Russian formalism Art as technique by Victor Shklovsky is considered as a manifesto of Russian Formalism.

Here, Shklovsky expounds his theory that the principle function of art is to push the boundaries of language in order to reawaken our „sensation of life“ and that art achieves this by its techniques and conventions rather than some mystical abilities of the poet. He says that habitualization devours work, clothes, furniture, one's wife and the fear of war. Art exists so that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the stone stony. The purpose of art is to impart things as they are percieved and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects „unfamiliar“, to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself. Art is the way of experiencing the artfulness of the object: the object is not important. True art works by defamiliarization. Tolstoy wrote a story from the point of view of a horse. This technique enables Tolstoy to describe human life in a way which makes us percieve it in a new unexpected light. But all techniques have an expiery date – art is in a state of constant renewal. New conventions replace the old ones when they are spent. One should study old forms as one studies a frog – the physiologist doesn't want to learn how to croak. Connected to the concept of defamiliarisation is the concept of foregrounding or laying bare the devices and conventions of literature. Defamiliarisation is to the content what laying bare is to the form of literary work. An example of laying bare is described in Shklovsky's essay „Sterne's Tristram Shandy: Stylistic Commentary“ Sterne used multiple beginnings, blank pages, chapters taken out of the order, commentary on behalf of the narrator: „Sterne was a radical revolutionary as far as form is concered. It was typical of him to lay bare the device. The aesthetic form is presented without any motivation whatsoever, simply as is.“ Sterne shows that which other novels try to hide. That's why it is „the most typical novel in the world literature. Shklovsky says that the forms of art are explained by the artistic laws that govern them and not by comparison with actual life. Roman Jakobson argued that 19th century realism is just another artistic movement. Even „realism is just a matter of technique and convention. Shklovsky differentiated „story“(fabula) from „plot“(sjužet) and explored various types of plot construction in the novel. Propp analyied Russian folktales with respect to their „form“rather than „content“. At the bottom of all these tales was one basic narrative pattern. Propp and later on narratology aimed at describing the universal „structures“ underlying the many various types of narratives. They wanted a science of literature. Jakobson wrote about the concept of literariness, introduced it in a 1921 essay. Literariness is that which makes a given work a literary work. He makes a remark that historians of literature had a need to take in everything they could – everyday life, psychology, politics and they got nothing – especially not a science of literature. Thus, the aim of literary study is not to study individual works but the general laws of literature, to isolate what makes literature literature.

and that was language. A difference between the new critics and Russian formalists was that many of the Russian formalists were linguists. And if it was an art. Prior to formalist movements the study of literature was concerned with everything about literature except language. from the historical context of literary work to the biography of its author. then it also had a medium. literature was document. Roman Jakobson opened up the live and sensitive juncture between one of the most exact sciences of men and the creative world.To Taine. . To formalists it was art.

