Copyright 1986, Literature in Performance (now Text and Performance Quarterly).  All rights reserved.

Literature in Performance 7 (1986)  1-12

VOICES: Bakhtin's Heteroglossia and Polyphony, and the Performance of Narrative Literature

Linda M. Park-Fuller

    Post-structuralism, particularly deconstructionist theory, has contributed much to interpretation studies focusing on the social contexts of performance.[1]  By calling into question assumptions about the process of interpretation and the nature of texts, such theories have  allowed expanded definitions of performance and text and considerations of the sociopolitical aspects of performed texts, performance conventions, and performance contexts.[2]
    On the other hand, deconstructionist theory has very little to offer interpretation studies focusing on the aesthetic experience of performed literature and on the act of performing individual literary texts.  Jill Taft-Kaufman cautions:

     We, who distinguish ourselves by our involvement with the oral performance of
     individual texts, must ask ourselves whether critical theory which vivisects the
     practices that underlie our emotional involvement with and appreciation of
     individual texts might not pose more problems for the survival of our discipline
     than it solves. [3]

    Clearly, deconstructionist theory cannot answer all questions nor address the interests of everyone. Recognizing this, Mary S. Strine has encouraged a dialogue between studies about performance as sociocultural fact and studies about performance as phenomenological, aesthetic act.[4]  Just as importantly, I would assert, critics and performers should investigate poststructuralist theories that consider the socio-political aspects of interpretation without the
deconstructionist's bias against individual texts.
    The writings of Mikhail Bakhtin offer a useful framework for the study of individual texts and their potentials for performance while at the same time acknowledging the social, cultural, and political nature of all texts, and the primacy of context to textual meaning. Indeed, his  dialogic theory, based on a perception of the inherent relationship between ideology and utterance, addresses the sociopolitical fact of literary performance and provides analytical tools relevant to the act of performing literature.
    In this essay, I shall apply Bakhtin's dialogic theory in an examination of Tillie Olsen's novel, Yonnondio: From the Thirties.[5]  Olsen's novel invites a dialogic reading on three levels.  First, as a Marxist rejoinder in a 1930s political dialogue, Yonnondio demonstrates Bakhtin's perceptions of language and literature as dynamic, ideology infused processes. Second, as an unfinished novel published nearly thirty years after its writing, the book has both engendered a dialogue between two decades and called into question formalist aesthetic theories.[6]   Third, the texture of voices in Olsen's novel provides rich examples illustrative of Bakhtin's concepts of heteroglossia and polyphony.  In the interests of illustrating most directly the value of Bakhtin's theory to performance of literature, this essay will focus on the third area.  Specifically, I shall address the complexity of the novel's narrative voice and the layers of voices and languages embedded within that voice.
    According to Bakhtin, all speech utterances are heteroglot and polyphonic in that they partake of different-languages" and resonate with "many-voices."  Heteroglossia (other-languagedness) and polyphony (many-voicedness) are the base conditions "governing the operation of meaning in any utterance."[7]   By "other-languagedness," Bakhtin does not mean only national languages (though a national language determines, in part, the meaning of any utterance).  More generally, heteroglossia refers to the ideologies inherent in the various languages to which we all lay claim as social beings and by which we are constituted as individuals: the language and the inherent ideologies of our profession, the language and inherent ideologies of our age group, of the decade, of our social class, geographical region, family, circle of friends, etc.[8]
    Polyphony refers not literally to a number of voices, but to the collective quality of an individual utterance; that is, the capacity of my utterance to embody someone else's utterance even while it is mine, which thereby creates a dialogic relationship between two voices.  For example, I quote or report someone's speech and thereby "dialogue" with his/her opinion; I appropriate the speech pattern of an admired person and associate myself with that person's linguistic-ideologic community; or I mock someone and dissociate myself from him or her.  These are obvious examples, but Bakhtin further maintains that polyphony is inherent in all words or forms: "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." [9]
    For Bakhtin, this layering of voices within one voice is nowhere more obvious than in the novel.  The novel's epic mode permits the writer to embed voices within voices (e.g., character speech within narrator speech, narrator speech within authorial speech, etc.), and to orchestrate a dialogue among them.  In Yonnondio, for example, the layering of character speech within narrative discourse allows Olsen to present a rich diversity of human voices and ideologies on one hand, and on the other, to collect those diverse, particularized voices and ideologies into a resounding social protest against an alien capitalist society.
    The dialogic nature of the novel is not limited to the distinction between narrator speech and character speech, however. In Yonnondio, at least three levels of voices comprise the novel's internal discourse.  These include: 1) the stratification of the narrator's voice into two distinct voices, 2) undramatized voices and linguistic-ideological communities embedded in the narrative voice, and 3) voices of characters, including undramatized voices and communities embedded in character discourse.  In the remainder of this essay, I shall explain and illustrate these levels and indicate some performance implications for each.[10]

