Capitalism vs. Art

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Capitalism vs. Art Works Cited Missing When an unpopular Irish playwright for the British stage said that art imitates life, no one really cared. Farquhar, a failed-actor-turned writer/director didn't really begin writing his most famous works until he was close to death, but most of his quotable notions and wit were recorded early in his life. He said this particular phrase after he killed a friend of his, and fellow actor by stabbing him with a rapier on the stage after mistaking it for a blunt foil. The late 19th century applies to Farquar's school of thought because it marks the beginning of a three-stage approach to a comparison between capitalism and art. Frederic Jameson describes these stages as realism, modernism, and postmodernism . Each of these three stages is associated with the specific type of capitalism that was popular at that time: realism is associated with market capitalism, modernism with monopoly capitalism, and postmodernism with consumer capitalism. Cornel West, like Jameson, identifies further similarities between capitalist movements and artistic movements in the past century on two levels. On the broader spectrum, West says that civil crisis leads to social change , and that recent social crisis has been the undulating economy. On a narrower spectrum, he discusses the "existential challenge" to the New Politics of Difference, that is, "how does one acquire the resources to survive… as a critic or artist?" (West 617). There is, perhaps, an alternate view that can be considered when approaching a comparison between capitalism and art. Since 1880, a strict equation between economic movement and social change could be formulated, but it does not necessarily hold true for the late 20th century and postmodernism. Postmodernism was affected by economic crisis, but because the United States has not faced economic crisis in two decades, the postmodern movement has suffered greatly. Two of the first realist writers were Honore de Balzac and George Eliot. Balzac's Le Comedie Humaine (1830) "contains none of the baser instincts of man that are glorified in romanticism," (Alter 201). In this 20-year compilation work, Balzac covered many topics, but according to Robert Alter, president of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics (1997), the most important one is that of social and economic ambition. Eliot's Middlemarch (1871) "viewed human life grimly, with close attention to the squalor and penury of rural life" (Alter 8). Alter says that she is one of the first writers whose work was entirely saturated with pessimism.
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