Synopses & Reviews
This book extends the theme of Raymond Williams's earlier work in literary and cultural analysis. He analyzes previous contributions to a Marxist theory of literature from Marx himself to Lukacs, Althusser, and Goldmann, and develops his own approach by outlining a theory of `cultural materialism' which integrates Marxist theories of language with Marxist theories of literature.
Williams moves from a review of the growth of the concepts of literature and idealogy to a redefinition of `determinism' and `hegemony'. His incisive discussion of the 'social material process' of cultural activity culminates in a re-examination of the problems of alignment and commitment and of the creative practice in individual authors and wider social groups.
"Replacing Terry Eagleton's brief Marxism and Literary Criticism as the best introductory survey of the relations between economic determinism and literary creation, Williams's study will interest, too, because it is the more deeply rooted in postwar European theorizing, Williams is at his best when providing careful discriminations among central theoretical terms (these sections are narrative revisions of his recent critical lexicon, Keywords); his greatest weakness remains, as in his earlier historical works, an unconvincing over-schematization of supposed causal connections. For both these reasons, however, Marxism and Literature is the best introduction
to Williams, as well as to his subject." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
"One of the essential tests of contemporary cultural theory."--James Brow, University of Texas, Austin
"One of the key works of our time on the sociology of cultural forms. It is an original work that raises important analytical issues in the study of language as a form of social action. Williams synthesizes a number of important problems in the sociology of culture in accessible language."--Bruce Mannheim, University of Michigan
"Williams has brought his authority and experience, established by his immense critical achievement, into the Marxist tradition."--Anthony Barnett, New Society
"The explorations and integrations which this book makes will bring a major pressure to bear on academic literary criticism and its institutions."--John Sutherland, New Statesman
This study examines the place of literature within Marxist cultural theory, and offers an assessment of the contributions of previous thinkers to Marxist literary theory.