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REVIEWS 99 lagging behind perception to argue for the writer's commitment to his own objectivejudgement and capacity to reflect experiences in a dialectical way, without correct ideology. The problem of the two realisms for Bisztray thus centers on how a work ofart expresses political consciousness as well as the totality of the perceived world. Socialist realism, distorted by party constraints from the thirties through the fifties, tended to promote a Soviet elitism and ethnocentrism. But the interestingproblems for Bisztray are more theoretical: Gorky and Lukács represent a dialectic of presecriptive and descriptive forms of realism. Mehring and Plekhanov provide the model of a materialistic criticism which makes realism a kind of social determinism, subordinating the work of art to economic realities. Lukács again provides a counter, with his objections to the lack of subject-object dialectic in materialistic realism and his criticismof the reification ofman and institutions. However, Bisztray wishes to emphasize the value of the documentary and information theories to criticism, and to emphasize that they have their origins in a Soviet sociological tendency which is in itself relevant and challenging, worthy of further development. He claims, for example, that Goldmann's theory of homologies is "merely repackaging an old tradition," and that he "supersedes in no respect the practice of the Soviet sociological critics." For the pole of subjectivism, Garaudy and Fischer become the model, with Lukács, again, an opposingview. "Aesthetic revisionism" suggests that art must extend and change its methods—there is no final stageof development or method of realistic expression. Literature creates models of reality rather than copies of it, and modernism creates the impetus for the debate; is it a !«interpretation of modern reality or the last gasps of the bourgeois culture trying to stay alive? Bisztray, wishing for Marxist realism to be open rather than closed, to be a criticism with literary interest rather than a special subcategory of a specific political system, finds here a weakness in Lukacs. Even socialist realism was more open to the irrational. Nevertheless, the theory of Lukács dominates Bisztray's analysis throughout. In the course of his work he discusses Brecht, Caudwell, Finkelstein, Fox, Gramsci and Lunacharsky, Zhdanov and other "officials who meddle with cultural politics," as well as the major figures used as models. However, Bisztray's is not entirely an objective survey: . . .ofall the Marxists critics, it is Georg Lukacs whose works on Literary problems surpass in volume, scope, and consistency those of any other outstanding socialist critic. The essential problems concerning the term 'realism' can be derived without exception from Lukacs work. (203) Suzanne Clark Doeren D. W. Fokkema and Elrud Kunne-Ibsch, Theories ofLiterature in the Twentieth Century. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1977. 219pp. $16.96. With the exception of those few for whom criticism ended with T. S. Eliot, most academics know that since the mid-sixties the search for a scientific basis for the study of literature has intensified and various theoretical approaches have pro- 100 THEMINNESOTA REVIEW liferated into print. This rapid birth rate of theories of literature, most of them either from Europe or European-inspired, has now spawned another breed of book—the inevitable critical survey of such theories. This outline of twentieth-century literary theories by Kunne-Ibsch and Fokkema, professors of comparative literature at the Free University, Amsterdam and the University of Utrect respectively, is a self-confessed summarized sampler of Marxism, structuralism, semiotics, and reception aesthetics, designed to "enable the reader to select a theory, the assumptions and criteria ofwhich he finds agreeable." However, as a critical summary which attempts to lay bare the underlying assumptions of current theories, the book adds little to other stocktaking efforts, such as Victor Erlich's classic study of Russian Formalism or Frederic Jameson's most recent Prison House ofLanguage; nor does it go beyond surveys of structuralism by Robert Scholes and Jonathon Culler or analyses of Marxism by Terry Eagleton and Frederic Jameson. In fact, as a result of trying to cover so much material in less than two hundred pages, Kunne-Ibsch and Fokkema's study is considerably less valuable than these. The fact that some effort is made here to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 99-101
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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