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Huss, R. (1979). Mourning and Melancholia in Two Tales by Chekhov. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 6:201-207.

(1979). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 6:201-207

Mourning and Melancholia in Two Tales by Chekhov

Roy Huss


One chief aspect of Chekhov's characters, whether treated comically or tragically, is that they are constantly concerned with the problem of grief and mourning. The more humorous ones exhibit their bereavement like a badge to gain attention, while the more pathetic ones succumb to its paralysing effect on their will to live and love.

Two tales, Misery and Rothschild's Fiddle, illustrate the many levels and nuances of grief with which this author concerns himself, ranging from the pain that seeks immediate relief in mourning to the deeply repressed sense of loss that is found in melancholia and depression. Freud's classic paper on 'Mourning and Melancholia' (as well as the more recent work of the object-relations theorists) not only throws light on the emotional complexity of these two tales

but also illuminates Chekhov's major plays, in which the inability of characters to complete the work of mourning—both for the death of an individual and the passing of an era—constitutes a key theme.

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