Even-Zohar, Itamar 1990
. "Introduction [to
11:1 (1990)], pp
Polysystem theory was suggested in my works in 1969 and 1970, sub-sequently reformulated and developed in a number of my later studiesand (I hope) improved, then shared, advanced, enlarged, and experi-mented with by a number of scholars in various countries. Although,as Segal (1982) has correctly observed, polysystem theory emergedin my own work out of the need to solve certain very specific prob-lems (having to do with translation theory [Even-Zohar 1971] as wellas the intricate historical structure of Hebrew literature [Even-Zohar1970, 1972, etc.]), its foundations had already been solidly laid byRussian Formalism in the 1920s. Unfortunately, misconceptions stillprevail about Russian Formalism, which is why the fallacious equationof"Formalism" with a-historicity and static Structuralism is still thenormal attitude in professional circles. But anybody familiar with thesecond and most decisively advanced stage of its scientific activity inthe 1920s can no longer accept the current stereotypes about RussianFormalism.The theoretical work and research done by Russian Formalism,where what I consider to be the foundations of Polysystem theoryemerged, is diverse. It was mostly designed to deal with problems of literature, but since on the one hand the very conception of "litera-ture" had undergone a series of modifications (most importantly inconceiving of it within the larger framework of culture), and since onthe other hand linguists and cultural anthropologists in Russia neverreally separated their respective fields from that of "literature" (aseparation which is still current in the West), certain hypotheses wereconceived almost simultaneously in both literary studies and the latter
11:1 (Spring 1990). Copyright © 1990 by The Porter Institute forPoetics and Semiotics. ccc 0333-5372/90/$2.50.