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The purpose of this paper is to challenge some of the taken for granted assumptions of contemporary ethnographic practice by exploring reasons for fieldwork and the debt that is owed to those in the field.
Other readers will always be interested in your opinion of the books you've read. We are grateful as well to Ilya Levin and Sofia Nikonova who played the role of native speakers, with resource and wit.
Whether you've loved the book or not, if you give your honest and detailed thoughts then people will find new books that are right for them. Preparation of the manuscript was particularly complex due to the many languages, two sets of footnotes and so forth. The person who has borne with this for three years now and still had the patience and dedication to come in on weekends when it was necessary to retype yet another version of some arcane passage is Gianna Kirtley.
Since junior members of team projects frequently receive less credit than is their due, I wish to emphasize that this translation is the result of a real dialogue: Caryl Emerson and I went over every word of Bakhtin's text together.
This claim will strike many as extravagant, since a number of factors have until recently conspired to obscure his importance.
The "Translator's Note" to non-Russian versions of Bakhtin's works has become a genre in its own right.
More often than not, the peculiarity of Bakhtin's Russian is invoked to justify a certain awkwardness in the translated text. Bakhtin himself provides the best context for perceiving the true nature of the problem in the distinction he draws between "style" and "language"-especially as it pertains to the "image of a language." We have sought to make a translation at the level of images of a whole language (obraz jazyka). Bakhtin is not an efficient writer, but we believe he pays his way.
He is preoccupied by centuries usually ignored by others; and within these, he has great affection for figures who are even more obscure.
A peculiar school of grammarians at Toulouse in the seventh century A. may appear to others as an obscure group working in a backwater during the darkest of the Dark Ages; for Bakhtin the work of these otherwise almost forgotten men constitutes an extremely important chapter in the human struggle to accommodate the mysteries of human language.
He was trained as a classicist during a period when the German model of philology dominated Russian universities; thus he inherited a certain heaviness of style and a predilection for abstraction that English or American readers, accustomed to a more essayistic prose, sometimes find heavy going.
Bakhtin's style, while recognizably belonging to a Russian tradition of scholarly prose, is, nevertheless, highly idiosyncratic.