Russian Formalism - Erciyes University

Report
FORMALISM
Reading for form 1 (New
Criticism)
 Reading for form 2 (Russian
Formalism)
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New criticism: America in the
1930s
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The New Critics saw poetry as a way of living
authentically in a shallow world (post-war mass
disappointment).
In their vision, interpreting a text excludes both
the reader and the poet.
The form is paramount in order to find the “real”
of the text meaning.
2
Intentional Fallacy theory (IF)
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IF(W. K. Wimsatt): the confusion of auctorial
intention with the reality of the text
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The text in itself needs to guide us, not indicate
what the author meant.
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The author’s intentions/commentaries are of
little importance. The text is self-sufficient.
3
….& Affective Fallacy theory (AF)
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The reader takes his/her emotional reaction to
the text with what the text “really” means to
convey.
The “real” meaning of the text is hidden from
the reader.
The New criticism postulated reading and
interpreted the sheer text.
Once the reader and author have been
eliminated, the act of criticism is reduced to
analyzing the techniques and strategies used to
convey the literature effect.
4
Reading for form (New
Criticism)
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The New Critics have created a special kind of
critical canon, a “Procustian bed”.
The main characteristics are irony, ambiguity,
maturity, self-discipline (the poet/writer were
not allowed to personalize the poem/work)
This theory is reflected in Virginia Woolf’s To the
Lighthouse, or J. Joyce’s Ulysses.
This type of literature becomes the blue-print of
authenticity, and “masculine” lucidity.
Russian Formalism
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In the first decades of 20th century in Moscow
and St. Petersburg emerges the European
tradition of modern literary studies.
Research was moved to Prague in the late 20’s
because of the repressive Soviet regime.
The Formalist School is eventually established in
France after the 2nd World War.
The Formalist school reaches its peak in the 60’s
(Structuralism).
Russian Formalism (follow-up)
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It becomes notorious when the linguist Roman
Jakobson moves to N.Y., before 2nd world war.
The formalist’s works were translated into
English btw. 1950-1960.
In France there was a parallel movement of
cultural anthropology Cl. Levi Strauss.
France was the promoter of Structuralism which
was also going to become famous in NY.
Russian Formalism
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Initially focused on poetry.
Their only concern is the form of a literary work,
in order to read the deep meaning of the text.
Not interested in the social function of literature.
They ignore the referential function (the old
Aristotelian mimesis concept)
They believed literature is autonomous from the
rest of reality.
Highly interested in deciphering the way in which
literature functions.
Essential questions of the
Formalist approach
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What makes a text literature/literary?
What do all literary texts have in common?
Is there a common literary factor?
The Formalist’s answer: literarity is the sum of
all specific definitions for establishing the
boundaries for “non-literature”.
Traditional ways of identifying
literature
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Mimesis - the oldest of criteria. Restrictive
because it excludes everything that is not
mimetic (poetry).
Expresivity - emerging emotions though
empathy.
Rethorics – relying on stylistic devices, as well
as on their capacity to impress and influence the
reader.
Poetics – those traits which differentiate a
poetic text from another literary text.
Narativity - permanently circumscribed to
literature.
Means of identifying literarity
in Formalism
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Defined by a combination of de
procedures:
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defamiliarizing of common language through
ritmic and metrice structures (R. Jakobson)
narrative constuction (Slovski, Propp)
stylistic devices (Vinogradov)
dialectics of genres (Tanianov)
thematic structures (Tomasevski)

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