The article reconstructs the circumstances of Shklovsky’s first talk in the Moscow Linguistic Circle (MLC) and outlines the history of his relationship with Moscow-based Formalists (1919–1921). The authors describe the evolution of Shklovsky’s theoretical views and determine that the dominant theme of his work during this period was the theory of literary plot, in which the plot is interpreted as an artistic device. Shklovsky’s involvement in the activities of the MLC had a dual purpose: establishing relations with the Petrograd community of literary scholars, as well as organizing collaborative publishing projects. These intentions were never realized, however, the aforementioned plan of collaboration between the Moscow and Petrograd scholars served as a decisive stimulus for the design and of the OPOIAZ (The Society for the Study of Poetic Language) in the Fall of 1919. Shklovsky’s scholarly interests at that time were focused on the study and systematic description of the devices of plot-formation and the construction of a general theory of plot. His talks given at the MLC in 1920 and 1921 were devoted to the analysis of a literary plot in “Don Quixote”, “Tristram Shandy”, and the writings of Vasilii Rozanov. These talks echoed his publications in “The Life of Art”. The story of Shklovsky’s short-term cooperation with this newspaper is also reconstructed in the article. The construction of the theory of plot soon became one of the leitmotifs and, at the same time, one of the constructive principles of organization of his own memoirist prose of the 1920s. Shklovsky’s first talk at the MLC was delivered on June 10, 1919. It was titled “The History of the Novel” and caused a heated discussion about the literary plot. The speaker’s main opponent was his long-term friend and rival Roman Jakobson. The last section of this article includes a commented publication of the minutes from the meeting of the MLC on June 10, 1919 and Jakobson’s notes made during the dispute that followed Shklovsky’s début.
- Keywords: Viktor Shklovsky, Roman Jakobson, Osip Brik, theory of prose, theory of literary plot, artistic device, Russian Formalism, OPOIAZ, Moscow Linguistic Circle, history of literary theory
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