Write a brief note on Form and Content in Marxian Criticism.

Eagleton accepts the orthodox Marxist approach that the form and content of a text have an inseparable link. In his essay, Marxism and Literary Criticism, 'he traces the views of different Marxian critics on the relationship of form and content. Marx was close to Hegel who believed that "every definite content determines the form suitable to it. However, the later critics are not certain about the primacy of 'form' or 'content' in the relationship between them. Earlier Marxist critics gave importance to content as given by Hegel. Formalists of Russia gave primacy to 'form'. Fredrick Jameson of America follows the line of earlier Marxist critics and says "inner logic of content", determines the form of fiction. Christopher Cantwell also gives importance to content.


Marx did not construct a systematic critical theory of literature. Marxian criticism is, therefore, derived from his papers and scattered writings. The difference of assumptions of Marxist criticism amongst his followers is natural. Marx was influenced by Hegel but had a different approach. Trotsky said, "a new form is discovered, proclaimed and evolved under the pressure of inner need, of a collective psychological demand which... has its social roots. Lukacs on this line said, "The true social element in literature is the form... the true bearers of ideology in the art are forms..." The contents of the novels can vary in different novels according to their ideologies, but the form remains the same. Lukacs' view is anti-Hegelian in approach. But English critics, in general, believe that form and content are inter-related, but in theory, they are different. The form is concerned with the theme or ideas forming the basis of the subject (content) of a novel. The contents can change with different novels. Can change with the subject of fiction. The form remains unchanged. With the transformation in ideology, the contents can change and may affect a form. Eagleton considers that the relationship between form and content of text are complex and inseparable like 'base' and superstructure. In Marxian criticism, the relationship is dialectic and not static.

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