Viktor Shklovsky

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Shklovsky and Mayakovsky on the beach on the Norderney island, Germany, 1923. Photo by Osip Brik (often misattributed to Rodchenko).
Born January 24, 1893(1893-01-24)
St Petersburg, Russian Empire
Died December 6, 1984(1984-12-06) (aged 91)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Web Aaaaarg, Wikipedia, Open Library, Open Library,
Lilya Brik and Viktor Shklovsky in Mayakovsky's dacha, 1925. Photo by Rodchenko.

Viktor Borisovich Shklovsky (Виктор Борисович Шкловский; 1893–1984) was a Russian and Soviet literary theorist, critic, novelist, and pamphleteer. He was a major voice of Formalism, a critical school that had great influence in Russian literature in the 1920s.

Educated at the University of St. Petersburg, Shklovsky helped found OPOYAZ, the Society for the Study of Poetic Language, in 1914. He was also connected with the Serapion Brothers, a collective of writers that began meeting in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) in 1921. Both groups felt that literature's importance lay primarily not in its social content but rather in its independent creation of language. In O teorii prozy (1925) and "Metod pisatelskogo masterstva" (1928), Shklovsky argued that literature is a collection of stylistic and formal devices that force the reader to view the world afresh by presenting old ideas or mundane experiences in new, unusual ways. His concept of ostranenie, or "making it strange", was his chief contribution to Russian Formalist theory.

Shklovsky also wrote autobiographical novels, chiefly Sentimentalnoye puteshestvie: vospominaniya, a widely acclaimed memoir of life during the early years of Bolshevik rule; and Zoo. Pisma ne o lyubvi, ili Tretya Eloiza. Both of these books were published in 1923, during a period (1922-23) when he lived in Berlin. He returned permanently to the Soviet Union in the latter year, at which time the Soviet authorities dissolved OPOYAZ, obliging Shklovsky to join other state-sanctioned literary organs. With his essay "Monument to a Scholarly Error" (1930), he finally bowed to the Stalinist authorities' displeasure with Formalism. Thereafter, he tried to adapt the theory of the accepted doctrine of Socialist Realism. He continued to write voluminously, publishing historical novels, film criticism, and highly praised studies of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Mayakovsky. (Source).



