The Contribution of Marxism in Literary Criticism

Topics: Marxism, Sociology, Literary criticism Pages: 10 (3191 words) Published: August 12, 2011

It is evident that Marxism has made great contribution in the study and criticism of Literature, there is need to explain a little bit on Marxism before we discuss its contribution.

Marxism is a social and political theory based on the works of Karl Marx and his followers, associated with the socialist and communist movements, these works mainly are Manifesto of the Communist Party and the German Ideology.

It should be understood that Marx never formulated a complete literary or aesthetic theory, but he laid down the foundation to the emergence of Marxist literary critics, to mention only few ideas which we think are very important in the study and criticism of literature are:

The history of any society is characterized by the history of the class and class struggle,that means oppressor and oppressed always are in constant opposition.

The ruling class or those who own capital tends to perpetuate self interests and exploitation, with the help of ideological instruments and coercive instruments, all these make possible the maintenance of the status qua.

Necessity of violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie for the sway of proletariat, this means that, proletariat can take power only through the use of force and not through peaceful means, therefore the oppressed people should get prepared for the revolution which need to be carried out by themselves.

Law, morality and religion for Marx, are so many bourgeoisie prejudices behind which hark in ambush just as many bourgeoisie interests, therefore all these are should not be trusted at all,and once the working class takes an upper hand are to make sure all these are destroyed.

Another idea is concerned with the role of ideology, as for him ideology is made of false consciousnesses and its role is to disguise the realities in the society. The ruling class control the means of production and superstructure, so the ideology is made to work on the ruling class’s interests.

Consciousness, ideals, conceptions are produced by men depending on the material activity, intercourse, mode of production, and language of real life, of a single individual as well as the whole society, due to this Karl Marx argued that circumstance are made and can be changed by, also the nature of an individual is determined by material condition.

After considering the basic ideas given by Karl Marx and hiss followers, it should be understood that Marxism is not one, but several branches of which attempts to understand the relations between the literary text and the social world, recognizing that Literature is a process and that the social world involves contexts of production and those of reception.

Apart from that, all Marxists critiques agree on the fact that Literature should be analyses in

in historical and materialist terms or in other words , as an integral part of a social structure resting on economic foundation.

The following individuals are key figure on Marxism as a theory of literary criticism: Georg Lukas who ha contributed a lot on realism, Theodor Adorn o who came with the idea of culture industry, Pierre Macherey who has contributed on literature as one form of production and Walter Benjamin who explained the need to politicize art.

Every individual here is Marxist with different position from the other,sometimes arguing against his fellow Marxist critic, and among the most significant issue which has led the divergence among the Marxist is realism, where by for example Lukas consider realism as the representation of social world exactly as it is but for Theodor Adorn o, although he agree that realism aim to reflect the social reality but is not the exact reality, therefore there is need to supplement the literary text as there is a lot of information left out by write, this is intentionally or unintentionally.

The following are the contribution of Marxism on the study and and criticism...

References: Eagleton,T.(1997),Literary Theory:An Introduction,oxford:Blackwell Publisher Ltd
Rice,P. And Patricia, W.(eds.) (2001), Modern Literary Theory : A Reader,Easton Road-London: H odder Headline Group.
Riv-kin, J.and Ryan, M.(1998),Introduction: “Formalism” In Riv-kin, J. and Ryan,M.(eds)Literary Theory: An Anthology,USA:Blackwell Publishers.
Literary Criticism(2009). In Encyclopedia Britannica.2009.Encyclopedia Britannica Online retried on11, November 2009
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