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Marxist Literary Criticism

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Natasya Zahra

on 14 September 2015

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Transcript of Marxist Literary Criticism

Mafu, Yuji, Natasya
Marxist Literary Criticism
Who?
Karl Marx
historian, journalist and theorist. (1818-1883)

Infamous for his radical writing and criticism on the political and cultural establishment of the day
Believed that works of literature are mere products of history that can be analyzed by looking at the social and material conditions in which they were constructed.
His writings would become the foundation for the
Communist movement.

Vladimir Lenin
Russian communist revolutionary, politician and political theorist (1870-1924)
Led the
October revolution of 1917
which introduced systemised use of Marxist literary theory to general audience
Used Marxist literary theory to criticize the despotic regime of the time
How?
How to apply Marxist Literary Theory on literature
Approach the piece of literature with these questions in mind :
What role does class play in the work; what is the author's analysis of class relations?
How do characters overcome oppression?
In what ways does the work serve as propaganda for the status quo; or does it try to undermine it?
What does the work say about oppression; or are social conflicts ignored or blamed elsewhere?
Does the work propose some form of utopian vision as a solution to the problems encountered in the work?

For example....
The Emperor's New Clothes
A vain Emperor who cares about nothing except wearing and displaying clothes hires two swindlers who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or "hopelessly stupid". The Emperor's ministers cannot see the clothing themselves, but pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions and the Emperor does the same. Finally the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk play along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Then a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspects the assertion is true, but continues the procession.
The Emperor's New Clothes
&
Marxist Literary Theory
What role does class play in the work; what is the author's analysis of class relations?
How do characters overcome oppression?
In what ways does the work serve as propaganda for the status quo; or does it try to undermine it?
What does the work say about oppression; or are social conflicts ignored or blamed elsewhere?
Does the work propose some form of utopian vision as a solution to the problems encountered in the work?

1. Class plays an important role in the story as the majority of the story revolves on the pompous emperor trying to oppress his subjects as they are of lower class.

2. The characters overcome oppression by calling out the emperor on his shenanigans. (In this case, the little boy at the parade)

3. The work tries to undermine the status quo by showing how oppressive and thoughtless the emperor is, which discourages the readers from further supporting a monarch like the emperor in the story

4. The work shows that oppression is extremely prevalent in a society where class and wealth dictates power and that people of the lower class will always be oppressed unless a change is made.

5. The work implies that to solve the problems caused by the emperor is to stand up against the tyrant himself.

What is Marxist?
Is a type of criticism when a work of literature is viewed based on social classes, ideologies, and others
Looks how the literature is affected by social classes and how should readers comprehend in a modern world
It also investigates how literature can lead to a social change or reformation
It is said that every work of literature has a connection to society and reflects the political and cultural stance at the time
english 621
when and where?
Originated in Germany but is predominantly found in Soviet Russia and has spread globally
Developed in the late 1800s but was popularized in early to mids 1900s
Full transcript