Back to: Literary Theory in English Literature. Boris Eichenbaum was a Russian theorist. He represents Russian Formalism. He was born in Voronezh, Russia. He studied biology, violin, and piano at school.

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Formalists aspired to study formalism, not as a method but a system in itself. Formalism intended to study the literariness of literature. It wanted to form a distinction between the theory and the so-called convictions. It comprised of a wide range of notions, which later on turned into principles that were used in literature as a system in itself. The Origins of Formalism. This mainly consists of the emergence of the theory of art.

This enabled formalists to glorify art. The Science of Literature. The main focus on irrelevant information in literary texts is highlighted. The irrelevant information has been rejected. Example — linguistics was not seen as a part of the poem or prose anymore. It was seen as a separate system in itself. The importance of sound, rhythm, harmony and melody in poetry was highlighted.

Man needs to go out of his way to understand what has been written by the poet. This is known as Artistic Perception. Applications of Theory. Prose Fiction. As fiction is a whole new level of literature. From the many great members of Russian Formalism who tried to systematize formalist principle to set up a theory, Eichenbaum is one of the successful ones.

He tries to establish Formalism which is a scientific theory using scientific procedures. Because for the science of literature both independent and factual methods are needed. These ideas by Lunacharsky are rejected by Eichenbaum. He does this to show how the formal method has gradually evolved and has broadened its field of research and has spread beyond the usual methodological limits and hence has become a special science of literature with a specific ordering of facts.

The understanding and the study of technique as opposed to mere technique has caught the general attention here. There has always been a historical battle between Formalism and Symbolism and also Impressionism as well. Futurists oppose symbolism and choose formalism. Scientific positivism is the chief characteristic of Formalism. Formalists began their work with the question of the sound of Verse. Eichenbaum provides a general conclusion in a summary form that the historical nature of Formalist task is not personal.

To conclude, following points can be extracted:. They consider the idea of rhythm. Structural: Syntactic, Lexical and Semantic. The structure of the plot is created in terms of its motivation. Eichenbaum, lastly, says that for formalism, theory and history merge not only in words but also in facts. It has scientific principles.

Russian Formalism is there fore objective, scientific and timely to study literature systematically. The past century has bore witness to several formidable dictatorships, who have, through the vigorous advancement of their ideals, caused key changes in the course of human history, thereby cementing their place in the textbooks.

Perhaps it would be a little extreme to allude Thomas Stearns Eliot to Hitler, owing quite simply to the title of Literary Dictator accorded to him by critic Delmore Schwartz, but the fact remains unchanged that his presence in the field of literary criticism has been not only authoritative, but also dogmatic. The authoritative tone and poise evident in his critical voice were indispensable for the vast amount of influence he wielded on the literary sphere.

Eliot joins the ranks of many poet-critics like Coleridge and Arnold who have more or less succeeded in recasting the literary tradition through the establishment of certain critical standards for analysis. The most profound of his influences, was on the field of New Criticism, a formalist movement which dominated the sphere of American Literary criticism during the middle part of the 20th century.

His insistence on the impersonal nature of poetry proved to be the catalyst for this movement. The common focus is on the aesthetic quality of poetry rather than the ideological content and close analysis of the poetry.

It was his valiant attempt to redefine tradition , a trend that caught on, to not just his contemporaries, but the subsequent generation of critics as well.

The confident poise adopted while speaking about tradition, made the concept a point of interest for several other critics like F. Leavis and Cleanth brooks. The essay promoted the influential concept of the relationship between the poet and the literary tradition which precedes them.

It seeks to challenge the conventional definitions of both tradition and talent. A generic understanding of these two terms indicate that inheritance plays a major role. Eliot negated this with his theory that both talent and tradition could only be acquired through intense hard work and commitment to the craft. The essay is divided into three parts: The concept of Tradition; The theory of Impersonal poetry and the Summing up. In the process of conceptualising Tradition, Eliot explains how the term has a negative connotation associated with it in the present context.

A belief system exists which claims all works to be individual and unique, the further they deviate from tradition. The historical sense involves the labour of knowing the past writers and what is good or bad in their works. Having this sense means that one possesses the awareness that the entire body of literature forms part of one continuous tradition. Thus, when a new work is created it does not repeat tradition or deviate from it completely, rather, integrates itself into the literary tradition by modifying the entire tradition of Europe to accommodate it.

This embodies his concept of The Mind of Europe, which states that all the writers contribute to the formulation of one large collective mind that alters itself based on the dynamic nature of tradition.

A poet, Eliot maintains, must self-sacrifice to this special awareness of the past; once this awareness is achieved, it will erase any trace of personality from the poetry because the poet has become a mere medium for expression.

For Eliot, true art has nothing to do with the personal life of the artist but is merely the result of a greater ability to synthesise and combine, an ability which comes from deep study and comprehensive knowledge.

Harold Bloom has however, condemned his dismissal of Romanticism claiming that authors must practise an anxiety of influence and engage in active rebellion against tradition. His theory of the Mind of Europe has been criticised as being far too Eurocentric. It has shaped generations of poets, critics and theorists and is a key text in modern literary criticism. There is a very trademark and far reaching perspective that sees novelistic talk as an additional imaginative medium, a talk that is not worked into any extraordinary or one of a kind style.

