Problem of Genre and the Quest for Justice in Chekhov’s the Island of Sakhalin

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This study presents a newly detailed account of Chekov's trip to Sakhalin, draws together scarce secondary material concerning the book, and offers new insights into the problematic aspects of genre in light of the most recent critical and theoretical developments. Meanwhile, following Chekhov's remarkable story, the author connects the past to the present in a variety of spheres, including Russians' attitudes towards governance and the continuing geopolitical sensitivity of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands.


". . . explores the meaning of Chekhov's far-too-often overlooked visit to Sakhalin. The journey was one of the most meaningful events in the great writer's life. . . . Chekhov was also forced to confront how his country appeared to the outside world, wrestling with the message of a previous Siberian visitor's travels – those of the American adventurer George Kennan. Ryfa's rich study carefully compares and contrasts Kennan's and Chekhov's efforts to penetrate Siberia and its penal system, revealing a great deal about prison life, the nineteenth century European mind, Kennan, and Chekhov in the process.: - Blair Ruble, Director, Kennan Institute, The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations, Preface, Note on Transliteration, Introduction

1.The Reasons for the Journey

2.The History of the Journey: Across Siberia; On Devil's Island

3.An Overview of Critical Responses

4.Toward the Definition of a New Genre

5.The Travel Dimension of The Island of Sakhalin

6.Chekhov & Science at the end of the Century: Chekhov and Darwin; Chekhov and Kennan; Chekhov's Polemics with Official Reports

7.Chekhov and Dostoevsky: The Dialogue of Two Epochs: Formal Textual Aspects; Specific Penological Issues

8.Chekhov's Infernal Island: The Literary Dimension: Chekhov's Inferno - The Circles of Hell; The Census; ‘Yegor's Story'

Conclusion; Bibliography; Index

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