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Viktor Shklovsky (1883-1984) was a leading theorist of the 20th century and a founder of the Formalism school of literary criticism. His work is made particularly interesting by the fact that he wrote for over 70 years, both as a very young man in the wake of the Russian revolution-one of his best known works, “Art as a Method,” was published in 1917-and as a ninety year old, never tiring of analyzing the workings of literature. Shklovsky's work is aphoristic, essayistic, at times startlingly thought-provoking, and, as is not always the case among literary theorists, eminently readable, even for the uninitiated.
Despite the appearance in recent years of biographies and several never-before translated texts, such asKnight's Move, Literature and Cinematography, and Energy of Delusion, Shklovsky is still not well-served in English. Many of the existing translations are inadequate and fail to capture the wit of Shklovsky's prose, there are a number of important essays that have yet to be translated, and there is no one book that collects his crucial writings from across his career and which can serve as an entry point for first-time readers.Viktor Shklovsky: A Reader seeks to redress these problems by presenting fresh new translations of key texts as well as important work that has not appeared in English before. The theoretical writing is interspersed with excerpts from memoirs and letters that illuminate the essays.