    The narrator of Yonnondio, cast as a third-person observer, chronicles the lives of Jim and Anna Holbrook and their children as they battle the forces of economic depression.  From the novel's opening in a Wyoming mining town, to the interlude of tenant farming in Dakota, to the conclusion in the slums of Omaha (where Jim finds work first in thesewers, and later in a packing plant), the narrator shows us a depression-era family whose love and tenderness for one another are constantly threatened by an uncaring capitalist society.  The narrator does not limit herself to observation, however.  In numerous passages she breaks out of the literary convention and engages in direct address to the reader or to a character.  Such inconsistency of posture is not simply a shift in narrative point of view, but rather a stratification of one voice into two voices, specifically in this case, an oral voice embedded within the literary voice.
    Throughout the novel, the narrative voice moves between two types of discourse -- literary discourse and oral discourse (skaz).[11]   The primary distinction between these two orientations is precisely the degree of oral characteristics (oral syntax, oral intonation, etc.), embodied in the speech. In its literary orientation, the narrative voice tends toward an objective style of speech -- relating the action as something happening to someone else, to the characters.  As readers, we can detect a separation between the situation of the voice telling the tale and the situation of voices within the tale. The oral orientation collapses this separation. The narrator becomes not only the telling voice but also a voice coming from within the tale, a voice that exists on a level between the literary voice and character voices, which shares with the characters qualities of oral speech.
    At times, the oral voice will emerge from within a literary passage, as it does in the sequence predicting the fate of the young miner Andy Kvaternick:

Andy Kvaternick stumbles through the night.  The late September wind fills the night with lost and crying voices and drowns all but the largest stars. Chop, chop goes the black sea of his mind. How wild and stormy inside, how the ship-wrecked thoughts plunge and whirl.  Andy lifts his face to the stars and breathes frantic, like an almost drowned man.
    But it is useless, Andy. The coal dust lies too far inside; it will lie there forever, like a hand squeezing your heart, choking at your throat.  The bowels of earth have claimed you.
     Breathe and breathe, (pp. 6-7)
In this sequence, the use of present tense in the literary narrative of the first two sentences prefaces the emergence of the oral voice in the third sentence. Characterized first by oral syntax, and later by direct address to the character, this second voice belongs neither to Andy Kvaternick nor to a narrator who stands outside of the story. Instead, it seems to originate from within the story.  In addition to the oral characteristics of syntax and direct address, the voice also contains oral intonations.  The final sentence, "breathe and breathe," repeated frequently as the passage continues, has an ironically soothing, lulling quality that is distinctively oral in its reminiscence of the soothing sounds one makes to comfort a child. Thus, in its orientation toward oral skaz, the voice partakes of both narrative and character speech.
    This vocal alterity serves two purposes. First, as Bakhtin explains, an oral narrator represents the common people: "a storyteller [oral narrator]... is not a literary person; he belongs in most cases to the lower social strata, to the common people (precisely this is important to the author) and he brings with him oral speech."[12]  Thus, through skaz  or oral speech, the narrator achieves a common identity with the characters and can therefore serve as their representative – a spokesperson for their grievances.  Conversely, it is through literary discourse through a
distanced perspective, metaphorical imagery, an elevated language style, etc.  that the narrator achieves the ideological clarity, structure, and verbal delineation necessary to articulate the characters' grievances.  This layering of voices, this movement between literary and oral narration, accounts for the narrator's capacity as a dynamic unifying and diversifying force in the novel.
    Secondly, this double-voiced narrative discourse functions to cast suspicion on our expectations of narrative discourse.  By blurring the distinctions between narrator and character situations, and between the fictive world and the real world, the oral narrative subverts the notion of a purely objective, detached aesthetic that would free the author and reader from social responsibility.  In the alternation between these orientations, the one voice comments on the other.  In some instances, the oral narrative seems to encompass the literary narrative rather than emerge from
within it.  For example, Chapter Four opens with a series of oral exclamations and present participles that situate the narrator at a point within the story, close to the characters she describes:  "The farm. Oh Jim's great voice rolling over the land.  Oh Anna, moving rigidly from house to barn so that the happiness with which she brims will not jar and spill over.  Oh Mazie,  hurting herself with beauty" (p. 41).
    In other cases, the oral narrative voice interrupts the action to address directly the listener/reader:
“Perhaps it frightens you as you walk by, the travail of the trees against the dark crouched house, the weak tipsy light in the window, the man sitting on the porch, menacing weariness riding his flesh like despair.  And you hurry along, afraid of the black forsaken streets, the crooked streets, and look no more.” (pp. 103-104)
In this example, the direct acknowledgment of the addressee's presence as an active participant in the narrative discourse gives the narration an oral quality that tends to decompose the boundaries between art and life, between oratory and literary narration.
    For the performer, director, or adaptor, the stratification of the narrative voice provides rich implications for guiding performance decisions.  In group performance, for example, the adaptor or director might choose to cast two performers in the role of the narrator, assigning lines on the basis of literary or oral orientations, and thereby illustrating the dialogic relationship between these two voices.  On the other hand, a solo performer cast in the role of the narrator might develop and present a double-voiced character  – one whose physical manner and vocal tone shifts with the shifting orientation of the narration.  In any case, experimentation with performance techniques such as tone, focus, stance, gesture, movement, and stage-positioning offers numerous ways to illustrate the dialogical nature of the narrative voice.

In addition to the shifting orientation between literary discourse and skaz, the narrative voice also contains embedded discourse of unobjectified or undramatized voices.  As Bakhtin notes, speaking persons in a novel need not necessarily be incarnated in characters.[13]
    While undramatized voices populate the narrator's discourse throughout the novel, nowhere are they more multiple and varied than in the sequence describing the fate of Jim Tracy -- the young individualist who quits his job in the sewers, believing that he can find a better job.  The passage begins with quasi-direct discourse.  Cast in Jim Holbrook's speech style, the speech reflects his resentment and envy in witnessing Tracy's act:  "All right for Tracy to talk, all right, he didn't have a wife and kids hangin round his neck like an anchor" (pp. 88-89).  Soon, however, the
narrator casts off the embedded speech of Jim Holbrook, and continues in her own oral style:

