Russian Formalism

Dr. S. Devika

Russian Formalism or East European Formalism  is a school of literary criticism and literary theory  that originated in Moscow (Moscow Linguistic Circle) and St. Petersburg (Opojaz) in the 1920s. Among the leading representatives of the movement were Boris Eichenbaum, Victor Shklovsky, and Roman Jakobson. When this critical mode was suppressed by the Soviet Union in the early 1930s, the center of the formalist study of literature moved to Czechoslovakia, where it was continued especially by members of the Prague Linguistic Circle, which included Roman Jakobson, Jan Mukarovsky, and René Wellek. A comprehensive and influential formalist essay is  Roman Jakobson’s “Linguistics and Poetics,” included in his Language in Literature (1987). Russian Formalists emphasized the autonomous nature of literature, and insisted that the proper study of literature lay neither in a reflection of the life of its author nor in the historical or cultural milieu in which it was created. They believed…

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