A Hunt for Optimism

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Overview

Begun in 1929 under the title "New Prose," and drastically revised after Vladimir Mayakovsky's sudden death, A Hunt for Optimism (1931) circles obsessively around a single scene of interrogation in which a writer is subjected to a show trial for his unorthodoxy. Using multiple perspectives, fragments, and aphorisms, and bearing the vulnerability of both the Russian Jewry and the anti-Bolshevik intelligentsia -- who had unwittingly become the "enemies of the people" -- Hunt satirizes Soviet censorship and the ...

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Overview

Begun in 1929 under the title "New Prose," and drastically revised after Vladimir Mayakovsky's sudden death, A Hunt for Optimism (1931) circles obsessively around a single scene of interrogation in which a writer is subjected to a show trial for his unorthodoxy. Using multiple perspectives, fragments, and aphorisms, and bearing the vulnerability of both the Russian Jewry and the anti-Bolshevik intelligentsia -- who had unwittingly become the "enemies of the people" -- Hunt satirizes Soviet censorship and the ineptitude of Soviet leaders with acerbic panache. Despite criticism at the time that it lacked unity and was too "variegated" to be called a purely "Shklovskian book," Hunt is stylistically unpredictable, experimentally bold, and unapologetically ironic -- making it one of the finest books in Shklovsky's body of work.

Dalkey Archive Press

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Editorial Reviews

Guy Davenport - National Review
“Shklovsky is a disciple worthy of Sterne. He has appropriated the device of infinitely delayed event, of the digression helplessly promising to return to the point, and of disguising his superbly controlled art with a breezy nonchalance. But it is not really Sterne that Shklovsky sounds like: it is an intellectual and witty Hemingway.”
Michael Dirda - Washington Post
“A rambling, digressive stylist, Shklovsky throws off brilliant aperçus on every page . . . Like an architect’s blueprint, [he] lays bare the joists and studs that hold up the house of fiction.”
National Review
Shklovsky is a disciple worthy of Sterne. He has appropriated the device of infinitely delayed event, of the digression helplessly promising to return to the point, and of disguising his superbly controlled art with a breezy nonchalance. But it is not really Sterne that Shklovsky sounds like: it is an intellectual and witty Hemingway.— Guy Davenport
Washington Post
A rambling, digressive stylist, Shklovsky throws off brilliant aperçus on every page . . . Like an architect’s blueprint, [he] lays bare the joists and studs that hold up the house of fiction.— Michael Dirda
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564787903
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
  • Publication date: 1/3/2013
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 1,450,489
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Viktor Shklovsky (1893-1984) was a leading figure in the Russian Formalist movement of the 1920s and had a profound effect on twentieth-century Russian literature. Several of his books have been translated into English, including Zoo, or Letters Not about Love, Third Factory, Theory of Prose, A Sentimental Journey, Energy of Delusion, and Literature and Cinematography, and Bowstring.

Shushan Avagyan translates from Armenian and Russian. She is the translator of Viktor Shklovsky’s Bowstring: On the Dissimilarity of the Similar, and other works available from Dalkey Archive Press.

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Table of Contents

Translator's Preface i

On Architecture 3

Part 1 Titled "Everything as it Should Be," with an Epigraph 7

Part 2 Which Is of No Particular Importance 41

Part 3 The Middle of the Book or Thereabouts 69

Part 4 Titled "The Trumpet of the Martians" 93

Part 5 The End of A Hunt for Optimism 135

Just a Few Last Words-From Myself 166

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2013

    I dont even know what that is

    Milk man and cute baby lilly

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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