Energy of Delusion: A Book on Plot

Overview

"Perhaps because he is such an unlikely Tolstoyan, Viktor Shklovsky's writing on Tolstoy is always absorbing and often brilliant."—Russian Review
One of the greatest literary minds of the twentieth century, Viktor Shklovsky writes the critical equivalent of what Ross Chambers calls "loiterature"—writing that roams, playfully digresses, moving freely between the literary work and the world. In Energy of Delusion, a masterpiece that Shklovsky worked on over thirty years, he turns his unique critical sensibility to ...

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Overview

"Perhaps because he is such an unlikely Tolstoyan, Viktor Shklovsky's writing on Tolstoy is always absorbing and often brilliant."—Russian Review
One of the greatest literary minds of the twentieth century, Viktor Shklovsky writes the critical equivalent of what Ross Chambers calls "loiterature"—writing that roams, playfully digresses, moving freely between the literary work and the world. In Energy of Delusion, a masterpiece that Shklovsky worked on over thirty years, he turns his unique critical sensibility to Tolstoy’s life and novels, applying the famous "formalist method" he invented in the 1920s to Tolstoy’s massive body of work, and at the same time taking Tolstoy (as well as Boccaccio, Pushkin, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, and Turgenev) as a springboard to consider the devices of literature—how novels work and what they do.Energy of Delusion provides contemporary readers with a new way of thinking about how great literature is written (and how great criticism might be) that is as timely today as ever.

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Editorial Reviews

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.”
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.”
Russian Review

Perhaps because he is such an unlikely Tolstoyan, Viktor Shklovsky's writing on Tolstoy is always absorbing and often brilliant.

Washington Post
A rambling, digressive stylist, Shklovsky throws of 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
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
Russian Review
Perhaps because he is such an unlikely Tolstoyan, Viktor Shklovsky's writing on Tolstoy is always absorbing and often brilliant.
Publishers Weekly

Just in time for the publication of two new translations of War and Peacecomes the first publication in English of what is arguably the greatest critical work on Tolstoy's masterpiece. Russian critic Shklovsky (1893-1984) is the author of Third Factoryand many other critical books. (They are slowly being translated into English and released by Dalkey Archive.) All are written in Shklovsky's inimitable signature digressive style, but none perhaps has as grand a concentric development as this book, which radiates out from War and Peaceand into Pushkin, Turgenev, the Opoyaz period, Anna Karenina, the Neva, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, the Bible, Chekhov, Picasso and many, many more figures, books, rivers, places, things. The result is a deep and deeply satisfying meditation on the form of the novel and on what reading novels "now" (Shklovsky finished the book at the end of his life) is like. Shklovsky takes his title from a letter of Tolstoy's regarding "an earthly, spontaneous energy that's impossible to invent"; he has that energy in spades here, delightful even if one has been unable to finish Tolstoy's novel. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564784261
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2007
  • Series: Russian Literature Series
  • Edition description: Translatio
  • Pages: 428
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.40 (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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