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MARXIST CRITICISM 181

180 MALAPROPISM

who in .the ,~t~,empt to display a copious vocabulary said things such as "a progeny
But the genre also includes extended expressions of a complex evolution of fee-
of learnmg, as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile" d "h '
' lingful thought, as in the long elegy and the meditative ode. And within a lyric, th . 1 f ' an e IS
e very,rmeapp eo politeness." In an early radio comedy "The Easy Aces," Jane
the process of observation, thought, memory, and feeling is organized in a variety
Ac.e, an mveterate malaproplst, remarked: "He got so excited, he ran around like a
of ways. For example, in "love lyrics" the speaker may simply express an enam-
chIcken wIth ItS hat off."
ored state of mind in an ordered form, as in Robert Bums' "0 my love's like a
red, red rose," and Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "How do I love thee? Let me manifest content: 290.
count the ways"; or may gallantly elaborate a compliment (Ben Jonson's "Drink
to me only with thine eyes"); or may deploy an argument to take advantage of manifesto: 213.
fleeting youth and opportunity (Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress," or
manuscripts: 30.
Shakespeare's first seventeen sonnets addressed to a male youth); or may express
a cool response to an importunate lover (Christina Rossetti's "No, thank you, Marchen (mer shen): 125 .
John"). In other kinds of lyrics the speaker manifests and celebrates a particular
disposition and set of values Oohn Milton's "L' Allegro" and "n Penseroso"); or Marxis~ criticism: Marxist criticism, in its diverse forms, grounds its theory and
expresses a sustained process of observation and meditation in the attempt to re- practICe on the economic and cultural theory of Karl Marx (1818-83) and his
solve an emotional problem (Wordsworth's "Ode: Intimations of Immortality," fellow-thmker Fnednch Engels (1820-95), and especially on the following claims:
Amold's "Dover Beach"); or is exhibited as making and justifying the choice of
a way oflife (yeats' "Sailing to Byzantium") . 1. In the la~t analysis, the ~vo.lving history of humankind, of its social groupings
In the original Greek, "lyric" signified a song rendered to the accompaniment an.d relatIOns, of Its .mstltutIOns, and of its ways of thinking are largely deter-
of a lyre . In some current usages, lyric still retains the sense of a poem written to mmed by t~e changmg mode of ItS "material production"-that is, of its over-
be set to music; the hymn, for example, is a lyric on a religious subject that is in- all econo~c orgamzatIOn for producing and distributing material goods.
tended to be sung. The adjectival form "lyrical" is sometimes applied to an ex- 2. Changes m the funda~ental mode of material production effect changes in the
pressive, song-like passage in a narrative poem, such as Eve's declaration of love class structure of a .soCIety, establishing in each era dominant and subordinate
to Adam, "With thee conversing I forget all time," in Milton's Paradise Lost, IV, classes that en~age m a. struggle for economic, political, and social advantage .
639-56. 3. Human conscIOusness IS constituted by an ideology-that is the b li f -
See genre for the broad distinction between the three major poetic classes of lues, and ways of thinking and feeling through which human' beings ep : s, .va
drama, narrative (or epic), and lyric, and also for the sudden elevation oflyric, in and ~y recourse to which they explain, what they take to be reality. An r~~:~~
the Romantic period, to the status of the quintessentially poetic mode . For sub- 0lgy IS, m complex ways, the product of the position and interests of a particular
classes of the lyric, see aubade, dramatic monologue, elegy, epithalamion, hymn, ode, c .ass .. In any hlstoncal era, the dominant ideology embodies, and serves to le-
sonnet. Refer to Nornun Maclean, "From Action to Image: Theories of the gltIrmze and perpetuate, the interests of the dominant economic and s 'al
Lyric in the 18th Century," in Critics and Criticism, ed. R . S. Crane (1952); class. OCI
Maurice Bowra, Mediaeval Love-Song (1961) ; Chaviva Hosek and Patricia Parker,
eds., Lyric Poetry: Beyond New Criticism (1985); David Lindley, Lyric (1985) ; Helen Ideology was not much discussed by Marx and Engels after The Ge
Vendler, The Music of What Happens (1988). .Ideology,
M 'whIch, . they
. rman
wrote jointly in 1845-46 ' but it ha s b ecome a k ey concept
For references to lyric in other entries, see pages 134, 235, 336. For types m arxIst CntI~ISm of literature and the other arts. Marx inherited the term
of lyric, see aubade; dramatic monologue; elegy; epithalamion; folk song; haiku; ode; from French philosophers of the late eighteenth century who us'e d I't t d '
the stud f h h ' 0 eSlgnate
. y 0 t e way t at all general concepts develop from particular sense
sonnet. perceptions.
