Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Jillian Porter

Second Advisor

Laura Osterman

Third Advisor

Mark Leiderman

Abstract

Abstract: The recent boom in ecological criticism invites reconsideration of the role nature plays in the works of Anton Chekhov. Drawing on existing accounts of nature in Chekhov’s fiction as well as in Russian literature and culture more broadly, this thesis reveals a crucial and previously unrecognized affinity between five of Chekhov’s most celebrated stories: “The Kiss” («Поцелуй», 1887), “Fortune” («Счастье», 1887), “Gusev” («Гусев», 1890), “The Man in the Case” («Человек в футляре», 1898), and “The Lady with the Little Dog” («Дама с собачкой», 1898). In each of these otherwise unrelated stories, nature complicates the characters and the stories they tell themselves and one another. In some cases, nature gives the characters new insights and helps them to evolve. In others it gives readers a new understanding that the characters themselves do not share. In all cases nature in Chekhov’s works opens a broader perspective, dwarfing the characters and their existential anxieties by the immensity of land, water, or cosmos. Ultimately, Chekhov presents myriad ways in which nature frames and exceeds human experience, incites and resists narrativization.

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