Readings in Russian poetics: formalist and structuralist views

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MIT Press, Oct 15, 1971 - Literary Criticism - 306 pages
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The Formal methodis a code of literary criticism, having its analogues in other than verbal arts, which arose in Russia shortly before the 1920s. Part of a larger momentum which in general turned away from theory as a means to understanding art, as for instance, did scholarship in the fine arts in Germany, the Formalists undertook to establish literary study on a new, specific basis. They wished to limit themselves to the actual instance of art in front of them, and to bring to it only such materials as would an empirical investigator; theirs was, in the words of a spokesman, "a special scientific discipline concerned with literature as a specific system of facts." In this system they wished to discover the defining features: what is it in a work of literature that makes it specifically a literarywork? These are the issues raised by the Formalists. The subsequent history of their movement is an elaboration of this theoretical ground. Examples of Formalist thinking from the movement's origins through its major redefinitions and most significant expansions show much of the notable work that has been done in furthering the cause of literary studies as a systematic discipline. This volume is a collection of the most important contributions concerning the Formalist school, most of them translated for the first time from the Russian or the Czech. The editors have included articles on the general literary theory, on problems in the study of poetry, on selected problems in prose, and on specific literary works (including some by Dickens and O. Henry). The contributors include B. M. Ejxenbaum, Roman Jakobson, M. M. Baxtin, V. N. Volosinov, and others. In addition, the editors have each contributed retrospective and summarizing articles.

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Contents

The Theory of the Formal Method
1
On Realism in Art 4L
38
Literary Environment
56
Copyright

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About the author (1971)

Ladislav Matejka is Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The late Krystyna Pomorska, Roman Jacobson's widow, was Professor of Slavic, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.