And Tracy was young, just twenty, still wet behind the ears, and the old blinders were on him so
he couldn't really see what was around and he believed the bull about freedomofopportunity and
a chancetorise and ifyoureallywanttoworkyoucanalwaysfindajob and rugged individualism and
something about a pursuit of happiness. (p. 89)
    Continuing to "carnivalize" through parody and distortion the platitudes of capitalist-individualism, the ensuing lines incorporate, without demarcation, a variety of voices, speech acts, and genres.  For example, included in the passage are Jim Tracy's individualistic protests:  "I'm a man, and I'm not takin crap offn anybody";  the voices of the unemployed, and of companies that are not hiring: "nojobnojobnothingdoingtoday";  period songs: "buddy... can you
spare a dime";  the voices of railroad bulls: "keep movin keep movin";  distorted children's games: "sing a song of hunger the weather four below holes in your pockets and nowhere to go";   distorted biblical references to "God Job":  "even among the pious who heed and prostrate themselves.  It's [sic] wrath is visited, for Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen";  and the voices of underprivileged children forced to recite platitudes after the teacher: "we-are-the-rich-est-country-in-the-worr-uld" (pp. 89-91).
    The effect of this diversity of speech acts resembles a surrealistic carnival of distorted voices acting to deconstruct the monolithic capitalist-individualist voice against which the novel protests.  Accordingly, the passage ends with a reconstruction of the narrator's collective socialist voice, promising redemption through organized protest:
And there's nothing to say, Jim Tracy, I'm sorry, Jim Tracy, sorry as hell we weren't stronger and
could get to you in time and show you that kind of individual revolt was no good, kid, no good at
all, you had to bide your time and take it till there were enough of you to fight it all together on
the job, and bide your time, and take it, till the day millions of fists clamped in yours, and you
could wipe out the whole thing, the whole goddamn thing, and a human could be a human for the
first time on earth, (pp. 91-92)
Taken as a whole, the passage describing the fate of Jim Tracy is a study in miniature of the novel's entire utterance.  It encompasses the diversifying and unifying strategies of the narrator's voice in one forceful stroke, garnering the myriad voices of a verbal-ideological world into a choral refutation of capitalist individualism.
    Undramatized voices generate additional ideas for performing the narrative discourse.  For example, the orchestration of voices in the above passage implies a choral quality that, in turn, suggests casting the narrator as a narrative chorus.  A group of performers who speak individually at times, and in unison at other times, could demonstrate in performance both the individualized and collective qualities of the narrator's speech.  Other possibilities for performing embedded voices include vocal recordings, music, and projections of photographs or film-footage from the depression-era which, if presented with the narrative speech, could enhance and extend its polyphonic quality.

Examples of heteroglossia and polyphony, so clearly evident in Yonnondio's narrator discourse, are no less abundant at the level of character discourse.  While no character voice in Yonnondio attains the collective ideological structure of the narrator's voice, the individual voices are rich with embedded sociolinguistic communities, emerging ideologies, and the legacy of human speech diversity.
    The novel's opening dialogue between Anna and Jim Holbrook establishes these characters' membership in several sociolinguistic communities:

