Zoo, or Letters Not about Love

Zoo, or Letters Not about Love

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By Viktor Shklovsky
Translated by Richard Sheldon
Introduction by Richard Sheldon

ISBN:  9781628974966

Pub Date: 7/16/2024

While living in exile in Berlin, the formidable literary critic Viktor Shklovsky fell in love with Elsa Triolet. He fell into the habit of sending Elsa several letters a day, a situation she accepted under one condition: he was forbidden to write about love. Zoo, or Letters Not about Love is an epistolary novel born of this constraint, and although the brilliant and playful letters contained here cover everything from observations about contemporary German and Russian life to theories of art and literature, nonetheless every one of them is indirectly dedicated to the one topic they are all required to avoid: their author's own unrequited love.


“Shklovsky revitalizes the traditional epistolary novel.”—Choice

Biographical Information 

Viktor Shklovsky (1893-1984) was a leading figure in the Russian Formalist movement of the 1920s and had a profound effect on twentieth-century Russian literature. Several of his books have been translated into English and are available from Dalkey Archive Press, including On the Theory of Prose, Third Factory, A Sentimental Journey, Energy of Delusion, Literature and Cinematography, and Bowstring.

Richard Sheldon (1932-2014), an authority on Russian formalism and formalist critic Viktor Shklovsky, also translated A Sentimental Journey, Third Factory, and Knight’s Move.  He graduated from the University of Kansas, received his JD and PhD degrees from the University of Michigan, and taught Russian language and literature for many years at Dartmouth College.