The pre-Revolutionary ruling class survived the war almost intact, and "the snug little commonwealth" came into the Federal Union with a minimum of factionalism. The ruling class was made up of the clergy of the established Congregational churches, the local magistrates, and the officials of the state. Most were persons of some wealth, even of culture in a provincial sort of way, and they constituted the aristocracy of the commonwealth. Close union of church and state brought these men and their families together, and by the time of the Revolution they were closely interrelated through marriage as well as strongly intrenched in position.
Like religion, sex, and art, literature is protected by taboos both numerous and powerful.
To the cultured mind the study of the writer as a professional man, of the literary work as a means of communication, and of the reader as a consumer of cultural goods is vaguely sacrilegious.
Such a revulsion is all the more surprising, as the concept of literature first appeared to describe a sociocultural fact, not an aesthetic one. In fact, social consciousness and a sense of solitude often coexisted in the literary attitude of the nineteenth century, but the contradiction between them was not obvious to the romantics, some of the greatest of whom—such as Byron and Hugo—were keenly aware of their moral solitude yet never ignored the strong ties which united them with society.
Nevertheless, literary criticism more and more shifted its emphasis from a collective to an individual outlook.
Carlyle, indid stress the effects of literary reputation on a writer, but his representation of the man of letters as a hero can be considered the turning point of the movement from presociological to psychological criticism. Meanwhile, in Germany the new science of philology had awakened an interest in form and style which eventually opened a new approach to literature through the aesthetic analysis of the work of art.
In the early twentieth century, Wilhelm Dilthey concretized this tendency into a doctrine which gave birth to a strong antisociological current which reigned almost unchallenged in many countries under the various shapes of formalism,Stilforschung, and aesthetic structuralism.
France, however, remained steadfastly committed to the historical positivism of Taine. Early attempts Sociology long avoided the difficult job of analyzing literature.
When sociologists—most of them with a philosophical, not a literary turn of mind— touched on the subject, they included it in the wider categories of art, leisure, or communication, thus ignoring the specific characteristics of literature.
Even Marx and Engels were extremely prudent in their handling of literary problems. Plekhanov, who was the first to offer a Marxist and a sociological theory of artdid not treat literature satisfactorily. There was a sociological tradition in Russian literary criticism.
It was handed down from Belinski, a contemporary of Carlyle, through Pisarev, a contemporary of Taine, to the antiformalist critics of the Soviet era.
Most Marxists nowadays think this view much too simplistic to account for the complex nature of the literary phenomenon. A true sociology of literature appeared only when literary critics and historians, starting from literature as a specific reality, tried to answer sociological questions by using current sociological methods.
The difficulty was to formulate the questions. By the time an interest in sociology was awakened among literary specialists the habit had been formed of working on the writer as an individual or on the literary work as an isolated phenomenon but seldom on their relationship to the reading public.
As early as the German L. Schiicking had tried to give an outline of a sociology of literary taste, but his attempt found little response. On the other hand, when the Hungarian Gyorgy Lukacsafter his conversion to a rather personal brand of Marxism, tried to base a method of critical analysis on a parallelism between the aesthetic patterns of the work of art and the contemporary economic structures of society, he certainly initiated a new type of sociological investigation in literary criticism The Lukacsian sociology of literature is widely followed in eastern and western Europe, particularly in France, where Lucien Goldmann may be said to have brought it to a high point of effectiveness ; It opened wide and numerous vistas on the social nature of literature, and no further studies on the subject can ignore it.
Yet, although Lukacs and his followers take into account society as the reality behind the appearances of literature, they still consider the work of art as an end in itself and neglect the part of the reader in literary communication.
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Aug 30, · Anyway I haven't read anything by Mildred Taylor as yet though I have Roll of Thunder, hear my cry around here somewhere.
Just yesterday I was reading an old childlit email and followed through the link to a talk that Julius Lester gave back in about growing up in the south, books and reading. Any honest accounting of the cultural legacy of the s has to reckon with Charles Manson, who died Sunday at the age of Manson was a human monster whose sole talent was being able to.