The Books Were Re[a]d: A Dialogic Approach to the Censorship and Social History of The Grapes of Wrath and Doctor Zhivago
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Mikhail Bakhtin’s philosophical thought is largely focused on the interconnectivity of human discourse, privileging literary genres (i.e. the novel). Language comprises of both the structural components of linguistics and a non-verbal component that corresponds to the context of the enunciation. Therefore, the social situation that creates an utterance cannot be diminished. This thesis examines the social history of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago (1958), both realist novels that have faced censorship, using Bakhtin’s theories of dialogics and centripetal and centrifugal forces. The Grapes of Wrath and Doctor Zhivago came out in different epochs and were products of the two conflicting ideologies of the 20th century – liberal capitalism and communism. These distinctions provide an interesting forum for comparing the legitimacy of Bakhtin’s theories with regard to censorship across societies.