I discuss here Shklovsky's theory of estrangement as formulated in a number of texts written before the October revolution of 1917. The concept of estrangement can only be properly grasped if the early Shklovsky is placed in the context of World War I; we need to begin to see him as an author shaped by that war and as a participant in the larger constellation of brilliant European essayists who responded to this momentous event. To this end, the article draws parallels between his writings and those of Ernst Jünger and Georg Simmel. More importantly, it uncovers the conservative aspects of Shklovsky's theory of estrangement and analyzes his contradictory attitudes toward democracy and modernization. The final section traces the fortunes of Shklovsky's concept of estrangement at the hands of its most significant critics, Bertolt Brecht and Herbert Marcuse.

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