Russian Formalism- important key concepts

Categories : Literary Theories

Russian Formalism

Russian Formalism
Russian Formalism- important key concepts 2
  • Highly influential in post-Revolution Russia from the
    1910s to the 1930s
  • Following the Bolshevik Revolution, Viktor
    published his essay “Art as Technique
    – This was another intellectual revolution
    – Shklovsky emphasized the autonomy and liberating
    power of art and aesthetics
  • This was against the Marxist views on art being a reflection of
    ideal social reality
  • Three Formalist schools
    – Moscow Linguistic Circle
    – OPOYAZ (founded by Shklovksy)
    – Prague Linguistic Society

Russian Formalism was a literary and linguistic movement that emerged in post-Revolution Russia in the early 20th century. It had a significant influence on literary theory and criticism, particularly from the 1910s to the 1930s. The Formalists sought to develop a scientific and systematic approach to the study of literature, focusing on the formal aspects of literary texts rather than their social or historical contexts.

Viktor Shklovsky- Art as Technique

One of the key figures of Russian Formalism was Viktor Shklovsky. In his influential essay “Art as Technique” (also known as “Art as Device”), published in 1917, Shklovsky presented his ideas on the role of art and aesthetics. He argued that the purpose of art is to defamiliarize or “estranged” the familiar perception of reality, making it fresh and unfamiliar. Shklovsky emphasized the autonomy and liberating power of art, asserting that it should not be reduced to a mere reflection of social reality, as Marxist theory posited.

The Formalists proposed a systematic method for analyzing literary texts, focusing on the specific devices and techniques used by writers. They aimed to uncover the formal properties of literature that shape its aesthetic impact on readers. This approach involved studying various aspects, such as language, narrative structure, plot devices, imagery, and poetic language.

Moscow Linguistic Circle, OPOYAZ (Society for the Study of Poetic Language), and the Prague Linguistic Society

The Formalist movement consisted of three major schools: the Moscow Linguistic Circle, OPOYAZ (Society for the Study of Poetic Language), and the Prague Linguistic Society. The Moscow Linguistic Circle, discussed in the previous response, focused on the linguistic aspects of literature and contributed to the development of structuralist approaches in linguistics. Moscow Linguistic Circle (Group of linguists and grammarians) Russian Formalism

OPOYAZ, founded by Shklovsky in 1914, explored the study of poetic language and devices. They analyzed the techniques that make literary language distinct from everyday language and sought to understand the ways in which writers create artistic effects through their use of language.

The Prague Linguistic Society, although not based in Russia, shared some similarities with the Russian Formalists in their focus on the study of language and literature. They played a significant role in the development of the Prague School of structural linguistics, which emphasized the interplay between language and social structures.

100 unique literary terms in cultural studies

The ideas and methods of the Russian Formalists had a lasting impact on literary theory and criticism. Their emphasis on the formal properties of literature and their scientific approach to analysis paved the way for subsequent developments in structuralism, semiotics, and other approaches to literary studies. Despite facing criticism and eventual suppression by the Soviet authorities in the 1930s, the legacy of Russian Formalism continues to shape contemporary literary and cultural theory.

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