All posts by Rachael

Marx and the Consumption of Literature

Within his two texts, Karl Marx discusses the interrelation between that of man and his political and economic environment. Within this premise, the notion of man’s relationship to art and literature is also brought to light. Marx transcribes the idea that individuals cannot ‘create’ outside of which they already know. Man is bound to the concepts already presented within the society. Marx states, “The production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness, is at first directly interwoven with the material activity and the material intercourse of men, the language of real life. Conceiving, thinking, the mental intercourse of men, appear at this stage as the direct efflux of their material behavior” (Marx 409). The idea of true independence from a society does not truly exist because man cannot create beyond that of what already exists. Perhaps it is possible to say that true originality in literature can never occur because the societal forces have shaped the way that literature and art is intended. Material interaction is just that, material. Within the consumption of material surroundings, art itself becomes a material that can be utilized for an economic purpose.

Shklovsky’s “Art and Literature”

In Victor Shklovsky’s writings, he recites how poetic form is tied intimately with artistic expression. From what I have gathered of his opinions, the use of imagery is essential in writing either poetry or prose. An author must view and recount an object as if they have never seen it before. This idea of “defamiliarization” is the key to describing and effectively portraying a narrative to the reader. Shklovsky writes, “I personally feel that defamiliarization is found almost everywhere form is found… An image is not a permanent referent for those mutable complexities of life which are revealed through it; its purpose is not to make us perceive meaning, but to create a special perception of the object – it creates a “vision” of the object instead of serving as a means for knowing it”. He requires that authorship and readership reexamine imagery and recreate it through a fresh lens. Art and form are established in this way and coexist together, generating a novel way to interpret and devise literature. He believes that the best writers are  those who use this technique whilst writing. Artistic expression, in his opinion, carries the most weight and forces itself to be effective on the page.

Shklovsky, Victor. “Art as Technique.” Ed. David H. Richter. The Critical Tradition. Third ed. Boston: Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2007. 774-84. Print.

Spectrum of Human Nature

“The fat knight has his moods of melancholy , and the young prince his moments of coarse humor. Where we differ from each other is purely in accidentals: in dress, manner, tone of voice, religious opinions, personal appearance, tricks of habit, and the like. The more one analyses people, the more all reasons for analysis disappear. Sooner or later one comes to that dreadful thing called human nature. Indeed, as any one who has ever worked among the poor knows only too well, the brotherhood of man is no mere poet’s dream, it is a most depressing and humiliating reality; and if a writer insists upon analysing the upper classes, he might just as well write of match-girls and costermongers at once.”

Oscar Wilde. “The Decay of Lying.” In Intentions. New York: Brentano’s, 1905. Internet Archive. 3–55 (PDF pages 33–85).