By Viktor Shklovsky
Began in 1929 below the name "New Prose," and significantly revised after Vladimir Mayakovsky's surprising demise, A Hunt for Optimism (1931) circles obsessively round a unmarried scene of interrogation within which a author is subjected to a exhibit trial for his unorthodoxy. utilizing a number of views, fragments, and aphorisms, and bearing the vulnerability of either the Russian Jewry and the anti-Bolshevik intelligentsia—who had unwittingly turn into the "enemies of the people"—Hunt satirizes Soviet censorship and the ineptitude of Soviet leaders with acerbic panache. regardless of feedback on the time that it lacked team spirit and was once too "variegated" to be known as a basically "Shklovskian book," Hunt is stylistically unpredictable, experimentally daring, and unapologetically ironic—making it one of many best books in Shklovsky's physique of labor.
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Additional info for A Hunt for Optimism
This is Oakfield's reaction to it: I like it better than I expected, or rather dislike it less. 19 Take the majority of officials in this country: their vigour, their strong sense, their prompt and business-like dexterity, have earned for them as a class, a justly honourable distinction. These are what may be called the commercial virtues. But except good men of business what are they? 20 As E. M. Forster thinks, the novel 'has the Arnold integrity'. 21 Its brave and knowledgeable exposure of Anglo-India in mid-Victorian times has a value.
Here he analyses mass psychology. The portrayal of Wait here also demands attention. Earlier Conrad had suggested that he was ill but less so than he pretended to be; he knew this fact, but not the others. And the author did not indicate the exact degree of sickness. The situation is the same during the storm. But after it dies down, he clearly shows, as in this instance, that Wait is wasting away. He offers himself for duty when he is 'near enough to the pay table and smells the shore'. At this very time, he is more sick than he think he is, and the crew observe this; his imminent death, formerly a pretext, becomes a reality.
The two major problems, Wait and the storm, interpenetrate. Thereby Conrad makes the problems of the seamen as acute as possible in the given context and tests the very essentials of their character, of their values. Wait continues his kind of dissembling, the ordinary seamen continue to be caught in their complex of feelings, Old Singleton and the officers continue to be unaffected by the negro. Conrad's comparative immaturity as an artist shows in his tendency to render these insights rather too much through description and analysis, at the expense of drama, yet the analytic descriptions are themselves acutely penetrating in their use of physical detail to embody moral qualities: Jimmy's steadfastness to his untruthful attitude in the face of the inevitable truth had the proportions of a colossal enigma - of a manifestation grand and incomprehensible that at times inspired a wandering awe; and there was also, to many, something exquisitely droll in fooling him thus to the top of his bent.
A Hunt for Optimism by Viktor Shklovsky