By John Tulloch
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Extra resources for Chekhov: A Structuralist Study
Instead of the 'mechanistic' Marxian notion of a one-way causality between economic 'base' and ideational 'superstructure', the sociology of knowledge emphasises the role of everyday 'knowledge' in man's ability to distance himself from the 'facti city' of the world. Knowledge, then, re-creates the world that made it. The relationship is dialectical: knowledge is a social product and g6 Chekhov: A Structuralist Study knowledge is a factor in social change. (b) Emphasis on the alternation of social roles in modern society implies a fuller concern for man's uniqueness and individuality.
E. betrayal of originality and objectivity) of both vision and style. Time and again his searching (but 'inauthentic') characters are marked by theatrical and cliched responses which the text specifically relates to melodrama and popular novels. For example, Konstantin Treplev, in The Seagull, a seeker, like Chekhov, after new artistic forms, traps himself in the well-worn Hamlet stereotype (which in Russia had conventionally been interpreted as that of the 'superfluous man' 24 ). Thus Konstantin betrays originality of form and (because of the overlaying of his own relationship to his mother with the Hamlet/Gertrude one) spontaneous interaction.
There are a number of aesthetic issues which follow from this that there is no space to develop here. 64 What I do want to stress at this point is more strictly sociological: that the concepts of role alternation in modern society, 'double selectivity', discrepant reference groups, ambivalent and unsuccessful socialisation which I believe to be central to understanding Chekhov, have two important implications for the structuralist analysis which follows. On the one hand, the continuous tension between individual biography and social group which makes up the socialisation process creates, at the same time, an active subject who is much more than the structural linguists' intersection point of determining codes.