Shushan Avagyan Translates Viktor Shklovsky’s Classic2 min read
YEREVAN, Armenia — The American University of Armenia (AUA) is proud to share that AUA Assistant Professor Dr. Shushan Avagyan has recently published her translation of Viktor Shklovsky’s classic On the Theory of Prose. Viktor Shklovsky (1893-1984) was a leading figure in the Russian Formalist movement of the 1920s and had a profound effect on twentieth-century Russian literature.
Dr. Avagyan, the coordinator of the Certificate in Translation program and director of AUA Press, has translated five of Shklovsky’s books into English, including On the Theory of Prose, all published by one of the best avant-garde literary presses, Dalkey Archive.
According to the publisher, On the Theory of Prose continues to be “one of the twentieth century’s most significant works of literary theory. It not only anticipates structuralism and poststructuralism, but poses questions about the nature of fiction that are as provocative today as they were in the 1920s. Founded on the concept of ‘making strange,’ it lays bare the inner workings of fiction — especially the works of Cervantes, Tolstoy, Sterne, Dickens, Bely and Rozanov — and imparts a new way of seeing, of reading, and of interacting with the world.”
Since its publication on December 7, 2021, the book has been listed as the #1 New Release in Russian literature on Amazon.
The volume includes a Translator’s Note, where Dr. Avagyan introduces new findings on the book’s previous and successive versions. The Afterword by Lyn Hejinian, one of the greatest living authors in the United States and professor Emerita of the English department at the University of California, Berkeley, maps out Shklovsky’s reverberations among contemporary American writers, starting with her own circle of Language poets.
“What I didn’t mention in the Translator’s Note and what I should have mentioned is that I am immensely indebted to Dalkey’s publisher John O’Brien not only for launching the Shklovsky series and making his works available in English, but also for inviting me to take part in this exciting adventure. On the Theory of Prose was supposed to come out earlier. The delay was partly due to John’s deteriorating health and passing in November 2020. It was heartbreaking to see him go. The good news is that Dalkey will continue its work under the auspices of Deep Vellum, a non-profit publishing house and literary arts organization based in Texas. The organization is committed to continuing John’s legacy for years to come.”
Dr. Avagyan had received travel and research grants from AUA in 2014 and the Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in 2015 to conduct research at Illinois State University’s Milner Library and to complete the translation of the book.
A review of Avagyan’s translation was recently published in Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB).
Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.