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Marxism and

Literature

RAYMOND WILLIAMS

Oxford

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

New York

OXfORD

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Contents

Introduction

I. Basic Concepts

1. Culture

II.

2.

3.

Language

Literature

Id eology

Cultural Theory

4.

1.

2.

Base and Supers tru ct ure

De te rmin a tion

3. Productive Forces

4. From Reflection to Mediation

5. Typi fi ca ti on and Ho mology

6. Hegemony

7. Traditions , In s titution s. and Formations

8.

9.

10.

Dominant, Residual. an d Emergent

Structures of Feeling

The Sociology of Cu ltu re

Ill. Literary Theory

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9. Alignment and Co mmitment

The Multiplicity of Writing Aesthetic and Other Situati ons

From Medium to Social Practice

Signs and Notations

Conventions

Genres

Forms

Authors

10 . Cr eative Practi ce

Booklist and Abbreviations

Index

11

21

45

55

7·5

113

90

95

101

lOB

11 5

121

128

1 36

145

151

158

165

173

180

186

192

1 99

206

213

218

9. Structures of Feeling

rn most d escripti on a nd ana lys is, cultu re and society are exp res-

sed in

an hab itu al pas t tense. The

strongest ba rri er to th e recog -

niti on

of human cultu ra l activ it y

is t hi s i mm ed iate an d reg ul ar

conve rsion of expe r ie n ce in to fini sh ed

sible as 8 procedure in i:O US(.;iQ ll S

ass umpti ons man y ac ti ons ca n be Q . 'I"'t,,

en d ed , Is ha bitu a ll y

, not

Wh at is defen-

'e

ll

tJ

~

,

,'~~;~~

~

~

.

~

C

 

produced

"
"

look into its centre

of thi s procedu re, to possible past its edges , we can unde r-

 
 

stan d, in

new ways, that se parati on of the social fro m th e per.-

sonal wh ich is so power ftil ana-dir ec

ti ve a c ultllr'ill mod e. If the

_

!!,Qciai is a lways pa s t. in-th

e se nSe th

at it is a lw

ays fo

we

r

have i nd ee d to find o th er te rm s for th e und e ni ab le expe ri ence or. -'

!!l~~

: ii!?l2n!Ytne tem po nil prese nt . d ie rea li zatio n of ah js

~

nJ

and

- ac kno wledgifinstitUtfons. on natIOii'S: position s. but not alwa s

~fLt

h

is

i

n

s

t

ll11h

an.!z

Q

ably ph ysical.

within

s.

c

p

~

--

ifi

CiljJirprese.ntbe

which

i.ng.l

indeed

h

i

e

n

a

Jj

e

n

_

discern

we

ma

~

as11Xed'1ffiKlU'Cts"7d produ ct s. n en th e speia l is th o.

Ui e kn o wn re lati onsh ips . ins tituti on s. fo r-

ma tion s. pos itions-a ll th at is ptesent and mo vin g. a ll th at

escapes or see·ms to ·escape fro m ilie fixed

t ~e know n. is grasped and defined as tho personal: this, here, now alive . acti ve. ·su bjective'.

C>;:pJ iCl t

tt"

a

nd

and the expli cit an d

oction . As t hough t is d esc ri bed,

in the sa me habitual pas t tense, it is ind eed so (Jiffere nt. in its

ex pli c it and fini s hed form s. from much or eve ll anyth ing that we

can presentl y recognize as thinkin g, th at we set aga inst it more

active. more flexible,

experie nce. feeling-a n d th en watch even th eso dra wn towards

loss-'Singul ar terms-co nsciousness.

T ere 1S

anothe r rcialeddT

,ti

:

Structures of Feeling

129

fixed. fi n it e. reced ing form s. Th e poi nt is es p ecia ll y releva nt to

works of a rt . wh ich rea ll y are. in

objectifi ed con venti ons

figu res) in literat ure. But it is not onl y

in herent process, we h ave to make them

in spec ifica ll y active 'readings ' . It i sa lso that the maki ng

oi art is never itself in the past fen se. It is always a forma tive process, wi thin a specific present. At different moments in his- tory.a nd in significa ntl y d ifferent ways, the rea lity a nd even th e primacy of such presences and such processes, such diverse and ye t specif ic actu ali tie s. have bee n po we rfull y asse rt ed and reclaimed, as in practice of course they are a Uthe time lived. But they are then often asserted as forms themselves, in contention with other known forms: the subjective as distinct from the objecti ve; experience fro m belief; feeling from tho ught ; the

present,

one se n se. exp li ci t and fini shed

forms-ac tual a nd nota tions

th at. to co mplet e th ei r

o bjec ts in th e vis ual arts. (sema ntic

immediate from th e ge neral; th e persona l from the social.

