"Russian Poetics in Translation" (10 Volumes, 1975–1983)

by Ingo Börner, Angelika Hechtl and Frank Fischer

Of course, the interest in Russian poetics is not new. What is new, however, is a growing interest within the Digital Humanities in transforming formalist and structuralist theory into algorithms and add a quantitative angle to it. An important milestone in this respect was the international symposium in Stanford in April 2015, “The Legacy of Russian Formalism and the Rise of the Digital Humanities”.

In Russia, the core texts are very present in everyday university life. Beyond Russian borders, though, it might look a bit different. Although there are a number of bibliographies of translations, it is difficult to keep track of what’s there and what’s not. Since we are currently preparing some new translations ourselves, we have tried to gain some kind of overview. In the course of doing so, we came across the excellent collection “Russian Poetics in Translation”. The 10 volumes, edited by L. M. O’Toole and Ann Shukman, were published between 1975 and 1983 (here’s an advertisement from 1982). Voilà, the front pages of the first five:

Volumes 1 to 5.

The collection is not available in a lot of libraries, it seems. If you’re lucky, you find one or two volumes in your nearest library, but probably not the whole collection. This is why a shout-out is due to Niederösterreichische Landesbibliothek (NÖLB) in St. Pölten which holds almost the entire set, donated by Joseph P. Strelka, a former professor at SUNY Albany. Thus, we didn’t have to go far to get hold of most of the volumes. The rest we gathered worldwide with the help of friends, and before long we were proud owners of (copies of) all volumes.

Now, in our experience, even online it is hard to throw a glance at the tables of contents per volume. Having said that, the volumes seem to be available as e-books via Amazon since 2013 (incl. the “look inside” option), yet we didn’t check these versions and are unsure about how they were converted and how readable/quotable they ultimately are (if you have any experience with them, feel free to tell us).

In any case, to convey the richness of this collection, we decided to create a bibliography of all articles in all 10 volumes and publish it on this web page. We also created a Zotero group in which we listed all articles. We hope this will inspire those of you who have never heard of this collection before.

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Russian Poetics in Translation (10 Volumes, 1975–1983)

Table of contents of all volumes.

Vol. 1. Generating the Literary Text (1975, 77pp.)

  • Yu. K. Shcheglov; A. K. Zholkovskii: Towards A “Theme – (Expression Devices) – Text” Model of Literary Structure [1971]. Translated by L. M. O’Toole. (pp. 3–50)
  • Yu. K. Shcheglov: Towards a Description of Detective Story Structure [1968]. Translated by L. M. O’Toole. (pp. 51–77)

Vol. 2. Poetry and Prose (1976, 84pp.)

  • Yu. I. Levin: The Logic of Metaphor: Synthesis, Semantics, Transformations [1965/1969]. Translated by Christopher English. (pp. 5–21)
  • V. N. Toporov: The Semiotics of Prediction in Suetonius’s “The Lives of the Twelve Caesars” [1965]. Translated by Halina Willetts. (pp. 22–33)
  • Vyach. Vs. Ivanov: The Structure of Khlebnikov’s Poem “Menya pronosyat na slonovykh …” [1967]. Translated by Ann Shukman. (pp. 34–49)
  • Yu. K. Shcheglov: Some Features of the Structure of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” [1962]. Translated by Julian Graffy. (pp. 50–65)
  • Yu. M. Lotman: The Structure of Ideas in Pushkin’s Poem “Andzhelo” [1973]. Translated by Ann Shukman. (pp. 66–84)

Vol. 3. General Semiotics (1976, 81pp.)

  • Yu. M. Lotman: The Modelling Significance of the Concepts ‘End’ and ‘Beginning’ in Artistic Texts [1966]. Translated by Wendy Rosslyn. (pp. 7–11)
  • G. Permyakov: The Logico-Semiotic Level of Proverbs and Sayings (Towards a Classification of the Genre) [1967]. Translated by Doris Bradbury. (pp. 12–32)
  • P. G. Bogatyrev: Stage Setting, Artistic Space and Time in the Folk Theatre [1968]. Translated by L. M. O’Toole. (pp. 33–37)
  • V. N. Toporov: On the Cosmological Origins of Early Historical Descriptions [1973]. Translated by Christopher English. (pp. 38–81)

Vol. 4. Formalist Theory (1977, 108pp.)

  • Brief Biographical and Bibliographical Notes on Leading Formalists. Translated by Ann Shukman. (pp. 1–12)
  • A Contextual Glossary of Formalist Terminology. Translated by Ann Shukman and L. M. O’Toole. (pp. 13–48)
  • Yu. Tynyanov; R. Jakobson: Problems of Research in Literature and Language [1928]. Translated by L. M. O’Toole. (pp. 49–51)
  • B. Yarkho: Methodology for a Precise Science of Literature (Draft Plan) [1936/1969] [Excerpts]. Translated by L. M. O’Toole. (pp. 52–70)
  • S. Bernshtein: Aesthetic Presuppositions for a Theory of Declamation [1927]. Translated by Ann Shukman. (pp. 71–89)
  • Osip Brik: The So-Called Formal Method [1923]. Translated by Ann Shukman. (pp. 90–91)
  • V. Shklovsky: In Defence of the Sociological Method [1927]. Translated by Ann Shukman. (pp. 92–99)
  • Ann Shukman: Russian Formalism: A Bibliography of Translations and Commentaries (Works in English, French, German and Italian). (pp. 100–108)

Vol. 5. Formalism: History, Comparison, Genre (1978, 93pp.)