"What'll ya have? Coffee and eggs?  There aint no bacon."
"Dont bother with anything.  Havent time.  I gotta stop by Kvaternicks and get the kid.  He's
starting work today."
"What're they going to give him?"
"Little of everything at first, I guess, trap, throw switches.  Maybe timberin."
"Well, he'll be starting one punch ahead of the old man.  Chris began as a breaker boy." (pp. 1-2)
The passage begins with an abbreviated form of communication identifying the characters as members of the same family unit who share knowledge and can conduct unspoken dialogue.  For example, Anna does not need to explain why there is no bacon for breakfast, nor to remind Jim why there is no bacon.  He knows there is no money with which to buy it; and if Anna is reproaching him in that regard, he both comprehends and evades the reproach.
    At the same time, the opening sentences link the couple with a broader sociolinguistic community.  Their inattention to standard grammatical rules and precise diction suggest that neither Anna nor Jim, nor the people with whom they associate, have time (literally or figuratively) for "correct" speech.[14]   The ensuing sentences also contain indications of a job-related linguistic community in their references to specific occupational positions in mining work.
    As the dialogue continues, other linguistic communities become evident, and speech acts and ideologies become further stratified:  "Marie was tellin me, it would break Chris's heart if he only knew.  He wanted the kid to be different, get an edjication."  In this example of reported speech, embedded within character discourse, Anna reveals a sociolinguistic community of women characterized by the sharing of confidences.  Further embedded in Marie's reported speech are Chris's ideological aspirations for his children.  This type of verbal-layering, weaving one speech act into another, and then another, illustrates heteroglossia and polyphony within a single utterance.  Furthermore, Anna's decision to report Marie's speech without apparent contradiction of its inherent ideology, suggests that, at least tentatively, Anna shares that ideology.  In response to Anna's report, Jim, who seemingly feels he cannot permit himself such lofty dreams for his children, counters with a comment designed to dissociate himself (and Anna) from the Kvaternicks' sociolinguistic community:  "Yeah? Them foreigners do have funny ideas."
    As Anna continues to probe the subject of social conditions, she reveals Marxist ideology embedded in Marie Kvaternick's speech:
She keeps talking about the old country, the fields, and what they thought it would be like here -- all buried in da bowels of earth, she finishes....  And she talks about the coal.  Says it oughta be red, and let people see how they get it with blood.
Finally, in his fear of the implicit ideology in Anna's speech which, if embraced, could cost him his job -- and in his failure to dissociate himself and Anna from the Kvaternicks, Jim ends the dialogue by dissociating himself from Anna:  '"Quit your woman's blabbin,' said Jim Holbrook, irritated suddenly.  'I'm going now'" (pp. 2-3).  In this way, the characters' speeches embody diverse languages, ideologies, and voices within individual utterances.
    Examples of polyphony occur throughout the novel, serving both to distinguish the characters as individuals and to illustrate their common humanity.  In some cases, as in the example above, polyphony takes the form of reported speech in which diverse ideologies and ethnic groups are represented.  At other times, voices seem to be resurrected from the past as fleeting memory without delineation of their source.  An example of such an anonymous voice occurs when Anna lies worrying about the possibility of a mine disaster:  "In her a deep man's voice suddenly arose, moaning over and over, 'God, God, God'" (p. 3).  Such intrusions from the past create the illusion that the novel is populated by more characters than one actually meets in the story.
    The communal sharing of ideas and words also contributes to the learning process, as illustrated by Mazie Holbrook's attempts to understand her world.  Early in the novel, six-year-old Mazie appropriates Marie Kvaternick's words and uses them to develop her own understanding of the coal mine:  "A phrase trembled into her mind, 'Bowels of earth.'... It was mysterious and terrible to her.  'Bowels of earth.  It means the mine.  Bowels is the stummy.  Earth is a stummy and mebbe she ets the men that come down'" (p. 5).  Throughout the book, such distinctive speech styles and socio-ideological languages provide a smattering of human diversity and unity.  Among these are the foreign dialects of the Kvaternicks, the Kryczskis, and Mrs. Skolnick; Elsie Bedner's syrupy expressions ("dearie, honey"); Erina's biblical quotations ("suffer little children..."); and the inevitable anonymous comments on the weather:  "Is it hot enough for you?  In a dozen dialects, is it hot enough, hot enough, hot enough for you?" (p. 160).
