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Christopher Caudwell, Raymond Williams and Terry Eagleton Das Gupta, Kalyan 1985

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PRINCIPLES OF LITERARY EVALUATION IN ENGLISH MARXIST CRITICISM: CHRISTOPHER CAUDWELL, RAYMOND WILLIAMS AND TERRY EAGLETON  by  KALYAN  DAS GUPTA  B.A. (Hons.), Calcutta U n i v e r s i t y , 1975 M.A., The University of Saskatchewan, 1978  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY  in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of English)  We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE^IVEftSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA MAY 1985  (S) Kalyan/JDas Gupta, 1985  In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements f o r an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y available f o r reference and study. I further agree that permission f o r extensive copying of t h i s thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by h i s or her representatives. It i s understood that copying or publication of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission.  Department of  E n  g  l i s h  The University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3  D a t e  -6 C3/81)  26 A p r i l 1985  Abstract P r i n c i p l e s of L i t e r a r y Evaluation i n English Marxist C r i t i c i s m : Christopher Caudwell, Raymond Williams and Terry Eagleton  Supervisor:  Dr. Graham Good  This d i s s e r t a t i o n p o l i t i c a l l y analyses the p r i n c i p l e s of l i t e r a r y evaluation (here called "axiology") argued and applied by the English c r i t i c s Christopher Caudwell, Raymond Williams, and Terry Eagleton.  The paradoxical fact that a l l three  claim to be working within a Marxist framework while producing mutually divergent rationales for l i t e r a r y evaluation prompts a detailed examination of Marx and Engels. Moreover, since Caudwell and Eagleton acknowledge Leninism to be Marxism, and, f u r t h e r , since Eagleton and I both in our own ways argue that Trotskyism—as  opposed to  Stalinism--is the continuator of Leninism, the evaluative methods of Lenin and Trotsky also become relevant. Examined i n l i g h t of that revolutionary t r a d i t i o n , however, and i n view of the (English) c r i t i c s ' high p o l i t i c a l self-consciousness, the l a t t e r ' s principles of " l i t e r a r y " evaluation reveal d e f i n i t i v e p o l i t i c a l differences between each other and with Marxism i t s e l f , c e n t r a l l y over the question of organised action.  Thus, each of  the chapters on the English c r i t i c s begins with an examination of the chosen c r i t i c ' s purely p o l i t i c a l p r o f i l e and i t s relationship to his general theory of l i t e r a t u r e . Next, I show how  the contradictions of his "axiology" express those of his p o l i t i c s .  F i n a l l y , with Hardy as a focus, I show the influence of each c r i t i c ' s p o l i t i c a l logic on his p a r t i c u l a r " l i t e r a r y " assessment of individual authors and The heterogeneity of these c r i t i c s ' evaluations of Hardy, the close  texts. correspondence  of each c r i t i c ' s general evaluative p r i n c i p l e s to his p o l i t i c a l b e l i e f s , and the non-Marxist nature of those b e l i e f s themselves a l l concretely suggest that none of the three English c r i t i c s i s sljLctly a Marxist. axiology i s inevitable; possibility.  I do not know whether a genuinely Marxist  however, I do admit such a phenomenon as a l o g i c a l  In any case, I argue, this p o s s i b i l i t y w i l l never be realised unless  aspiring Marxist axiologists seek to match their usually extensive knowledge of l i t e r a t u r e with an active interest i n making international proletarian revolution happen. And, since i t can only happen i f i t i s organised, the "Marxist" axiologist without such an orientation w i l l be merely an axiologist without  ii  Marxism.  Contents  Abstract of Dissertation Table of Contents List of Abbreviations Acknowledgments  ii i i i iv x  Introduction Nature, Purpose, and Methodology of the Project A Brief Survey of Literary Axiology from the Past to the Present . Marx and Engels: Base-Superstructure, Class, and Partisanship . . Lenin and the Party Question Trotsky and the Defence of the First Workers' State Notes  1 1 10 36 81 91 114  Christopher Caudwell Caudwell's Politics and His General Theory of Literature Caudwell's Principles of Literary Evaluation Caudwell's Evaluation of Hardy Notes  131 131 153 179 194  Raymond Williams Williams' Politics and His General Theory of Literature Williams' Principles of Literary Evaluation Williams' Evaluation of Hardy Notes • '  203 203 225 274 299  Terry Eagleton Eagleton's Politics and His General Theory of Literature Eagleton's Principles of Literary Evaluation Eagleton's Evaluation of Hardy . Notes  310 310 331 355 366  Conclusion  371  Notes  380  Bibliography  381  Appendixes Appendix A Appendix B Appendix C  401 401 403 406  iii  L i s t of Abbreviations and Short T i t l e s  Note: Some frequently-used t i t l e s have been abbreviated i n two different ways. Within a sentence, they have been written as a short t i t l e ; outside a sentence, or when used parenthetically at any point, they have been written i n the form of a l e t t e r - a b b r e v i a t i o n .  Anatomy  Anatomy of C r i t i c i s m : Northrop Frye.  "Archetypes"  "The Archetypes of Literature," by Northrop Frye.  Bate  Walter Jackson Bate, ed., C r i t i c i s m : Major Texts.  "Beauty"  "Beauty: A Study i n Bourgeois Aesthetics," by Christopher Caudwell. In FS.  BJA  B r i t i s h Journal of Aesthetics.  'Breath of Discontent'  "The Breath of Discontent: A Study in Bourgeois Religion," by Christopher Caudwell. In FS.  CA  Class and Art: Problems of Culture under the Dictatorship of the P r o l e t a r i a t , by Leon Trotsky.  Capital  C a p i t a l : A C r i t i c a l Analysis of C a p i t a l i s t Production, V o l . I , by Karl Marx. Same abbreviation used for the book as a separate publication and for excerpts from the book i n Marx/Engels.  