication. To incorporate Bakhtin's argument one would need to add a "dialogic" (I would prefer "rhetorical") function which would tie stylistic variation to cultural expression. This function would have a "political" factor correlate.
These heterogeneous stylistic unities, upon entering the novel combine to form a structured artistic system, are subordinated to the higher stylistic unity of the work as a whole, a unity that cannot be identified with any single one of the unities subordinated to it. The style of a novel is to be found in the combination of its styles; the language of a novel is the system of its "languages.
Benedict on configuration? Is Bakhtin in fact speaking in his own voice here, or is quoting what others said about the novel: Should I really underline these passages?
These distinctive links and interrelationships between utterances and languages, this movement of the theme through different languages and speech types, its dispersion into the rivulets and droplets of social heteroglossia, its dialogization--this is the basic distinguishing feature of the stylistics of the novel.
This, of course, is the Bakhtin everyone knows--and possibly the Bakhtin that is thereby de-dialogized
[For traditional stylistics] the unity of a style presupposes on the one hand a unity of language (... normative forms) and on the other hand the unity of an individual person realizing himself in this language... The novel, however not only does not require these conditions but ... even makes of the internal stratification of language, of its social heteroglossia and the variety of individual voices in it, the prerequisties for authentic novelistic prose. (p. 264:)
Philosophy of language, linguistics and stylistics... have all postulated a simple and unmediated relation of speaker to his unitary and singular "own" language, and have postulated as well a simple realization of this language in the monologic utterance of the individual. Such disciplines actually know only two poles in the life of language, between which are located all the linguistic and stylistic phenomena they know: on the one hand, the system of unitary language, and on the other the individual speaking in this language. (p. 269)
The above is conditioned by the specific socio-historical destinies of European languages and by the destinies of ideological discourse, and by those particular historical tasks that ideological discourse has fulfilled in specific social spheres and at specific stages in its own historical development.
Is this the marxism? I see it as an altogether weak statement. Bakhtin does not seem to think of this process as of a negative one, but rather as of an aspect of the creativity of language which is both centripetal and centrifugal
Unitary language constitutes the theoretical expression of the historical process of linguistic unification and centralization ... A unitary language is not something given but is always en essence posited... It makes its real presence felt as a force for overcoming heterogolossia ...
This seems easily relatable to Saussure's statement about synchrony/diachrony; to Lévi-Strauss on structure as model; and/or to the autority of the "institutions of language" (Académie Française, schools, spelling checker, media)
A common unitary language is a system of ... norms. But these norms do not constitute an abstract imperative; they are rather the generative forces of linguistic life, forces that struggle to overcome the heteroglossia of language, forces that unite and centralize verbal-ideological thought, creating within a hete- roglot national language the firm, stable linguistic nucleus of an officially recognized literary language, or else defending ann already formed language from the pressure fof growing heteroglossia.
What is the role of "officially recognized" in this and how does it relate to the statements about "generative forces of linguistic life?
A unitary language gives expression to forces working toward concrete verbal and ideological unification and centralization, which develop vital connection with the processes of sociopolitical and cultural centralization.
A system of linguistic norms do not constitute an abstract imperative; they are rather the generative forces of linguistic life, forces that struggle to overcome the heteroglossia of language, forces that unite and centralize verbal-ideological thought, creating within a heteroglot national language the firm, stable linguistic nucleus of an officially recognized language from the pressure of growing heteroglossia.
[We conceive of language] as ideologically saturated, ... as a world view, ..., insuring a maximum of mutual understanding in all spheres of ideological life. Thus a unitary language gives expression to forces working toward concrete and ideological unification and centralization, which develop in vital connection with the processes of sociopolitical and cultural centralization. (1981, p. 271)
For more on Bakhtin see the site maintained by the Bakhtin Centre at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.
The Wikipedia site is also useful.