  • Sentimentalnoye puteshestviye [Сентиментальное путешествие], 1923. (Russian)
    • A Sentimental Journey: Memoirs, 1917-1922, trans. Richard Sheldon, Cornell University Press, 1970, xlvii+304 pp. (English)
  • Zoo. Pisma ne o lyubvi ili Tretya Eloiza [Zoo. Письма не о любви или Третья Элоиза], Berlin: Gelikon, 1923; Leningrad, 1924; 1929. (Russian)
    • "ZOO ili pisma ne o ljubavi", in Shklovski, ZOO ili pisma ne o ljubavi; Treća fabrika, trans. Lidija Subotin, Belgrade, 1966. (Serbian)
    • Zoo, or Letters Not About Love, trans. Richard Sheldon, 1971. Epistolary novel.
    • ZOO alebo Listy vôbec nie o láske, trans. Kristína Karabová, Bratislava: Brak, 2022, 220 pp. [1] (Slovak)
  • Khod konia [Ход коня], Moscow/Berlin: Gelikon, 1923. Collection of essays first published in the Soviet theatre journal The Life of Art. (Russian)
    • Knight's Move, trans. & intro. Richard Shelton, Elmwood Park, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 2005. (English)
  • Literatura i kinematograf [Литература и кинематограф], Berlin, 1923. Collection of essays. (Russian)
    • "Literature and Cinema (Extracts)", in The Film Factory, ed. & trans. Richard Taylor, Routledge, 1988. Trans. of pp 33-59 from 1923 edition. (English)
    • Literature and Cinematography, trans. Irina Masinovsky, intro. Richard Sheldon, Dalkey Archive Press, 2008, 75 pp. [2] (English)
  • O teorii prozy [О теории прозы], Moscow/Leningrad, 1925; 2nd ed., Moscow: Federatsiya, 1929, HTML, PDF; new ed., Moscow: Sovetskii pisatel, 1983, 384 pp, HTML. (Russian)
    • Theory of Prose, intro. Gerald L. Bruns, trans. & intro. Benjamin Sher, Elmwood Park, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 1990. Trans. of 2nd ed. (English)
  • Tretya fabrika, Moscow: Krug, 1926. His third volume of autobiography; written while working at the Third Goskino Factory. (Russian)
    • "Treća fabrika", in Shklovski, ZOO ili pisma ne o ljubavi; Treća fabrika, trans. Lidija Subotin, Belgrade, 1966. (Serbian)
    • Third Factory, ed. & trans. Richard Sheldon, Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1977, xxx+121 pp. (English)
  • Tekhnika pisatelskogo remesla [Техника писательского ремесла], Moscow/Leningrad, 1927. (Russian)
  • Poiski optimizma [Поиски оптимизма], Moscow: Federatsiya, 1931. (Russian)
    • A Hunt for Optimism, trans. Shushan Avagyan, Dalkey Archive Press, 2012. (English)
  • O Mayakovskom [О Маяковском], Moscow: Sovetskii pisatel, 1940, 223 pp. About the times of poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. (Russian)
    • Mayakovsky and His Circle, ed. & trans. Lily Feiler, New York, 1972, xxiv+259 pp. (English)
  • Lev Tolstoy [Лев Толстой], Moscow: Molodaya gvardiya, 1963. (Russian)
    • Leo Tolstoy, trans. Olga Shartse, Raduga, 1996, 668 pp. (English)
  • Energiya zabluzhdeniya. Kniga o syuzhete [Энергия заблуждения. Книга о сюжете], Moscow: Sovetskii pisatel, 1981, 352 pp. (Russian)
    • Energy of Delusion: A Book on Plot, trans. Shushan Avagyan, Dalkney Archive Press, 2007, ix+427 pp. (English)
  • Sobranie sochineniy, 3 vols., Moscow, 1973-74. (Russian)
  • Izbrannoe: v 2-kh tomakh, Moscow: Khudozhest, 1983, 639 & 636 pp, HTML/1, HTML/2. (Russian)
  • Gamburgskiy schet: stati, vospominaniya, esse, 1914-1933 [Гамбургский счет: статьи, воспоминания, эссе, 1914-1933], Moscow, 1990. [3] (Russian)
  • Tekstovi ne o filmu, trans. Adam Ranđelović, Red box, 2022, 141 pp. [4] (Croatian)



Film scripts[edit]

  • Prostitutka, dir. Oleg Frelikh.
  • Krylya kholopa, 1926.
  • Po zakonu [By the Law], 1926, dir. Lev Kuleshov, based on a story by Jack London.
  • Predatel, 1926, dir. Abram Room.
  • Tretya meshchanskaya [Bed and Sofa], 1927, dir. Abram Room. Vimeo, WP.
  • Ukhaby, 1927, dir. Abram Room.
  • Evrei i zemlya, documentary, 1927.
  • Ledyanoy dom [The House of Ice], 1928, dir. Konstantin Eggert, based on the eponymous novel by Ivan Lazhechnikov.
  • Dva bronevika, 1928.
  • Dom na Trubnoy [The House on Trubnaya], 1928, dir. Boris Barnet.
  • Kazaki, 1928, Georgia.
  • Obod, 1928, Georgia.
  • Kapitanskaya dochka, 1928.
  • Krazana, 1928, dir. Kote Mardjanishvili, based on the novel The Gadfly by Ethel Lilian Voynich.
  • Turksib, documentary, 1929, dir. Viktor Alexandrovitsh Turin.
  • Amerikanka, 1930, Georgia, dir. Leo Esakya.
  • Otchim, 1930, Georgia.
  • The Horizon, 1932, dir. Lev Kuleshov.
  • Minin and Pozharsky, 1939, dir. Vsevolod Pudovkin.
  • The Gadfly, 1956, dir. Aleksandr Faintsimmer, based on the eponypous novel by Ethel Lilian Voynich.
  • Kazaki, 1961, dir. Vasili Pronin.



  • Richard Robert Sheldon, Viktor Shklovsky: An International Bibliography of Works By and About Him, Ardis, 1977, 130 pp.


  • Testimone di un'epoca: conversazioni con Serena Vitale, Rome: Riuniti, 1979, 167 pp. (Italian)