CC  The Country and the C i t y , by Raymond Williams.  'Celine"  "Celine and Poincar€: Novelist and P o l i t i c i a n , " by Leon Trotsky.  CI  C r i t i c i s m and Ideology: A Study i n Marxist L i t e r a r y Theory, by Terry Eagleton.  Class and Art  Same as CA.  iv  Four Essays, by  The  V  "Consciousness"  "Consciousness: A Study i n Bourgeois Psychology," by Christopher Caudwell. In FS.  CPGB  The Communist Party of Great B r i t a i n .  C r i t i c i s m and Ideology  Same as C I .  CS  Culture and Society: Raymond Williams.  "Culture"  "Culture and the Soviet Bureaucracy," by Leon Trotsky.  Culture and Society  Same as CS.  Demetz  Peter Demetz, Marx, Engels, and the Poets: Origins of Marxist Literary C r i t i c i s m .  "D.H. Lawrence"  "D.H. Lawrence: A Study of the Bourgeois A r t i s t , " by Christopher Caudwell. In _S.  DIB  Drama from Ibsen to Brecht, by Raymond Williams.  Doyle  Brian Doyle, "The Necessity of I l l u s i o n : The Writings of Christopher Caudwell."  Draper  Michael Draper, "Christopher Caudwell's Illusions."  EN  The English Novel from Dickens to Lawrence, by Raymond Williams.  Fischer  Michael F i s c h e r , "The L i t e r a r y Importance of E.P. Thompson's Marxism."  Fokkema and Kunne-Ibsch  FS  1780-1950, by  D.W. Fokkema and Elrud Kunne-Ibsch, Theories of Literature i n the Twentieth Century: Structuralism, Marxism, Aesthetics of Reception, Semiotics. Further Studies i n a Dying Culture, by Christopher Caudwell.  The Function of C r i t i c i s m  The Function of C r i t i c i s m : From The Spectator to Post-Structuralism, by Terry Eagleton.  Furbank  P.N. Furbank, ed., Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy. Introd. Terry Eagleton.  vi  Hess  Hans Hess, "Is There a Theory of Art i n Marx?"  Hyman  Stanley Edgar Hyman, "Christopher Caudwell and Marxist C r i t i c i s m . "  I l l u s i o n and Reality  I l l u s i o n and Reality: A Study of the Sources of Poetry, by Christopher Caudwell.  Introduction  Introduction to Economic Manuscripts of 1857-58: A Contribution to the Critique of P o l i t i c a l Economy, by Karl Marx.  IR  I l l u s i o n and Reality  JAAC  Journal of Aesthetics and Art C r i t i c i s m .  Lenin  Lenin on Literature and A r t .  "Les Javanais"  "A Masterly F i r s t Novel: Jean Malaquais's Les Javanais," by Leon Trotsky.  Lifshitz  Mikhail L i f s h i t z , The Philosophy of Art of Karl Marx.  Literary Theory  Literary Theory: Terry Eagleton.  Long R  The Long Revolution, by Raymond Williams.  LR  Literature and Revolution, by Leon Trotsky.  LT  L i t e r a r y Theory.  Manifesto  The Manifesto of the Communist Party, by Karl Marx and F r i e d r i c h Engels.  Margolies  An Introduction, by  David N. Margolies, The Function of Literature: A Study of Christopher Caudwell's Aesthetics.  Marx/Engels  Marx/Engels on Literature and A r t .  "Mayakovsky"  "The Suicide of Vladimir Mayakovsky," by Leon Trotsky.  "Men and Nature"  "Men and Nature: A Study i n Bourgeois History," by Christopher Caudwell. In FS.  vii  "Mirror"  "Leo Tolstoy as the Mirror of the Russian Revolution," by V.I. Lenin.  ML  Marxism and L i t e r a t u r e , by Raymond Williams.  MLC  Marxism and Literary C r i t i c i s m , by Terry Eagleton.  Morawski  Stefan Morawski, Introd. to Marx and Engels on Literature and Art: A Selection of Writings, ed. Lee Baxandall and Stefan Morawski.  MT  Modern Tragedy, by Raymond Williams.  NLH  New  "Pacifism and Violence"  "Pacifism and Violence: A Study i n Bourgeois Ethics," by Christopher Caudwell. In S.  "Party Literature"  "Party Organisation and Party Literature," by V.I. Lenin.  PL  P o l i t i c s and L e t t e r s : Interviews with Left Review, by Raymond Williams.  'Poet and  Rebel'  Literary History.  "Tolstoy: Trotsky.  New  Poet and Rebel," by Leon  P o l i t i c a l Unconscious  The P o l i t i c a l Unconscious: Narrative as a S o c i a l l y Symbolic Act, by Fredric Jameson.  Poverty of Theory  The Poverty of Theory and Other Essays, by E.P. Thompson.  Prawer  S.S. Prawer, K a r l Marx and World Literature.  Preface  Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of P o l i t i c a l Economy, by Karl Marx.  The Prophet Unarmed  The Prophet Unarmed: by Isaac Deutscher.  "Reality"  "Reality: A Study i n Bourgeois Philosophy," by Christopher Caudwell. In FS.  Trotsky:  1921-29,  viii  Romance and Realism  Romance and Realism: A Study i n English Bourgeois L i t e r a t u r e , by Christopher Caudwell.  RR  Romance and Realism.  RSDLP  Russian Social Democratic Labour Party.  _S  Studies i n a Dying Culture, by Christopher Caudwell.  Schiff  "Marxist L i t e r a r y C r i t i c i s m , " by Terry Eagleton. In Hilda S c h i f f , ed., Contemporary Approaches to English Studies.  "Shaw"  "George Bernard Shaw: A Study of the Bourgeois Superman," by Christopher Caudwell. In JS.  Slaughter  C l i f f Slaughter, Marxism, Ideology and Literature.  Solomon  Maynard Solomon, ed., Marxism and Art: Essays Classic and Contemporary.  SSFR  Reply to the Guardian: The S t a l i n School of F a l s i f i c a t i o n R e v i s i t e d . Spartacus Youth League pamphlet.  State and Revolution  The State and Revolution: The Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat i n the Revolution, by V.I. Lenin  "The Strangled Revolution'  "The Strangled Revolution: Andre Malraux's The Conquerors," by Leon Trotsky.  The Stubborn Structure  The Stubborn Structure: Essays on C r i t i c i s m and Society, by Northrop Frye.  "Tolstoy"  "L.N. Tolstoy," by V.I. Lenin.  "Tolstoy and Labour"  "L.N. Tolstoy and the Modern Labour Movement," by V.I. Lenin.  Trotsky  Leon Trotsky on Literature and A r t .  Tucker  Robert C. Tucker, ed., The Marx-Engels Reader. 2nd ed. , 1978.  ix  Walter Benjamin  Walter Benjamin or Towards a Revolutionary C r i t i c i s m , by Terry Eagleton.  WB  Walter Benjamin.  Wellek  Rene Wellek, "Marx and Engels."  "Wells"  "H.G. Wells: A Study in Utopianism," by Christopher Caudwell. In S.  WR  Women and Revolution.  