Dialectics in the creative process of A.P. Chekhov

UDC 331.102.31+101.8+929
Publication date: 02.05.2023
International Journal of Professional Science №5-2023

Dialectics in the creative process of A.P. Chekhov

Stelzer E.M.,
Stelzer M.S.,

1. student,
V.I. Vernadsky Crimean Federal University,
2. junior Researcher,
SBIC of the Republic of Crimea
«Crimean Literary and Artistic Memorial Museum»,
Abstract: This article is devoted to the study of the life and work of A.P. Chekhov. Using the historical and biographical method, the author reveals the manifestations of dialectical laws in the writer's work. The author concludes that there is a dialectical connection between events in the writer's life and work.
Keywords: dialectics, creativity, biography, A.P. Chekhov


The reader’s acquaintanceship with the work of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov begins, as a rule, with short stories, continues with immersion in the novels, and over time, the reader touches the writer’s dramaturgy. His plays require the reader to dive into the historical context of the plot, the psychology of the characters, but also some understanding of the views and values of the writer himself. To do this, a caring, interested reader have to acquaint with the biography of A.P. Chekhov, memories of people close to him, contemporaries, plunges into the correspondence of the writer, his relatives, notebooks, etc. At some point, the inquisitive mind of the reader is overwhelmed with a huge variety of diverse facts from the life of Anton Pavlovich, memories, opinions, judgments, impressions about him, which makes it difficult to form ideas about his work and life. Then the reader seeks help from specialists: philologists, historians, literary and theatric critics, etc. He is surprised to find a staggeringly large amount of specialized literature and scientific publications, which can be very difficult to understand. Many publications devoted to the life and work of A.P. Chekhov’s have an idealized, mythological, and, sometimes, ideological character. [1;2;3;4] This article is offered by authors to the attention of such readers, the purpose of which is to assist the reader in forming ideas about the writer and his work.

Objects and methods of research

In this paper, we will try from the standpoint of dialectics to consider the work of A.P. Chekhov in his connection with the events of the writer’s life. We chose dialectics for a reason, since it allows us to describe the genre dynamics of creativity most adequately for the purpose of our research and to identify its possible connection with events in the writer’s life, the formation and changes of his worldview. We do not consider the personal side of the writer’s life to achieve the purpose of this study.

We will clarify the definition of dialectics and its laws for unity of views and common understanding of the subsequent presentation. To do this, we will use the «New Philosophical Encyclopedia» of the Russian Academy of Sciences, where we find: «DIALECTICS (Greek: διαλεκτική – the art of conversation, argument) is a logical form and a universal way of reflexive theoretical thinking, having as its subject the contradictions of its conceivable content.» [5] The principles of such thinking (called the laws of dialectics): the law of unity and struggle of opposites, the law of the transition of quantity into quality, as well as the law of negation of negation. [6; 7]

Experimental part

Anybody knows from psychology and pedagogy that formation of an individual’s character and worldview takes place in childhood. In Anton Pavlovich’s childhood and youth, their foundation were formed and laid.

Most of the biographers of the writer point to the rather harsh conditions of his childhood life, due to constant need. They describe the difficult conditions of the writer’s school life, paying attention to the rude and often negligent attitude on the part of teachers. In the Chekhov’s family, along with pronounced religiosity, which took the form of exhausting singing lessons in the church choir, the father of the family (Pavel Egorovich) also practiced physical punishments disproportionate (as Anton Pavlovich later recalled) to children’s offenses. Apparently, it was the combination of Christian ideas and the violence surrounding the child, and sometimes the physical suffering he endured, that gave rise to the unity and struggle of opposites, the contradiction that contributed to his development. Violence in any form as a denial of Christian love for others caused a rejection in the child, and subsequently an explicit denial – rejection of this denial. Sincere humor, as the only possible protective reaction for a child in the cruel world of adults, as the future writer matured and accumulated life experience, gradually acquired qualitatively new features – the features of satire, which his biographers also mention. The people surrounding Anton Pavlovich at that time did not differ in subtlety of mind, elegance of style, or vastness of outlook, so books, reading and literature were quite natural, almost the only outlet for him, and subsequently a way to realize his nascent talent. Thus, Anton Pavlovich enters adulthood as a person who already has certain character traits: aversion to violence, a sense of humor (bordering on satire), possessing a certain observation and attentiveness, brought up, apparently, in the process of trading in his father’s shop. [8;9;3]

It would be a mistake on our part to think that the influence of the family on the life and work of the writer was limited only with the period of his childhood and youth. Without any doubts, all his life ties of kinship tightly bound Anton Pavlovich with all his brothers and his younger sister, Maria Pavlovna. She subsequently played a huge role in the preservation of Anton Pavlovich’s cultural heritage – she managed to organize his museum in Yalta’s house. The influence of relatives on the writer’s work was ambiguous: on the one hand, they helped him – supported him, but at the same time, on the other hand, they hindered him, burdening the writer with all sorts of everyday (but most often financial) problems. [10;9]

Relationships with women also played a separate and significant role in the writer’s life. The first infatuation and intimate experiences, the joy and disappointment of fleeting meetings, the joys, doubts and mental anguish of a long romance, finally, an extraordinary marriage – all this took place in the writer’s life, and his minds and reflection we find in his works and in numerous correspondence of Anton Pavlovich. [10;9;11]

