Formalism

An approach to Literary Criticism which originated in Russia in the 1920's. To the formalist critic, art is style, technique and craftsmanship, and the primary function of criticism is the objective and scientific analysis of literary style. The formalist critic attempts to explain or evaluate the way in which the text is structured but does not attempt to evaluate the content of the work against any standards of truth or morality. According to Viktor Schlovsky, a well known formalist critic, "Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object; the object is not important," and "A work of art is equal to the sum of processes used in it."

People of the Movement

Victor Schlovsky
Roman Jakobson
Mikhail Bakhtin

Related Movements

The original school of formalists which originated in Russia was known as the Russian Formalists. In the United States, the formalists influence can be seen in the New Critics. A later critical movement called Structuralism was greatly influenced by a linguistically oriented group of formalists known as the Moscow Linguistic Circle, one of whose members was Roman Jakobson.

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