    The language of popular media and other folk genres are particularly worthy of note.  For example, in the city, the Holbrook children discover and master the language of film.  Will Holbrook internalizes the physical vocabulary of a popular movie star:   "(...Even outwardly: Will's eyes are  narrowed now, his mouth drawn up at the corner, his walk when he  remembers loose; for the rest of his life he will grin crooked:  Bill Hart)" (p. 156).  The character who most completely internalizes the language of film, however, is Gertrude Skolnick, a young Polish immigrant who attempts to deny her old-world heritage by posing as a glamorous actress:  "Say vamp me, vamp me.  I'm Nazimova.  Take me to the roadhouse, I want to make whoopee. Hotcha.  Never never never.  0 my gigolo, my gigolo.  A moment of ecstasy, a lifetime of regret" (p. 158).
    Children's games, chants, and rhyme also abound in the novel, ranging in tone from the humorous and sad nonsense rhyme Mazie recites on the Dakota farm, "0 Were I a Lum Ti Turn Turn/In the land of the alivoo fig/I'd play on the strum ti turn turn/To the tune of the thingumajig" (p. 49);  to the lighthearted game, "alley, alley 'ats in free" (p. 136);  to the frightening chant, "Doctor, Doctor, will I die?/Yes.  You will.  And so shall I" (p. 159).  The presence of these folk genres, like the influence of popular media, serves to reinforce the folk artistry of the People, and thus, additionally, to subvert the authority of individualistic bourgeois, aesthetic philosophies.
    Among the folk genres included in the novel, none is more indicative of human bonding than is the sharing of songs.  In three separate instances, the characters are able to transcend their isolation and individual circumstances through music.
    The first instance occurs on the family's journey to the Dakota farm.  Here, Anna and Jim's act of singing evokes pleasant memories and elicits happy plans for a new life.  Presented through narrative discourse, the family experiences the binding power of the harmonious sounds:  "Their voices were slow curving rhythms, slow curving sounds.  Voices rising and twining, beauty curving on rainbows of quiet sound, filled their hearts heavy, welled happy tears to Mazie's eyes" (p. 39).  At their visit to the Bedners, after they have moved to the city, the family again experiences the sweet-sadness of this unifying force:  "They sang and sang, and a longing, a want undefined, for something lost, for something never known, troubled them all.  The separate voices chorded into one great full one, their faces into beauty" (pp. 75-76).
    The third example of the binding power of song occurs when Anna and Mazie are hunting "greens" for salad.  Here, under the shade of a catalpa tree for one brief moment free of household responsibilities Anna sings to herself and to her daughter, stroking Mazie's hair; and the song and touch release them from their individual social roles and bind them to a broader human society:
"Fair, fair, with golden hair," her mother sang.
"Under the willow she's weeping."  Mazie felt the strange happiness in her mother's body, happiness that had nought to do with them, with her, happiness and farness and selfness.
"Fair, fair, with golden hair, under the willow she's sleeping."
The fingers stroked, spun a web, cocooned Mazie into happiness and intactness and selfness.  Soft wove the bliss round hurt and fear and want and shame -- the old worn fragile bliss, a new frail selfness bliss, healing, transforming.  Up from the grasses, from the earth, from the broad tree trunk at their back, latent life streamed and seeded.  The air and self shone boundless.  (p. 146)
In this instance, the introduction of the actual song lyrics develops the communal-voice quality on yet another level.  The words of the narrator, the embedded voice of the character, and the further embedded voice of the song-writer blend into a chorus of three voices.  Moreover, if the reader knows the song, its lyrics evoke its melody; and, in our imaginative constitution of the song, we lend our own vocal music to the passage, thus, contributing further to its polyphonic quality.
    While by no means exhaustive, this discussion demonstrates some of the ways in which heteroglossia and polyphony contribute to Yonnondio's verbal-ideological texture.  Through the use of literary and oral narrator voices; embedded discourse of dramatized characters and undramatized voices; parody and distortion of alien ideology; implication of diverse socio-linguistic communities; reported speech, appropriated words, dialects, speech styles, popular media, and folk genres; Olsen weaves a composition as rich and as delicate as a fugue.  In orchestrating the diverse voices of the 1930s American Depression, she gives to these voices a sense of unity and harmony:  "The separate voices [chord] into one great full one, their faces into beauty."
    While an awareness of levels of character speech and undramatized voices embedded within them can result in a variety of staging possibilities, the most obvious contribution of Bakhtin's theory at this level (though applicable to all levels) lies in its potential for character analysis and development. For a performer, a director, or a teacher of performance, Bakhtin's concepts of heteroglossia and polyphony provide a new vocabulary for exploring subtextual levels of characterization.  While the perimeters of this study do not permit a detailed exploration of that potential, it would seem obvious that performers could benefit from understanding the various speech acts and linguistic-ideological communities embedded in character speech as a means toward understanding the more traditional analytical elements of character attributes, motives, attitudes, and disposition.

