In “The Theory of the ’Formal Method”’, written in 1925, the author
Boris Eichenbaum outlines and explains the evolution of the Russian For-
malist movement and, by that, elucidates it’s main arguments. He states
that there is no ﬁxed theory or ready-made system which can be described
as the Formalist’s theory. The basis of the formalist position is that the ob-
ject of literary science, as such, must be the study of those speciﬁcs which
distinguish it from any other material. For the Formalists, the object of the
science of literature is not literature but literariness. Their ideas are still
evolving and thus, the essay is just an image of the current state. Eichen-
baum says that for Formalists, theory and history merge not only in words
but also in facts. The Formalist approach has scientiﬁc principles, thus it
is objective, scientiﬁc and allows to study literature systematically. He says
that they are not advocates of a certain method but students of an object.
The Formalists passed through various states. First, the movement
started out by deliberately ignoring prevalent aesthetics and ready-made
or self-styled general theories. Thus, allowing the Formalists to concen-
trate on concrete problems of aesthetics by ignoring beauty, aims of art etc.
The principles advocated by the Formalists violated traditional, axiomatic
seeming notions in the study of literature and art. The Formalists started
to create a radically unconventional scientiﬁc theory of literature with an
impact on the study of art in general. Prior academic research ignored the-
oretical problems and deprecated itself by relying on antiquated aesthetic,
psychological and historical axioms.
The ﬁrst step in the Formalist’s evolution was the...