Then still more people came running out and began to drag away the maiden who had been wearing a white dress but now wore one of sky blue. By this algebraic method of thought we apprehend objects only as shapes with imprecise extensions. The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are percieved and not as they are known. In War and Peace uses the same technique in describing battles as if battles were sth new. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of the object : the object is not important. What's the meaning of „his own“. are guided by words – ours by deeds. we recognize them only by their main characteristics. smiling and raising their hands… The people with something like daggers in their hands. The technique of art is to make objects unfamiliar. In this example. the over – automatization of an object permits the greatest economy of perceptive effort. We can see that the familiar act of flogging is made unfamiliar both by the description of it and by the proposal to change its form without changing its nature. he uses the same method in describing the drawing room and the theater. then the fact could be established. Tolstoj makes the familiar seem strange by not naming the familiar object. Either objects are assigned only one proper feature – a number. Ultimately. at least those with whom I have had dealings. then such lives are as if they had never been. where the narrator is a horse.But the men and women on stage. to make the stone stony.Victor Shklovsky Art as Technique Habituation is ideally realized in algebra. The process of algebrization. started to bow. „If the whole complex lives of many people go on unconsciously. yet never see them. for examole. But then I was absolutely in the dark. to make forms difficult. or they function as though by formula and do not even appear in cognition.“ . the horse regards the institution of the private property. started to wave their arms.(…) There are people who call others their own. Later on he remarks „(…) why not prick the shoulders with needles (…)“. „his colt“. „The middle of the stage consisted of flat boards…they were all singning something…. The process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and therefore must be prolonged.“ Art exists that one may recover the sensation of life. who represented lovers. If someone had been watching him. the essence of objects is forgotten. it exists to make one feel things. and it's the horse's point of view that makes the content of the story seem unfamiliar. He describes an object as as if he were seeing it for the first time. In „Shame“ he defamiliarizes the idea of flogging in this way: „to strip people who have broken the law (…)“. where things are expressed as symbols. to increase the difficulty and length of perception.“ Even at the end of the story Tolstoy continues to use this technique even though the motivation for it is gone ( the horse is dead). And the whole relationship between them is that the so called „owners“ treat the others unjustly (…) The actions of men. „I understood well what they said about whipping and Christianity. He gives an example of habitual and unconscious movements when cleaning and not remembering whether he had dusted it or not. The next example is the narrator of Kholstomer.

Spencer says that if the syllables are rythmically arranged the mind may economize its energies by anticipating the attention required for each syllable. easy. Shklovsky feels defamiliarization is found almost everywhere form is found…An image is not a permanent referent for those mutable complexities of life which are revealed through it. If it became a convention. its purpose is not to make us percieve meaning. the intricacy of the dolce stil nuovo. The author's purpose is to create the vision which results from that deautomatized perception. Some considered it a blasphemy to present as strange and monstrous what they accepted as sacred. while the rythm of poetry is not. He used the popular language to prolong attention ( his contemporaries used Russian words in there usually French speech. the goddess of prose is a goddess of the accurate.Tolstoy showed his ability to see things out of their normal context. impeded language. but to create a special perception of the object – it creates a vision of the object instead of serving as a means of knowing it… In his article on plot construction he wrote about defamiliarization in psychological parallelism. Prose is ordinary speech – economical. He mentions different novelties in the usage of languages and dialects. facile type. Since perception should be slowed down. Poetic rythm is disorderd rythm. Its systematization will not work – the problem is that it is disordering that cannot be predicted. He mentions the problem of rythm since many people have the idea of the economy of artistic energy as something which exists in and even distinguishes poetic language. . He gives examples of Pushkin used the popular language which seemed trivial then and was unexpectedly difficult for his contemporaries who were writing in the elegant style of Derzhavin. The language of poetry is then a roughened. it would be ineffective as a procedure for the roughening of language. the obscure style of the language of Arnaut Daniel with the roughened form which makes pronounciation difficult – these are used in much the same way. Often it is foreign language. Leo Jakubinsky demonstrated the principle of phonetic roughening of poetic language in the case of repetition of identical sounds. In the light of these developments we can define poetry as attenuated. Tolstoy described dogmas and rituals he attacked as if they were unfamiliar. but in its continuity. Poetic speech is formed speech. That is why poetic language gives satisfaction. Shklovsky thinks that that the rythm of prose is an important automatiing element. of the „direct“ expression of a child. The purpose of parallelism. we find everywhere the artistic trademark – we find material which is obviously created to remove automatism or perception. proper. as the result of this lingering the object is percieved not in its extension in space. In studying poetic speech in its phonetic and lexical structure as well as in the way words are distributed and its thought structures compounded from the words. like general purpose of imagery is to transfer the usual perception of an object into the sphere of new perception – that is to make a unique semantic modification. The common archaisms of of poetic language. tortuous speech. Shklovsky mentions how poetic language should appear strange and wonderful (Aristotle).

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