Identity and contrariety in chekhov's "the little joke" and

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This analysis of Chekhov's short story "The Little Joke" ("Shutochka") and the long-short story 4tThe Kiss" ("Potselui") postulates that when this writer's work is viewed as an epitome of modernity, that is, the last two and a half centuries of Western intellectual and artistic life, it is revealing to interpret his prose fiction by way of a poetics based on certain phe-nomenological and existentialist premises. According to this philosophical tradition, the non-human is identical with itself because it does not change. Conversely, the human is non-identical with itself because human beings constantly create themselves by means of their free choices and actions, and thus always alter and transcend themselves. The paradox of human identity and non-identity with oneself expresses also contrariety: If something is simultaneously identical and non-identical with itself, it is self-contradictory, ambivalent, and ambiguous. The main point of my analysis is to show that through various narrative techniques the major narrative levels in the "The Little Joke" and "The Kiss" such as characters, focalization, story and discourse, temporality, etc. are structured as contradictory because they are both identical and non-identical with themselves. The Little Joke" exemplifies this in a simple way, "The Kiss" in a complex manner.

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Knjizevna Smotra

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