Marxist criticism

Discipline: Art

(1930- )

Prominent exponents include: CHRISTOPHER CAUDWELL (1907-1937), WALTER BENJAMIN (1892-1940), GEORG LUKACS (1885-1971), THEODOR W ADORNO (1903-1969), RAYMOND WILLIAMS (1921-1988), PIERRE MACHEREY (1938- ), FREDERIC JAMESON, TERRY EAGLETON.

A number of critical approaches based on the dialectical materialism of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and other Marxist thinkers, notably Louis Althusser (1918-1990).

All proceed by relating literature to the political, economic and social circumstances of its production.

Soviet and early Western 'vulgar' or 'mechanical' Marxist criticism viewed literature as an expression and documentation of class interest. Another tradition sees literature as uniquely free of the ideology which pervades discourse.

Modern Marxist criticism operates with a more sophisticated view.

T Eagleton, Marxism and Literary Criticism (London, 1976)
M A Rose, Karl Marx and the Visual Arts (Cambridge, 1984)


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