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2021 Vol. 12 №3

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In search of the text generating structure: Jakobson’s theory of the poetic function of language



The classic work of Roman Jakobson,“The Newest Russian Poetry. Sketch One. Ap­proaches to Khlebnikov”, is invariably referred to in the works on the history of structuralism, formalism and the history of the methodology of humanities. This article aims to address sev­eral questions: what are the epistemological attitudes of Jakobson and how are they imple­mented in his work? Can this 'disorganised' and 'sketchy' text be interpreted in context of the future attitudes of the scholar?

The avant-garde literature of the early twentieth century not only created new methods of text generation but also required a new epistemological approach and a change in the recep­tive perspective. Jakobson's work is one of the first experiments in describing a new aesthetic phenomenon. Analysing language through shifts, Jakobson explores it in a structuralist way. In “The Newest Russian Poetry” the scholar summarises the ideas that became fundamental for him in the 1960s-1970s: the ideas of the teleological nature of poetry, a close connection between mental and language structures, and the relevance of the identification of text struc­ture as a relatively stable set of relations for the analysis of sense-making and text generation. Exploring the concept of literariness, Jakobson reveals a system of universal and interlevel methods of generating poetic speech. These observations have not lost their relevance and can be applied to the analysis of both avant-garde and classical texts.


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