Acknowle dgment s  Dr. Graham Good, my supervisor, and Dr. Herbert Rosengarten, a professor not always d i r e c t l y involved i n my particular p r o j e c t , provided many-sided support throughout my programme.  Dr. John Doheny  and Dr. Fred Stockholder commented u s e f u l l y on the various d r a f t s .  Two  f r i e n d s , Cheryl and Peter, early offered some invaluable advice and joined several other friends i n providing c r u c i a l material and moral support.  And my secretary-friends i n the department, e s p e c i a l l y Ingrid  Kuklinski and Rosemary Leach, helped me through many rough times. F i n a l l y , I would l i k e to thank my mother for everything by dedicating this d i s s e r t a t i o n to her, Urmila Das Gupta.  x  - 1Introduction  Nature, Purpose, and Methodology of the Project  This d i s s e r t a t i o n i s intended as a contribution to the Marxist debate on how  to judge l i t e r a t u r e .  It attempts to analyse and  systematise, from a Marxist viewpoint, the literary-evaluative principles theorised by certain self-described Marxists i n England.  The  examination here focuses on a number of contradictory p o l i t i c a l tendencies and conclusions i n their work.  These are viewed i n l i g h t of  decisive h i s t o r i c a l lessons, drawn from the t r a d i t i o n of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky.  My purpose is to show—I believe for the f i r s t time  in synthetic form—the p o l i t i c a l implications of these contradictions for  a Marxist theory of l i t e r a r y value.  (For economy, I have  extensively used the term "axiology" to refer to the theory of l i t e r a r y and other values.) My dominant presentational strategy is negative and t h e o r e t i c a l :  I  offer what is mainly a c r i t i q u e of the methods of ( c h i e f l y ) Christopher Caudwell, Raymond Williams, and Terry Eagleton.  In p a r t , this i s a  limited attempt to redress, from a Marxist perspective, a long-standing general academic imbalance.  This imbalance was noted even quite  recently by, for instance, a prominent non-Marxist c r i t i c :  "Very l i t t l e  has been done to study the actual process by which great c r i t i c s have arrived at their valuations of s p e c i f i c works of a r t . " * tenor of this work is polemical, not expository.  The  overall  I make no attempt to  trace i n d e t a i l the development of the various Marxist l i t e r a r y and c r i t i c a l theories across the world through h i s t o r y , but merely use 2 s p e c i f i c concepts from them.  - 2-  My focus on (ostensible) Marxists and on (their) theory i s important to understand.  I aim to v e r i f y the claimed Marxism of Caudwell, Williams, and  Eagleton, primarily as expressed  i n the theoretical formulations within the  s p e c i f i c a l l y a x i o l o g i c a l parts of their work. are found i n two forms:  These theoretical formulations  (1) as a t t i t u d i n a l q u a l i f i e r s i m p l i c i t l y colouring  judgments on p a r t i c u l a r works or authors and (2) as generalisations about l i t e r a r y value e x p l i c i t l y presented as position statements.  I examine the  internal consistency of these formulations, the overall relationship of each c r i t i c ' s formulations to the experience and logic of revolutionary Marxism from Marx to Trotsky, and the relationship of each c r i t i c ' s a x i o l o g i c a l formulations to his own p o l i t i c a l views and l o g i c . That last'enterprise offer's one'way"of • verifying these c r i t i c s , both p o l i t i c a l l y and a x i o l o g i c a l l y .  the claimed Marxism of  Though this i s not a task  of decisive importance to the broader task of s o c i a l , economic, and p o l i t i c a l r e v o l u t i o n , i t i s a relevant one: of ideology  unaffected, nor does the e x p l i c i t l y p o l i t i c a l motive of so-called  Marxist c r i t i c i s m from  the class struggle does not leave the realm  make i t possible for the broader struggle to remain insulated  that ideological realm.  Many c r i t i c s themselves  make a p o l i t i c a l issue  out of Marxist " l i t e r a r y " theory and largely a r t i c u l a t e their own evaluative p r i n c i p l e s i n terms of i t .  Williams and Eagleton are two examples of such c r i t i c s .  When Marxist method thus becomes a p o l i t i c a l issue i n such a polemical a c t i v i t y as l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m , p o l i t i c a l c l a r i f i c a t i o n acquires a relevance  substantially  greater than what most " l i t e r a r y " c r i t i c i s m is routinely accustomed to.  My  motivating premise here has been that,in such e x p l i c i t l y p o l i t i c a l debates, be they  conducted within the " c u l t u r a l " realm or elsewhere,  the Marxist method  has the right to be defended against d i s t o r t i o n s — a b o v e a l l against those perpetrated by self-professed Marxists--before being judged.  My immediate objective  i n this p o l i t i c a l c l a r i f i c a t i o n i s therefore to v e r i f y the consistency of p a r t i c u l a r c r i t i c s who claim, i n one way or another, to be working within the framework of Marxism; i n the course of this examination, however, and through i t , I also hope to re-confirm the relevance of Marxism to the s o c i a l struggle f o r proletarian revolution i n general,and One  to " l i t e r a r y " evaluation i n p a r t i c u l a r .  c r i t i c who attacks Marxism on the basis of distorted interpretations and  avowedly un-Marxist representatives is F.R. L e a v i s .  - 3 -  After having s a r c a s t i c a l l y pleaded "guilty to the familiar c h a r g e — I have not minutely studied the Bible," Leavis proceeds to dismember the l i b e r a l Edmund Wilson as a "good index" of a Marxist c r i t i c .  He  then  continues the quixotic massacre, of everyone from A.L. Morton and Granville Hicks (both apologists for S t a l i n i s m , a p o l i t i c s inimical to Marxism) to Prince Mirsky: we must speak or die:  "We  have no i l l u s i o n s .  There is a choice;  Stalin or the King by Divine Right?"