Russian Literary Theorist, Victor Shklovsky Essay

Russian Literary Theorist, Victor Shklovsky Essay

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Russian literary theorist, Victor Shklovsky explores the implications of form in the constitution literature in relation to the devices that are specific to written language. Literary art invariably projects prescribed elements unnatural to innate human speech thus representing a divide in verbal and written language use. The theory of formalism regards the differences between the language of literature and ordinary discourse through the formal aspects prescribed to each so as to map the “observable features”. Using the concept of art as a means of experiencing life, Victor Shklovsky’s “Theory of Prose” employs a formalist perspective, focusing on textual features of literature to reinforce the importance of defamiliarization in arousing the thoughts of readers in order to reinforce conscious awareness. Yet, despite the importance of Shklovsky’s defamiliarization, there are limitations in what is discussed due to the fact that the act of isolating form from meaning removes the potential for political messages to be presented. This can be seen through defining art and literature by its structural elements, defamiliarization-constituting literariness, making that which is familiar strange to heighten consciousness, as well as the absence of social or political issues. The ideas presented within Shklovsky’s text are representative of a dichotomy between spoken and written discourses as a means of defining art. And so, “Theory of Prose” allows the formal elements of literature to defamiliarize everyday life, thus drawing the attention of the reader to that which they often pass over.
There are many contributing factors to the definition of literature, which complicates the act of naming meant to group concepts based on their similarit...


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...es that the text is alert of the norm that it departs from (Eagleton, 4). This awareness draws attention to the fact that within literary texts, despite the strangeness of the linguistic form there are elements of the real world within the text that are obscured through the strangeness of the format. The language that is used to describe the everyday is in “excess of their abstractable meaning”, making the concepts presented difficult to comprehend (Eagleton, 3). Literature uses imagery as a means of drawing attention to a symbolic idea that is representative of real life. This reinforces the idea that art as a sequence of images made strange from the perceptions of readers by the difficulty in the structure of the language being used. In fact, these images “bear only a superficial resemblance to the” concept it was based on which means its purpose within the text is

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