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The poetic status of direct speech in the stories of Isaak Babel'

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English

<10.3406/cmr.1985.2042>

Abstract

Hamutal Bar-Yosef, The poetic status of direct speech in the stories of Isaak Babel'. Considerable attention has been directed to the "poetic" qualities of Babel's style. Babel's stylistic heterogeneity is by now widely accepted - ambivalent, multivoiced narrator being its most common explanation. Reading Babel's short-short stories not only paradigmatically but also syntagmatically reveals a principle of dynamics in style-shifts, leading to a climax, where "anti-poetic" facts are accompanied by a bare "anti-poetic" style of direct speech. Babel1, whose general inclination is towards "showing", focuses on "telling" in these direct-speech statements. This is illustrated by two stories, the first and the last of Konarmiia. It is further argued that penetration of speech style into ornamental or archaic "poetic" style also represents a poetic crisis: Babel' sensed the growing authenticity and relevance of "lean" simple language over symbolistic stylistic tendencies as a representational vehicle of the new reality.

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