Skip to main content

Marxist Criticism

  • Chapter
  • 244 Accesses

Abstract

Marxist literary theory starts from the assumption that literature must be understood in relation to historical and social reality as interpreted from a Marxist standpoint. The fundamental Marxist postulate is that the economic base of a society determines the nature and structure of the ideology, institutions and practices (such as literature) that form the superstructure of that society. The most direct form of Marxist criticism, what has been called ‘vulgar’ Marxism, takes the view that there is a straightforward deterministic relation between base and superstructure, so that literary texts are seen as causally determined by the economic base. The selection from Christopher Caudwell’s Illusion and Reality adopts this position in discussing Victorian poetry.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Further Reading

  • Walter Benjamin, Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt and trans. Harry Zohn (London, 1970).

    Google Scholar 

  • Peter Demetz, Marx, Engels, and the Poets: Origins of Marxist Criticism, trans. Jeffrey L. Sammons (Chicago, 1967).

    Google Scholar 

  • Terry Eagleton, Marxism and Literary Criticism (London, 1976).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Fredric Jameson, Marxism and Form: Twentieth-Century Dialectical Theories of Literature (Princeton, N.J., 1971).

    Google Scholar 

  • Georg Lukács, The Historical Novel, trans. Hannah and Stanley Mitchell (London, 1962).

    Google Scholar 

  • Ronald Taylor (ed.), Aesthetics and Politics (London, 1977).

    Google Scholar 

  • René Wellek, Four Critics: Croce, Valéry, Lukács, and Ingarden (Seattle, 1981).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Copyright information

© 1988 Macmillan Publishers Limited

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Newton, K.M. (1988). Marxist Criticism. In: Newton, K.M. (eds) Twentieth-Century Literary Theory. Palgrave, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-19486-5_7

Download citation