Title

Chekhov, Intelligentsia, and the Ethics of Small Deeds: A Biocritical Essay

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-26-2020

Publication Title

Russian Journal of Communication

Volume

12

Issue

1

First page number:

66

Last page number:

76

Abstract

This is an inquiry into Anton Chekhov’s embodied existence and the interfaces between his biography and intellectual pursuits. Chekhov’s art serves here as a clue to his affective life and performative contradictions rather than as a self-contained aesthetic output. I argue that Chekhov’s life offers a window onto Russian society and the intelligentsia, a peculiar intellectual stratum to which Chekhov belonged and which he sought to reshape. I start my discussion with a few general notes on biocritique, a branch of pragmatist hermeneutics that provides a theoretical framework for this project. After this, I move on to Chekhov’s childhood and the socio-cultural context that shaped his corporeal agency. Next, I bring into focus Chekhov’s life as an artistic, intellectual, and personal project, focusing on the way he bodied forth his discourse and validated his principles in action. Finally, I identify the junctures where the semiotic chain of Chekhov’s existence showed strains, where his affect, ideas, and actions worked at cross-purpose.

Keywords

Anton Chekhov; Russian intelligentsia; Biocritical hermeneutics; Word-body-action nexus; Pragmatic-discursive misalignment

Disciplines

Ethics and Political Philosophy | Sociology

Language

English

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