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Border CrossingRussian Literature into Film$
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Alexander Burry and Frederick White

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474411424

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474411424.001.0001

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“A Vicious Circle”: Karen Shakhnazarov’s Ward no. 6

“A Vicious Circle”: Karen Shakhnazarov’s Ward no. 6

(p.121) Chapter 6 “A Vicious Circle”: Karen Shakhnazarov’s Ward no. 6
Border Crossing

Alexander Burry

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter explores Karen Shakhnazarov’s 2009 film of Chekhov’s “Ward no. 6,” which combines the story’s plot with “mockumentary” features, as the director includes interviews with patients from an actual mental institution. It is argued that the focus of these interviews on childhood trauma underscores the same theme in the story. This theme can be traced back to Dostoevskii’s depiction of suffering children in The Brothers Karamazov, and also reflects Chekhov’s knowledge of the degeneration theory circulating in the 1890s. Shakhnazarov’s depiction of the same tragic plot in contemporary times implies that the “hereditary taint,” with its violence and abuse from generation to generation, continues to affect Russian society today.

Keywords:   Chekhov, child abuse, cyclicality, degeneration theory, Dostoevskii, hereditary taint, mental illness, mockumentary, Shakhnazarov

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