Chekhov: A Structuralist Study by John Tulloch

By John Tulloch

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What is unique to genetic structuralism, in comparison for example Structuralism and the Sociology cif Knowledge 27 with the Marxist interpretations of literature by Lukacs, is its equal concern for the first part of the definition: 'the object is itself structured'. It is worth comparing Goldmann's approach with Culler's own basic principles of a structuralist approach to see how far it fulfills them. (a) Since meaning is dependent on underlying systems of distinctions, structuralism proceeds on the assumption that it is 'possible to break down larger units into their constituents until one eventually reaches a level of minimal functional distinctions'.

It was, however, their prosaic attributes, not their godlike qualities, which could not bear close inspection'. 2 3 I I Chekhov: A Structuralist Study Among the literary types which Chekhov draws on, those of T olstoi, and particularly Anna Karenina, are especially important. Neck, Lady with a Little Dog, The Betrothed. Neck and Anna Karenina, and then contrasts the somewhat overblown and novelettish presentiment of the first Anna of 'a terrible power moving on her as a cloud, or as a locomotive ready to crush her' (reference, of course, to the death of Anna Karenina) with the more prosaic reality, in which adultery leads to ascendancy in the hierarchical society that Chekhov knew so well.

Similarly, in his analysis of Racine, Roland Barthes looked for 27 Chekhov: A Structuralist Study relations and oppositions rather than substantive features or themes ... Thus when he maintains that there are three formal 'spaces' in Racine, the Chamber or seat of power, the AntiChamber where characters wait and confront one another and the Outside, which is the locus of death, flight and events, the claim is not that each of the plays contains, specifically, a chamber and an anti-chamber and no other spaces but the outside world.

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