Tag Archives: viktor shklovsky

Bowstring and The Stories and Essays of Mina Loy

A couple of new Dalkey titles I wanted to mention–the first is Bowstring by seminal Russian critic Viktor Shklovsky. The Dalkey Archive website page for the book has a Google preview of the book, plus this description:

“Myths do not flow through the pipes of history,” writes Viktor Shklovsky, “they change and splinter, they contrast and refute one another. The similar turns out to be dissimilar.” Published in Moscow in 1970 and appearing in English translation for the first time, Bowstring is a seminal work, in which Shklovsky redefines estrangement (ostranenie) as a device of the literary comparatist—the “person out of place,” who has turned up in a period where he does not belong and who must search for meaning with a strained sensibility. As Shklovsky experiments with different genres, employing a technique of textual montage, he mixes autobiography, biography, memoir, history, and literary criticism in a book that boldly refutes mechanical repetition, mediocrity, and cultural parochialism in the name of art that dares to be different and innovative. Bowstring is a brilliant and provocative book that spares no one in its unapologetic project to free art from conventionality.

I also found a very good review of the book over here:

Bowstring was first published in 1970, and the Shklovsky writing this work bears a passing resemblance to the one we remember. But deep changes have been wrought in the man, and the book reads as a revision, inclining to a recantation, of several of his most influential ideas. The text is strange: encyclopedic in scope, promiscuous in genre, willfully disjunctive and aphoristic in style, often frustrating and intermittently scintillating. Reading Bowstring isn’t always a thrill ride. However, for anyone interested in the legacy of Formalism—which includes everything that we conceive of as craft instruction in creative writing—the publication of this book is profoundly consequential. It shows us the evolution of Shklovsky’s thought, a momentous instance of theoretical rapprochement, reconciling the Formalist vision with the views of skeptics. Further, in aggregate, the work is a manifesto of sorts—a little wistful, a bit opaque—about the purpose and processes of literature. This alone suggests that readers of every stripe should consult Bowstring. The book allows us to take the measure of latter-day Formalism, and, like all great books, it takes the measure of us.

The second book is the Stories and Essays of Mina Loy, just out this week. Here’s the review from Publishers Weekly:

While not intended as a definitive edition, this latest collection gathers unpublished stories, essays, drama, and commentary that reveal painter and poet Loy as a surveyor of fragmented, early 20th century urbanity. Best known for her collection Lunar Baedeker and regarded highly by the avant-garde, Loy is not “rediscovered” as a curious footnote to modernism, but as a practitioner of an appealing, eccentric minimalism. Loy embraces the fanciful as well as the realistic in work that resists categorization. She is as comfortable depicting a tamed, talking crocodile in a charming tale for all ages as she is with inhabiting occasionally cavalier adults; including Futurism and Love in a play; threading abstractions and overheard dialogue among details of daily life after World War I; or exploring criminality and its offspring in “The Three Wishes.” Brief reflections on Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, art, sex, morality, and religion reveal a demanding intellect. Crangle’s introduction is indispensable; Loy’s linguistic flair and references require intense concentration and benefit from contextualization. Still, this editorial feat rewards the serious reader with an overview of an original voice.

Currently, looks like there is no preview available for this one on the Dalkey website.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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