w ' fIni the present era, "ideology" is used in a van'ety 0 f non- M arxIst '
machinery (in an epic): 98; 37. d:Ys, r~n~ng ~m a dero.gatory name for any set of political ideas that are held
th.~aoc hY an apph~d ngorously, to a neutral name for ways of perceiving and
magazines: 333 . m . ng t at are specIfic to an individual's race sex nationality educao'
ethmc group . In 1'ts d"IstmctIve
. 1y Marxist use the" reigm'ng I'de, l' on, or.
magic realism: 232 . , d b 1. ' 0 ogy m any era IS
conceIve to. e, u tImately, the product of its economic structure and the result-
malapropism: Malapropism is that type of solecism (the conspicuous and unin- mg class relatIOns and class interests. In a famed architectural m t h M
tended violation of standard diction or grammar) which mistakenly uses a word represented
. . Ideology as a "superstructure" 0 f W h IC' h th e a p socioeco-
e concurrent or, arx
in place of another that it resembles; the effect is usually comic. The term derives nOmIC system IS the "base." Friedrich Engels described ideology as "a false
from Mrs. Malaprop in Richard Brinsley Sheridan's comedy The Rivals (1775),
MARXIST CRITICISM 183
182 MARXIST CRITICISM

consciousness," and many later Marxists consider it to be constituted largely by While lauding nineteenth-century literary realism, Lukacs attacked modernist
. unconscious prepossessions that are illusory, in contrast to the "scientific" (that is, experimental writers as "decadent" instances of concern with the subjectivity of
Marxist) knowledge of the economic determinants, historical evolution, and the alienated individual in the fragmented world of our late stage of capitalism.
present constitution of the social world. A further claim is that, in t~e era of (See modernism.) He thereby inaugurated a vigorous debate among Marxist critics
capitalist economic organization that emerged in the West dunng the elghteenth about the political standing of formal innovators in twentieth-century literature.
century, the reigning ideology incorporates the interests of the dominant and In opposition to Lukacs, the Frankfurt School of German Marxists, especially
exploitative class, the "bourgeoisie," who own the means of productlon and Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, lauded modernist writers such as James
distribution, as opposed to the "proletariat," or wage-earning working class. Thls Joyce, Marcel Proust, and Samuel Beckett, proposing that their formal experi-
ideology, it is claimed, to those who live in and with it, seems a natural and ments, by the very fact that they fragment and disrupt the life they "reflect," es-
inevitable way of seeing, explaining, and dealing with the environing world, but tablish a distance and detachment that serve as an implicit critique-or yield a
in fact has the hidden function of legitimizing and maintaining the position, "negative knowledge"-of the dehumanizing institutions and processes of society
power, and economic interests of the ruling class. Bourge~is ideology is regarded under capitalism. Adomo and Horkheimer attempted, after World War II, to ex-
as both producing and permeating the social and cultural InstltutlOns, behefs,. and plain "why humanity, instead of entering into a truly human condition" (as
practices of the present era-including religion, morality, philosophy, pohtlcs, Marxists had predicted) "is sinking into a new kind of barbarism." See the entry
and the legal system, as well as (although in a less dlrect way) hterature and the critique, and refer to The Essential Frankfurt School Reader, ed. Andrew Arato and
Eike Gebhardt (1982), and for an authoritative history of the Frankfurt School,
other arts.
