Essay: Marxism; Criticism on Literature

Sample Essay

One of the most important figures of this time was a Paris-based Romanian called Lucien Goldmann.  Goldmann was able to successfully combine Marx’ superstructure model with principles of structuralism to demonstrate the pivotal importance of economics, i.e. production and consumption, in societal structures and their influence on the literary works being produced both within and without a society.  Choosing to ignore the cherished principle of artistic genius, arising from an artist’s distinct individuality, Goldmann instead saw literary works as collective products of societal mental structures that are trans-individual in their very essence.   (Barry 97)

Similarly, Louis Althusser, a French Marxist, was also able to draw upon the ideas of Antonio Gramsci, an Italian communist, and the psychoanalysis theories of Frenchman Jacques Lacan to successfully demonstrate a relationship between forces of socioeconomic hegemony and those shaping a society’s ideological leanings.  He was further able to demonstrate how the resultant structure shapes a society’s value system, its perceptions and assumptions, and how its effect can be felt in its literary works.

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