Edited by Margaret Thomas
To Be Published January 15th 2014 by Routledge – 1,736 pages
Although Roman Jakobson (1886–1982) styled himself a ‘Russian philologist’, that epithet covers only a fraction of his disciplinary breadth and international impact. In a long and prolific career, he wrote about theoretical and applied linguistics, phonology, prosody, poetics, semiotics, translation theory, psycholinguistics, language universals, literary history and criticism, and historical and descriptive linguistics, especially Slavic. His robust voice and distinctive ideas attracted attention not only from language scholars, but also from literary critics, anthropologists, historians of culture, and even from neurologists.
As serious work on Jakobson’s thinking and influence continues to flourish, this long-awaited new title in Routledge’s Critical Assessments of Leading Linguists series brings together the best analysis of—and commentary on—the work of one of the twentieth century’s most versatile and influential language scholars. Criticism of Jakobson is as diverse as the work itself and this four-volume set collects the most provocative and insightful reflections on Jakobson’s writings. It encompasses many points of view, reflecting Jakobson’s wide scope as a scholar and the startling fact that he was displaced repeatedly—and under threatening circumstances—from Moscow to Prague to the United States.
Volume I of the collection gathers the best overviews of Jakobson’s life and work from several disciplinary and cultural perspectives. The volume continues with biographical materials organized by chronological stages to enable users better to understand the successive contexts in which Jakobson’s thinking evolved. Volume II presents the varied responses to Jakobson’s core linguistic research: his resolution (with Nikolaj Trubetzkoy) of the notion of the phoneme into distinctive features; his development and application of Prague School functionalism; his famous monograph on child language, aphasia, and universals; and his work in historical linguistics. Volume III, meanwhile, addresses the reception of Jakobsonian poetics (starting with responses to his first publications in his early twenties), including both his efforts to create a theory of poetics and his application of that theory in the analysis of specific texts. Finally, Volume IV covers the critical reaction to his many contributions to Slavic studies: linguistic, literary, and historical.
Roman Jakobson is fully indexed and includes a comprehensive introduction, newly written by the editor. It is an essential work of reference and is destined to be valued by scholars and students as a vital one-stop research and pedagogic resource.