^  "What are  these 'classes,'" he r h e t o r i c a l l y asks, challenging a basic a n a l y t i c a l tool used  by Marxism.  And he answers:  "Class of the kind that can  j u s t i f y talk about 'class culture' has long been e x t i n c t . " ^  Yet, as one  veteran s p e c i a l i s t on precisely such questions—E.P. Thompson—has correctly remarked, "As the world changes, we must learn to change our language and our terms.  But we should never change these without  r e a s o n . I have argued that Marxists have no reason to reject Marx and Engels' use of the category of and s p e c i f i c observations about "class." In defining my task, I have merely sought to extend to a s p e c i f i c theoretical area (axiology) a particular -analytical method geared to s p e c i f i c p o l i t i c a l interests (Marxism).  However, within l i t e r a r y theory, a  general connection between " l i t e r a t u r e " and " p o l i t i c s " has long been recognised.  "For to i n s i s t that l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m i s , or should be, a  s p e c i f i c d i s c i p l i n e of i n t e l l i g e n c e , " says one c r i t i c , " i s not to suggest that a certain interest i n l i t e r a t u r e can confine i t s e l f . t o the kind of intensive l o c a l analysis associated with ' p r a c t i c a l c r i t i c i s m ' — t o the scrutiny of the 'words on the page' i n their minute r e l a t i o n s , their effects of imagery, and so on: interest is an interest in man,  a real l i t e r a r y  society, and c i v i l i s a t i o n , and i t s  boundaries cannot be drawn; the adjective is not a circumscribing one."  - 4 -  Elsewhere the same c r i t i c observes, "The more seriously one i s concerned for l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m , the less possible does one find i t to be concerned for that alone . . .; special duties are not ultimately served by neglect of the more general."  If the reader is shocked to learn that  this firm advocate of " s o c i a l " c r i t i c i s m i s the same person as our recent derider of class analyses, I can only point out that the apparent contradiction i s not mine but that of F.R. Leavis and the particular c l a s s — t h e petit bourgeoisie—he  speaks f o r . ^ And, i n part, that i s  precisely the contradiction that, as I hope to show, a l l three p r i n c i p a l objects of this study exhibit as w e l l . At about the same time that Leavis was with the l a t t e r ' s own  pinning the l i b e r a l Wilson  l o g i c , announcing, "There ±s_, then, a point of  7  v  x  view above classes,"' the Prague semiotician Jan Mukarovsky was  stating,  "above a l l the c r i t i c is always either the spokesman or conversely the antagonist or even a dissident from some s o c i a l formation ( c l a s s , environment, e t c . ) . " ^  I believe that the implications of that  observation have been scrutinised most thoroughly by Terry Eagleton. From his f i r s t major theoretical work, C r i t i c i s m and Ideology, to h i s l a t e s t , The Function of C r i t i c i s m , Eagleton has consistently and persuasively argued that " f c ] r i t i c i s m is not an innocent d i s c i p l i n e , and never has been"^:  "[t] he difference between a ' p o l i t i c a l ' and  'non-  p o l i t i c a l ' c r i t i c i s m is just the difference between the prime minister and the monarch:  the l a t t e r furthers certain p o l i t i c a l ends by  pretending not t o , while the former makes no bones about i t . . . .  It  i s a d i s t i n c t i o n between different forms of p o l i t i c s . . . ." Consequently, he points out, "£t]here is no way  of s e t t l i n g the question  of which p o l i t i c s i s preferable in l i t e r a r y c r i t i c a l terms.  You  simply  - 5 -  have to argue about p o l i t i c s . " 1 0  S p e c i f i c a l l y , this means that "[tjhe  problem of a 'Marxist aesthetics' is above a l l the problem of a Marxist p o l i t i c s . " 11 Mark Roberts, i n The Fundamentals of L i t e r a r y C r i t i c i s m (Oxford: B a s i l Blackwell, 1974, p. 69), has "extended" the above argument's v a l i d i t y from interpretation to evaluation. I place "extended" i n quotes, however, not only because Roberts' book pre-dates Eagleton's C r i t i c i s m and Ideology but also because his conception of evaluative r e l a t i v i s m remains abstractly philosophical: existence—not to mention importance—of interests.  i t largely ignores the  actual social and  political  Nevertheless, he phrases one l o g i c a l implication of Eagle-  ton's argument simply and well:  "If my view of the world, i t s nature  and c o n s t i t u t i o n , i s r a d i c a l l y d i f f e r e n t from yours, s h a l l I not place a different value from you upon works of l i t e r a t u r e that deal p a r t i c u l a r l y with those matters upon which our views most noticeably d i f f e r ? " This d i s s e r t a t i o n i s an attempt to invest this relativism with the s p e c i f i c p o l i t i c a l dynamic of Marxism, a l w a y s — i m p l i c i t l y or e x p l i c i t l y — i n e f f e c t i v e combat with l i b e r a l humanism. For, as Fredric Jameson has observed, "the bankruptcy of the l i b e r a l t r a d i t i o n i s as plain on the philosophical l e v e l as i t i s on the p o l i t i c a l :  which does  not mean that i t has lost i t s prestige or ideological potency. contrary:  On the  the anti-speculative bias of that t r a d i t i o n , i t s emphasis on  the individual fact or item at the expense of the network of r e l a t i o n ships i n which that item may  be embedded, continue to encourage  submission to what i s by preventing i t s followers from making connections, and i n particular from drawing the otherwise conclusions on the p o l i t i c a l level."12  unavoidable  - 6 -  In setting myself this f a i r l y delimited task, I have obviously rejected, for various reasons, numerous other, related tasks.  