A thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures University of Toronto
Copyright by Amber J. Aulen 2018
ii ABSTRACT The Artist as Literary Character in the Work of Anton Chekhov Doctor of Philosophy 2017 Amber Jo Aulen Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures University of Toronto The present dissertation considers the methodology of Anton Chekhov’s literary ethics by focusing on the figure of the artist in his work. There are two general strategies he employs in depicting this figure. The first regards his engagement with typicality in characterizing the artist, and the second regards the reflexivity of the artist, which is to say the artist’s actions on the fictional plane draw attention to the author’s actions on the meta-fictional plane. The concern with typicality vis-à-vis the artist is more prominent in his earlier stories and is the focus of the first part of the dissertation. Chapter One addresses typicality in the genre of the physiologie in France and its Russian counterpart, the fiziologicheskii ocherk. This discussion lays the groundwork for Chapter Two, which addresses Chekhov’s move towards the complicated type in a trio of stories showcasing artists published in short succession in February 1886 – An Actor’s Death (“Akterskaia gibel’”), Requiem (“Panikhida”), and “Anyuta” (“Aniuta”). The reflexive quality of the figure of the artist, which we also find in the three aforementioned stories, is more prominent in Chekhov’s later stories and is the focus of the second part of the dissertation. How an artist sees is of particular importance to Chekhov. Chapter Three examines the visual artists in his mature work to determine the components of artistic vision he sets forth, namely serdechnost’, temporal and sensory specificity, and indeterminacy. Chapter Four analyzes the actress. From his early days as
iii a writer, he was attentive to the power dynamics in the theater. His sympathy towards the actress in stories such as Requiem (“Panikhida”) and A Boring Story (Skuchnaia istoriia”) is noteworthy. Yet, as Chapter Four argues, he moves beyond sympathy in The Seagull (“Chaika”) to invest Nina, an actress, with the power of self-representation.