In accordance with some version of the views just outlined, a Marxist critic Martin Jay, The Dialectical Imagination (1996).
typically undertakes to explain the literature in any historical era, not as works cre- Two rather maverick German Marxists, Bertolt Brecht and Waiter Benjamin,
ated in accordance with timeless artistic criteria, but as "products" of the eco- who also supported modernist and nonrealistic art, have had considerable influ-
nomic and ideological determinants specific to that era. What some Marxist critics ence on non-Marxist as well as Marxist criticism. In his critical theory, and in his
themselves decried as "vulgar Marxism" analyzed a "bourgeois" literary work as in own dramatic writings (see epic theater), Bertolt Brecht rejected what he called the
direct correlation with the present stage of the class struggle and demanded that "Aristotelian" concept that a tragic play is an imitation of reality, with a unified
such works be replaced by a "social realism" that would represent the true reality plot and a universal theme that establishes an identification of the audience with
and progressive forces of our time; in practice, this usually turned out to be the the hero and produces a catharsis of the spectator's emotions. (See Aristotle, under
demand that literature conform to an official party line. More flexible Marxists, tragedy and plot.) Brecht proposes instead that the illusion of reality should be de-
on the other hand, building upon scattered comments on literature in Marx and liberately shattered by an episodic plot, by protagonists who do not attract the audi-
Engels themselves, grant that traditional literary works possess a degree of auton- ence's sympathy, by a striking theatricality in staging and acting, and by other ways
omy that enables some of them to transcend the prevailing bourgeois ideology of baring the artifice of drama so as to produce an "alienation effect" (see under dis-
sufficiently to represent (or in the frequent Marxist equivalent, to reflect) aspects tance and involvement). The result of such alienation, Brecht asserts, will be to jar audi-
of the "objective" reality of their time . (See imitation.) ences out of their passive acceptance of modern capitalist society as a natural way of
The Hungarian thinker Georg Lukacs, one of the most widely influential of hfe, Into an attltude not only (as in Adorno) of critical understanding of capitalist
Marxist critics, represents such a flexible view of the role of ideology. He pro- shortcomings, but of active cooperation with the forces of change.
posed that each great work ofliterature creates "its own world," which is unique Another notable critic, Walter Benjamin, was both an admirer of Brecht and
and seemingly distinct from "everyday reality." But masters of realism in the novel briefly an associate of the Frankfurt School. Particularly influential was Benjamin's
such as Balzac or Tolstoy, by "bringing to life the greatest possible richness of the attentlon to the effects of changing material conditions in the production of the
objective conditions of life," and by creating "typical" characters who manifest the arts, especially the recent developments of the mass media that have promoted he
essential tendencies and determinants of their epoch, succeed-often "in opposi- said, "a revol~tionary criticism of traditional concepts of art." In his essay "The
tion to [the author's) own conscious ideology"-in producing a fictional world Work of Art In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," Benjamin proposes that
which is a "reflection of life in the greatest concreteness and clarity and with all modem technical innovations such as photography, the phonograph, the radio,
its motivating contradictions." That is, the fictional world of such great writers and especially the cinema, have transformed the very concept and status of a
accords with the Marxist conception of the real world as constituted by class con- w~rk of art. Formerly an artist or author produced a work which was a single
flict, economic and social "contradictions," and the alienation of the individual object, regarded as the speClal preserve of the bourgeois elite, around which de-
under capitalism. (See bourgeois epic, under epic, and refer to Georg Lukacs, Writer veloped a quasi-religious "aura" of uniqueness, autonomy, and aesthetic value in-
and Critic and Other Essays, trans. 1970; the volume also includes Lukacs' useful dependent of any social function-an aura which invited in the spectator a passive
review of the foundational tenets of Marxist criticism, in "Marx and Engels on attltude of absorbed contemplation in the object itself (See aestheticism.) The new
Aesthetics. ") medla not only make possible the infinite and precise reproducibility of the
MARXIST CRITICISM 185
184 MARXIST CRITICISM

objects of art, but effect the production of works which, like the motion pictures, Between 1929 and 1935 the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci, while im-
. are specifically designed to be reproduced in multiple copies. Such modes of art, prisoned by the fascist government, wrote approximately thirty documents on
Benjamin argues, by destroying the mystique of the unique work of art as a sub- political, social, and cultural subjects, known as the "prison notebooks." Gramsci