It was in the s that this circumstance changed: the novelistic composition word started to win a place for itself in stylistics. All endeavors at cement expressive examination of novelistic exposition either strayed into etymological depictions of the dialect of a given author or else restricted themselves to those different, disengaged complex components of the novel that were includable or gave the presence of being includable in the customary classes of stylistics.

In , M. Bakhtin, whose criticism of Russian formalism grasped the related group of stars of European basic developments whereupon British-American New Criticism likewise drew—French imagery, German formalism, and the Geneva School—described the courses in which this coordination was at first looked for and some of its outcomes. Be that as it may, as a scholarly student of history, Bakhtin thinks little of the force of formalism and, by expansion, New Criticism as basic talks which esteem and also decipher show-stoppers.

These parallel cutting edge basic talks did not face their philosophical points of confinement as a case of their deficiency yet as the satisfaction of their stylish errand to separate between great writing and terrible.

By degrading all novelistic talk that did not suit the philosophical origination of beautiful talk in which their ideas were grounded, formalism and New Criticism were left with an endless spread of novel composition and novel structures that did.

A noted structuralist linguist, Roman Jakobson held that poetry could be analyzed in much the same as any form of human communication. Bakhtin, whose criticism of Russian formalism embraced the related constellation of European critical movements upon which British-American New Criticism also drew—French symbolism, German formalism, and the Geneva School—described the ways in which this integration was initially sought and some of its consequences:.

There is a highly characteristic and widespread point of view that sees novelistic discourse as an extra-artistic medium, a discourse that is not worked into any special or unique style. It was, however, precisely in the s that this situation changed: the novelistic prose word began to win a place for itself in stylistics.

All attempts at concrete stylistic analysis of novelistic prose either strayed into linguistic descriptions of the language of a given novelist or else limited themselves to those separate, isolated stylistic elements of the novel that were includable or gave the appearance of being includable in the traditional categories of stylistics.

But as a literary historian, Bakhtin underestimates the power of formalism and, by extension, New Criticism as critical discourses which value as well as interpret works of art. These parallel modern critical discourses did not confront their philosophical limits as an instance of their inadequacy but as the fulfillment of their aesthetic task to differentiate between good literature and bad. By devaluing all novelistic discourse that did not accommodate the philosophical conception of poetic discourse in which their concepts were grounded, formalism and New Criticism were left with a vast expanse of novel prose and novel forms that did.

A unitary language constitutes the theoretical expression of the historical processes of linguistic unification and centralisation, an expression of the centripetal forces of language.

A unitary language is not something given but is always in essence posited — and at every moment of its linguistic life it is opposed to the realities of heteroglossia. A common unitary language is a system of linguistic norms. But these norms do not constitute an abstract imperative; they are rather the generative forces of linguistic life, forces that struggle to overcome the heteroglossia of language, forces that unite and centralise verbal-ideological thought, creating within a heteroglot national language the firm, stable linguistic nucleus of an officially recognised literary language, or else defending an already formed language from the pressure of growing heteroglossia.

Nithyashree Ramakrishna He was drawn to languages at a very young age and grew up to be very fond of poetry. He studied at the Lazarev Institute of Oriental Studies and Moscow University and obtained a degree in linguistics, literature and folklore. He moves on to talk about this opposition in the fields of verbal art, poetry, art, prose, cinema etc. He says that the development of any discourse happens either through the similarity of the topics or their contiguity and in aphasia, one or both of these processes are restricted.

He also speaks of a psychological experiment on children who provide any two outcomes for a stimulus: either a substitute, or a complement. In this way, he goes on to draw parallels between the two poles and the substitutive and predicative reactions elicited respectively.

Looking at the two tracks and their aspects of being positional and semantic, he says that there are a number of permutations and combinations by virtue of which an individual can exhibit his verbal style and predilections.

In verbal art, however, either of the two gravitational poles may prevail. For example, Russian folktales illustrate the dominance of metaphors whereas their heroic epics are pervaded by the metonymic way. For example, Pride and Prejudice by Austen would exhibit the metaphoric pole whereas Great Expectations by Dickens would exhibit the metonymic pole.

He uses Cubism to highlight metonymy and Surrealism to highlight metaphor. He insists that the bipolar structure of language and the dichotomy being discussed is of the utmost importance when it comes to verbal behaviour and by extension, human behaviour in general and it is for researchers of all disciplines such as psychology, anthropology, linguistics, poetics etc to pursue and analyse comparatively.

He says that similarity in meaning connects the symbols of a metalanguage with the symbols of the language being referred to, whereas contiguity in the form of metonyms defies any interpretation whatsoever. On poetry and prose, which is what the point of the essay is, he simply says that the principle of similarity underlies poetry and prose is forwarded essentially by contiguity. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account.


Boris Eichenbaum

The University of Iowa Search. Of Marx? What does Eichenbaum believe to be the value of overarching or abstract theories of literature? From what varieties of formalism does Eichenbaum take care to differentiate himself and his fellow critics of the Opoyaz school? To what do you attribute some of these differences?


The Theory of the Formal Method by Boris Eichenbaum

Formalists aspired to study formalism, not as a method but a system in itself. Formalism intended to study the literariness of literature. It wanted to form a distinction between the theory and the so-called convictions. It comprised of a wide range of notions, which later on turned into principles that were used in literature as a system in itself. The Origins of Formalism. This mainly consists of the emergence of the theory of art.


Tom Haigh on Eichenbaum

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