Time category in Anton Chekhov’s deep poetics


The paper suggests that the birth of an artwork (artistic world, image) as an open dynamic system can be described through the axiomatics of the theory of metabolic time. Alexander Levich’s theory of metabolic time and Nikolai Kozyrev’s theory of generated time flows, describing universal laws of the birth of the new, allow for the rethinking of the main categories of literature and aesthetics (time, space, traditions, rhythm, psychology of creativity and perception, etc.). The paper takes the rhythmic fractal as a natural referential unit of time in literature, as well as the analogue of the generating fluent in arts. The first part of the paper introduces Chekhov’s “depth poetics” through a body of research, addressing the problems of artistic creativity and the genesis of an artistic work as a new integral space–time unit. The second part of the paper brings “depth poetics” into a larger theoretical context: the theory of artistic creativity by Gej (Hudozhestvennost’ literatury. Poetika. Stil’. [The artistic quality in literature. Poetics. Style], Nauka Publ., Moscow, 1975) and the theory of metabolic time by Alexander Levich. The final part of the paper, “Rhythmic fractals,” draws the conclusion concerning the perspective of studying the wave nature of “generating fluent.” Using Chekhov’s play The Cherry Orchard as an illustrative example, the rhythmic fractal—“the sound of a burst string”—is considered. In Kozyrev’s formulation, it is the “compression of the flow.” The rhythmic source itself (standard fluent) is beyond the limits of the play and can only be found through an in-depth analysis of the neo-mythological structure of the Hamlet–Macbeth code.

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  1. 1.

    About the antinomy of art Gej wrote: “The imagined is not equal to the expressed, as the functions and qualities of figurative development of the world differ, but one thing necessarily needs the other” (Gej 1975, p. 156).


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The investigation was conducted at the A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences with the financial support of the Russian Science Foundation (RSF, the project № 17-18-01432-П).

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Correspondence to Olga Shalygina.

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Shalygina, O. Time category in Anton Chekhov’s deep poetics. Stud East Eur Thought 72, 253–267 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11212-020-09390-2

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  • Depth poetics
  • Ontology of the artistic rhythm
  • Theory of metabolic time
  • Methodology of interdisciplinary research