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The process by which literary works unsettle readers' habitual ways of seeing the world. According to the literary theories of S. T. Coleridge in Biographia Literaria (1817), of P. B. Shelley in Defence of Poetry (1840), and of several modern formalist critics, it is a distinctive feature of literature, especially poetry, that it tears away what Shelley called the ‘veil of familiarity’ from the world, making us look at it afresh. The Russian theorist V. Shklovsky's concept of ‘estrangement’ (ostranenie) has influenced modern restatements of the case.

Subjects: Literature.

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