Marx spent a vast portion of his later life in England. Also, the big part of his epoch-making creation, Capital, or Das Kapital, got shaped in words in England that uncovered the principles of Marxism. But the question is whether Marxism-influence as English literature content emerged in the later period.
As a philosopher and socialist revolutionary, Karl Marx earned rich experiences from the nineteenth century’s most advanced and industrialized nation, i.e., England. But apparently, it appears that Marxism-influence on English literature has not been so extensive compared to other parts of the world. There is no denying that Marxism and Leninism have prevailed in Russia. And the said theory has now emerged as a reality. Even the influence of this theory on human lives and literature is, no doubt, paramount and wide-ranging.
Some eminent social philosophers, including Sir Thomas More and Plato, evolved the theory of ideal society far before Karl Marx. Their words have drawn a vision of an all-perfect society that will never promote disparity. It will be utterly free from hunger, slavery, and fear. However, Marx preferred to obtain a more vivid theory.
As a political philosopher, he didn’t hesitate to analyze the world’s economic structure critically. Moreover, he made the analysis purely on a scientific basis. He showed the courage to interpret the ongoing materialistic conception of history with a new approach.
Marx was probably the first political philosopher and author who defined the century-old co-operative living with a concrete production method. His words have clearly explained that each production mode has a different ‘political counter-part,’ like monarchy, feudalism, capitalism, bourgeois, socialism, and communism. In a word, Marx has specified that every political system is the development, emerged from its predecessor. And, in this way, the relentless force of nature ultimately helps in the evolution of a new society, i.e., the classless society, which assimilates socialism. A Socialism that respects every individual’s ability and needs equally. The vital thing is Marx noted this whole theory in English which, in other words, is called Marxism. And this Marxism-influence as English literature content is now available to everyone.
Some more discussions can make the picture better understandable. Russia is probably the biggest destination that has witnessed the Marxist literature in its full swing and endorsed the social philosophy breathing in it. Russian writer, political activist, and five-time Nobel Prize nominee Maxim Gorky is undoubtedly one of Russia’s best literary figures to date. Being a staunch apostle of socialism, Gorky didn’t hesitate to fight vigorously against the so-called intellectual snobs and the Trotskyist of his times.
Gorky’s novels always depict the agonies and miseries of working-class people. His words have described how people of this specific class suffer heavily due to the oppressive atmosphere of capitalism. ‘Mother,’ the famous novel of Gorky, is a classic example of revolution. It describes Russian workers’ struggle during the pre-revolution time of the black Czarist tyranny. ‘Mother’ is a famous English novel bearing that socialism concept, which Marx introduced in his book ‘Capital.’ That means the saying- Marxism-influence as English literature content is a truth, which is quite visible in Gorky’s writings.
From the English literature perspective Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, English writer H.G. Wells, and many others also praised socialism through their writings. However, Wells’ theory of socialism is a bit different from Marxism. The eminent English writer preferred a society that a specified intellectual aristocracy must rule. Although, during his last days, Wells lost faith in his Utopian life and the universe.
On the other hand, G.B. Shaw was dead set against imperialism and capitalism, though he preferred the passage of collaboration. In a proper word, Shaw was the ‘Utopian Socialist.’ But, his works tread the socialism theory in a bit different way. Apart from Shaw and Wells, many other great writers of Modern English literature became influenced by socialism, which in other ways indicate the theory of Marxism.
The influence of Marxism is also visible in English poetry. Apart from being eminent poets, Louis MacNeice, C.D. Lewis, Stephen Spender, and Auden are strong supporters of Marxism. Some critics even prefer to identify them as Marxists. However, their Marxism defines that socialism, which is more of an idealistic kind.
Poet Auden’s work shows his realization regarding the injustice perpetrated by the greedy capitalistic society. As a genuinely sensible person, his words stand out as protests against the fetter of capitalism. Readers can even feel Auden’s outbursts in some of his works. These specific works are deeply soaked with puns.
Another English poet and novelist, Stephen Spender, also bears the Marxism influence. His words draw the agonies of class struggle and depict the picture of social injustice. Also, it appears that his poems are symbols of revolutionary objectivity. His poetry shows his deep pain regarding the class struggle existing in human society. These renowned poets and their creations have shown that Marxism-influence as English literature content is a deep-rooted matter.
The discussion about Marxism-influence in English literature will remain incomplete if it doesn’t include Marxist criticism. As already discussed that Marx wrote the vast portion, or the big part of ‘Capital’ or ‘Das Kapital‘ while staying in England. But, the influence of Marxism theory is evident in Russia and not in England. Now, the question is why.
Undoubtedly, it is true that so many renowned poets, novelists, and playwrights have offered their support towards the Marxism principles. However, some of them are half-hearted in their attitude and, this attitude uncovers the path for Marxist criticism in England. Famous literature critic Philip Henderson is an uncompromising critic of Marxism. His favorite book ‘Literature and a Changing Civilization’ is a perfect example of criticism.
Another famous critic of Marxism in England is Ralph Fox, although he was a member of the Communist Party in Great Britain. But still, he has criticized Marxism in his book ‘The Novel and the People’. The book is a unique piece that unfolds both literary and social problems from the Marxist perspective.
There is an extensive list of critics who have criticized the theory of Marxism in different ways. But, even after this criticism, no one can deny that Marxism-influence as English literature content is still very much surviving in the English literature-related discussion.