Difference Between Russian Formalism and New Criticism


Both Formalism and new criticism are approaches that advocate for the particular use of language in literary works. The literary language is completely different from non-literary language, according to them. Literary languages use varied literary devices to draw the reader’s consideration to itself. The writer’s function is irrelevant for each approaches. The language of the textual content is all that readers have to be aware of. Works of literature have been created following some varieties. Consciously or unconsciously, the creator follows that kind. For that, we are able to apply a formalistic viewpoint to each of those movements of literary criticism and theory, which originated in two completely different countries. But nonetheless, we are able to discover some underlying links between the two. The readers are given probably the most essential roles to play in analyzing and interpreting literary works.

In contrast, the writer or the creator of that specific work is kept apart or thought of “dead,” to make use of Roland Barthes’s term. Rather ‘close-reading’ and ‘detailed textual evaluations are utilized whereas literary texts are studied. Structure and form have to be thought of; the content material just isn’t important for the readers to grasp the textual content. The writer’s emotion and intention are pushed to the background whereas foregrounding the text’s literariness as Jakobson writes his seminal books about it.

Read About: What is New Criticism in Literature? | Principles of New Criticism

The formalist’s use of some new terms of their theories of analyzing the literary texts like ‘defamiliarization’ of Shklovsky and ‘Foregrounding’ of Mukarovsky introduced sea changes to the world of criticism. By the term ‘defamiliarization,’ Shklovsky implies that literary language makes use of devices like metaphor and imagery to make acquainted issues unfamiliar. This means, the readers are made to ponder over the implications of the textual content.

On the other hand, New Criticisms solely advocate for the connotative meanings of words in poetry, which is the central space of this criticism, not like Russian Formalism, which may be utilized to fiction as effectively. New Criticism does not differentiate between form and content, however Formalism does differentiate. Basic models of study for the New Critics are the icons. Still, for the Formalists, they’re the motifs and different devices. Unlike Russian Formalists, New Critics worth the ambiguity, paradox, irony, and intention in literature. The new critics have identified two forms of fallacies as already talked about – affective and intentional fallacy, among the many readers- who typically turn out to be the victims of the two errors. That’s why poetry should not be interpreted from the emotional effects of the reader or the writer’s intention of writing it. Instead, the literary texts needs to be studied in isolation and independently of all these. And Formalism helps this proposition, too, because the formalists say that literary works are produced culminating varied literary devices solely, whereas the writer is pushed apart.

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