ject for pure contemplation, make possible a radical role for works of art by open- maintains the original Marxist distinction between the economic base and the
ing the way to "the formulation of revolutionary demands in the politics of art." cultural superstructure, but replaces the claim that culture is a disguised "reflec-
(Benjamin's writings are available in Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, 4 vols., tion" of the material base with the concept that the relationship between the
2002-04. Useful collections of essays by the Marxist critics Luk:ics, Brecht, two is one of "reciprocity," or interactive influence. Gramsci places special em-
Adorno, and Horkheimer are R . Taylor, ed., Aesthetics and Politics, 1977; and phasis on the popular, as opposed to the elite elements of culture, ranging from
Roger S. Gotdieb, ed., An Anthology of Western Marxism : From Lukacs and folklore and popular music to the cinema. Grarnsci's most widely echoed concept
Gramsci to Socialist-Feminism, 1989.) is that of hegemony: that a social class achieves a predominant influence and
The second half of the twentieth century witnessed a resurgence of Marxist power, not by direct and overt means, but by succeeding in making its ideological
criticism, marked by an openness, on some level of literary analysis, to other cur- views so pervasive that the subordinate classes unwittingly accept and participate in
rent critical perspectives; a flexibility which acknowledges that Marxist critical the- their own oppression. The concept of hegemony, unlike the classical Marxist con-
ory is itself, at least to some degree, an evolving historical process; a subtilizing of ception of ideology, implies an openness to negotiation and exchange, as well as
the concept of ideology as applied to literary content; and a tendency to grant an conflict, between classes, and so refashions Marxist categories to fit a modem,
increased role to nonideological and distinctively artistic determinants of literary post-industrial society in which diverse concepts and ideas, apart from "modes of
structures and values. production," play a leading role. Another appealing feature of Gramsci's thought
In the 1960s the influential French Marxist Louis Althusser assimilated the to recent theorists is his emphasis on the role of intellectuals and opinion makers
structuralism then current into his view that the structure of society is not a in helping people understand how they can effect their own transformation.
monolithic whole, but is constituted by a diversiry of "nonsynchronous" social Especially since Gramsci's prison writings began to be translated into English in
fornutions, or "ideological state apparatuses," including religious, legal, political, 1971, they have had a strong influence on literary and social critics such as Terry
and literary institutions. Each of these possesses a "relative autonomy"; only "in Eagleton in England and Fredric Jameson and Edward Said in America, who
the last instance" is the ideology of a particular institution determined by its ma- argue for the power of literary culture to intervene in and transform existing eco-
terial base in contemporary economic production. In an influential reconsidera- nomic and political arrangements and activities. (See Gramsci, Selections from
tion of the general nature of ideology, Althusser opposes its definition as simply Cultural Writings, trans. William Boelhower, 1985; David Forgacs, ed., The
"false consciousness." He declares instead that the ideology of each mode, of state Antonio Gramsci Reader: Selected Writings 1916--1935, 2000; Chantal Mouffe, ed.,
apparatus is different, and operates by means of a discourse which interpellates Gramsci and Marxist Theory, 1979.)
(calls upon) the individual to take up a pre-established "subject position"-that Grarnsci's writings also inspired a number of post-Marxist thinkers, who
is, a position as a person with certain views and values, which, however, in every sought to adapt Marxism to poststructural discourse. Among these was a leader of
instance serve the ultimate interests of the ruling class. (See discourse and subject the British Cultural Studies movement, Stuart Hall. (See cultural studies, also cultural
under poststructuralism.) Althusser affirms, furthermore, that a great work of liter- materialism under the entry new historicism.) Hall insisted that ideology must not be
ature is not a mere product of ideology, because its fiction establishes for the considered a "false consciousness" or kind of concealment, but rather as a multi-
reader a distance from which to recognize, hence expose, "the ideology from faceted .force in the struggle for cultural power, carried on in the mode of the
which it is born . . . from which it detaches itself as art, and to which it production of meaning. All "meaning," Hall said, "is always a social production,
alludes." Pierre Macherey, in A Theory of Literary Production (1966, trans. 1978), a practice. The world has to be made to mean." (See Hall, "The Recovery of
stressed the supplementary claim that a literary text not only distances itself from 'Ideology,'" in Michael Gurevitch and others, eds., Culture, Society and the Media,
its ideology by its fiction and form, but also exposes the "contradictions" that are 1982.)
