Chekhov: A Structuralist Study by John Tulloch

By John Tulloch

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Unlike animals who cannot say 'no' to their instincts, Berger argues that men 'can say "no" to their society, and often have done so'. 49 There is, however, nothing Romantic about man's 'freedom'. 'Man's self-production is always, and of necessity, a social enterprise. Men together produce a human environment ... Solitary human being is being on the animal level .. ' Lacking 'the necessary biological means to provide stability', the human organism, quite unlike the Romantic hero, seeks social order to ward off chaos.

The three processes of 'externalisation', 'objectivation' and 'internalisation' together produce the human dialectic: Society is a human product. Society is an objective reality. Man is a social product. In this context it becomes clear that to reduce man to a passive cipher where languages and systems of signs interact is to focus arbitrarily on only the last stages of the dialectic. However, it could be argued that the abstraction of the model invalidates it. Society and its conventions pre-date any relationship of A and B we can Chekhov: A Structuralist Study 34 know, and Berger himself admits that 'society is an historical entity that extends temporally beyond any individual biography ...

72 Thus though there are Gods and heroes in BaJazet, they betray the presence of quite another genre-the 'historical play', not tragedy. 44 Chekhov: A Structuralist Study In the former the structure is characterised by a fusion of the hero, the world and the Gods; in the latter, by their opposition. g. et are reduced to more fundamental units and related to other minimal units of the genre's structure). It would seem, then, that a sociological structuralism can be a genuinely structuralist undertaking by Culler's own definition, and it is this kind of structuralism (a subsumption ofGoldmann's genetic structuralism within the sociology of knowledge) which will be adopted in the analysis of Chekhov.

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