This chapter discusses the interrelated questions of time, space and memory in the work of Mikhail Bakhtin. In particular, it addresses a claim he makes in his best-known work in the Anglophone world, the essays collected as The Dialogic Imagination, where he observes that
All words have the ‘taste’ of a profession, a genre, a tendency, a party, a particular work, a particular person, a ... [Show full abstract] generation, an age group, the day and hour. Each word tastes of the context and contexts in which it has lived its socially charged life; all words and forms are populated by intentions.
(1981, p. 293)
We might paraphrase this as something like: words and genres always remember their past. Indeed, in another important work, entitled Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, Bakhtin says almost exactly that: ‘A genre lives in the present, but always remembers its past, its beginning’ (1984, p. 106).