Kafka are seen as a response to the contradictions and divisions inherent in late capitalist society.
However, it is probably true to say (as Ken Newton does in Theory into Practice , p. 244) that traditional Marxistcriticism tends to deal with history in a fairly generalised way. It talks about conflicts between social classes, and clashes of large historical forces, but, contrary to popular belief, it rarely discusses the detail of a specific historical situation and relates it closely to the interpretation of a particular literary text. As Newton implies, this
Theory often eclipses the text, just as the moon's shadow obscures the sun in an eclipse, so that the text loses its own voice and begins to voice theory. This book provides summaries or descriptions of a number of important theoretical essays. It commences with an account of the 'liberal humanism' against which all newer critical approaches to literature, broadly speaking, define themselves. The book suggests a useful form of intensive reading, which breaks down the reading of a difficult chapter or article into five stages, as designated by the letters 'SQRRR': Survey, Question, Read, Recall, and Review. It explains the rise of English studies by indicating what higher education was like in England until the first quarter of the nineteenth century. The book talks about the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, Roland Barthes, and Jacques Derrida. It lists some differences and distinctions between structuralism and post-structuralism under the four headings: origins, tone and style, attitude to language, and project. Providing a clear example of deconstructive practice, the book then describes three stages of the deconstructive process: the verbal, the textual, and the linguistic. It includes information on some important characteristics of literary modernism practiced by various writers, psychoanalytic criticism, feminist criticism and queer theory. The book presents an example of Marxist criticism, and discusses the overlap between cultural materialism and new historicism, specific differences between conventional close reading and stylistics and insights on narratology. It covers the story of literary theory through ten key events.
STOP and THINK
Postcolonial criticism draws attention to issues of cultural difference in literary texts and is one of several critical approaches we have considered which focus on specific issues, including issues of gender (feminist criticism), of class (Marxistcriticism), and of sexual orientation (queer theory).
This raises the possibility of a kind of ‘super-reader’ able to respond equally and adequately to a text in all these ways. In practice, for most readers one of these issues tends to eclipse all the rest.
For instance, the
avoids the problems frequently encountered in ‘straight’ Marxistcriticism: it seems less overtly polemical and more willing to allow the historical evidence its own voice.
STOP and THINK
‘Doing’ new historicism essentially involves the juxtaposition of literary material with contemporary non-literary texts. But how would you attempt to set about doing this yourself, rather than just reading published essays which use this formula?
For instance, if you wished to use the new historicist method for an essay about, say, a Shakespeare comedy where would you look
). And the
brand-name ‘gothic’ sells well to female readers in
today’s airports and drugstores, just as it did through the
Minerva Press two hundred years ago. Like Jameson’s Marxistcriticism, the feminist discussion of genre has a pragmatic, political
dimension, and is thus able to historicise and contextualise.
Contextualisation emphasises such extra-textual dimensions, especially
number of elements
Government requires a specialised elite. This might be described as a
‘conservative’ view. The majority
of the population is incapable of effective self-government. This is an
element of ‘liberal’ concerns about democracy. Political democracy tends to ignore the fundamental lack of democracy in
economic relations. This is a strong element of the
‘Marxist’ criticism of democracy. Democratic
divergence, one notices a further divergence in the evaluation
of Ghosh’s writing. Although, on the whole, Ghosh’s work has
been favourably received, there is nevertheless a strong chord
of dissent from a number of Indian critics who are generally
positioned on the political left and espouse a more traditional
Marxistcriticism. By contrast, Ghosh’s reception in the West has
been almost unanimously enthusiastic.
Although a detailed consideration of the extant criticism on
Ghosh’s work is beyond the scope of this chapter, it is worth
identifying a few issues that have
’s essential incoherence: the fact that it is comprised of all manner
of conflicting, incompatible elements, and that its coherence is an illusion maintained by the will (always politicised to a greater or lesser extent) of the reading
subject. Marxistcriticism, meanwhile, has always incorporated an element of the
process of ‘cognitive mapping’ identified by Fredric Jameson (1988) as a necessary
element of any critical system with radical socio-political pretensions – the need
for the subject to know where and how they stand in relation to the
Echoes of the Marseillaise (London, 1990), pp. 5, 97.
Evans In Defence of History, pp. 265–6.
K. Jenkins Re-Thinking History (London, 2003 ), p. 7.
Joyce ‘The End of Social History?’, p. 247.
K. Jenkins Refiguring History (London, 2003), p. 5.
G. Stedman Jones Languages of Class (Cambridge, 1983), pp. 20, 22.
N. Kirk ‘History, Language, Ideas and Postmodernism: A Materialist View’ in
Jenkins ed. The Postmodern History Reader, p. 333. For Marxistcriticisms of
Stedman Jones see N. Kirk ‘Class and the “Linguistic Turn” in Chartist and PostChartist Historiography
as their counterparts in Yugoslavia,’ whereas, earlier that month, Petrović met some American philosophers at Notre Dame University. 29 Danilo Marković and other Praxists occasionally dined with Embassy officers, intimately, as the Embassy reported, discussing the future of Praxis . Networking and open discussion inspired those meeting in the most positive way, recalled the Consulate and Embassy officials. 30
The Praxis group represented the most avant-garde and radical Marxistcriticism against the LCY during its existence. Yet, despite its radicalness