UNDERSTANDING MARXISM AS A CRITICAL STUDY AND RESEARCH PARADIGM: A FRAMEWORK FOR A CRITIC IN LITERARY ANALYSIS

Robert M. Kashindi

Abstract


Marxism in Literary or Art in our 21St centuries is built around a debate of methodology and application when a critic is requested to evaluate a literary text or genre. Though disparities of thoughts in the point of views of some scholars such as: Georg Lukacs, Karl Korsch, Antonio Gramsci, Louis Althusser etc. have been involved in scientific debates whether Marxism as a sociological approach finds a better reliable application in literature. Marxism as a political ideology of Karl Marx was not designed for literary study, literature in terms of form, politics, ideology, and consciousness, numbers of research skills are required for a critic in almost literary components. While the question of methodology and application in literary analysis is still unsettled in the areas of literary studies so, it appears very difficult and ambiguous to some literary students and English teachers in our local universities in Bukavu (DRC) when prior involving in literary evaluation. Furthermore, sometimes students get involved into confusion mixing theories of new literary criticism or traditional literary criticism for Marxist literary interpretation. The work has enriched the debate by suggesting a critic engaging into the Marxism analysis to base his interpretation framing linguistic features as observable phenomena in literature or art in all its form affecting characters’ life flashing back to Karl Marx ideology of class struggle to avoid him draining into confusion of interweaving his analysis with either traditional or new literary school criticism. Determining the focus of literary theory according to the text and genre, classical categorization distinguishes between genres and their own sub-genres: poetry, plays, (drama), novels and short stories (fiction).Research must be focused with regards to the area of application of research paradigms. The common topics dealt with under the traditional literary criticism have been: Plot, Setting, and Narration, Point of View, Characterization, Symbol, Metaphor, Genre, Irony/Ambiguity. Such literary analyses have been useful for the discussion of the following issues: How the various components of an individual work relate to each other. The tradition has ignored to deal with a question “how concepts and forms in literary works relate to larger political, social, economic or religious context?” Stern (1983:472) assumes that the dissatisfactions and failures of literary teachers and students with a single method or lack of method in the interpretation of literary work have contributed to the constant critique of methods and the demand for new reform and emphasis. The paper raises a question, how should a critic evaluate a literary genre based on Marxist approach? Assessing this issue requires examining Marxism from ideology to theory and then to literary criticism to help a critic evaluate successfully the literary genre. The paper has applied literary criticism as a basically qualitative research involved in the analysis and argumentation of the present data. The finding reveals that, Marxism is not only an ideology, but also a postulate for a literary framework, so a critic to handle his analysis requires a mastery of deep understanding features or paradigms characterizing Marxist theory such as: socio-economic conflict, modes and means production, class struggle, oppression (oppressor/oppressed). The bourgeois/proletariat, domination (dominant/dominated), economic base/superstructure, materialism, capital and labor force, and how characters actions determine class struggle for societal progress. Marxism as theory flashes back to Karl Marx ideology of class struggle and how this affect characters in a literary genre as an insight for a critic to counter his /her textual framework analysis.

 

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Marxism, critic, literature, research, paradigm, framework

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References


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