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Chapter 22 Marxist Theory and Criticism-II

You already know about the growth and expansion of Marxist theory and criticism. You have learnt that in Marxist criticism social class and class relations play an important part in analysis. Marxists theorists believe that the way we think and experience the world is conditioned by the way the economy is organized. In this chapter we will learn about some other key figures of this school.

New Left Marxism: Raymond Wi iams! Terry "a# eton! and $redric %ameson The resurgence of Marxist criticism in Britain was chiefly due to the !"# troubles $the country%s conflict with Ireland& and by the constant inflow of continental ideas. The phenomenal popularity of New Left Review 'ournal since !"( ) too had an impact on the British intellectuals. Raymond Wi iams and C& t&re *aymond +illiams $ !, -##& seminal work is Culture and Society 1780-1950 $ !.#& in which attempts to theorize culture as a whole way of life. /ere he interprets certain key words such as 0industry%) 0democracy%) 0class%) 0art%) and 0literature%) and argued how meanings change with the passage of time. +illiams also introduced a much-discussed term 1structure of feeling2 which he means as a combination of sympathetic observation and an attempt at imaginative identification. In other words) he used it to refer to the lived experience of people within a particular cultural context. /is perspectives were developed in studies of drama) the novel) television) and more theoretical works $also see +illiams% Key Concepts&. /is early works are3 Readin and Criticis! $ !.(&) "ra!a fro! #$sen to %liot $ !.,& and "ra!a in &erfor!ance $ !.4&. +illiams used his notion of 1structure of feeling2 to oppose concepts such as 1base2 and 1superstructure2 in his essay 1Base and 5uperstructure in Marxist 6ultural Theory2) in &ro$le!s in 'aterialis! and Culture $ !#(&.

It was with the publication of 'ar(is! and Literature $ !77& that he began to characterize his work as Marxist. +illiams approached literature from an interdisciplinary Marxist perspective. /e examined ways in which class hierarchy was reflected in literature. In )*e Lon Revolution) +illiams famously distinguishes between 6ulture $capital 6& and culture $lower-case c&) where 6ulture is 1high culture2) a sum total of civilization%s greatest moral and aesthetic achievements $as seen in the works of 8.*. 9eavis and Matthew :rnold&. The obvious agenda of having 6ulture is to maintain the distinction between 1high brow2 and 1low brow)2 in other words) to maintain social class. +illiams% agenda was to counterpose this view by proposing a concept of culture $lower-case c& in terms of the social. 8or +illiams) culture is not limited to those ideas or aesthetics) which are supposed to be the high points of civilization. Instead) culture includes all products of human activity) such as language) social) political) and religious ideas and institutions $see his essay 1;rama in a ;ramatised 5ociety2&. In 'ar(is! and Literature $ !77& +illiams concentrates on historiographical issues) arguing that the cultural analyst must recognize the complex interactions that occur within historical contexts. /e gave a definite term to his position) 1cultural materialism)2 clearly articulated in 1<otes on Marxism.2 Terry "a# eton $ !4=- & expanded the concepts of :lthusser and Macherey into his view that a literary text is a special kind of production in which ideological discourse) described as any system of mental representations of lived experience) is reworked into a specifically literary discourse. In recent years >agleton has been dealing with ideology in literature) of concepts derived from deconstruction and from 9acan%s version of 8reudian psyc*oanalysis+ Terry >agleton%s Marxism is more overt than that of his teacher and fellow Briton) *aymond +illiams. /e started off with a pro'ect to reconcile Marxism and 6atholicism) and the scholarly debates found a platform in a magazine called Slant. In Criticis! and #deolo y) >agleton examines a series of novels from ?eorge >liot to ;. /. 9awrence and demonstrates the interrelations between ideology and literary forms. /is Rape of Clarissa $ !#,& is a rereading of *ichardson%s novel through the prisms of socialism and feminism. /is essay) 16apitalism) Modernism and @ostmodernism2 $in New Left Review) !#.& addresses 8redric Aameson%s essay 1@ostmodernism) or the 6ultural 9ogic of 9ate 6apitalism.2 >agleton is vehement in his argument that postmodernism does not offer a satisfactory critiBue of contemporary society. Instead of

the postmodernist art devices) >agleton expresses his admiration for the classic modernist and avant-garde art) derived from his regard for practical socialism and his nostalgia for bourgeois humanism. In ,eat*cliff and t*e -reat ,un er $ !!.&) >agleton sets Bronte%s .ut*erin ,ei *ts in the context of the Irish famine and the situation of Irish exiles. /is Literary )*eory3 /n #ntroduction $,((,& remains one of the most successful academic book of literary criticism and theory. Taking off in the British <ew 9eft critical tradition of 9eavis-andMarx) >agleton was soon drawn towards the >uropean structuralist and post-structuralist theory) especially the works of 9ouis :lthusser and @ierre Macherey. /owever) >agleton%s growing disillusionment with the political climate in the +estern democracies in the late !7(s caused him to produce works concerned with heterogeneity and cultural politics. ;uring the last few years) >agleton has become a strong opponent of liberalism. /e particularly attacks 6hristopher /itchens) Martin :mis and *ichard ;awkins and has polemicized against those who see religious faith to be incompatible with science and reason.

