Skaz is a Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n literary term that describes a particularly oral form of narrative. The word comes from skazat, "to tell", and is also related to such words as rasskaz, "short story" and skazka, "fairy tale". The speech makes use of dialect and slang in order to take on the persona of a particular character
Character (arts)
A character is the representation of a person in a narrative work of art . Derived from the ancient Greek word kharaktêr , the earliest use in English, in this sense, dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. From this, the sense of...

. The peculiar speech, however, is integrated into the surrounding narrative, and not presented in quotation marks. This is not only a literary device, but is also used as an element in Russian monologue comedy.

Skaz was first described by the Russian formalist
Formalism (literature)
Formalism is a school of literary criticism and literary theory having mainly to do with structural purposes of a particular text.In literary theory, formalism refers to critical approaches that analyze, interpret, or evaluate the inherent features of a text. These features include not only grammar...

 Boris Eikhenbaum in the late 1910s. In a couple of articles published at this time, the literary scholar described the phenomenon as a form of unmediated or improvisational speech. He applied it specifically to Nikolai Gogol
Nikolai Gogol
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol was a Ukrainian-born Russian dramatist and novelist.Considered by his contemporaries one of the preeminent figures of the natural school of Russian literary realism, later critics have found in Gogol's work a fundamentally romantic sensibility, with strains of Surrealism...

's short story The Overcoat
The Overcoat
"The Overcoat" is the title of a short story by Ukrainian-born Russian author Nikolai Gogol, published in 1842. The story and its author have had great influence on Russian literature, thus spawning Fyodor Dostoyevsky's famous quote: "We all come out from Gogol's 'Overcoat'." The story has been...

, in a 1919 essay titled How Gogol's "Overcoat" Is Made. Eikhenbaum saw skaz as central to Russian culture, and believed that a national literature could not develop without a strong attachment to oral traditions. Among the literary critics who elaborated on this theory in the 1920, were Yury Tynyanov
Yury Tynyanov
Yury Nikolaevich Tynyanov was a famous Soviet/Russian writer, literary critic, translator, scholar and screenwriter. He was an authority on Pushkin and an important member of the Russian Formalist school.-Life and work:...

, Viktor Vinogradov
Viktor Vinogradov
Viktor Vladimirovich Vinogradov was a Soviet linguist and philologist who presided over Soviet linguistics after World War II.Vinogradov's teachers at the Petrograd Institute of History and Philology included Lev Shcherba and Aleksey Shakhmatov, but it was Charles Bally's ideas that influenced him...

, and Mikhail Bakhtin
Mikhail Bakhtin
Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin was a Russian philosopher, literary critic, semiotician and scholar who worked on literary theory, ethics, and the philosophy of language...


In the nineteenth century, the style was most prominently used by Nikolai Leskov
Nikolai Leskov
Nikolai Semyonovich Leskov was a Russian journalist, novelist and short story writer, who also wrote under the pseudonym M. Stebnitsky. Praised for his unique writing style and innovative experiments in form, held in high esteem by Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov and Maxim Gorky among others, Leskov is...

, in addition to Gogol. Twentieth-century proponents include Aleksey Remizov
Aleksey Remizov
Aleksei Mikhailovich Remizov was a Russian modernist writer whose creative imagination veered to the fantastic and bizarre. Apart from literary works, Remizov was an expert calligrapher who sought to revive this medieval art in Russia.-Biography:...

, Mikhail Zoshchenko
Mikhail Zoshchenko
-Biography:Zoshchenko was born in 1895, in Poltava, but spent most of his life in St. Petersburg / Leningrad. His Ukrainian father was a mosaicist responsible for the exterior decoration of the Suvorov Museum in Saint Petersburg. The future writer attended the Faculty of Law at the Saint Petersburg...

 and Andrei Platonov
Andrei Platonov
Andrei Platonov was the pen name of Andrei Platonovich Klimentov , a Soviet author whose works anticipate existentialism. Although Platonov was a Communist, his works were banned in his own lifetime for their skeptical attitude toward collectivization and other Stalinist policies...

. The term is also used to describe elements in the literature of other countries; in recent times it has been popularised by the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 author and literary critic David Lodge
David Lodge (author)
David John Lodge CBE, is an English author.In his novels, Lodge often satirises academia in general and the humanities in particular. He was brought up Catholic and has described himself as an "agnostic Catholic". Many of his characters are Catholic and their Catholicism is a major theme...

. John Mullan
John Mullan
John Mullan is a Professor of English at University College London. He specialises in 18th century fiction. He is currently working on the 18th-century section of the new Oxford English Literary History....

, a professor of English at University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

, finds examples of skaz in J. D. Salinger
J. D. Salinger
Jerome David Salinger was an American author, best known for his 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye, as well as his reclusive nature. His last original published work was in 1965; he gave his last interview in 1980....

's The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye is a 1951 novel by J. D. Salinger. Originally published for adults, it has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage confusion, angst, alienation, language, and rebellion. It has been translated into almost all of the world's major...

and DBC Pierre's Vernon God Little
Vernon God Little
Vernon God Little is a novel by DBC Pierre. It was his debut novel and won the Booker Prize in 2003.-Plot introduction:The title character is a fifteen-year-old boy who lives in a small town in the U.S. state of Texas...

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