"Structure, Style, and Interpretation in the Russian Short Story" by L. M. O'Toole

Structure, Style, and Interpretation in the Russian Short Story L. M. O'Toole

Publication date:
10 Sep 1982
Yale University Press
276 pages: 235 x 156mm

This illuminating book coordinates and redefines the main categories of narrative structure and tests them as an integrated set of analytical procedures on a specific genre: the nineteenth-century Russian short story. The levels of analysis (narrative structure, point of view, fable, plot, character, and setting), although common to much literary criticism, are re-examined and re-integrated in the light of the theoretical work of the Russian Formalists and critics of the Prague School and some important trends in recent structuralist criticism. Many of the greatest names in nineteenth-century Rusian literature are represented here - Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Leskov, Korolenko, Chekhov, and Gorky. They are not presented in chronological order, however; O'Toole takes account of influences, echoes, and pastiche, but he tries to break away from the stricture of evolutionary assumptions in which so much of the study of national literatures is confined. He proposes instead that each work creates a unique world of its own and deserves to be explored in its own terms. The author's close study of style, its relationship with the larger structures of the texts, and its role in the process of interpretation has allowed him frequent and often extensive quotation. He has provided a new and original translation of each passage of Russian text. L. Michael O'Toole was professor of communication studies, Murdoch University, Western Australia.