Of  perhaps the two most l i k e l y to engender d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n are my  refusal  here to substantially "apply" my own  theory to actual  and my principled refusal to negate the l o g i c of my attempting to posit a more detailed I deem h i s t o r i c a l l y possible detailed alternative  these,  " l i t e r a r y " texts  own  argument by  "alternative" a x i o l o g i c a l model than  at the moment. The  is argued out and  refusal to posit a  defended in the body of  d i s s e r t a t i o n , especially in the Introduction.  The  my  refusal to be a  " p r a c t i c a l c r i t i c " here is motivated partly by space considerations, but also partly by ideological and h i s t o r i c a l ones, outlined I believe  that, in general, "pure" theory, within  determinate bounds of reason and rewarding.  It can allow one  below. conjuncturally  potential v e r i f i a b i l i t y , can prove  to step back from the frequently hypnotic  power of individual words, passages, or t e x t s , to ponder broad s t r u c t u r a l , i d e o l o g i c a l , and h i s t o r i c a l relationships significances.  And  resume his or her  i t can enable even the " p r a c t i c a l c r i t i c " to then  specialty with a q u a l i t a t i v e l y enriched, more  comparative approach. and  Besides, while I grant the complete legitimacy  importance of empirical  p r o j e c t s , I also note that the heyday of  " p r a c t i c a l c r i t i c i s m " — i n the mode of I.A. the American New be giving way non-Marxists.  and  Richards, F.R.  Leavis, and  C r i t i c s — s e e m s at least for the nonce to be over and  to  to generally more theoretical enterprises, even among Witness, for instance, the r i s e to eminence of  structuralism, phenomenology, semiotics, and  deconstruction.  Moreover,  the work of Terry Eagleton in particular shows that, these days, even so specialised a f i e l d as Marxist l i t e r a r y axiology has  reached  - 7 -  sophisticated self-consciousness. The very emergence of that f i e l d thereby i t s e l f provides grounds for being discussed t h e o r e t i c a l l y — t h a t i s , for being discussed at i t s own l e v e l and in i t s own terms.  Finally,  with Eagleton, I am convinced that at this point i n time, the expected aim of Marxist c r i t i c i s m "to subvert the very ideological apparatuses of class-society . . . w i l l not be greatly furthered by yet another Marxist interpretation of George E l i o t " h e n c e my s e l f - r e s t r i c t i o n here to theory. Within this s e l f - r e s t r i c t i o n , moreover, projects other than my particular one are and were possible but remained unincorporated. These, too, should be adumbrated here, for their deliberate exclusion defines the l i m i t s of my actual exercise's goals.  As explained above,  my aim i s to examine the principles of l i t e r a r y evaluation in Marxist c r i t i c a l theory.  This means, among other things, that mine i s not a  "general" theory of any general l i t e r a r y or c r i t i c a l theory or practice as a whole, Marxist or otherwise.  It does depend for i t s s e l f -  d e f i n i t i o n and elaboration, however, on general theories (Marxist and non-Marxist) of l i t e r a t u r e , c r i t i c i s m , and l i t e r a r y value.  Mine is also  not a (Marxist) theory of p o l i t i c a l l y heterogeneous evaluations of actual l i t e r a r y texts:  I have not set out to judge the empirical  v a l i d i t y of the particular judgments on particular authors or texts made, for instance, by Caudwell, Williams, and Eagleton.  Though such a  concern i s v a l i d and even c r u c i a l , I have instead concentrated on the p o l i t i c a l logic of these c r i t i c s ' value theories and judgments, finding that p o l i t i c a l l y more revealing (and formally more manageable) than a primarily factual v e r i f i c a t i o n .  Of course, certain factual formulations  a r e , i n their bias or their e r r o r , p o l i t i c a l l y revealing too; but I have  - 8 -  allowed such . empirical. mechanisms to retain, a subordinate role _in my endeavour, which, i n i t s conscious emphasis remains a theoretical and political  one.  F i n a l l y , I have throughout stressed certain connections between a x i o l o g i c a l c r i t e r i a and p o l i t i c a l values and have recommended a conscious alignment, at an h i s t o r i c a l l y unprecedented l e v e l , of active Marxist p o l i t i c s and professional Marxist l i t e r a r y evaluation.  The  basis for my claim to o r i g i n a l i t y , i f any, thus l i e s in my insistence on l i n k i n g two simple but academically all-too-often oversimplified and ignored d i s t i n c t i o n s .  The f i r s t d i s t i n c t i o n is the p o l i t i c a l difference  between purely discursive protestations of l e f t i s t sympathy passing for "commitment," on the one hand, and a c t i v e l y organised revolutionary class-struggle (and the committed orientation stemming from i t ) , on the other.  The second d i s t i n c t i o n is the functional difference between  " l i t e r a r y " writing ( d i r e c t l y concerned with " l i f e " ) and " c r i t i c a l / e v a l u a t i v e " writing ( d i r e c t l y concerned with " l i t e r a t u r e " ) . Granting the r e l a t i v i t y of the l a t t e r , post-Romantic conventional d i s t i n c t i o n (between " l i t e r a t u r e " and " c r i t i c i s m " ) , I nevertheless believe that i t s terms capture, however inadequately, a real d i s t i n c t i o n within modern discursive p r a c t i c e .  Consequently, I have argued that any  counter-productive limitations that an a c t i v e , organised partisanship may  conceivably be f e l t to impose on " l i t e r a r y " a c t i v i t y do not .  l o g i c a l l y betoken an i d e n t i c a l effect on " c r i t i c a l " analysis and evaluation.  Most " l i t e r a t u r e " (novels, plays, poems, some kinds of  essays) advances no e x p l i c i t claim to be p o l i t i c a l :  the s o c i a l  attitudes endorsed i n i t are correspondingly unsystematised, devoid of any unified programme for s o c i a l change.  