Brik, Osip Maksimovich

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BRIK, OSIP MAKSIMOVICH (1888–1945), Russian literary critic, scholar, and writer. Brik was born in Moscow and graduated from the Law Faculty of Moscow University. He began to publish his works in 1915. A founding member of the Society for the Study of Poetic Language (opoyaz), he was publisher of its famous Sborniki (1916–17). In 1917, he published his pioneering study Zvukovye povtory ("Sound Reiterations"), in which he analyzed the repetitions of consonantal groups in the poetry of Pushkin and Lermontov. In 1919–20, he took an active part in the organization of the Moscow Linguistic Circle. Although he published very little, his deep insight into the problems of poetic structure profoundly influenced most members of the Russian formal school. Together with V. Mayakovsky, he edited the Russian avant-garde periodicals Iskusstvo Kommuny (1918), lef (1923–25), and Novy lef (1927–28). In the mid-1920s, Brik developed the "theory of social demand" and wrote several important studies of the sociology of art, trenchant critical articles directed against the epigones of Tolstoyan realism among the so-called Proletarian writers, and another outstanding paper on poetics, "Ritm i sintaksis" ("Rhythm and Syntax"), Novy lef 1927, No. 3–4, 6. Among his numerous screenplays, the best known is Potomok Chingis Khana, known in the West as "Storm over Asia" (dir. by V. Pudovkin, 1928). Brik's short "publicistic novel" Evrey i blondinka ("A Jew and a Blonde"), which he completed in 1927, remains unpublished along with many of his scholarly papers, but his literary works have been preserved and some of them appeared in 1969–70 in the French structuralist journal Change.


O.M. Brik, in: Michigan Slavic Materials, 5 (1964) (with a postscript by R. Jakobson); idem., Texte der russischen Formulisten, 2 (1971) (Germ. translation of Rhythm and Syntax).

[Omri Ronen]