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Marxist Literary Criticism Essay

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  While literary critics do attempt to elaborate or develop ideas articulated by Karl Marx, it is important and necessary to make a distinction between Marx's specific socio-economic and political agenda and the body of literary theory which emerged years later. Marxist literary criticism proceeds from the fundamental philosophical assumption that "consciousness can never be anything else than conscious existence...Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life" (Marx 568-9). Marxist critics use this challenge to the notion of an innate, prefigured, individual human nature to reexamine the nature of creative or literary authority.

            Power seems to reside outside or beyond the bounds of humanity. Rather than dipping into a world of universal forms or expressing a subjective interior, artists and their work are determined by the web of power relations in which they exist; literature is thus inescapably tethered to a continuum of socio-political concerns. Hegemony is the term most often used by Marxist critics to describe this continually renegotiat...


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