Because of its emphasis on voices, Bakhtin's dialogic theory of literature presents particularly rich potential for performance studies of literary texts; and, conversely, performance offers an effective and engaging medium through which to dialogue with a text.  On one hand, the adaptor, director, or performer of narrative literature can utilize Bakhtin's method of analyzing embedded voices to guide performance choices regarding line assignments, vocal orchestration, production concepts, and subtextual levels of characterization.  On the other hand, established techniques for performing embedded voices including bifurcation of narrators and characters, multiple casting, choral speech, and the use of electronic media can not only demonstrate polyphony and heteroglossia, but can also serve as tools for uncovering new insights into the various levels of voices that populate a novel.[15]
    Such a dialogic exchange between performance and text is only one kind of exchange that Bakhtin's theory affords,[16]  but it is one that I believe Bakhtin would readily endorse.  He states:

The work and the world represented in it enter the real world and enrich it, and the real world enters the work and its world as part of the process of creation, as well as part of its subsequent life, in a constant renewing of the work through the creative perception of listeners and readers."[17]


1 - For a general overview of social context studies, see Kristin M. Langellier, "From Text to Social Context," Literature in Performance, 6 (April 1986), 60-70.

2 -The relationship between post-structuralism and performance is explored in essays by Eric E. Peterson, John Hollwitz, Kay Ellen Capo, Jacqueline Taylor, Carol Simpson Stern, Kristin M. Langellier, Kristina Minister, Jill Taft-Kaufman, and Stanley Deetz in "Symposium: Post-Structuralism and Performance," ed. Mary S. Strine, Literature in Performance, 4 (November 1983), 21-64.

3 -Taft-Kaufman, "Deconstructing the Text: Performance Implications," Literature in  Performance, 4 (November 1983), 58. For a similar viewpoint, see Stern, "Deconstruction and the Phenomenological Alternative," Literature in Performance, 4 (November 1983), 41-44.

4 -Strine, "Between Meaning and Representation: Dialogic Aspects of Interpretation Scholarship," Renewal & Revision; The Future of Interpretation, ed. Ted Colson (Denton, Texas: NB Omega Publications, 1986), 69-91.  (See also Strine's Forum essay in this issue of Literature in Performance.)

5 - Tillie Olsen, Yonnondio: From the Thirties, (New York: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence, 1974).  Subsequent references appear in text.

6 - For various responses to Olsen's novel, see, for example, Bell Gale Chevigny, rev. of Yonnondio, The Village Voice, (May 23, 1974), 38-39; Sally Cunneen, "Tillie Olsen: Storyteller of Working America," The Christian Century, (May 21, 1980), 570-73; Erika Duncan, "Coming of Age in the Thirties: A Portrait of Tillie Olsen," Book Forum, 4, 2 (1982), 207-22;  Deborah Rosenfelt, "From the Thirties: Tillie Olsen and the Radical Tradition," Feminist Studies, 7 (Fall 1981), 371-406.

7 - Michael Holquist, editor's glossary, in M.M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 1981), p. 428.

8 - For Bakhtin, an individual's inner life, or consciousness is directly dependent on one's social self. As he notes, "ideological differentiation, the growth of consciousness, is  in direct proportion to the firmness and reliability of the social orientation. The stronger, the more organized, the more differentiated the collective in which the individual orients himself, the more vivid and complex his inner world will be." See, V. N. Volosinov/Bakhtin, Marxism and the
Philosophy of Language, trans. Ladislav Matejka and I.R. Titunik, (New  York: Seminar Press, 1973), p. 88. As Volosinov's authorship is disputed, and there is growing evidence that Bakhtin wrote the book, I attribute the statement to Bakhtin.

9 - Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, p. 293.

