A seminal text in Russian formalist genre theory, Tynianov's previously untranslated essay on the ode is both an historical case study of a single genre and a investigation of broader principles of poetic structure and generic evolution. Applying his "systemo-functional" model of genre, Tynianov first analyses the structure of the Russian ode as exemplified by the eighteenth-century poet-critic Lomonosov, then traces a complex series of transformations that the genre undergoes in the hands of his rivals and successors, connecting these to other developments in literature and to contemporary critical debates about lyric poetry and language. Tynianov argues that the dominant characteristic of the Lomonosov ode is its orientation to oratory, the non-literary "speech series" it most closely resembles, and shows how the declamatory principle - involving a particular intonational system and the pursuit of maximum emotional effect - organises every element in an ode's construction and creates a special condition of language. After Lomonosov, the oratorical function weakens and the ode splits into two strands, dubbed "dry odes" and "senseless" odes, which evolve separately. In the nineteenth century, the genre mutates further, orientating itself instead to conversational speech or to music, and combining with other genres such as elegy or romance. The essay concludes with some speculative remarks about how the ode survived "as a tendency" even though the genre itself was largely defunct.


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pp. 565-596
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