"Thematics" by Boris Tomashevsky - Chapter Summary
Tomashevsky, Boris. "Thematics." Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays. Comp. Lee T. Lemon and Marion J. Reis. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1965. 62-95. Print.
Tomashevsky is a Formalist. (From Wikipedia: In literary theory, formalism refers to critical approaches that analyze, interpret, or evaluate the inherent features of a text. The formalist approach reduces the importance of a text’s historical, biographical, and cultural context.)
Introduction to Tomashevsky's Approach
The introduction to “Thematics” by Tomashevsky states that Tomashevsky’s essay is a proposal of how to analyze a narrative. A narrative must have a theme and enlist the readers’ emotions. Tomashevsky makes a distinction between Plot and Story. Tomashevsky deals with many aspects of narrative, including motif and how to distinguish between those which are and aren’t necessary to the action. He explores the parts of narratives and their purpose. “The motif- the elementary unit from which all else is constructed”
Thematics - Summary
1. Selection of Themes
The theme is necessary for the coherence of a work and unites the separate elements of the whole. The theme and its development are important, as different themes have different effects on readers. The theme must interest the readers, who have either professional or personal pleasure motives in reading a text. The more timeless the subject matter, the longer a text will remain current- but the theme must be illustrated by specific material. A text may remain current in spite of being set in a historical context; it will however incur different interest levels determined by the prevailing conditions of the time period it is read. To hold the readers’ attention, the theme must evoke emotion. Thus the theme of the text is defined in part by those emotions. These emotions are not an arbitrary reaction by the reader but a deliberate manipulation by...
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