Theory of Prose

Determining the Central Difference Between “Fabula” (or, story, narrative) and “Sujet” (or, plot) College

Russian Formalism refers to form of literary criticism founded during the 20th century and it shapes the work and ideas of a number of eastern-European scholars such as Roman Jakobson and Viktor Shklovsky. A primary distinction between Russian Formalism and the definition of the more broad term ‘formalism’ is that the former places greater emphasis on literature, a belief which lead to the creation of two Formalist concepts: fabula and sujet. Dr. Paul Cobley describes fabula as ‘the raw material of a story, and syuzhet, the way a story is organized’.[1] Though Shklovsky coined these two terms, they do not define the Formalist movement as a whole but both will form the basis of this essay. Ostensibly, both appear to be similar but it is only when one analyses their aesthetic value and role in literature, and how different emphasis is placed on each concept, that it becomes clear that they serve very different functions, even when dealing with contemporary forms of art. The process of defamiliarisation is what makes what is fabula into something that has sujet qualities, but what are their main differences?

Unlike fabula, sujet has clear aesthetic value that can be used as the subject matter of literary studies. This is because...

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