By Viktor Shklovsky
Started in 1929 below the identify "New Prose," and significantly revised after Vladimir Mayakovsky's surprising dying, A Hunt for Optimism (1931) circles obsessively round a unmarried scene of interrogation during which a author is subjected to a express trial for his unorthodoxy. utilizing a number of views, fragments, and aphorisms, and bearing the vulnerability of either the Russian Jewry and the anti-Bolshevik intelligentsia—who had unwittingly turn into the "enemies of the people"—Hunt satirizes Soviet censorship and the ineptitude of Soviet leaders with acerbic panache. regardless of feedback on the time that it lacked cohesion and was once too "variegated" to be referred to as a in basic terms "Shklovskian book," Hunt is stylistically unpredictable, experimentally daring, and unapologetically ironic—making it one of many best books in Shklovsky's physique of labor.
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Additional info for A Hunt for Optimism
Investigating Gass's texts is a complex rescue mission meant to reclaim reality's subtlety and multifariousness, in the most positive sense of these Page 21 words. Even though he is a consummate stylist, Gass still redeems his work from the narrowness of style for style's sake. Admittedly, we have encountered many contemporary critics who, in their effusions over postrealist fiction, prescribe the use of language for no end other than displaying its inherent charms. " 46 The occasion for this remark was his review of Omensetter's Luck, a novel which Gilman names "the most important work of fiction by an American in this literary generation,"47 yet, in his opinion, its failing is in its vestigial attachments to literary convention: the trappings of traditional setting, character, and narrative line which he would reserve for the fainthearted and the hopelessly reactionary among us.
49 And, so the presumption goes, in the sphere of uninterrupted consciousness can be found relief from inhibition. But this is hardly an accurate appraisal of Gass's fictions. Autonomy is no great victory for Furber, Fender, or any of the other protagonists. On the contrary, their retreats are consistently portrayed as stifling, no matter what the attractions may be. Withdrawal is therefore unsuitable, psychologically as well as politically and socially. Gass himself recognizes that creative activity must ultimately lead to a repossession of the world and that the consolation of language must also attempt a reestablishment of connections if it is to prove viable on any grounds.
Copyright © 1982 by University of Pittsburgh Press. Reprinted by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press. From "An Interview with William Gass," conducted by Bradford Morrow, in Conjunctions, 4 (Spring-Summer 1983). Copyright © 1983 by Conjunctions. Reprinted by permission of Conjunctions. From The Dehumanization of Art and Other Essays on Art, Culture and Literature, by José Ortega y Gasset, trans. Helen Weyl. Page xvii Copyright © 1948, 1968 by Princeton University Press. Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press.
A Hunt for Optimism by Viktor Shklovsky