Viktor Borisovich Shklovsky was a Russian and Soviet critic, writer, and pamphleteer. He was one of the founders of the Russian formalism school and wrote several insightful essays on the works of Leo Tolstoy, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Sergei Eisenshtein.
Shklovsky was born in 1893 in St. Petersburg. He studied philology in St. Petersburg university and was then serving in the army, aligning himself to different, often opposing sides. In 1922 he learned he'd be arrested, so he escaped from St. Petersburg to Finland over the ice and lived in Berlin several years, where he published several books. In the 1920s he came back to the Soviet Union and was involved with futurists as well as several other literary circles. Somehow he managed to continue working during Stalin and the WW2, managing to create very inspiring critical writing while not directly confronting the official literary policy of the state.
One of the famous Shklovsky's phrases was that "the Soviet power taught literary critics to distinguish between various shades of shit".
He was one of the first persons in Russia to propagate formalism and shift the emphasis in literary criticism from the social and political issues to the form and structure of the work itself. In this way formalism was closely related to structuralism, although the methods were different.
His work on Eisenshtein in 1979 got a State Literary Prize in the Soviet Union.
Shklovsky died in 1984 in Moscow.