Monday, September 24, 2018

Viktor Shklovsky Quotations from The Hamburg Score

Below are some of my favorite quotations from the Hamburg Score.  

On Writing

In Hamburg, Bulgakov is down on the mat.
Babel is a lightweight.
Gorky is questionable (often out of form).
Khlebnikov was the champion.

It is not appropriate to start a critical article with:  "I opened the book," "I was interested in," "I leafed through," or "I glanced through." You can't start a review of a play by saying:  "I walked into the theater and sat down on an armchair."All of this is extremely weak, because you cannot start reading a book without opening it.

They are the writings of an administrator, and not a journalist.  And a writing administrator often resembles a theater fireman who sings.

One ought to get rid of the old general's habit of calling people "unknown."  If Rodchenko is unknown to Polonsky, that's not a fact of Rodchenko's life, but Polonsky's.

The censor told an acquaintance of mine:  "You have a style that's perfectly suitable for cutting."

The editor, having read the works of a poet, said to him:  "Your poems are splendid, but I won't publish them--I don't like them..."  Then added pensively:  "But you know, you somehow remind me of Bakunin."

It is very difficult for a writer to overcome his own manner of writing and to remember.

Here the genre dies from an enlarged heart.

Writers appear in literature variously:  With our without introduction.
Writers appearing in literature with introductions, as a general rule, do not have a long life.

On Authors

(I think) I saw a photography of Konstantin Fedin.  He was sitting at his desk between Tolstoy's and Gogol's busts.
He was sitting there--getting used to it.

Bunin's entire work is italicized.  The descriptions are derived not from objects but from other descriptions.

Being mentored by the Acmeists and Symbolists, Larisa Reisner knew how to see things.

[Babel] was the only one who preserved his stylistic composure during the revolution.

He was not alienated from life.  But it did seem to me that Babel, before going to bed, would sign each and every lived day--as if it was a story.  The instruments of the man's trade had left their trace on him.

Babel wrote little, but he wrote persistently.  It was always the same story--about two Chinese men in a brothel.

A foreigner from Paris, from Paris alone, sans London, Babel saw Russia the way that a French writer attached to Napoleon's army might have seen it.

The significance of Babel's device is in his manner of speaking about stars and gonorrhea in one voice.

Lev Lunts was like grass there had grown in a cleared forest.  Fate had freed him from compromises.

Kazin is writing about all of his relatives, one by one.

And even Mayakovsky is imprisoned by his theme: revolution and love that keeps apologizing for coming during revolution.

But I knew Yesenin from before.  He was young, handsome, with golden locks, blue eyes, spoke marvelously.  Yesenin's trouble was that he wore those felt boots in the city for too long.

People were chided in subordinate clauses, as if in passing.

[Vsevold Ivanov] wasn't afraid of making mistakes because he didn't know most of the rules.

Bon Mots

During their first crusades, they mistook each city for Jerusalem.  When, upon entering the city, they would find out that it was not Jerusalem, they would destroy it.

How obscenely long is Grevs's comment!
What a confusing sentence!
And it's ungrammatical.  This is how professors write.

 Vladimir Durov was telling:  "I ordered walruses from abroad to teach them how to cut through mined fences."
"And were you able to?"
"No.  I've only been able to teach them how to play on the guitar."

Occasionally they elect a fourteen-year-old male virgin as their priest.
But on the whole, virginity is not respected there.

They beat the writer Svetozarov in one village, as we was travelling on a boat alone from Moscow to Astrakhan , but the children in that same village knew the poems of Vasili Kazin by heart.

One shouldn't be so eloquent in a newspaper.

Chaliapin would say:  "Such and such actor keeps coming to my performances.  Do you think he's coming to learn something?  He's been waiting for a decade now for me to lose my voice."

The man had learned a lot.  I don't know if he had lost his former venomousness during that period.

A delegation came to meet Yesenin's father, a peasant.  He invited them into his hut.  "Tell us about your son!" The old man crossed the room in his felt boots, sat down and began:  "It was a dark night.  It was raining, pouring like from a bucket..."

There is nothing more deplorable than fate.
If you ask, especially women, in the village what the neighboring village is called, they often don't know.  Fate has bound them to the hut with the mooing of the cow.

She packed her life so eagerly, as if she was packing for good and going to another planet.

Mongolia is a wild and joyless beats, even the butterflies sting there.


Cinema with bourgeois themes int he East is a perlustration of the masters' mail.


The revolution is a difficult thing for an intellectual.  He is jealous of the revolution, as a husband would be jealous of his wife.  Doesn't recognize her.  Fear her.
It is easier to recognize a revolution aesthetically when she is weak.

Few of us can boast that we have seen the revolution not through a vent window.

"Can you tell me how much I can own and not be considered a kulak?" the short host asked me.

The years had produced cliched recollections.  The cliches melded with memory and became heroicized.

We loved before the revolution bound to fate as unhappy Greek sponges bound to the bottom of the sea.  You get born, gain strength.  Then you accidentally come across a profession and you live like that.  And there were many remarkable poets who lived alongside syndonic officials and insurance agents.

Such an interesting thing as human fate is arranged awfully in a capitalist society.  And so during the revolution there was no such thing as fate.

We owe our inventions to that time--there was enough wind for all the sails.

Dostoevsky, Jerome K. Jerome (who died recently), and the still restless Merezhkovsky all unanimously declared that socialism is boredom.
I refute that as a witness.
We ignored the bitterness of life and the necessity to fix it and it seems that we were happy.  We just didn't have enough carbohydrates and protestins to fortify this kingdom of intellectual freedom under the guns of the "Aurora."

We were moving into the world then as one might move into a new apartment.

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