relatively  But quite the  - 9 -  opposite conditions and tendencies obtain, I would argue, for any considered " c r i t i c i s m " of_ that " i i t e r a t u r e . "  And  this is doubly true of  theories whose subject i s " c r i t i c i s m " i t s e l f and which, moreover, overtly profess allegiance to a d e f i n i t e p o l i t i c a l framework of interests and methods.  Such "metacriticism" cannot evade the imputation  of self-consciousness, and any individual "metacritic" has the right to interrogate i t accordingly. For axiologists claiming to be Marxist, therefore, their actual attitude towards and active role ( i f any) i n the organised struggle for workers' revolution acquires a decisive c e n t r a l i t y .  Their authenticity  as Marxist s p e c i a l i s t s is put to the ultimate test over what they say and do about that key p o l i t i c a l question:  over what they p o l i t i c a l l y  avow and whether they practice what they profess.  Incidentally,  self-described Marxist c r i t i c s themselves i n v i t e such testing by e x p l i c i t l y and j u s t i f i a b l y broaching the relevance of their p o l i t i c a l views to the operations of their c r i t i c a l analyses, evaluations, and theories.  My main concern here, however, i s not with the formal  c r e d i b i l i t y of the "Marxist" a x i o l o g i s t s ' o f f i c i a l self-image.  In  the f i r s t place, my concern i s with the i n t e r n a l , substantive genuineness—the p o l i t i c a l credentials of the assumptions, methods, and c o n c l u s i o n s — o f the axiology i t s e l f .  But my point also i s that  o b j e c t i v e l y , formal p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n organised struggle is naturally constitutive of and indispensable to any genuinely Marxist credentials. It is d i f f i c u l t enough to remain, i n one's theories, unvaryingly true to one's real experiences and impulses.  But the task of theorising becomes  p r a c t i c a l l y impossible i f one has to "guess" what these experiences impulses might be, from a position exterior and hostile to them.  and One  - 10 -  cannot even interpret—much  less evaluate or decisively s h a p e — l i t e r a r y  phenomena i n the declared interests of a c o l l e c t i v e p o l i t i c a l g o a l , i f one spurns the organised struggle central to i t s achievement. I f , therefore, particular axiologists wish to i n s i s t that they are Marxists, they must c l e a r l y seek and demonstrate p o l i t i c a l consistency, in c h i e f l y two respects:  (1) i n respect of their a b i l i t y to analyse and  evaluate r e a l i t y i n light of h i s t o r i c a l lessons, through the framework of interests articulated by Marx and Engels, and (2) i n respect of their willingness to act concertedly  to change r e a l i t y in accordance with  those i n t e r e s t s , analyses, and evaluations.  And such consistency, I  have argued, i s inconceivable today without the shaping and irreplaceable experience of working i n an organisation that functions as the c o l l e c t i v e memory and p r a c t i c a l leader of the revolutionary working class.  This emphasis on an organised Marxist orientation i s what I  believe constitutes my s p e c i f i c contribution to the current debate within Marxist l i t e r a r y axiology.  A Brief Survey of Literary Axiology from the Past to the Present  At least since the advent of A r i s t o t l e ' s Poetics (fourth century B.C.), Western l i t e r a r y and c r i t i c a l theory has always treated, e x p l i c i t l y or i m p l i c i t l y , the issue of l i t e r a r y value and evaluation as an organic part of i t s general aesthetic d i s c u s s i o n . ^  However, over  the centuries, the treatment has changed i n i t s form, d e f i n i t i o n , and emphasis, i n general acquiring increasing self-consciousness as well as s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l consciousness.  To simplify history only a l i t t l e ,  one might f a i r l y suggest that p o l i t i c a l l i t e r a r y axiology i n i t s present  - 11 -  self-conscious form does not r e a l l y emerge in conventional c r i t i c a l theory t i l l Matthew Arnold's "The Function of C r i t i c i s m at the Present Time" (1864) and Culture and Anarchy (1869). Both A r i s t o t l e ' s Poetics and Horace's Art of Poetry ( f i r s t century B.C.) deal primarily with the internal structure and ingredients of a work of a r t . The authors do not equally address the problems of l i t e r a r y evaluation, though they do propose individual components of particular genres as bearers of l i t e r a r y value.  Thus, A r i s t o t l e proposes  the concept of a cathartic effect as one index of the genuineness of tragedy.  Horace's emphasis on s i m p l i c i t y and unity suggests other  i n d i c e s , i n c i d e n t a l l y also found in A r i s t o t l e .  But Horace's work  addresses a technical problem i n the writing (or "production") of poetry more than i t proposes a set of c r i t e r i a for judging i t . t r e a t i s e On the Sublime ( f i r s t century A.D.)  Longinus'  deals more extensively than  A r i s t o t l e ' s or Horace's with the emotional components of rhetoric and hence, by association and i m p l i c a t i o n , with the emotional dynamics of l i t e r a r y response.  However, his emphasis f a l l s on questions of style  and morality, two very limited though important components of evaluation; and his pedagogical aim resembles Horace's.  Moreover, his  definitions of the sublime are c l e a r l y too dependent on the i d e a l i s t notion of "the soul" to be d i r e c t l y appropriable by d i a l e c t i c a l and h i s t o r i c a l materialism (Marxism). If we pass over what are mostly restatements of these " c l a s s i c a l " problematics by the Renaissance c r i t i c s  (such as P h i l i p Sidney and  Pierre Corneille) and variations of them by the Neoclassicists (such as John Dryden, Alexander Pope, David Hume, and Joshua Reynolds), we a r r i v e at the Romantics and, with them, at the beginnings of axiological  - 12 -  problematics  as they predominantly define themselves in our e r a .  