Boris Tomashevsky

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For the Jewish performer, see Boris Thomashefsky

Boris Viktorovich Tomashevsky (Russian: Бори́с Ви́кторович Томаше́вский; 29 November 1890, Saint-Petersburg – 24 August 1957, Gurzuf) was a Russian Formalist literary scholar and historian of Russian literature. He was a member of the Moscow linguistic circle and the OPOJAZ.

Tomashevsky received training in statistics and electrical engineering in Liège and Paris.[1] He joined the Art History Institute in 1921 but later moved to the Pushkin House, where he managed the manuscript department in 1946-57 and the department of Pushkin studies in 1957. He was involved in compiling the Ushakov Dictionary and supervised the first Soviet editions of Pushkin's and Dostoyevsky's collected works. He also helped establish the Pushkin Museum in Gurzuf, a Crimean coastal village where he died and was buried.[2]

Tomashevsky's monograph Theory of Literature (Poetics), published in 1925, was the first systematic exposition of Formalist doctrine. Another important theoretical work is The Writer and the Book: An Outline of Textology (1928). He was especially interested in the theory of versification. In his metrical studies, following in the footsteps of Andrey Bely, he applied statistical procedures to the study of Russian poetry[3] and succeeded in "raising versification to a quantified science".[4]


  1. ^ Mikhail Bakhtin. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. University of Texas Press, 1986. Page 8.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Tzvetan Todorov. The Poetics of Prose. Cornell University Press, 1977. Page 265.
  4. ^ Quoted from: Evgeny Dobrenko, Marina Balina. The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century Russian Literature. Cambridge University Press, 2011. Page 272.