James's prefaces to the New York edition of his work (1907-9) offer plain-speech terms like "picture," "scene," and "center of consciousness" to describe the compositional effects he most valued. This rough vocabulary only whets the appetite of Percy Lubbock, James's most influential follower, who almost twenty years later is driven to write "The Craft of Fiction"(1921) because of his felt "want of a received nomenclature" (90) in the Anglo-American study of fiction. The Russian tradition derives its classificatory practice from a scientific paradigm that would have been anathema to James and Lubbock; but the catalogues generated by Vladimir Propp and Shklovsky are, like the work of Anglo-Americans, derived from the text-based, empirical examination of specific novels and actual narrative practices.

Actually I'm not sure about the meaning of some phrases.I would be pleased if you could answer them.

Dose "classificatory practice" mean: methods of writing stories which are classified?

And I haven't got any idea about "scientific paradigm."

And the last sentence in bold is unclear to me especially the meaning of "text-based".

The Novel: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory 1900-2000

Please correct me if I am wrong.

closed as too broad by Jason Bassford, Eddie Kal, Tᴚoɯɐuo, Hellion, snailboat Dec 27 '18 at 18:44

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    You're asking about a lot of different things, so the community is voting to close your question as "too broad". If you'd like for it to remain open, please consider focusing this question on one particular point, and expanding your question to show your research effort on that particular point. You can ask separate questions about the other parts, but make sure you include enough details about those, as well. Please read Details, Please! on our Meta site. – snailboat Dec 26 '18 at 19:34
  • I don't know where you got your original text from, but a lot of typos and errors have been introduced in the process of transcription. I have made some corrections to your question, since I happen to have a copy of Hale's book. It is "classificatory", not "classifictory". Also it should be Vladimir Propp and Percy Lubbock. – Eddie Kal Dec 26 '18 at 20:17
  • sorry. I wrote it in hurry. I add The name of the book in my question. – Viser Hashemi Dec 26 '18 at 20:46
  • @ViserH - It's best not to write questions in a hurry on the Stack Exchange. – J.R. Dec 26 '18 at 22:15
  • I have given this question a downvote because you should consult a dictionary for basic meanings. You would not be asking whether "classificatory" had to do with writing stories if you had looked the word up in a dictionary. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 26 '18 at 22:16

I will try to write a short answer that addresses several things you have asked about, but as snailboat has pointed out, you packed too much into your question. I am not sure how much you know about literary criticism and theory, but if you are not familiar with the history of literature and key figures, it would take a lot of time to sketch out who these people are and how they figure in different "traditions".

The Russian tradition refers to the school of Russian formalism, in which Viktor Shklovsky and Vladimir Propp were both prominent and influential figures. As a strain of thought, Russian formalists saw literature as something that stands alone and should be studied separately from its sociopolitical context. In other words, for them, literature is in itself and of itself. Hale, the author of the passage you are quoting, actually makes it pretty clear in a paragraph just before the one your quoted text is extracted from:

It is not just the asking of this question that makes thinkers like Viktor Shklovsky and Percy Lubbock "formalists"; it is their shared belief that literary form should be studied as an autonomous entity, able to be isolated from social, political, and historical contexts. For Russian and Anglo-American formalists, form is an aesthetic property intrinsic to, and therefore varying among, literary genres.

The formalists analyzed literature, including folklore, fiction, and fairy tales, in an attempted "scientific" way. They saw it as self-contained and self-sufficient, and they analyzed the narrative devices, poetic techniques, literary structures. Historically speaking, Russian formalism was a reaction to the Marxist reading of literature that viewed literature as the product of politics and society. But that is another can of worms that I don't really think is worth opening.

Russian formalists considered their methodology more scientific, systematic, and rigorous. Therefore, Hale says "The Russian tradition derives its classificatory practice from a scientific paradigm..." "Classificatory practice" refers to the ways formalists categorized literary devices, tropes, poetic techniques, themes, and so on and so forth.


"Russion" is almost certainly a typo for "Russian."

This part of the paragraph comes from the statement that James used plain-speech terms to describe his writing rather than academic terminology.

"The Russian tradition derives its classifictory practice from a scientific paradigm...derived from the text-based, empirical examination of specific novels and actual narrative practices."

So. The author is stating that Russians and Anglo-Americans interpret (critique) literature in a very concrete manner by studying and analyzing each text, defining terms based on very specific instances of usage and style. That is, for every statement you make about a text, you can back it up with specific examples, similar to how a scientist defines a hypothesis and then tries to prove it with experiments--the scientific paradigm.

(updated based on comment) "Russian tradition" of analyzing texts which doesn't have to be about Russian writing only and refers to how, historically, Russian critics, literature professors, etc. analyze and discuss texts.

Specifically, "classifictory practice" refers to classification of writing styles, vocabulary usage, etc.

"Catalogues" to me is unclear. I think you are correct that they're books or articles of different writing styles, basically about literary criticism.

  • I would say "Catalogues" refers to vocabulary lists, resulting from their classification. – Weather Vane Dec 26 '18 at 19:37
  • 1
    Lots of thanks. But The meaning of "Russian tradition" is still unclear to me . What is the meaning of "traditon" in this phrase? Do you mean: the common way of analyzing stories that first were created by Russian. – Viser Hashemi Dec 26 '18 at 19:55

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.