inherent in that ideology by its "silences" or "gaps"-that is, by what the text Also strongly influenced by Gramsci were Ernesto Laclau and Chantal
fails to say because its inherent ideology makes it impossible to say it. Mouffe, who in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (1985) argued for an understanding
Combining Marxism and Freudianism, Macherey asserts that such textual "ab- of soc~ety grounde~, ~ot in economic determinism, but in the nature oflanguage.
sences" are symptoms of ideological repressions of the contents in the text's own AdaptI~g the ~InguIStIC view of Ferdinand de Saussure that the identity of a sign
"unconscious." The aim of Marxist criticism, Macherey asserts, is to make these and of Its SIgnIficance was not intrinsic, but determined by its position in a differ-
silences "speak" and so to reveal, behind what an author consciously intended to ~ntial. sy~~em, they argued that such "~nfixity" was "the condition of every social
say, the text's unconscious content-that is, its repressed awareness of the flaws, IdentIty, so that the place of power In a society can be legitimately occupied by
stresses, and incoherence in the very ideology that it incorporates. (See hermeneu- anyone or any group. With the aid of Sausserian language theory, Laclau and
tics of suspicion.) Mouffe propose a view of society that, instead of being stricdy determined by
MASQUE 187
186 MARXIST CRITICISM

modes of production and the laws of economics, is open to innovation, transfor- Refer to sociology of literature, and for the Marxist wing of the new historicism,
mation, and self-invention. (For Saussure's linguistic theory, see under linguistics in see cultural materialism under the entry new historicism. Useful introductions to
, literary criticism and semiotics. For post-Marxist theory in general, refer to Geoffrey Marxist criticism in general are the essays in Maynard Solomon, ed., Marxism and
Galt Harpham, Language Alone: The Critical Fetish of Modernity, 2002, pp. 70-141.) Art: Essays Classic and Contemporary (1979); Terry Eagleton and Drew Milne, eds.,
In England the many social and critical writings of Raymond Williams mani- Marxist Uterary Theory: A Reader (1996) . In addition to the writings listed above,
fest an adaptation of Marxist concepts to his humanistic concern with the overall refer to Georg Lukacs, Studies in European Realism (1950); Raymond Williams,
texture of an individual's "lived experience." A leading theorist of Marxist criti- Culture and Society, 1780-1950 (1960) and Marxism and Uterature (1977); Peter
cism in England is Terry Eagleton, who expanded and elaborated the concepts Demetz, Marx, Engels and the Poets: Origins cif Marxist Uterary Criticism (1967);
of Althusser and Macherey into his view that a literary text is a special kind of Waiter Benjamin, Illuminations (trans. 1968); Louis Althusser, Lenin and
production in which ideological discourse--described as any system of mental re- Philosophy, and Other Essays (1969, trans. 1971), and For Marx (1996); Fredric
presentations oflived experience-is reworked into a specifically literary discourse . Jameson, Marxism and Form (1971), and Late Marxism : Adorno, or the Persistence of
In recent years Eagleton has been increasingly hospitable to the tactical use, for the Dialectic (1996); Lee Baxandall and Stefan Morawski, eds., Marx and Engels on
dealing with ideology in literature, of concepts derived from deconstruction and Uterature and Art (1973); Terry Eagleton, Criticism and Ideology (1976) and Marxism
from Lacan's version of Freudian psychoanalysis. Eagleton views such poststructur- and Uterary Criticism (1976); Chris Bullock and David Peck, eds., Guide to Marxist
alist analyses as useful to Marxist critics of literary texts insofar as they serve to Uterary Criticism (1980); Michael Ryan, Marxism and Deconstruction (1982); J. J.
