Estrangement and the Somatics of Literature
Tolstoy, Shklovsky, Brecht
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Title Page, Copyright
I wrote this book while on a Fulbright in Voronezh, Russia, where access to the hard-copy Russian originals of Tolstoy, Shklovsky, and their Russian critics and sources was easier than it might have been in the United States but every other aspect of the research was more difficult. My first thanks go, therefore, to Martha Swan, Lisa Harrison, and Anne Johnson in the Interlibrary Loan...
This book is in part a comparative study of Russian and German literary-theoretical history, specifically of a single strain of that history associated with the concepts of estrangement and alienation (Befremdung, Entfremdung, Verfremdung; ostranenie, otchuzhdenie) and formalist modernism, as well their roots in German Romanticism, Hegel, and Marx. Due to the antithetical impulses...
Part I. ZarazhenieTolstoy’s Infection Theory
One. Tolstoy’s Infection
“It is widely accepted in contemporary Anglo-American aesthetics,” Saam Trivedi writes in the opening lines of his 2004 article on Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy’s 1898 aesthetic tract What Is Art?, “that, despite Tolstoy’s own literary achievements, his ‘moralism’ about art is a view without much merit. For the most part, I concur with this current consensus about Tolstoy. However,...
Two. Tolstoy’s Estrangement
Tolstoy has a dual role to play in this book: as a theorist of artistic infection and thus of the somatics of literature (my topic in chapter 1), and as a literary exemplar of estrangement (my topic here in chapter 2). Estrangement as a literary device was first theorized by Viktor Shklovsky in 1917, and chapter 3 is devoted to a detailed discussion of that theory, but as critics invariably note,...
Part II. Ostranenie Shklovsky’s Estrangement Theory
Three. Shklovsky’s Modernist Poetics
In a 1966 article entitled “Obnovlenie ponyatiya,” “The Renewal of a Concept,” the 73-year-old reformed Russian formalist Viktor Shklovsky returned in print to his most famous critical coinage, the priyom ostraneniya or “estrangement device” from his 1917 article “Art as Device.” Specifically, he examined the cultural afterlife of that concept, in Bertolt Brecht’s transformation...
Four. Shklovsky’s Hegelianism
I noted in connection with my tabulation of the “four Things” in chapter 3 that Shklovsky was a left-leaning Hegelian thinker who anticipated the Hegelian Marxism of Georg Lukács by several years—and that the Soviet ban on formalism came out of the Second International Marxist tradition pioneered by Plekhanov, Kautsky, and Bernstein and institutionalized in the Soviet Union...
Part III. VerfremdungBrecht’s Estrangement Theory
Five. Brecht’s Modernist Marxism
I put the Shklovsky etiology first for obvious methodological reasons—a book on estrangement in Shklovsky and Brecht could hardly do otherwise—but I do not intend this methodological priority to indicate historical preference or precedence. I don’t believe Shklovsky’s indirect influence on Brecht to be weightier or more decisive than any other; in fact, I assume that Brecht...
Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2008
Series Title: Parallax: Re-visions of Culture and Society
Series Editor Byline: Stephen G. Nichols, Gerald Prince, and Wendy Steiner, Series Editors See more Books in this Series
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