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A semiotic analysis of the short stories of Leonid Andreyev, 1900-1909

Hutchings, Stephen Charles (1986) A semiotic analysis of the short stories of Leonid Andreyev, 1900-1909. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis applies the techniques of semiotic analysis to a selection of short stories by Leonid Andreyev in an attempt to offer one answer to the problems of categorising Andreyev's unique art and placing it within a literary-evolutionary perspective. The semiotic method was chosen because of its ability both to assimilate literary texts to the supra-individual processes with which it works, and at the same time to delineate an author's particular contribution to these processes. Drawing on a range of literary theory from early Russian Formalism onwards, the study proceeds from one level to another according to a principle of "degree of abstraction", so that each level constitutes firstly an independent account of Andreyev's texts in itself, and secondly one stage in an overall analysis. The analysis at each level pinpoints, in its own terms, a series of semiotic tensions or clashes as being at the heart of Andreyev's literary system. Conflict within his stories between the principles of poetry and prose, metaphor and metonymy, 'discourse' and 'story' and between codes of allegory and codes of reference are among the major tensions highlighted. These tensions are in turn used to account for the fantastic element in Andreyev's stories (tension and ambiguity being the key features of Fantastic literature as defined by many literary theoreticians).The unique, Andreyevan version of the Fantastic is viewed as an index of Andreyev's position in literary evolution at a point of transition between an older, authoritative, transitive mode of narration and a more recent, non-authoritative mode which has come to dominate much twentieth-century literature. The final reference-point for all these tensions is demonstrated to be a shift in modern culture as a whole towards a more impersonal. Mythic thought-system, a shift at the centre of which the art of Leonid Andreyev can be convincingly placed. The material drawn upon includes, in addition to the corpus of Andreyev stories specified, a wide range of works by Andreyev's contemporaries and also the hitherto unexploited draft-manuscripts to a number of Andreyev stories held in the Hoover Institution, U.S.A.A Glossary of the most commonly used theoretical terms is provided at the end of the study.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1986
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Feb 2013 13:47

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