Viktor Shklovskii

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


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.


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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Olesha's Invisible Land, therefore, is the world that Viktor Shklovskii says we recognize but do not truly see without the assistance of art, (5) or, as Leon Stilman put it, the world of 'perception without apperception'.
(3) Viktor Shklovskii ('Struna zvenit v tumane', Znamia, 12 (1973), 194-205), for example, summarized Olesha's talent as 'the ability to see the world anew, in an amazingly child-like manner, to make his primal sense of the world [pervomirooshchushchenie] understood, to make a gift of it'.
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