This  is to say simply that many of the individual axiological issues and c r i t e r i a raised by Western c r i t i c i s m in previous centuries become, i n the Romantic period, e x p l i c i t l y p o l i t i c i s e d within a framework that continues  to define Western society and thought to this  day.  The s h i f t i n a x i o l o g i c a l self-consciousness and a n a l y t i c a l approach can be observed in some of the formulations as well as the t i t l e of an essay such as William H a z l i t t ' s "Why (1814):  the Arts Are Not  Progressive"  contrast, for instance, Joseph Addison's "The Pleasures of the  Imagination" from a century e a r l i e r (Bate, pp. 184-87).  By the time of  S.T. Coleridge, we notice that the self-consciousness of " c r i t i c i s m " signalled i n Pope's An Essay on C r i t i c i s m (1711) is beginning consolidate i t s e l f .  to  One of Coleridge's early essays i s e n t i t l e d "On  Principles of Genial C r i t i c i s m Concerning the Fine Arts" (1814).  the  In i t  he asserts the notion, common even today, that " Qfj he Good . . . i s always discursive" and (Bate, p. 375).  "[tQ he Beautiful . . .  is always i n t u i t i v e "  C l e a r l y , increasing self-consciousness does not  automatically e n t a i l a m a t e r i a l i s t philosophy.  Thus, on the one hand,  the self-consciousness of a H a z l i t t produces the m a t e r i a l i s t d i s t i n c t i o n between the " e a r l i e s t stages of the a r t s , when the f i r s t mechanical d i f f i c u l t i e s had been got over, and the language as i t were acquired" and the l a t e r stages when "they rose by clusters and i n c o n s t e l l a t i o n s , never to r i s e again" (Bate, p. 293).  On the other hand, the  self-consciousness of a Coleridge produces a more subjective, purely i d e a l i s t counterpart  of H a z l i t t ' s d i s t i n c t i o n , remaining  preoccupied  with disinterested i n t e l l e c t u a l contemplation and i n t u i t i o n p. 373).  (Bate,  Yet both these tendencies—an interest in the actual behaviour  - 13 -  of art and c r i t i c i s m and an urge to deny the usefulness of that material interest and experience at least to some—combine, though only select i v e l y , i n the c r i t i c a l theory of Matthew Arnold. Arnold is an early and not e n t i r e l y misplaced testimony  to the fact  that, just as c r i t i c a l self-consciousness does not guarantee materialism, so " p o l i t i c a l " self-consciousness does not guarantee Marxism.  The  p a r t i c u l a r p o l i t i c s informing Arnold's l i t e r a r y axiology i s l i b e r a l humanism, a p o l i t i c s that to one degree or another has defined most Western non-Marxist schools of c r i t i c i s m and c r i t i c a l theory since his time.I-*  One important difference  between Arnold and his i d e o l o g i c a l  peers, however, i s the fact that he i s , as Eagleton puts i t , "refreshingly unhypocritical" ruminations, one may  (LT, p. 24).  In Arnold's  critical  observe in their v i r t u a l l y unconcealed form a l l the  p o l i t i c a l assumptions, i n t e r e s t s , and values that mould a l i b e r a l humanist's pronouncements on " l i t e r a r y " value.  It i s this v i r t u a l  transparency of motive that, as we s h a l l see, worries that other prominent, latter-day  l i b e r a l humanist c r i t i c , Northrop Frye.  L i b e r a l humanism is a p o l i t i c a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of much post-nineteenth century c r i t i c i s m ; methodologically, however, i t i s neither homogeneous nor a l l - i n c l u s i v e . One  c r i t i c a l methodology i t  partly straddles and partly excludes is that commonly and loosely known as " s o c i o l o g i c a l " c r i t i c i s m . Among the early " s o c i o l o g i c a l " c r i t i c s be found names such as Mme.  de Stael (1766-1817), Charles Augustin  Sainte-Beuve (1804-69), and Hippolyte-Adolphe characterisation  Taine (1828-93).  The  of these c r i t i c s ' works as " s o c i o l o g i c a l " i s a loose  one because here again we find each individual c r i t i c emphasising different sets of s o c i a l f a c t o r s , i n keeping with his or her general  may  - 14 -  outlook and interest i n the world.  However, one point at which, even i f  only i n a rough sense, the passive " s o c i o l o g i c a l " method intersects an active h i s t o r i c a l , d i a l e c t i c a l , and materialist engagement with the world i s the mature works of Karl Marx (1818-83) and F r i e d r i c h Engels (1820-95).  The e a r l i e s t source of my p o l i t i c a l argument i s traceable to  the mature thought and practice of these two nineteenth-century revolutionaries.  It i s their works that are wittingly or unwittingly  invoked by the m u l t i p l i c i t y of modern c r i t i c a l theorists claiming to be Marxist.  And, as such, they w i l l be ( s e l e c t i v e l y ) examined in some  detail later. As I suggested e a r l i e r , p o l i t i c a l l i t e r a r y axiology in i t s present form i s a r e l a t i v e l y recent phenomenon, v i r t u a l l y non-existent before Matthew Arnold.  Moreover, a certain spread s t i l l exists—narrower among  the Marxists, wider among non-Marxist  l i t e r a r y t h e o r i s t s — w i t h regard to  attitudes towards the p o s s i b i l i t y , usefulness, and correct mechanics of l i t e r a r y evaluation and value theory.  In this Introduction, I have  concentrated i n general on those modern c r i t i c s who view axiology as both possible and useful; and, i n p a r t i c u l a r , I have focused on those who address Marxist theory as w e l l . An entire range of c h i e f l y non-Marxist  c r i t i c s argues, with varying  mutual consistency, that a l l systematic evaluation i s ultimately pointless and that theorists should simply accept, without analysis or c r i t i c i s m , the p l u r a l i t y of spontaneous evaluative responses them when they read l i t e r a t u r e .  