Shostakovich's late music (from the late 1960s to 1975) has attracted little Western scholarly attention, perhaps because it seems "reduced" and introverted when compared with the earlier, more overtly expressive works (for example Symphonies Nos. 5 and 10), which continue to attract often vitriolic and polemical debate. The first intention of this thesis is to redress this imbalance in Shostakovich studies by means of close analysis of three late works: String Quartet No. 15 (Op. 144), the Viola Sonata (Op. 147) and Four Verses of Captain Lebiadkin (Op. 146) (all 1974-5). The second intention is to contribute to the development of the interdisciplinary, hermeneutic study of Shostakovich, by returning predominantly to sources contemporaneous with his Soviet Russian context. Thirdly, this thesis engages with the increasingly influential work of Mikhail Bakhtin, representing the first large-scale development of Bakhtinian thought for the study of music in general, and for the study of the music of Shostakovich in particular.