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Viktor Shklovskiy Poster

Biography

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Overview (3)

Born in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire [now Russia]
Died in Moscow, RSFSR, USSR [now Russia]
Birth NameViktor Borisovich Shklovsky

Mini Bio (1)

Viktor Borisovich Shklovsky was born on January 24, 1893, in St. Petersburg, Russia. His father, named Boris Shklovsky, was a teacher. Shklovsky himself described his family as Jewish-German Russians. Young Shklovsky showed a strong and unusual character. He dropped out of school, but later graduated with honors from a Gymnazium in St. Petersburg.

Shklovsky was fond of literature since his young years. In 1911 he published his first poems and stories. From 1912-1914 he studied at the Department of Philology of St. Petersburg University. In 1914 he met Vladimir Mayakovsky and they became life-long friends. In 1916 Shklovsky together with Yuri Tynyanov and Osip Brik became one of the founders of Society for study of poetic language (OPOYAZ). At the same time he was drafted in the Imperial Army and served in the First World War. Shklovsky was wounded in action and was decorated with the Cross of the Order of St. George for his courage. In 1917 he was a representative of the Provisional Government in Persia. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Sklovsky took part in the anti-Communist treason.

From 1918-1922 Shklovsky lived in St. Petersburg. He joined the literary group Serapionovy Bratya (The Serapion Brothers). The group was initiated by Yevgeni Zamyatin who professed that "true literature can be created only by madmen, hermits, heretics, dreamers, rebels, and skeptics" at his literary seminars with aspiring writers. They took their name from the story of E.T.A.Hoffmann titled 'Serapion Brothers', about artistic freedom. The group included Mikhail Zoschenko, Lev Lunts, Konstantin Fedin, Nikolai Tikhonov, Mikhail Slonimsky, Vsevolod Ivanov, and Veniamin Kaverin. The Serapion Brothers was under patronage of critic and writer Yuri Tynyanov. They also attended seminars of Korney Ivanovich Chukovskiy. They lived in the famous artistic community known as 'Dom Iskusstv' (House of Arts) in a former aristocratic palace on the Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg. The writers of the group were non-conformists and were in opposition to the official Moscow-based Soviet literature. Their leader Yevgeni Zamyatin fearlessly criticized the Soviet policy of "Red Terror" and intimidation of intellectuals. Some writers of the Serapion Brothers' group were under severe criticism and were censored.

Shklovsky was initially under pressure from Soviet officials during the ideological struggle of the 1920's. In the winter of 1922 Shklovsky walked on ice across the Baltic Sea and escaped to Finland, then emigrated to Germany. In Berlin he was in the circle of 'Ilya Erenburg' and Vsevolod Meyerhold. He experienced hard times trying to make a living as a writer in Germany. He described that time in 'Zoo. Pisma ne o lyubvi ili tretya Eloiza' (Zoo. Letters not about love, or the third Eloiza) an erotic novel about Brik's sister, Elsa Triolet, and the author's romance with her. In 1924, with the help of his friend Vladimir Mayakovsky, Shklovsky obtained permission to return to Russia.

Shklovsky moved to Moscow and joined the circle of Vladimir Mayakovsky and Lilya Brik, whom he knew earlier in St. Petersburg. During the 1920's he collaborated in the magazine "LEF" and publisher Osip Brik. During the 1930's Shklovsky had to comply with the official system under the dictatorship of Iosif Stalin. He survived by adopting the methods of "socialist realism" in his writings. He eventually made an impressive career as a literary critic and film-writer, rising to Member of the Board of the Soviet Writers' Union at the time of "Thaw" that was initiated by Nikita Khrushchev.

Viktor Shklovsky was among the leaders of cross-cultural studies in Russia. His best known works are his memoirs and his literary biographies of Vladimir Mayakovsky and Lev Tolstoy. He was a host of a popular TV-show about Russian literature and cinematography. He was awarded the State Prize of the USSR (1979) for his comprehensive book about Sergei Eisenstein. Shklovsky died on December 8, 1984, in Moscow, Russia.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

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