"a# etons ma'or wor(s 5hakespeare in 5ociety $ !"7& >xiles and >migres $ !7(& Myths of @ower $ !7.& 6riticism and Ideology $ !7"& Marxism and 9iterary 6riticism $ !7"& 9iterary Theory3 :n Introduction $ !#=& :gainst the ?rain $ !#"& The Ideology of the :esthetic $ !!(&

Ideology3 :n Introduction $ !! & :fter Theory $,((=& *eason) 8aith) and *evolution3 *eflections on the ?od ;ebate $,((!&

$redric %ameson )*+,-- . Cne the most eclectic of Marxist critics) Aameson%s first published book was his doctorate thesis on Aean-@aul 5artre) and suggested his immersion in certain key >uropean and academic traditions. :fter a seBuence of studies3 :dorno) Ben'amin) Marcuse) Bloch) 9ukacs) and 5artre) Aameson presents the outline of a dialectical criticism in his 'ar(is! and 0or!+ /owever) his analyses are globally attuned) the example of which can be found in his volume )*e Cultures of -lo$ali1ation.

Main works Marxism and 8orm3 Twentieth-6entury ;ialectical Theories of 9iterature The @olitical Dnconscious3 <arrative as a 5ocially 5ymbolic :ct 5ignatures of the Eisible 9ate Marxism3 :dorno or the @ersistence of the ;ialectic @ostmodernism) or) the 6ultural 9ogic of 9ate 6apitalism The ?eopolitical :esthetic3 6inema and 5pace in the +orld 5ystem Brecht and Method :rchaeologies of the 8uture3 The ;esire 6alled Dtopia and Cther 5cience 8ictions The Modernist @apers Aameson on Aameson3 6onversations on 6ultural Marxism

Ealences of the ;ialectic

Aameson uses a range of theories including structuralism) deconstruction) archetypal criticism) allegorical interpretations) and much more for critical interpretation of a literary text. In )*e &olitical 2nconscious3 Narrative as a Socially Sy!$olic /ct $ !# &) Aameson conflates seemingly incompatible viewpoints as the medieval theory of fourfold levels of meaning in the alle orical interpretation of the Bible) the arc*etypal criticis! of <orthrop 8rye) structuralist criticis!) 9acan%s reinterpretations of 8reud) se!iotics4 and deconstruction. These modes of criticism) Aameson asserts) are applicable at various stages of the critical interpretation of a literary workF but Marxist criticism) GsubsumesG all the other Ginterpretive modes)G by retaining their positive findings within a Gpolitical interpretation of literary texts.G :lso worth considering is Aameson%s reading of Aoseph 6onrad%s Lord 5i! where he points that each of the interpretations applied to the text---impressionistic) 8reudian) existential----actually expresses something in the text. Aameson%s greatest success lies in his debates about the postmodern) where we find his strong epistemological understanding of narrative. 8or Aameson) postmodernism is not merely a trend or a fashion) but rather a logic in &ost!odernis!4 or4 t*e Cultural Lo ic of Late Capitalis!. The vast canvas of the book includes theory) literature) film) art) architecture and the media ) along with a much appreciated discussion of the Bonaventure /otel in 9os :ngeles. +hile referring to /itchcock%s &syc*o) Aameson terms it as 0the shower-curtain syndrome% as he discusses the film gothic. In his 1Modernism and Imperialism2 $ !!(& ) Aameson generalizes about imperialism using three Buotations from >.M. 8oster%s /oward%s >nd and some comments by Eirginia +oolf. Aameson%s political commitment to Marxism is more or less along the lines of >uropean tradition than :merican) where he believes that there is little in contemporary :merican art or culture) which is worth salvaging.

/0I1 . :nswer the following3 i. +hat is the central idea in *aymond +illiams% )*e Lon RevolutionH ii. +hat are Terry >agleton%s views on liberalismH iii. Briefly explain +illiams%s concept of 1structure of feeling.2 ,. 0ill in t*e $lan6s3 i. Terry >agleton%s IIIIII is a rereading of *ichardson%s novel through the prisms of socialism and feminism. ii. 8or Aameson) postmodernism is not merely a trend or a fashion) but rather a III . iii. In 777777+ +illiams concentrates on historiographical issues.

2nswer (ey ,. i- Rape of Clarissa ii.-logic F iii.- Marxism and 9iterature

3&##ested readin#s: . >agleton) Terry $ed.&. Ray!ond .illia!s3 Critical &erspectives. Boston)M:3 <ortheastern Dniversity @ress) !#!. ,. /awkes) ;avid. #deolo y. <Y3 *outledge) ,((=. =. /iggins) Aohn. *aymond +illiams3 Literature4 'ar(is!4 and Cultural 'aterialis!. 9ondon3 *outledge) !!!. 3&##ested we4sites: http3JJpubpages.unh.eduJKdml=J##(williams.htm http3JJen.wikipedia.orgJwikiJ<ewL9eft http3JJnewleftreview.orgJIJ .,Jterry-eagleton-capitalism-modernism-andpostmodernism http3JJnewleftreview.orgJIIJ, Jfredric-'ameson-future-city