  • Boris Eikhenbaum: Some Principles of Literary History: The Study of Lermontov [1924]. Translated by Christopher Pike. (pp. 1–8)
  • Yu. N. Tynyanov: Tyutchev and Heine [1929]. Translated by Christopher Pike. (pp. 9–19)
  • Yu. N. Tynyanov: Plot and Story-Line in the Cinema [1926]. Translated by Ann Shukman. (pp. 20–21)
  • Yu. N. Tynyanov: Preface to “The Problem of Verse Semantics” [1923]. Translated by Ann Shukman. (pp. 22–23)
  • V. V. Vinogradov: The Tasks Facing Stylistics [1923]. Translated by Ann Shukman. (pp. 24–29)
  • Olga Freidenberg: Three Plots or the Semantics of One: Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” [1925/1936]. Translated by Ann Shukman and Halina Willetts. (pp. 30–51)
  • Boris Tomashevsky: Literary Genres [I. Dramatic Genres; II. Lyric Poetry; III. Narrative Genres] [1928]. Translated by L. M. O’Toole. (pp. 52–93)

Vol. 6. Dramatic Structure; Poetic and Cognitive Semantics (1979, 96pp.)

  • Yu. K. Scheglov: The Poetics of Molière’s Comedies [1977]. Part One: The Structural Invariants. Translated by L. M. O’Toole. Part Two: The Structure of One Comedy: M. de Pourceaugnac. Translated by N. F. C. Owen. (pp. 1–83)
  • Yu. M. Lotman: Culture as Collective Intellect and the Problems of Artificial Intelligence. Translated by Ann Shukman. (pp. 84–96) (PDF)

Vol. 7. Metre, Rhythm, Stanza, Rhyme (1980, 105pp.)

  • M. L. Gasparov: Quantitative Methods in Russian Metrics: Achievements and Prospects [1974]. Translated by G. S. Smith. (pp. 1–19)
  • K. F. Taranovsky: The Rhythmical Structure of Russian Binary Metres [1971]. Translated by G. S. Smith. (pp. 20–30)
  • M. L. Gasparov: Light and Heavy Verse Lines [1977]. Translated by G. S. Smith. (pp. 31–44)
  • M. G. Tarlinskaya: The Problem of English Versification: A Re-Examination [1976]. Translated by G. S. Smith. (pp. 45–60)
  • M. L. Gasparov: Towards an Analysis of Russian Inexact Rhyme [1975]. Translated by G. S. Smith. (pp. 61–75)
  • K. D. Vishnevsky: The Law of Rhythmical Correspondence in Heterogeneous Stanzas [1976]. Translated by G. S. Smith. (pp. 76–85)
  • Yu. M. Lotman: The Natural Language/Metre Inter-Relationship in the Mechanism of Verse [1974]. Translated by G. S. Smith. (pp. 86–89)
  • References and Bibliography. (pp. 90–105)

Vol. 8. Film Theory and General Semiotics (1981, 107pp.)

  • V. V. Ivanov: Functions and Categories of Film Language [1971/1975]. Translated by Stephen Rudy. (pp. 1–35)
  • Yu. M. Lotman: On the Language of Animated Cartoons [1979]. Translated by Ruth Sobel. (pp. 36–39)
  • A. K. Zholkovsky: Generative Poetics in the Writings of Eisenstein [1969]. Translated by L. M. O’Toole. (pp. 40–61)
  • A. K. Zholkovsky: Pushkin’s “Poetic World” [1976]. Translated by L. M. O’Toole. (pp. 62–107)

Vol. 9. The Poetics of Cinema (1982, 126pp.)

  • K. Shutko: Preface. Translated by Richard Taylor. (pp. 1–4)
  • B. Eikhenbaum: Problems of Cine-Stylistics. Translated by Richard Sherwood. (pp. 5–31)
  • Yury Tynyanov: The Fundamentals of Cinema. Translated by L. M. O’Toole. (pp. 32–54)
  • B. Kazansky: The Nature of Cinema. Translated by Joe Andrew. (pp. 55–86)
  • V. Shklovsky: Poetry and Prose in the Cinema. Translated by Richard Taylor. (pp. 87–89)
  • A. Piotrovsky: Towards a Theory of Film Genres. Translated by Richard Taylor. (pp. 90–106)
  • E. Mikhailov; A. Moskvin: The Cameraman’s Part in Making a Film. Translated by Ann Shukman. (pp. 107–118)

Vol. 10. Bakhtin School Papers (1983, 156pp.)

  • Ann Shukman: Introduction. (pp. 1–4)
  • V. N. Voloshinov [M. M. Bakhtin]: Discourse in Life and Discourse in Poetry. Questions of Sociological Poetics. Translated by John Richmond. (pp. 5–30)
  • V. N. Voloshinov [M. M. Bakhtin]: The Latest Trends in Linguistic Thought in the West. Translated by Noel Owen. (pp. 31–49)
  • P. N. Medvedev: The Formal (Morphological) Method or Scholarly Salieri-ism. Translated by Ann Shukman. (pp. 51–65)
  • P. N. Medvedev: Sociologism Without Sociology (On the Methodological Works of P. N. Sakulin). Translated by C. R. Pike. (pp. 67–74)
  • P. N. Medvedev [M. M. Bakhtin]: The Immediate Tasks Facing Literary-Historical Science. Translated by C. R. Pike. (pp. 75–91)
  • V. N. Voloshinov [M. M. Bakhtin]: Literary Stylistics 1: What is Language? Translated by Noel Owen. (pp. 93–113)
  • V. N. Voloshinov [M. M. Bakhtin]: Literary Stylistics 2: The Construction of the Utterance. Translated by Noel Owen. (pp. 114–138)
  • V. N. Voloshinov [M. M. Bakhtin]: Literary Stylistics 3: The Word and its Social Function. Translated by Joe Andrew. (pp. 139–152)
  • Glossary of Key Terms. (pp. 153–155)
  • Bibliography. (p. 156)
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