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Regular version of the site

Article

World Literature, War and Revolution: The Significance of Viktor Shklovskii’s A Sentimental Journey

INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES OF LITERATURE. 2019. Vol. 3. No. 2. P. 209-224.

This article examines Shklovskii’s previously overlooked engagement with a discursive domain we currently tend to refer to as “world literature;” as such, it is an original contribution not just to understanding A Sentimental Journey, arguably the richest part of Shklovskii’s 1920s memoir trilogy, but also to honing a transnational approach to his writing. While Shklovskii’s work has already been discussed through the prism of mobility and nomadism, this article emphasises his active involvement in, and reaction to, early Soviet discourses and practices of “world literature.” It places Shklovskii’s commitment to the idea of world literature in the broader context of our present debates on the subject. To understand “world literature” as a specific construct, we must ask the unavoidable question about the location of “world literature” vis-à-vis language, which has important consequences for how we interpret the dispersed legacy of modern literary theory (founded, undoubtedly, by Shklovskii and the Russian Formalists); this would allow us to recognize the enduring relevance of Shklovskii’s understanding of literariness for current debates on world literature.