The

und eniable

po wer

of

two

great

mode rn

ideologica l

sys-

tems- th e 'aesthe ti c' and t he ·psychological '- is. ironicall y.

sys tematica ll y de rived fr om th ese se n ses of ins tan ce a nd pro- cess, wh ere expe rie n ce , i mm edia te feeling, and then s ub jectiv-

it y and personality are newly generalized and assembl ed. Again st th ese 'pe rso nal' fo rm s, th o id eolog ica l systems of fi xed social ge neralit y, of ca tegorica l prod uct s. of absol ute fo rm a- ti on s. a re rela ti ve ly pow er less. within the ir speci fi c dim ens ion.

in Marxism. with its habitual abuse of

the 'su bjective' a nd th e 'personal'. th is is especia lly true.

of th e social to fixed fo rms that re mains

Of one do mi na nt st ra in

Yet it is the red uctio n

Ji.lm~

thcoas l cem5"r . Mirx often said t his, ·and so m cMaix i stsq uote

retu rning to fi xed forms, The mistake.

as so oft en. is in takin g te rm s of anal ys is as terms of s ubstan ce.

Thus we spea k of a world-view or of a preyailing i d oo l ~x a class ou tlook, o ft en w ith ad eq uate eviden ce. but in this r eg ular sIfde-fowirds a past tense and 8 fixed form suppose , or even do no tkDow tha 't we h ave to sU'J1PQse . t hat th ese exis t and are li ved specificall y and definit ively, in si ngu lar and deve loping forms. Perhaps th e d ead ca n be redu ced toJ ixed forms. th

surviving records are agains t it.

re du ced, at leas t in th e first perso n; li vin g third pe rso ns may be

different. All the known co mplexi ti es, th e expe ri enced tension s.

shifts, a nd un ce rt ain ti es. th e in trica te

confu sion. are agai nst the terms of the reduction and soon. by

for ms of un evenn ess and

ways. before

·

iit"

fixed

?!.of

ou

g

~

~

r

But

t

e

living will_ n Q.L~

130 Marxism and Literature

exten si on , against often ad mitted for

possibl e relevance to this immed iate a nd ac tu al sig- of bein g. And from th e abstractions form ed in th e ir

tu rn by this act of debarr ing-t he 'human imagina tion', the 'human psyche '. the 'unconscious', with their 'functions' in art

and in myth and in dream- new and displaced forms of social analysis a nd ca tegori za tion, ove rrid ing all sp eci fi c soc ial condi -

tions, arc

social analys is itsel f. Soc ial form s are th en generali ties but debarred, contemp tu ously.

from any nifi ca n ce

th en more or less ra pidly developed .

Social form s arc ev ide ntly more recognizable when they are

a rti cu late a nd expli cit . We have see n this in the range f rom

institutions to formations and traditions. We can see it again in

the range from domina nt systems of belief a nd ed u ca tion to infl ue ntial sys tems of ex pl anat ion a nd argum en t. All th ese have

effecti ve pr ese n ce. Many

are form ed and deli berate, a nd so me

Bre quite fi xed. But wh en th ey have a ll bee n id enti fied they are not a whole inventory even of social consciousn ess in its sim·

plest sense. For they become social conscious ness onl y when

th ey are li ved, acti vely, in real rela tionsh ips, and mOreove r iI~

relationships w hich are more than systematic exchanges be- t ween fi xed uni ts. Indeed just becau se all con sc iousn ess is social , its processes occur not only between but wit.hin the relationship and the related. And this_practical consciousness is always more than a handlin g of fi xed fo rms a nd u nit s. Th ere is fr eque nt tension between the received interpretation and practical ex perience. Where this tension can be made di rect and explicit, or where some alternative interpreta tion is available, weare still

dim ension of rela ti ve ly fi xed fo rm s. But th e tension is

wi th in a

as oft en an un ease, a st ress, a dis pl ace ment. a latency: th e moment of conscious comparison not yet come, often not even

Structures of Feeling

131

consciousness is what is actually bein g lived, and not onl y what

th ought is bein g li ved. Yet th e act ua l alt e rn a ti ve to th e

rece i ved and produced fi xed form s is not s il en ce: not the

a bsen ce , the unco n sciou s, which bo urgeois cu ltu re h as my thi .

cized. It is a kind of feeling a nd thinking which is indeed social and mat eri al, but each In an e mbryo ni c pha se before it ca n

become full y articulate and defin ed exchange . Its relations with the already articulate and defin ed are then exceptionally com-

plex. This process ca n be directly observed in the history of a language. In sp ite of su bstantial a nd at so me levels decis ive con ti nu ities in grammar and voca bu la r y, no ge nerat ion spea ks

quite the sa me language as its predecessors. The difference ca n be de fined in term s of addit io n s, dele ti ons, and m od ifi cati on s. but these do not exhaust it . What rea lly cha nges is somethin g