10 - These levels are not as mutually-exclusive as they might be in a formalist, dramatic ,or another type of rhetorical analysis; they are used here primarily to orient the reader and to provide a general format for this discussion. While it is possible to situate an utterance in  a  linguistic-ideological framework or a "character zone," to insist on a strict demarcation among, say, authorial voice, narrator voice, and character voices risks ignoring the novel's dominant characteristic of the overlap or "dialogue" among these voices a dialogue wherein "voices" are defined not only by speech styles but by the latent experiential-ideological perceptions that they express. Thus. for example, a speech by a narrator that expresses a character's inner experience belongs both to the category of narrator voice and the category of character voices. See Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, pp. 301-331.

11 - In his discussion of discourse in Dostoevsky's works, Bakhtin differentiates between narration by a narrator (skaz), and first-person narration (Ich-Erzahlung).  Olsen's oral narrator partakes of both types of discourse.  Because it is the oral quality of speech (skaz in the strictest sense of the term) that best distinguishes this narrative orientation, I shall refer to this orientation as "oral narration" or "skaz." See Bakhtin, Problems in Dostoevsky's Poetics, ed. and trans. Caryl Emerson, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), p. 190.

12 - Bakhtin, Problems in Dostoevsky's Poetics, p. 192.

13 - Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, p. 335.

14 -  At an authorial level, Olsen's decision to omit the apostrophe in the contractions contained in the dialogue serves both to represent the dialect and to suggest that the sub-standard speech is politically motivated (i.e., that the omission indicates a conscious rejection of so-called "standards" of speech).

15 - Numerous studies in interpretation suggest techniques for performing voices in narrative literature. See especially, Robert Breen, Chamber Theatre, (Evanston, Illinois: Wm. Caxton Ltd.), 1978, 1986; and Judith C. Espinola, "The Nature, Function, and Performance of Indirect Discourse in Prose Fiction," Speech Monographs, 41 (August 1974), 193-204.  At another level of dialogue, a comparison of my 1983 production record essay with this essay reinforces the affinity between performance theories and Bakhtin's theory.  While I was not aware of Bakhtin's work at the time that I adapted and directed the production of Yonnondio (nor when I wrote the production record essay), my decision to assign the narration to a controlling narrator and a narrative chorus (based on an appreciation of the narrative point of view and studies of the Greek dramatic chorus), reflects a shared interest in embedded voices that Bakhtin's theory addresses in specific relation to the novel.  Similarly, the kinds of insights into Olsen's narrative speech styles that arose in the process of choreographing that production would seem as appropriate to this type of dialogic analysis as to that dialogic activity. See Park-Fuller and Tillie Olsen, "Understanding What We Know: Yonnondio: From the Thirties," Literature in Performance 4 (November 1983), 65-74.

16 - For examples of performance studies that apply Bakhtin's theory in various ways, see Strine (note #4 above); see also, Dwight Conquergood, '"A Sense of the Other': Interpretation and Ethnographic Research," Proceedings of the Southwest Conference on Oral Traditions, ed. Isabel Crouch (Las Cruces, New Mexico: New Mexico State Univ.), pp. 148-155: Conquergood, "Performance and Dialogical Understanding: In Quest of the Other," Communication and
Performance, ed. Janet Larsen Palmer (Tempe, Arizona: Arizona State Univ., 1986). pp. 30-37; and Conquergood, "Between Experience and Meaning: Performance as a Paradigm for Meaningful Action," Renewal and Revision: The Future of Interpretation, pp. 26-59 (note #4 above).  Additional studies incorporating a dialogic approach include two articles in The Carolinas Speech Communication Annual, 2 (1986): Beverly Whitaker Long, "Where is the (Other) Voice Coming From? Dialogic Prompting for Rehearsing the Performance of Lyric Poetry," 8-14; and John M. Allison, Jr., "The Rehearsal Process: A Brief Descriptive Analysis," 24-30.

17 - Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, p. 254.