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Diatkine, G. (2014). Une psychanalyste lit Tchékov [A Psychoanalyst Reads Chekhov] Annie Anargyros L'Harmattan, Paris, 2010; 178 pp; €17.00. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 95(1):161-163.

(2014). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 95(1):161-163

Book and Journal Reviews

Une psychanalyste lit Tchékov [A Psychoanalyst Reads Chekhov] Annie Anargyros L'Harmattan, Paris, 2010; 178 pp; €17.00

Review by:
Gilbert Diatkine

In this book, Annie Anargyros, who is a member of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society (SPP) and already the author of a study on Leo Tolstoy (Anargyros, 1999) which has attracted attention, offers us a psychoanalytic reading of the plays and short stories of Anton Chekhov. She uses a psychoanalytic method whose secret she has gleaned from Proust: the true work of art always gives its reader or its spectator the means to ‘read in himself’. If the reader is an analyst, the work of art allows him or her to pursue their own self-analysis. They can then share with the public the best understanding they have obtained from the work. Annie Anargyros' thinking proceeds associatively from a biographical fact to a play, from a play to a short story, from a tale to an aspect of pre-revolutionary Russian society, from Chekhov to Tolstoy, and then to Kafka, thereby offering a fresh perspective on the oeuvre.

We more readily associate Chekhov with nostalgia than with that murderous depression that psychiatrists call melancholia, but Annie Anargyros reveals the violence pervading his work. It may escape the reader and spectator but Chekhov himself was well aware of it: “I make all the action go peacefully and quietly, but at the end I give the spectator a slap in the face” (cf. Chekhov, 1966, Letter to his brother Alexander, between 10-12 October 1887). The charm of Chekhov's plays is such that one easily forgets that they almost all end in suicide. The Cherry Orchard (1904) ends only with the confinement of Firs, the old manservant who is forgotten and left behind in the abandoned country house, but the trauma of the drowned child haunts all the characters of the drama.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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