This THEORY OF REFLEX supposes two principles:

the art does not automatically correspond to the class point of view. Since it is a reflection, it must try to go beyond the surface and reach the essence of the reflected reality, which constitutes the process of society’s development. Art is “progressive”. The work of a true artist must be in contradiction with the ideas of man.
Being a superstructure, art ends with the structure that sustains it. However, the reflection of a certain phase of social-historical development in quality art is capable of outlining the general lines of this phase in such a persuasive way that the collective memory of society is happy to evoke its own past.
2.d.2. Literary realism: Rejects the vulgar naturalism of the contemporary novel and takes up the previous realistic point of view: it is ascribed to the Leninist theory of reflection; the novel reflects reality not by reproducing its mere superficial appearance but by presenting a more dynamic, vivid, complete and true reflection. Lukács considers that the mission of art is the faithful and true representation of the totality of reality.

Like Engels, Lukács considers that Marxist aesthetics must postulate realism, although without opposing an aesthetic of fantasy (which expresses the reflection of reality). The great literature is the realist literature of nineteenth-century novelists (Balzac, Stendahl …) The critic has no other function than to measure particular works according to the historical-social process they reflect, to understand to what extent they capture the essence of this process and know how to represent it evidencing the forces and tendencies immanent to society. It is about achieving a synthesis between the individual and the universal; if not, the characters are only abstract representations of ideas (symbolism) or are simply degraded to things (naturalism).

2.d.3. Lukács makes extensive studies on authors and works of European literature since the s. XVIII. From his work derives a theory of literary history that establishes the rise of realism at the moment in which the bourgeoisie has a progressive role in social evolution; on the other hand, when that progressive role disappears (after 1818, and after 1905 in Russia) the indispensable historical perspective no longer exists, and literature takes refuge in anti-realist positions. Thus, the decadence of the bourgeoisie is followed by the decline of literature, which Lukacs identifies with realistic literature. The arrival of socialism will give rise to socialist realism.

2.d.4. Lukács classifies the literary genres with great importance of the historical factor: literary genres are produced only when general life facts have been formulated, typical and that are reproduced regularly, whose particularity of content and form could not be adequately reflected in the forms already existing. (Sociology of Literature, 1961). The fundamental genres are épira, lyric and drama. According to him, “both the tragedy and the epic – epic and novel – represent the external objective world, unlike the lyric one. Moreover, the great epic and the drama give a total picture of objective reality. This differentiates them from the other epic genres “(Sociology of Literature, 1961).

Lukács, converts sociological criticism into authentic SOCIAL BASED LITERARY THEORY, a social research on mediations between literary base and superstructure, and grants the historical factor a clear role in the evolution of literary genres.

What do you understand by superstructure in Marxist Criticism? Is Literature an important part of the superstructure?

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  1. 2017


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