Marxist Criticism of the English Novel: Arnold Kettle’s An Introduction to the English Novel and Raymond Williams’s The English Novel from Dickens to Lawrence
Although not only Edmund Wilson and The Partisan Review but even such formalists as Kenneth Burke and Dorothy Van Ghent approached the novel with a leftist political bias and included an ideological component in their critical perspective, Marxist criticism has not had a profound effect on traditional novel criticism in England and America. In this chapter I shall discuss two quite different figures: Arnold Kettle and Raymond Williams. For both, literature is related to the society that produced it. The two most significant Marxist critics of the English novel, they show both the expected focus on evaluating the degree to which a work mirrors a particular concept of reality. But they are also interested in the infinite variety and creativity of the artist. While the main focus of Marxist criticism is on art as representation of the socio-economic forces and the effects of those forces on human life, that is by no means the exclusive concern of Kettle or even Williams. Kettle’s non-theoretical and less ideological Marxism is roughly similar to that of Wilson and The Partisan Review circle, whereas Williams represents a more ideological and theoretical strain Marxism that owes much to European Marxists such as Adorno, Althusser, Goldmann, and Gramsci.
KeywordsMoral Significance Class Struggle Marxist Theory Dialectical Materialism Great Tradition
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