Литература факта как факт литературы
The book is devoted to the special role of journalism in Russian literature of the 1830s and 1870s. The author analyzes history of ideas about the aesthetic nature of journalism, the feuilleton as a genre in its evolution, and the degree of unity of the magazine as a unity. The subject of analysis is mainly "Library for reading", "Sovremennik", "Otechestvennye Zapiski".
This article is an attempt to make a comparison between two models of social and creative behaviour based on the same principle of "estrangement". V. Shklovskii and T. Wolfe are presented as two "avant-garde spokespersons" representing the Russian Formalism and the American New Journalism (the article opens with the explanation of why it is possible to regard those as similar, though unconnected, forms of cultural production — Formalism included the so-called "Literature of Fact" a parallel to which can be found in the New Journalism). Both authors created notorious styles of writing and "posing" — annd both used scandal as a means. we are trying to analyze two scandalous "gestures" — Shklovskii's performance at a public discussion (Formalists vs. Marxists, 1927) and Wolfe's provocative article aimed against the "New Yorker" (1965). We are also trying to show how they sustained their styles through "aesthetics of the routine".
The aim of this paper is to analyze a peculiar case of interaction between nonfiction and fiction. The analysis’ starting point is a famous introduction by an American writer Tom Wolfe to The New Journalism anthology (1973) where he praises realism, which he finds capable of uniquely — physiologically — affecting the reader, and claims that New Journalism brought realism back to American letters, repeating an important episode of the history of literature: the coming of the realistic novel to the 18th century England. These statements have not yet received the critical attention they obviously deserve.
As was shown by researchers (M. Dickstein, J. Hartsock, B. Shapiro), this novel emerged from imitation of antecedent nonfiction and was meant to affect the reader by its borrowed “truthfulness.” In this “truthfulness” one recognizes the paradoxical idea of “fictional truth,” inherent to the novel, which engaged the literary critic M. Riffaterre and philosopher G. Currie (among others). It becomes possible to assume that British “literature of fact” of the late XVII century provided patterns of truthful and verisimilar narrative while the realistic novel formed “the poetics of truth” that conveyed to the reader communicative aesthetic experience of encountering a narrative’s “reality.”
Studies in evolutionary biology, neurophysiology, and cognitivism corroborate this assumption and, accordingly, prove Tom Wolfe’s first statement to be correct. His second statement is half-right: what happened in the 1960s was not so much the return of realism to American literature as another emergence of a literary form from the tension between fiction and nonfiction. New Journalism imitated the novel as in the 18th century the novel imitated “literature of fact.”