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Marxism and Literature
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Marxism and Literature

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  667 ratings  ·  25 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 litera ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 16th 1978 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1977)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,350)
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James
This was written about 20 years after Culture and Society and Williams, along with the rest of the New Left, had turned into something of a theory-head, but he still keeps his feet on the ground.

My hypothesis why nobody reads this and everybody reads Frankfurt School and Foucault: this, and other works in the tradition (Thompson, Eagleton), at least makes you feel bad for doing nothing, while the latter allow you to sip lattes and bask in the fact that while you certainly can't do anything abou
...more
Elizabeth
Raymond Williams is one of those brilliant writers and thinkers who often makes you believe that there's nothing left to say, despite the fact that he wrote all of his stuff decades ago. This book is no exception. Though it provides less empirical evidence for his arguments than many of his earlier works, it does nicely bring many of his previous theories and ideas into dialog with each other and presents a coherent trajectory for understanding the development of Williams' own work and the work ...more
meeners
brilliantly illuminating - would recommend to anyone. at the heart of williams' argument is a stress on language as activity (active practice rather than static, separated fact). this may seem self-evident but williams shows how muddled it can all get once you move out into the territory of "literature" and a certain tendency to separate the forms from the social process. the real contribution of a marxist theory of literature would be to prove that they can never be separated from each other: f ...more
Malcolm
This is simply outstanding and over three decades after being written remains one of the clearest, sharpest most insightful forays into a materialst theory and practice of culture and cultural analysis. For my work in History I find the first section dealing with basic issues and concepts in Marxist analysis (there is a superb essay on ideology that cuts through all the Althusserian obscuratism that was popular at the time) helpful. More so the second section which contains essential essays on b ...more
Alex
Good ol' Ray-jay Billiams breaks down old concepts. He does that Rayjay thing he likes to do, by which I mean, he looks at the historically evolving meanings of words accumulated over many English centuries, inside and outside of that Marxist tradition.

Takes 'sensuous activity' from Theses on Feuerbach and embroiders it on a banner. Waves said banner vigorously. "Let's not divide 'thought' from 'material'; let's banish vulgar economism alongside bourgeois idealism." In other words, 'praxis makes
...more
Sally
Here's what I've learned so far:

Ideology is tricky to define.

Sensuous Human Activity = culture, kind of. More like material culture.

From his picture on the cover Marx must have had great bed head in the mornings. I wish I could touch it.
Ben
Interesting concepts, but Williams' writing is so dry at times. I read this just after finishing Eagleton's "Introduction to Literary Theory," which could not be more different in terms of style.
corky
Dominant, residual and emerging. Williams give one of the top three explainations for how cultures are formed.

I dare you to explain his "structure of feeling."
Megan
I AM SO SICK OF MARXISM
Kyle
Didn't read the Literary Theory section but the rest was solid. The introduction to certain concepts and themes is really just Williams breaking down the use of language to show the historical progression of the concepts, followed by his take on the concept which usually challenges a standard reading so that was mildly interesting.

The book really becomes valuable/awesome around page 100 where he begins to address hegemony. His take isn't radically different than Gramsci's yet it in many ways suc
...more
Iftekhar Mallick
I read it during my Undergraduate Sociology classes. It gave me some good insights to prepare my course project paper, "A Study on Reflections of Society in Bangladeshi Literature".
Adrienne Foreman
I didn't put a rating up. Because... well this really has some important ideas for Marxist Literary theory. Some of its very inspiring and thought-provoking. Thinking about this in relationship to Althussier or Foucault is good. Also, he suggests things that really alter the ideas of Marxist construction (breaking down the rigidity of base and superstructure).

But, the writing style is so dry, full of tangents, and stiff. I picked it up and put it right back down four times even though I had a s
...more
Omnia N
Williams is really really really fond of very long definitions and sentences, my own most hated style of writing :D -_-
Loreto
love the book.
S. Crowley
this is a brilliant book...spare prose, succinct yet comprehensive set of arguments that continue to be of central importance in cultural theory. i find myself returning to it again and again. (i have read it several times; the date listed is when i last read it from cover to cover.)
Rachel
this would probably be a five star for me, but i read it fairly early on in college and didn't get everything in it. i know that it was perception-shifting for me, though.i've been hoping to revisit it, just haven't picked it off my shelf yet.
sologdin
part of an introductory series of "Marxism & [stuff]," nevertheless offers author's own original contribution to doctrine, such as the residual/emergent distinction, "structures of feeling" as a development of ideology theory, and so on.
Drew
Nov 26, 2008 Drew rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: anthro
A great book, especially for an introduction to terms like culture and hegemony (before moving on to Gramsci's Prison Diaries which is harder to get into).
Lector Communis
الكتاب عويص للغاية لكن ما يقوله ريموند ويليامز يستحق. ليس مثل الكثيرين من الأكاديميين الذين يكتبون أشياء عويصة لا فائدة منها بعد أن يفك الإنسان أحجيتها.
Meiver
book includes a very interesting discussion on the politics of language.
Mary
My go-to resource for thinking about emergent cultural studies.
Ashley
Honestly, it was pretty okay, and I hate this kind of writing.
Blake
Oct 25, 2010 Blake marked it as to-read
see his discussion on the 'structure of feeling.'
Jonathan
Praxis, Praxis, Praxis.
Beta G
Apr 07, 2010 Beta G added it
skripsi ung!
Vamsi
Vamsi marked it as to-read
Nov 24, 2014
Jee Jee
Jee Jee marked it as to-read
Nov 24, 2014
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  • The Political Unconscious
  • The Theory of the Novel
  • Marxism and Literary Criticism
  • Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays
  • The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays
  • Marxism and the Philosophy of Language
  • Aesthetics and Politics
  • The Limits to Capital
  • Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition
  • Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference
  • A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present
  • Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci
  • Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings
  • The Location of Culture (Routledge Classics)
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Raymond Henry Williams was a Welsh academic, novelist, and critic. He taught for many years and the Professor of Drama at the University of Cambridge. He was an influential figure within the New Left and in wider culture. His writings on politics, culture, the mass media and literature are a significant contribution to the Marxist critique of culture and the arts. His work laid the foundations for ...more
More about Raymond Williams...
The Country and the City Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society Culture and Society 1780-1950 Culture and Materialism Television: Technology and Cultural Form

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