Potebnya and his Followers in Roman Jakobson’s Lectures at the Masaryk University in Brno (1935)

Keywords: Roman Jakobson, The Formalist School, Potebnya and his followers, poetic language, thinking in images


In 1935 Roman Jakobson gave a series of lectures in Czech titled “The Formalist School and Contemporary Russian linguistics”. It was only seventy years later that the Czech original was discovered and published, followed by a not always accurate Russian translation. This work by a prominent member of the Formalist School has until now not been analyzed by Ukrainian scholars. Its importance lies in the fact that in it a link is demonstrated between this school and the Kharkov Philological School.

The purpose of this article is to place this work by Jakobson among the group of sources of the current discussion about Potebnya and his followers. By contrasting Potebnya’s teachings with the fundamental ideas of the so-called psychological school of literary study (a name sometimes assumed to be a synonym of the Kharkov Philological School), in his lectures Jakobson himself occasionally, following Viktor Shklovsky’s example, polemicizes not with Potebnya himself, but with that view of his teachings that suited the Formalists themselves in order to in turn construct their own polemic (that poetry is not “thinking in images”, etc.).

Apart from the method of comparative analysis of scholarly texts (Jakobson’s lectures [1935); Shklovsky’s article “Potebnya” [1919]; Potebnya’s late works; the works of the followers of Potebnya D. Ovsyanniko-Kulikovsky, V. Khartsiev, А. Gornfeld, T. Raynov) the author of this article uses the biographical method a lá T. Raynov. This means taking into account the historical context of the scholarly work, the psychological state of the scholar while creating it etc. The basic result of such a combined approach to Jakobson’s polemic with Potebnya and his followers is a certain reassessment of the development of the doctrine regarding “poetic language” when viewed in its sources.


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Author Biography

Volodymyr Zvinyatskovsky, Mariupol State University, Masaryk University

Doctor of Philology, Professor, Mariupol State University, Department of Applied Philology and Masaryk University, Department of Slavonic Studies


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How to Cite
Zvinyatskovsky, V. (2023). Potebnya and his Followers in Roman Jakobson’s Lectures at the Masaryk University in Brno (1935). The Journal of V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University. Series “Philology”, (92), 15-22. https://doi.org/10.26565/2227-1864-2023-92-02