induced i n  This body of c r i t i c s ranges p o l i t i c a l l y  from conservatives such as Harold Osborne, through l i b e r a l s such as Northrop Frye, e f f e c t i v e social democrats such as Raymond Williams, and ostensible Marxists such as Tony Bennett, to anarchists such as Roger  - 15 -  B. Rollin.16  while their reasons for advocating abstention from  systematisation i n evaluation vary, the majority of these c r i t i c s seem to share a paradoxical conception of l i t e r a t u r e and c r i t i c i s m as at once decisive and peripheral to society's e x i s t e n c e . ^  Their dismissal of  " e x t r i n s i c " judgment goes hand i n hand with an exclusive concentration on the " l i t e r a r y " as the vortex of c u l t u r a l l i f e .  This e f f e c t i v e  underestimation of material s o c i a l factors reveals their distance from the Marxist conception of the limited self-generating power and  social  potency of l i t e r a t u r e and c r i t i c i s m . Perhaps the best-known non-Marxist  spokesman for judgmental  agnosticism today i s Northrop Frye, and his chapter "On Value-Judgment," i n The Stubborn Structure (pp. 66-73), i s a concise statement of his position.18  s t r i c t l y , Frye's views on evaluation are inseparable from  his general theory of l i t e r a t u r e , which is i n turn an organic part of his i d e a l i s t philosophy and his aggressively anti-Marxist, l i b e r a l humanist p o l i t i c a l stance.1^  Frye's general outlook, however, does  produce certain f l a t self-contradictions in his statements on l i t e r a r y value i t s e l f which are r e l a t i v e l y discrete and hence capable of separate analysis. In i t s most e x p l i c i t form, Frye's treatment of the merits or demerits of evaluation i s f a c i l e , both i n methodology and i n formulation.  Thus, i n The Stubborn Structure, he equates a l l  value-judgements with so-called "stock responses," unceremoniously dismissing both (p. 72).  Apart from the questionable logic of  dismissing any response merely because i t i s "stock," regardless of whether or not i t thereby recognises a certain r e l a t i v e l y stable truth about r e a l i t y , Frye's method leads to a series of s i m i l a r l y dubious  - 16 -  equations of value-judgment with "the rejection of knowledge" (p. 72) and " a n t i - i n t e l l e c t u a l i s m " (p. 73).  Frye's dismissiveness is v i v i d l y  captured in his statement that " [t] he only value-judgment which i s consistently and invariably useful to the scholarly c r i t i c is the judgment that his own writings, l i k e the morals of a whore, are no better than they should be" (p. 69).  Frye later e x p l i c i t l y acknowledges  the phenomenological premise of this statement when he claims that "a writer's value-sense can never be l o g i c a l l y a part of a c r i t i c a l discussion:  i t can only be psychologically and r h e t o r i c a l l y related to  that discussion.  The value-sense i s , as the phenomenological people  say, pre—predicative" (p. 70).  This position in turn merely expresses  a x i o l o g i c a l l y Frye's functionalist conception of i d e a l , disinterested c r i t i c i s m i n general:  "One  of the tasks of c r i t i c i s m i s that of the  recovery of function, not of course the restoration of an o r i g i n a l f u n c t i o n , which i s out of the question, but the recreation of function i n a new  context."20  Frye rejects Arnold's particular absolutist method of evaluation, one which judges l i t e r a r y works by measuring them against a r b i t r a r y "touchstones."  But he does so not because of Arnold's a r i s t o c r a t i c ,  e x p l i c i t l y anti-working-class touchstones, which he merely notes, but because of Arnold's introduction, into his judgment, of any e x t r a - " l i t e r a r y , " " s o c i a l " and class considerations whatsoever: "Arnold's 'high seriousness' evidently i s closely connected with the view that epic and tragedy, because they deal with ruling-class figures and require the high style of decorum, are the aristocrats of l i t e r a r y forms. . . .  We begin to suspect that the l i t e r a r y value-judgments are  projections of s o c i a l ones. . . .  [A*jnd c r i t i c i s m , i f i t i s not to  - 17 -  reject half the facts of l i t e r a r y experience, obviously has to look at art from the standpoint of an i d e a l l y c l a s s l e s s society" (Anatomy, pp. 21-22).  The rejection of Arnold's particular (upper-class) c r i t e r i a  therefore leads Frye to adopt the "standpoint" not of what Marxists regard as an h i s t o r i c a l l y more progressive c l a s s — t h e working c l a s s — b u t of a "classless society" admitted reality.  This purely imaginary  to be e n t i r e l y ungrounded i n present  transcendence of existng class-society  can only be characterised by Marxists as an evasion of r e a l i t y .  It  offers no concrete method of engaging with the e x i s t i n g , class-induced q u a l i t i e s of l i t e r a t u r e today. Marxists' own  And  i t is certainly not the same as the  orientation towards a classless society through the s o c i a l  r e s o l u t i o n — n o t evasion—of class c o n f l i c t .  Marxists would argue that  Frye's "standpoint" of a "classless society" bespeaks not a programmatic orientation towards achieving such a society, through changing c l a s s - r e a l i t y , but a mental escape from i t .  Indeed, they might further  argue that the charge of "reject [ing]" the "facts" of "experience" assumes dubious connotations when i t issues from him:  Marxists, too,  "reject" many "facts" of their experience, i n the sense of s t r i v i n g to better people's existing conditions of l i v i n g ; but Frye here i s c l e a r l y a t t r i b u t i n g to a l l principled evaluation a w i l l f u l blindness towards r e a l i t y that i s perhaps more properly applicable to his own method. This is the only characterisation I can make of his even-handed and contemptuous rejection of a l l class-perspectives as "perverted culture" and of a l l revolutio