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Socialist Literature

Theory and Practice


Abdulla M. Al-Dabbagh

Socialist Literature studies the relationship between the development of socialist literary theory and the process of cultural transformation in modern society by tracing the outline of the theory in the works of Marx, Lenin, and Mao, and examining its reflection in actual works of literature. This analysis is set alongside a detailed examination of the literary part of the cultural superstructure in China and in the Soviet Union. Among the major literary and theoretical works discussed are The communist Manifesto, Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art, Gorky’s Mother, and the poetry of Mayakovsky.
Key issues, like the position of the writer in society, the relationship of the old and the new in literature, and the much discussed relationship between the «creator» and the «audience,» are examined and explained in a different light by regarding them as more than purely theoretical issues or abstract cultural problems and, instead, considering them as social issues that can only be settled at the level of practice.
Abdulla Al-Dabbagh amplifies the area of research by discussing some of the major opposing positions to the theory outlined and, by examining at length the portrayal of proletarian heroism, one of its key concepts, in the literary works of the same epoch. The result of the close textual analysis of a large number of major works of poetry, drama, and fiction reveals the course of the artistic development to be complementary to that of the theoretical advance.
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The primary condition for any successful investigation is to start off by connecting literature to society. Literature and ideas generally do not grow in a vacuum. They are always either a means of preserving a particular social system or the means of transforming it in accordance with certain material conditions. People in various societies simply by participating in the process of production, the process of satisfying their living needs, enter into certain production relations with each other. The ideas and the cultures which they produce are expressions, at varied levels of sophistication, of this complex process and these diverse relations of production. With every big change in the material conditions the state of society changes in a way that the old production relations turn into an obstacle that must be removed, and the ideas accompanying those relations turn into meaningless words that have to be replaced by new ideas more suitable to the new circumstances.

It is well-known that sociology divides human society from its early stages until the present-day into five principal types which are: primitive communism; slavery; feudalism; capitalism; and socialism. And although there might be a variety of social formations, these formations will not be more than various combinations of these five principal types. For example, semi-feudal and semi-colonial society which includes a large number of the countries of Asia, Africa and South America is made up principally of a combination of feudal relationships and capitalist relationships. ← 1 | 2 →

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