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Shklovsky: Witness to an Era is a blend of riotous anecdote, personal history, and literary reflection, collecting interviews with Viktor Shklovsky conducted by scholar Serena Vitale in the '70s, toward the end of the great critic's life, and in the face of interference and even veiled threats of violence from the Soviet government. Shklovsky's answers are wonderfully intimate, focusing particularly on the years of the early Soviet avant-garde, and his relationships with such figures as Eisenstein and Mayakovsky....
Shklovsky: Witness to an Era is a blend of riotous anecdote, personal history, and literary reflection, collecting interviews with Viktor Shklovsky conducted by scholar Serena Vitale in the '70s, toward the end of the great critic's life, and in the face of interference and even veiled threats of violence from the Soviet government. Shklovsky's answers are wonderfully intimate, focusing particularly on the years of the early Soviet avant-garde, and his relationships with such figures as Eisenstein and Mayakovsky. Bearing witness to a vanished age whose promise ended in despair, Shklovsky is in great form throughout, summing up a century of triumphs and disappointments, personal and historical.
Dalkey Archive Press
Preface to the First Edition 11
New Preface, or A Preface Not about the KGB 19
December 23 49
On the infinity of the novel. Art has neither beginning, middle, nor end. Epilogues are cloying leftovers. Art deals always and only with life.
December 24 58
The memories begin. Childhood in Petersburg. How to eat blintzes. Digression on the drawbacks of having a secretary. Shklovsky meeting Mayakovsky, he doesn't remember exactly when; the beginning of their friendship. The futurist evenings- the technique of scandal. Baudouin de Courtenay. Poets shouldn't be allowed to divorce. Seminarians and carpenters during it out on the ice.
December 26 76
Young philologists meet and discuss literature at the University of Petersburg. The birth of formalism. Lev Jakubinsky. Yevgeni Polivanov. Poetry and time: "The Bronze Horseman." Poetry as the "deep joy of recognition." Shklovsky, says Blok, understands everything. Yury Tynyanov. Boris Eikhenbaum. How two ex-formalists argued the day Akhmatova died. Derzhavin's arrival spells the end of formalism. Man's destiny is the material of art. which has to be shaken up once in a while, like a clock that stops ticking. On the futility of looking at flags.
December 27 101
Khlebnikov, Filonov, and a painting that refuses to hang on the wall. Malevich's square. February 1917. Memories of war. A stomach wound. A kiss from Kornilov. Russia and Asia. Russia and Europe. Esenin in valenki. Mayakovsky has the last word: the people know how to drink.
December 28 116
Civil war in Petrograd, dead horses in the streets. The "ship of fools." The Serapion Brothers: lots of young people, some in their teens. Revolution = dictatorship of the Academy of Sciences. Meyerhold, the oldest director in the world. His archives saved by elsenstein. Two Inspector Generals. Zoshchenko turns on some disconcerting lights. Berlin. A mistreated hat. An uplifting song.
December 29 140
The birth of Soviet cinema is compared to the creation of the world. The Letatlin: a dreaming machine. The weapon of patience. Mayakovsky didn't want debts. Digression on Pasternak's poetry, Bulgakov's novels. Shklovsky begins to work in cinema, he writes intertitles and then scripts. He meets Eisenstein. What was the role of dishes in the October Revolution? Some films Shklovsky wrote: By the Law, Bed and Sofa, Mima and Pozharsky. Shklovsky tears apart Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev. An unusual editing job. An even more unusual writing job.
December 30 168
Tolstoy begins to write. "A History of Yesterday." For some reason Shklovsky tore up the first volume of Tolstoy's Complete Works. The young Tolstoy left for the Caucasus with an English dictionary, a flute, The Count of Monte Cristo, and a samovar. An ancestor of ours left out of Zoo, or Letters Not about Love. Frightening, poetic dreams. What does realism mean?
January 2 181
The word. Poetry of words and poetry of letters. Mayakovsky loved the radio. An ugly, stupid box. One mustn't' fear the future. Tolstoy gets edited. The old scholasticism and the new. The living Russian word.
Glossary of Names 202
Timeline of Works 217