undermine reigning beliefs and certainties, but solely as preliminary to the prop- McGann, The Romantic Ideology (1983); J. G Merquior, Western Marxism (1986).
erly Marxist enterprise of exposing their ideological motivation and to the appli- Various essays by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak assimilate Marxist concepts both to
cation of the criticism of literature toward politically desirable ends. deconstruction and to the viewpoint of feminist criticism; see, for example, her
The most prominent American theorist, Fredric Jameson, is also the most "Displacement and the Discourse of Women," in Displacement: Derrida and Afier,
eclectic of Marxist critics. In The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially ed. Mark Krupnick (1983). For Derrida's "reading" of Marx, see his Specters of
Symbolic Act (1981), Jameson expressly adapts to his critical enterprise such seem- Marx: The State cif the Debt, the Work cif Mourning, and the New International
ingly incompatible viewpoints as the medieval theory of fourfold levels of mean- (1994). For a sharp critique of recent theorists of Marxist criticism, see Frederick
ing in the allegorical interpretation of the Bible, the archetypal criticism of Northrop Crews, "Dialectical Immaterialism," in Skeptical Engagements (1986); also Richard
Frye, structuralist criticism, Lacan's reinterpretations of Freud, semiotics, and deconstruc- Levin, "The New Interdisciplinarity in Literary Criticism," in Nancy Easterlin and
tion. These modes of criticism, Jameson asserts, are applicable at various stages of Barbara Riebling, eds., Afier Poststructuralism : Interdisciplinarity and Literary Theory,
the critical interpretation of a literary work; but Marxist criticism, he contends, 1993. Marxist concerns also serve to form the new formalism in literary criticism;
"subsumes" all the other "interpretive modes," by retaining their positive findings see Robert Kaufinan, "Red Kant, or The Persistence of the Third Critique in
within a "political interpretation of literary texts" which stands as the "final" or Adomo and Jameson," Critical Inquiry, Vol. 26 (2000).
"absolute horizon of all reading and all interpretation." This last-analysis "political For references to Marxist criticism in other entries, see pages 8, 65, 78, 128,
interpretation" of a literary text involves an exposure of the hidden role of the 146, 161,224,230,281,334.
"political unconscious"-a concept which Jameson describes as his "collective,"
or "political," adaptation of the Freudian concept that each individual's uncon- masculine ending: 197.
scious is a repository of repressed desires. (See psychological and psychoanalytic criticism.)
masculine rhyme: 317 .
In a mode similar to Macherey, Jameson affirms that in any literary product of
our late capitalist era, the "rifts and discontinuities" in the text, and especially masque: The masque (a variant spelling of "mask") was inaugurated in Renaissance
those elements which, in the French phrase, are its "non-dit" (its not-said), are Italy and flourished in England during the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I, and
symptoms of the repression by a predominant ideology of the contradictions of Charles I. In its full development, it was an elaborate form of court entertainment
"History" into the depths of the political unconscious; and the content of this re- that combined poetic drama, music, song, dance, splendid costuming, and stage
pressed History, Jameson asserts, is the revolutionary process of "the collective spectacle. A plot-often slight, and mainly mythological and allegorical-served
struggle to wrest a realm of Freedom from a realm of Necessity." In the final stage to hold together these diverse elements. The speaking characters, who wore masks
of an interpretation, Jameson holds, the Marxist critic "rewrites," in the mode of (hence the title), were often played by amateurs who belonged to courtly society.
"allegory," the literary text "in such a way that the [text] may be seen as the ... The play concluded with a dance in which the players doffed their masks and
re~onstruction of a prior historical or ideological subtext"-that is, of the text's un- were joined by the audience.
spoken, because repressed and unconscious, awareness of the ways it is determined In the early seventeenth century in England the masque drew upon the finest
not only by current ideology, but also by the long-term process of true "History." artistic talents of the day, including Ben Jonson for the poetic script (for example,
(See allegory.) The Masque of Blacknesse and The Masque of Queens) and Inigo Jones, the architect,