He admired Aeschylus for his grandeur, and liked the Greek Mythological figures of Zeus and Prometheus for their defiance. Marxist thinkers believe that revolutionary and pre-Revolutionary periods are the most suitable time for the literary work. A man who applies Marxist principles without understanding literature would go horribly wrong. They considered art as an independent activity. Art degenerated into a mere instrument of state policy, a weapon of communist propaganda.

He regarded communism only a transitional phase which would ultimately lead to a universal culture. He admired Aeschylus for his grandeur, and liked the Greek Mythological figures of Zeus and Prometheus for their defiance. In great works of art is much more implied than what is explicitly stated. Gorky said that one day he found Lenin with War and Peace lying on the table. These terms compress the culture of the future into the narrow limits of the present. Thus the interaction is reciprocal. As there never existed such a writer, the American Marxists created an imaginary writer—John Dos Passos.

Relationship between Art and society Marxian principles.

edmund wilsons essay marxism and literature

But Lenin who occupied a central role in the Russian Revolution ofbelieved marxsm such specialization. Thus the relation between art and society is reciprocal.

edmund wilsons essay marxism and literature

Granville Hicks is a famous Marxist thinker who formulated some rules for an ideal Marxist work. After telling everything about the Marxist literature, Edmund Wilson says that Marxism still remains as a great force in this world. Marxist thinkers, with the help of Trotsky try to find Marxist elements in the great classical works of other countries. esssay

English Literature: Marxism and Literature: Edmund Wilson

Art degenerated into a mere instrument of state policy, a weapon of communist propaganda. While he wrote extensively on the relationship between political ideologies such as Marxism and Literature, he opposed any pre-formulated critical frameworks, or what he called “a process of lopping and distortion to make [the work] fit the Procrustes bed of a thesis.


There are various reasons for this. A Marxist cannot judge a work of art purely on the basis of its artistic value. The confusion in the leftist camp is because they are unable to find out whether they want short range or long range literature.

He studies the influence of Marxism on literature and traces in this essay the history of Marxist literary theory as it was carried out by Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and a number of other critics. Long range literature sums up wide areas and long periods of human experience. Please read the original for better comprehension. Engels raised his voice against the dangers of literature written with a specific political inclination.

Marxists believe that a work of art written on the Marxist perspective is considered a good work and all other works are bad. Wilson begins the essay with the observation of Marx and his devout follower and collaborator, Engels, on the relationship of art and literature with society.

Edmund wilson’s essay marxism and literature summary

He looked at proletarian dictatorship from the stand demund of view. The exponents of these higher activities constitute groups with their own standards and values which divide the society into different classes.

According to Hicks, the primary function of such works must be to lead the proletarian reader to recognize his role in the class struggle; the author must be able to make the reader feel that he is participating in the struggle.


So the periods of sudden and violent changes never wilssons the writer for his literary creation. Short range literature preaches, pamphleteers for immediate effect. Anonymous February 21, at 9: Lecture notes for M.

According to him they never believed that art and literature are conditioned and determined by social and economic standards. According to him the structural organizations of society evolves from the methods of production in the society and from these structural forms evolve higher activities such as politics, law, religion, philosophy, literature and art.

edmund wilsons essay marxism and literature

Marxist critics without any knowledge in literature try to lay down rules and formulas according to which works of literature should be written. They loved great writers like Shakespeare and Goethe.

This disillusionment is reflected in this essay. Posted by drsreekumarenglishliterature at Aparna Thomas Njarakkatt 3 April at They believed in the Renaissance ideal of the complete man, the different aspects of man which accomplishes perfection through participation in varied activities.

Art and literature were degenerated into mere weapons of communist propaganda. Literture is society itself, says Trotsky, which becomes the work of art under communism.

Then Edmund Wilson refers to some of the responses of Marx and Engels to literature. The truth is that there is short range and long range literature. Inhe started a work on the Russian Revolution— To the Finland station.