Essay: Marxist Criticism on Literature

Sample Essay

Since economics and class struggle play a pivotal role in Marxist sociopolitical discourse, literature too is viewed through the lens of class struggle.  Literary works are no longer viewed as mere artistic expressions of life and/or repositories of esoteric thoughts and messages.  In Marxism, all literature is inextricably linked to socioeconomic power, and the quest thereof.  Literature, thus, not only reflects a society’s class struggle, but also acts as a powerful medium of propaganda.

It actively or passively propagates one side of history, sympathizing with its actors and forces while demonizing and challenging those on the opposing end of the spectrum.  It either tries to legitimize or consolidate the existing social order, or challenge the status quo.  In Marxism, literary impartiality is hence nothing more than a fable to placate the nervous energies of a particular class with.

While Leon Trotsky’s Literature and Revolution, published in 1924, is considered a classic by most Marxist literary critics, a lot of non-Marxist critical theories that were developed following the conclusion of Second World War also had a huge influence on Marxist literary critics, especially those living outside the border confines of Soviet Union.

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