Formalism As A Movement In Literature


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Formalism was another movement or rather a type of literary theory and analysis that originated in St. Petersburg and Moscow in the second decade of the 20th century. 

Initially the opponents of the movement of Russian Formalism applied the term formalism in a derogatory manner because it focused on the patterns and the technical devices of literature which excluded the subject matter and the social values and gradually went on to become a neutral destination. 

This movement is a bit more complicated than others in the field of literature and thus students studying about this may require help in their research paper writings or even assignment help USA on the topic. 

The prominent representatives of this movement were Viktor Shklovsky, Boris Eichenbaum and Roman Jakobson. In the early 1930s, when the critical mode of this movement was suppressed by the Soviets, the center of the formalism study of literature moved to Czechoslovakia, where it was continued by the members of the Prague Linguistic Centre which comprised of Roman Jakobson, Rene Wellek and Jan Mukarovsky. 

Formalism views literature as a specialized use of language and thereafter proposes a difference between the practical use of language and its literary use. It says that the practical use of language is a communicative one, that is, it conveys messages from one person to the other and therefore it also informs others about various things. On the other hand, its literary purpose is to offer recreation to the audience or specifically the readers. 

In its literary function, the language is self-focused, in the fact that it does not serve the purpose of informing the reader rather diverting his attention to a special mode of experience by drawing his attention to the formal features of the language that is to the qualities and internal relations of the linguistic signs themselves. 

The difference between the linguists of practical discourse and the linguistics of literature is because of the laws that produce the distinctive features and thus the formalists call it literariness. According to Jan Mukarovsky, as he mentioned in his research paper writing, literacy of a work consists in the foregrounding of the utterance, that is the act of expression of the language. 

Viktor Shklovsky says that the primary aim of literature is to estrange or defamiliarize by disrupting the modes of ordinary linguistic discourse. This simply means that literature estranges us from the normal world and renews our capacity for fresh sensations. 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his Biographia Literaria described that the prime merit of a literary genius is to be represented in the form of familiar objects so as to evoke fresh emotions and sensations. While Coleridge had stressed upon the fact that fresh emotions are required to experience a new world, the formalism critics stressed upon the literary devices to evoke fresh emotions while a reader read a piece of literary work. 

The language that is applied in the poems and that are way more different than the ordinary language is what we say as artistic devices. These devices consist primarily in setting up and then violating the patterns of syntax and sound in poetic language, including patterns in speech sounds, rhythm, rhyme, grammatical constructions and stanza forms as well as in setting up prominent recurrences of images or key words. 

This can be mostly witnessed in the writings of Roman Jakobson. 

Formalists have also made a great contribution to the theory of prose fiction. With respect to this the formalism differentiate between the story, which is the enumeration of events in a chronological manner, and the plot. 

What they state is that the author transforms the raw material of a story into its plot by breaking the chronology of the events and applying literary devices so as to deform and defamiliarize the story elements. The main aim of this is to defamiliarize us with what is normal and refresh our standard responses to the subject matter. 

The American 'New Criticism', although developed independently yet is said to be formalism because it too stresses the analysis of a literary work as a self-sufficient verbal entity that is independent of the state of mind of the author as well as actualities of the outer world. 

It also states that poetry is a special mode of language whose distinctive features are in complete opposition to the normal use of the language.  But like the Europeans applied the science of linguistics to poetry, the New Critics did not, and they did not emphasize on the work as constituted by literary devices for achieving special literary effects. 

They rather stressed on the come interplay within metaphoric, paradoxical and ironic meanings that revolves around a humanly important theme. As a result of the influence of the Russian and Czecj Formalism, American Criticism has developed narratology and stylistics. 


The same way the formalism movement spread to France as well and impacted the literature there. 

The proponents of the speech-act theory, the reader response theory, the new historians as well as the Marxist Critics have posed a strong opposition to European and American formalism. 

The first three reject the idea that there is a sharp and definable distinction between the literary language and the ordinary language.This return to formalism came as a result of the reaction against new historicism. Within a few years New Formalism developed which connected the formal aspects of literature to the historical, political and worldly concerns, in complete opposition to what the formalist movement had earlier described itself as. The first major advocate of this New Formalism was Susan J. Wolfson who later edited a few of the formalist essays.

Therefore, this was all one needed to know about formalism and its spread and is sufficient enough to offer assignment help to literature students. 



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