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By Raymond Williams

This booklet extends the subject of Raymond Williams's prior paintings in literary and cultural research. He analyses past contributions to a Marxist thought of literature from Marx himself to Lukacs, Althusser, and Goldmann, and develops his personal strategy by way of outlining a idea of 'cultural materialism' which integrates Marxist theories of language with Marxist theories of literature. Williams strikes from a assessment of the expansion of the recommendations of literature and idealogy to a redefinition of 'determinism' and 'hegemony'. His incisive dialogue of the 'social fabric procedure' of cultural job culminates in a re-evaluation of the issues of alignment and dedication and of the inventive perform in person authors and wider social teams.

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Ll would be in many ways preferable if 'AI'e could begin from a proposition which originally was equally central, equally authentic: namely the proposition that social being determines consciousness. It is not that the two propositions necessarily de ny each other or are in contradiction. But the proposition of base and superstructure. with its figurativ e element and with its suggestion' of a fi xed and definite spatial relationship , constitutes, at least in certain hands. a very specialized and at times unacceptable version of the other proposition, Yet in the transi· ,t1Oii"Trom-MBl'X to MarxiSi"D)and in the development of main=~tre8iDMirn{lsm IlseJr,11ieJiroposition of the determining base and the determined superstructure has been commonly held to be the key to Marxist cultural analysis, The sour~ of this propositio n is commonly taken to be a weU~known passage in Marx's 1859 Preface toA Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy: In the socia l production of their life.

Empty talk about consciousness ceases, and real knowledge has to take its place. When reality is depicted, philosophy as an Indepe nde nt branch of activity loses its medium of existence. (CI, 17) There are several difficulties here. The uses of 'consciousness' and 'philosophy' d epend almost entirely on the main argument about the futiJity of separating consciousness and thought from the material social process. It is the separation that makes such consciousness and though t into ideology. Dut it is easy to see how the poin t could be taken, and has often been taken, in a q uite different way.

GJ, 39) Yet already at this stage there were obvious co mplications, ' Ideology' became a polemical nickname for kinds of thinking wh ich neglected or ignored the material social process of which 'consciousness' was always a part: Consciousness can never be anything else than conscious existence, and the existence of men is their actual life-process. If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside dow n as in a camera obscure , this phenomenon arises just as much from their historical life-process as the inversion of objects on the retina docs from their physica l life-process.

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