Social Scientist. v 1, no. 1 (Aug 1972) p. 30.

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World-outlook and Literary Value

MARXIT criticism has always recognized the possibility of tension between a writer's consciously held complex of views and the ideological tendency emerging from the objective picture of social reality depicted in his works. The present paper attempts to discuss the Marxist attitude to the problem. In the first part, we shall review the ideas of some prominent Marxist thinkers on the nature of this tension. In the second part, we shall enquire to what extent a consideration of this tension is relevant to the task of literary evaluation.


The most fruitful starting-points of our discussion are, obviously, Engels's remarks on Balzac and Lenin's articles on Tolstoy. When we contrast the attitude of Lenin to Tolstoy with that of Plekhanov, the limitations and dangers of the vulgar sociological attitude to literary problems will be revealed.

It is well known that Marx and Engels held Balzac in high esteem for his novelistic portrayal of the post-revolutionary French society. Marx wrote that Balzac was "generally remarkable for his profound grasp of actual conditions.951 Engels said that he learned about French society from Balzac more than from all the professional historians, economists and

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