Viktor Shklovskii

Shklovskii, Viktor Borisovich

 

Born Jan. 12 (24), 1893, in St. Petersburg. Soviet Russian writer, literary scholar, and critic.

The son of a teacher, Shklovskii studied in the philological faculty at the University of St. Petersburg. His first scholarly work on literature was published in 1914. Shklovskii was close to the futurists and was a member of the Society for the Study of Poetic Language (OPOIAZ). He was a founder and a theorist of the formalist school of literary scholarship (seeFORMAL METHOD). Shklovskii’s most important works from these years were collected in On the Theory of Prose (1925).

Shklovskii became aware of the limitations of the formalist school in the 1930’s. He began dealing with literature from a broad sociohistorical viewpoint in his article “Monument to a Scholarly Error” (1930). Beginning in the 1930’s, Shklovskii investigated the historical relations between literature and the social reality and dominant ideas of the age. His books and articles dealing with this problem include Artistic Prose: Reflections and Analyses (1959; 2nd ed., 1961), Stories About Prose (vols. 1–2, 1966), and The Bowstring: On the Dissimilarity of the Similar (1970).

Shklovskii also wrote memoirs and lyric epistolary books of an autobiographical nature, such as A Sentimental Journey (parts 1–2, 1923), Zoo: Letters Not About Love, or The Third Héloise (1923), Hamburg Account (1928), and Once Upon a Time (1962). Much of Shklovskii’s work deals with the Russian classics. In particular, he was the author of a series of works on L. N. Tolstoy, beginning with Material and Style in Leo Tolstoy’s Novel “War and Peace” (1928) and ending with the detailed biography Leo Tolstoy (1963; 2nd ed., 1967; both editions part of the series Zhizn’ zamechatel’nykh liudei [Lives of Outstanding People]). He also wrote works on film theory; literary portraits of S. M. Eisenstein, L. V. Kuleshov, Dziga Vertov, and A. P. Dovzhenko; and screenplays.

Shklovskii was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor.

WORKS

Sobr. soch., vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1973–74.
Poiski optimizma. Moscow, 1931.
O Maiakovskom. Moscow, 1940.
Zametki o proze russkikh klassikov, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1955.
Za i protiv: Zametki o Dostoevskom. Moscow, 1957.
Istoricheskie povesti i rasskazy. Moscow, 1958.
Za sorok let: Stat’i o kino. [Introductory article by M. Bleiman.] Moscow, 1965.

REFERENCES

Eikhenbaum, B. “O Viktore Shklovskom.” In his book Moi sovremennik. Leningrad, 1929.
Gukovskii, G. “Shklovskii kak istorik literatury.” Zvezda, 1930, no. 1.
Sarnov, B. “Glazami khudozhnika.” Novyi mir, 1964, no. 7.
Levin, E. “Viktor Shklovskii—teoretik kino.” Iskusstvo kino, 1970, no. 7.
Dobin, E. S. “Viktor Shklovskii—analitik siuzheta.” In his book Siuzhet i deistvitel’nost’. Leningrad, 1976.
Russkie sovetskie pisateli-prozaiki: Biobibliografich. ukazatel’, vol. 6, part 1. Moscow, 1969.

T. IU. KHMEL’NITSKAIA

References in periodicals archive ?
Turning into Sterne; Viktor Shklovskii and literary reception.
In his conclusion, describing the critical scene in Russia, Tomashevskii distinguishes between "orthodox" Formalists, mentioning Eikhenbaum along with Viktor Shklovskii and Iurii Tynianov, and "independent" scholars, who "took part in the creation of the school, and contributed to its work; but [who] do not conform to the school's program, and have chosen to follow a separate course.
Thus from the alliance of criticism, science, and poetry was born the first fasicules of the Collected Articles on the Theory of Poetic Language, and shortly thereafter a group was formed, the first members of which were Viktor Shklovskii, Osip Brik, Lev Iakubinskii, Boris Kushner, and Evgenii Polivanov; this group organized itself, around 1918, into the Society for the Study of Poetic Language (or, conforming to the fashion for military, revolutionary abbreviations, OPOIAZ).
Readers of Style will particularly appreciate the early chapters, which deal with Todorov's first few years in Paris and his interaction with the structuralist milieu, and where he also evokes his encounters with, among others, Roman Jakobson, Viktor Shklovskii, and Emile Benveniste, as well as his friendship with Gerard Genette and their extended collaboration at Poetique.