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Viktor Shklovsky for Kids

Seminal Russian formalist critic Viktor Shklovsky has been back in the limelight as of late due to a slew of translations by Shushan Avagyan published and forthcoming from Dalkey Archive, including Bowstring: On the Dissimilarity of the Similar and Energy of Delusion, a pair of works of literary theory, as well as the more essayistic/historical […]

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The futility of filming Kafka

Why, oh why, do filmmakers keep trying to adapt the work of Kafka? Do they see the pitiful results and want to strike back in the writer’s honor, to make a film worthy of one of literature’s great masters? I don’t think so. So why spend the time and money in such a futile pursuit? […]

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Two restored masterpieces of Wojciech Has

Two of the most stunning and surreal adaptations of two of the strangest books to come out of Poland have just been restored and released in high definition on DVD. Wojciech Jerzy Has directed the adaptations of Jan Potocki’s novel The Manuscript Found in Saragossa in 1965 and of Bruno Schulz’s Sanatorium Under the Sign […]

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Dostoevsky’s The Gambler: Modern and loosely based

In the 1974 film The Gambler, James Caan plays a Jewish college professor in New York named Axel Freed with an addiction to risk that causes him to fall into major gambling debt to some heavy-handed loan sharks. In the first classroom scene we see him in Freed waxes poetic about the issues in Dostoevsky’s […]

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Dostoevsky’s The Gambler

The number of films based on the writings of Fyodor Dostoevsky is approaching the 200 mark, which is not quite Dickens territory (324 according to IMDB) but places him above virtually every other 19th century novelist and ahead of all the Russian masters (Tolstoy, who has a big Hollywood adaptation coming to the screen this […]

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Pushkin’s Queen of Spades

Books on film Adapting literature to cinema usually does not make for a pretty story. There are any number of reasons. Some novels are inherently unfilmable. Others are dumbed down and commercialized to the point that traces of the original become nearly impossible to detect. Sometimes a talented, even brilliant director, say Orson Welles, takes […]

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Filming the other Russian classics

When Russian novels make it to the big screen it is usually because they either already have enough melodrama to turn them into marketable films (Doctor Zhivago) or because screenwriting assassins can be found to cut out the wordy parts and stick to the scenes of carriage rides, furtive kisses and duels. Recently though, a […]

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