Publishers and colleagues also formed a stable circle of communication of the writer. Relationships with colleagues were mainly competitive and were not devoid of human passions, but Anton Pavlovich built relations with publishers on a mutually beneficial basis. This basis was sometimes seriously testing for strength with the thirst for quick profits of publishers on the one hand and the perfectionist mood of the author, which required more time to «finish» the text on the other. «Escapes» on all kinds of trips, often together with friends, and sometimes with the publisher (Suvorin A.S.), brought Anton Pavlovich both an opportunity to rest from the troubles and difficulties of everyday life, saturated with philistinism, and new impressions, acquaintances and plots for his future works. [10;9]

Undoubtedly, studying at Moscow University (1879-1884) had a significant influence on the formation of the writer’s worldview. Anton Chekhov had mentioned this in his autobiography: «I have no doubt that medical studies had a serious impact on my literary activity; they significantly expanded the field of my observations, enriched me with knowledge, the true value of which for me as a writer can only be understood by someone who is a doctor himself; they also had a guiding influence, and probably due to proximity to medicine, I have managed to avoid many mistakes. Familiarity with the natural sciences, with the scientific method, always kept me on my guard, and I tried, where possible, to think with scientific data, and where it was impossible, I preferred not to write at all. I will note by the way that the conditions of artistic creativity do not always allow full agreement with scientific data; it is impossible to depict death from poison on stage as it actually happens …». [12] It was the scientific approach and, in particular, classes in anatomy and forensic medicine that gave Anton Pavlovich that wonderful creative method that combined observation, attention to detail and accuracy of describing what he saw. This allowed the writer to dissect the social reality surrounding him, avoiding literary clichés and stereotypes in his works. [10] However, such accuracy in reflecting reality necessarily generated contradictions with the views of people around the writer, who did not have such abilities, or who did not think much about their existence. Apparently, repeated quarrels and scandals with real prototypes of the heroes of his humorous stories at the beginning of his creative career pushed the writer to abandon value judgments in his works. [9]

In addition to mastering the scientific approach, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov immersed himself in the university, and then in the social atmosphere of those years. The social and political life of the country at the end of the 19th century was full of changes and events – reforms and innovations followed one after another, famine, epidemics, social conflicts did not leave Russia alone. There was an increase in reactionary, revolutionary sentiments in society, the emergence of all kinds of radical political movements, parties, societies that implemented their ideas by terrorist and subversive methods of autocracy. In response, the order in the state was becoming tougher; censorship was getting stronger at that time. However, the names of Valther Weening (the initiator of the creation of the «Prison Care Society» in Russia) and F.P. Haass (1780-1853) (the «holy doctor», who took care of the fate of convicts) public still heard at that time. The «police hospital», which was opened by him in 1844, successfully existed in Moscow in the 2-nd half of the 19th century [13]. At the same time, the lawyer star A.F. Koni (1844-1927) ascended, who made a significant contribution to the development of medical deontology and ethics, as well as the judicial system in Russia. [14; 15]

The struggle of such opposites manifested in society leads to the fact that quantitative changes in the writer’s work turn into qualitative ones. Humor and satire in his works give way to a subtle, professional narrative, not devoid of humanistic overtones. Thus, the writer found his own way of resolving these contradictions, and his works acquired their own original and unique character. Undoubtedly, the influence of humanistic, Christian ideas we feel in the works of Anton Pavlovich. It is quite possible that the writer’s denial of their denial in society was one of the motives for his trip to Sakhalin Island. It was acquaintance and a reliable description of travel and life on the island that secured the writer’s tacit recognition as a «spiritual authority» in Russian society. [9]

An important stage in the work of Anton Pavlovich is his appeal to dramaturgy for the visualization of his works, the «revival» of their characters. Such a qualitative transition is quite natural, since the accumulated literary experience of the writer requires other more advanced, but also more complex methods for its implementation – methods of theatrical art. Denial of the only possible verbal form – the form of the text by referring to the theatrical form, having come across the absence at that time of adequate theatrical techniques for the embodiment of the writer’s idea. This required Anton Pavlovich to work more scrupulously on the texts of the plays, personal explanations for the actors, etc. Now the writer was able not only to verbal describe the pictures of what was happening in his narratives, but also to reproduce and model them in «life» – on stage. An artistic, writer’ text as a carrier of content receives the help of the language of theatrical, artistic form. The «struggle» of the text with the artistic image, the content with the form makes theatrical productions difficult, but fascinating for actors and directors and interesting for the public. [16; 17]

It is important to remember Anton Pavlovich’s associates, actors and directors of the theater who had stood at the origins of the writer’s dramatic fame: K.S. Stanislavsky, V.I. Nemirovich-Danchenko, O.L. Knipper, etc. Along with the form of the writer’s artistic works, their content also had changed. Anton Pavlovich’s plays acquired a complex, multi-layered character, the number of storylines increased with each character, followed by a certain ethical and moral subtext. The interweaving of these storylines introduced an element of the game into the communication of actors with the audience. Such innovations required new approaches from directors and actors, which resulted in the creation of K.S. Stanislavsky’s famous system – the «Stanislavsky System». It serves as the basis for the professional training of actors around the world for nowadays. [18]


In that way, in all periods of the writer’s life and work, there were manifestations of the laws of dialectics in a more or less explicit form. Relations with relatives, colleagues in the «writer’s workshop», with women, publishers, friends and friends were imbued with the spirit of its laws.

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, unfortunately, had lived only 44 years. We do not know what peaks of literature, drama, and maybe cinema he could have achieved if he had lived longer. This issue requires further study by concerned researchers of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov’s work in the future.


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