This article examines Vsevolod Garshin's 1883 story "The Red Flower" and Chekhov's 1888 story "An Attack of Nerves" in light of contemporaneous work on diagnostic classificatory systems by the German neurologist Paul Julius Möbius and psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin. By situating these Russian stories within a German psychodiagnostic context, rather than seeing them in the tradition of the French experimental novel, it becomes possible to understand these stories not as single instances of illness revealing truth, but as narratives that simultaneously take on diagnosis in its social, medical and legal instantiations. Reading Chekhov's and Garshin's stories in this way opens up a new interpretive possibility: that diagnosis and self-diagnosis could form a model for a creative restructuring concerned less with "proof" than with multiple overlapping narratives of identification. Chekhov's and Garshin's tales illuminate how and when the question of what illness "reveals" can be subordinated to what reveals illness.


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pp. 277-302
Launched on MUSE
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