Shklovsky’s memoir

This image depicts the front cover of the first edition of Sentimentalnoe puteshestvie : vospominaniia, 1917-1922 (A sentimental journey : memoirs, 1917-1922), the memoir that the writer and critic Viktor Shklovsky published whilst in exile in Berlin in 1923. The memoir’s austere cover is in keeping with its harrowing narrative. Devoid of illustrations, the text is encased by burgundy frames and the page by a thick navy border.

Shklovsky was one of the main protagonists of Russian Formalism. Despite this, the contents of his memoir are as important as its form. They offer an intimate testimony to an individual’s experience of the Russian Revolution. As Shklovsky acknowledged in his memoir’s title, its experimental literary style was heavily indebted to Laurence Sterne’s novel A sentimental journey through France and Italy (1768). Shklovsky, disguising his memoir as a novel, captured the chaos of the revolution through a series of geographically and temporally fragmented anecdotes. He divided his memoir into two parts. In ‘Revolution and the Front’, the first part which Shklovsky wrote during the summer of 1919, he recalls the events he witnessed in 1917: the February revolution, the Kerensky offensive, the Komilov revolt, and the occupation of Persia. In ‘Writing desk’, the second part which Shklovsky wrote in May 1922, he recalls his underground activities against the Bolsheviks in Russia and Ukraine.

Sentimentalnoe puteshestvie / Viktor Shklovskii (1923)  586:9.d.90.1

caption by Phoebe Day

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