Friday, October 22, 2010

Sergei M. Eisenstein - The psychology of composition (1988)

'Watson and Scotland Yard always work along the line of direct
logic, Sherlock Holmes works not by logic, but by dialectics'. This
dialectics, in its turn, draws on 'the whole fund of prelogical,
sensuous thought' that 'serves as a fund of the language of form' that
Eisenstein defines as 'readable expressiveness'. Eisenstein's
elaborate study of a method of art rooted in 'the twilight stage of
primitive thought' moves from folk tales to Shakespeare, Balzac,
Gogol, Tolstoi, Dostoevsky, and Mayakovsky, to come eventually to
the detective story, 'the most effective genre of literature' and 'the
most naked expression of bourgeois society's fundamental ideas on
property', as it is told by Poe, Chesterton, Dorothy Sayers, Ellery
Queen, and Hitchcock in Spellbound.
Writing while he was making Ivan, Eisenstein opens up, in his
characteristic manner, a whole area of thinking on 'the psychology
of composition'. Published in English for the first time, these lectures
and lecture notes have been assembled and translated by Jay Leyda
and Alan Upchurch.


Introductory Note
The Psychology of Art
Conspectus of Lectures on the Psychology of Art
The Psychology of Composition
On the Detective Story
Appendix. Lectures on Literature
Notes and Commentary

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