Introduction
Hidden in plain sight
in Literature and class
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The introduction argues that an understanding of class relations is vital to an understanding of English literary history. A reading of sections of Iris Murdoch’s novel, The Sea, The Sea (1978) and E. M. Forster’s Howard’s End (1910) demonstrates that writers understood that class determined peoples’ lives in both trivial and significant ways. Karl Marx was right to claim that all existing history has been that of class struggle and argues that class divisions existed well before the Industrial Revolution and the advent of modernity, despite claims to the contrary. Representations of class, and an understanding of the nature of class, are intimately intertwined with the history of literature, which is why both have to be studied together, the one illuminating the other. The history of class without literature and literature without class results in an impoverished understanding of both. Political analysis that concentrates on gender and race makes little sense without an understanding of class, further indicating the need to consider and analyse social class as represented in literary texts as well as a determining factor in how literary texts are produced. The introduction also includes an overview of the book and a reflection on aspects of class structure that appear not to have changed.

Literature and class

From the Peasants' Revolt to the French Revolution

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