Monumental and Ephemeral Chronotopes in Iraida Barry’s Polyphonic Autobiography


Iraïda Barry


This article analyzes the usage of quotations from ephemeral primary texts in autobiographical narrative. By ephemeral primary texts I mean firstly diary entries and regular correspondence, but also newspaper articles, memoranda, receipts, and other forms of daily writing. By contrast, (auto-)biographical narrative is composed from a holistic perspective that attempts a monumental written representation of a person’s life. This paper takes as object of analysis an unpublished manuscript from the Bakhmeteff Archive at Columbia University: The Silver Ring (1951) by Iraida Barry. It is part of a larger collection of autobiographical writings by Barry called Mirror Shards (Zerkal’nye oskolki). Drawing on Bakhtin’s conceptual apparatus, I differentiate the ephemeral chronotope from the monumental one. I demonstrate the discursive effects of abrupt shifts in chronotope. I argue that the co-presence of the two chronotopes produces a polyphonic autobiography.


Bakhtin 1981: M.M. Bakhtin, Forms of Time and of the Chronotope, in The Dialogic Imagination, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1981, pp. 84-258.

Barry 1951: I. V. Barry, Serebrianoe kolechko, in Zerkal’nye oskolki, New York, Bakhmeteff Archive of Russian and Eastern European History and Culture, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University, Box 7, Folder 4.

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