Theory of Prose

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Dalkey Archive Press, 1991 - Literary Criticism - 216 pages
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Viktor Shklovsky's 1925 book Theory of Prose might have become the most important work of literary criticism in the twentieth century had not two obstacles barred its way: the crackdown by Soviet dictatorship on Shklovsky and other Russian Formalists in the 1930s, and the unavailability of an English translation. Now translated in its entirety for the first time, Theory of Prose not only anticipates structuralism and post-structuralism, but poses questions about the nature of fiction that are as provocative today as they were in the 1920s. Arguing that writers structure their materials according to artistic principles rather than from attempts to imitate "reality," Shklovsky uses Cervantes, Tolstoi, Sterne, Dickens, Bely, and Rozanov to give us a new way of thinking about fiction and, in his most impassioned moments, about the world. Benjamin Sher's lucid translation will allow Shklovsky's Theory of Prose to fulfill its destiny as a major theoretical work of the twentieth century.


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Art as Device
The Relationship between Devices of Plot
The Structure of Fiction
The Making of Don Quixote
Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery Story
Dickens and the Mystery Novel
The Novel as Parody
Bely and Ornamental Prose
Literature without a Plot Rozanov
Essay and Anecdote

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About the author (1991)

Viktor Shklovsky (1893-1984) was an originator and leading theoretician of the Russian Formalist school, and was also active in films and children's literature. Several of his books are available from Dalkey Archive Press, among them Sentimental Journey, Third Factory, and Zoo, or Letters Not about Love.

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