TYNYANOV, YURI NIKOLAYEVICH (1894–1943), Soviet Russian novelist and literary theoretician. Born in Rezhitsa (Rezekne), Latvia, a small Jewish town in the old Pale of Settlement, Tynyanov moved at an early age to St. Petersburg, where he spent the rest of his life. His assimilation into the milieu of the Russian literary intelligentsia was almost complete. None of his works display any interest in Jewish subjects, and even in his posthumously published memoirs there is no hint of any Jewish identification. A brilliant literary scholar, Tynyanov was one of the foremost exponents of Formalism, a school of literary criticism fashionable in the early 1920s. This, like New Criticism in the U.S., emphasized the study of structure and artistic devices rather than of literature's social and ideological content. He was equally well known as a creative writer, particularly as the author of polished, whimsical works of historical fiction.
His best-known books included Kyukhlya (1925), a novel about Wilhelm Kuechelbecker, a Russian poet, eccentric, and friend of Pushkin; Smert Vazir-Mukhtara (1927–28; Death and Diplomacy in Persia, 1938), on the 19th-century Russian poet and diplomat Alexander Griboyedov; and Pushkin (3 vols., 1936–43). The suite Lieutenant Kijé by Sergei Prokofiev is based on Tynyanov's satirical novella Podporuchik Kizhe (1928) set in the reign of the oppressive Czar Paul I.
A.V. Belinkov, Yuri Tynyanov (Rus., 1960); V.A. Kaverin, Yuri Tynyanov pisatel i uchony (1966); V.V. Vinogradov, in: Y.N. Tynyanov, Pushkin i yego sovremenniki (1969), 5–22.