On the Dissimilarity of the Similar
Translated by Shushan Avagyan
Collection John F. Byrne Literature Series
"Myths do not flow through the pipes of history," writes Viktor Shklovsky, "they change and splinter, they contrast and refute one another. The similar turns out to be dissimilar." Published in Moscow in 1970 and appearing in English translation for the first time, Bowstring is a seminal work, in which Shklovsky redefines estrangement (ostranenie) as a device of the literary comparatist—the "person out of place," who has turned up in a period where he does not belong and who must search for meaning with a strained sensibility. As Shklovsky experiments with different genres, employing a technique of textual montage, he mixes autobiography, biography, memoir, history, and literary criticism in a book that boldly refutes mechanical repetition, mediocrity, and cultural parochialism in the name of art that dares to be different and innovative. Bowstring is a brilliant and provocative book that spares no one in its unapologetic project to free art from conventionality.
Nb of pages 456 p.
GTIN13 (EAN13) 9781564784254
Publication Date 01 July 2011
Nb of pages 456
Dimensions 5.5 x 8 in.
List Price $16.95
I lived once by the river near Chudovo when I was a boy. It was springtime. The bird-cherry trees had finished blooming. At dusk, when the slanting rays of sunlight lit up the forest, the nightingales would start singing.
They would start their song in the crimson light, and continue singing through the short night.
At daybreak, when the sun rose above the bluish lumps of plowed soil, the chaffinch continued the song of nightingales in that quarter-hour when shadows are long. He would pick up their tune. If his song was clear and coherent, people said—the weather is going to be nice.
"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, National Review
"The works of Viktor Shklovsky are so appropriate to our contemporary situation as to seem to have been written for us. His writings do precisely what he has said it is art's goal to do: they 'restore . . . sensation of the world,’ they ‘resurrect things and kill pessimism.’ " —Lyn Hejinian
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John F. Byrne Literature Series