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Marxist Literary Criticism of Jane Austen's Persuasion

In: English and Literature

Submitted By DishaDoshi
Words 740
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Marxist literary criticism has, as the name indicates, its basis in the theories of Karl Marx and his associates. The main idea of Marxism is that “instead of making abstract affirmations about a whole group of problems such as man, knowledge, matter, and nature, he examines each problem in its dynamic relation to the others and, above all, tries to relate them to historical, social, political, and economic realities” (BO). Marx argued that the real foundation of society was the economic structure, that political and legal superstructures rose from this base, and that “[i]t is not the consciousness of men which determines their existence; it is on the contrary their social existence which determines their consciousness” (BO).
The most fundamental argument of Marxist literary and cultural theories is that they do not see art as something that is separate from society – art is, as Eagleton says, “part of the ‘superstructure’ of society” (5) – and the central concern of Marxist literary criticism is the relationship between the economy and the literature. Marxist critics argue that art is social because it is produced and received in concrete contexts, and because the creator is someone with a class, gender and racial identity – the author is, unavoidably, “part of her own context”
(Haslett 8). Art, in Marxist readings, “is interpreted as a material practice, perhaps because it relies on ‘technology’… is concretely realised in situations which themselves are material… or is bought and sold like other commodities” (8). The first thing that one needs to do in order to do a Marxist analysis is then, according to Eagleton, “to understand the complex, indirect relations between… works [of art] and the ideological worlds they inhabit” (6).
The interest of Marxist literary theories is consequently to try to place the work in an overall context, since “[a]rt...

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