Quit e ge neral, o ve r a wi de range, a nd th e d escrip tion tha t o ften

fits the change best is the literary term 'style', It is a general

change, ratherth an a set of deli berate choices, yet choices ca n be ded uced from it, as \\"ell as effects. Similar kinds of change can be obser ved in man ne rs, dress, build i ng, and oth e rsimila rforms

of soc ial lif e. It is '' 30 open qu es t io n-

specific historical questions- whether in any of these cha nges

t hi s or th at g roup h as bee n do mina nt or in flu en tia l, or

th ey are the result of m uch more general int eract ion. For what we nre definin g is a particul ar qu_al ity of social experience and relationship , histo ricall y distin ct from other pa rticular qual·

iti es, which gives the sense of a genera tion or of a period. The re la tions be twee n th is qualit y and the oth er spec ifying historical maT'ks of changing institutions, formations, and beliefs, and beyond th ese th e changing socia l and economic rela tions be·

wheth er

it is

th at is

to

say , a

set of

coming. And comparison is by no mea ns the

o nl y process,

tw een

and within classes, are aga in an open Qu estion: th at is to

though it is powerful and important. There are th e experiences

say, a

set of specific

h isto rica l q ues tions. The meth od ological

to wh ich the fi xed forms do not spea k at all, which

indeed they

con seq uence of such

a definition , however, is that the speCific

do not recogn ize. There are important mixed experien ces, where th e availa bl e meanin g would conve rt part to a ll , or a ll to par t.

And even where form and response can be fo und to agree, wi th out a pparent diffic ult y, th ere can be qu alifica ti ons, r eserva·

ti ons, ind ica tions else wh er e: what

the ag ree me nt see m ed to

settle but still sounding elsewhere. Practical consciousness is

alm os t always d iffere nt f rom offi cia l cOnsc iousness, and th is is

not onl y a matter of relati ve

freedom o r control. For prac tical

qualitative changes are not assumed to be epi phenomena of

changed institut io ns. fo rmations, and

dary evidence of changed social and economic relations be- tween a nd within classes. At the sa me time they are from the begi nnin g taken as socia l ex pe ri en ce, ra th er than as ' perso nal' experience or as the merely superficial or inCidental 'small

beliefs, or merely secon-

change' of society. They are social in two ways that distinguish th em from reduced senses of the social as the institutional and

132 Marxism and Lit e ralur,e

.r~ Ithey are emergent o r pre-emergcnt, they do not have to await

.r 1"

:-::

;

'.

J ':t

the fo rmal : fir st. in thai th ey arech.ong~~

e

orp~!

nc~

,

(while

the y

are being lived this is obvious; when they have been lived it is

still the ir subs tantial characteristic): second, in that a lth ough

~efinition.

classification, or rat

.io

n~1iz~tion

befor~

they e~e

rt

. :

palpab le pressu.res and set effechve bmlt s on expe n ence and on

1

action.

',;X Such changes can be d efined ~ changes in stf}J.2t.!!m{p]feel.

~r

" ing',' The term is difficult . but 'feeling' is chosen to emphasize a 'dist inction from morc formal concepts of ' world-view' or 'ideol- ogy'. It is not only th at we must go beyond formally h? ld and systematic beliefs, tho ugh of course we have al ways to IOclude them. It is that we a re concerned with meanings and va lues as

they are actively live d and felt , and th e relations between these and formal or systematic beliefs are in practice variable (includ- ing histori cally variable), over a range from formal assent with private di ssent to the more nuanced interaction between selected and interpreted beliefs and acted and justified experi-

- ence: in one sense the better and wider word, but with the

difficulty that one of its senses has that past tense which is the most Important obstacle to recognition of the area of social experience which is being defined. We are talking about c hara c-

and tone; s peCifically relationships : not fee l-

ing against thought , but thought as fe lt and feelin g as thought :

practical consciousness of a present kind, in a living and inter- relating continuity. We are then defining these elements as a 's tru cture ': as a set, with s pecific internal relations , at once interlocking and in tension. Yet we are also defining a social experience which is still in process, often indeed not yet recog-

nized as social but taken to be private, idi osyncratic, and even isolating, but which in analysis (though rarely otherwise) has its

eme rg ent, co nnectin g, and do minant c haracteristics, indeed its

specific hi e rarc hies. Th esea re often more recognizable at a later stage, when they hav e been (as often happ en s) ~~~alizcd. clas- sified. and in many cases built into insUtu1:ions and formatiqns. BY-Thai time t~ e case is different; anew structure of feeling will

ences . An alternative definition would bo

stmctur.es.-Df

cxpcri

teristic clements of impulse, restraint, affectiv e elements of co n sc iousnes s and

usually already have begun tol orm, in the lr)Je soci~J

then, a 'structure of feeling ' is a cwtural hypothesis, actually derived from attempts to understand such

present.

~ethod

o

Jogically,

r

I

Structures of Feeling

133

"elmnants-and their connectjons in a generation or period, and needing always to be returned, interactively, to such evidence. It

ISinit ially Je ss s

of the social. but it is more adequate to the actual range of cu ltur al evidence: histori caUy ce rtainly, but even more(whereit matters more) in our present cultural process. The hypothesis has a special relevance toart and literature,where the true social content is in a significant number of cases of this present and affective kind, which cannot without loss be reduced to belief- systems. institutions , or explicit general relationships, though it may include a ll the se as liv ed and ex perien ced, with or without tension , as it also eVidentl y includes elements of social and material (physical or natural) experience which may lie beyond,

or be uncoverod or imperfectly covered by, the elsewhere recog- nizable systematic elements. The unmistakable presence of certain elements in art which are not covered by (thou gh in

one mode they ma y be reduced to) other formal

the true source of the specializing categories of 'the aesthetic',

'the arts', and 'imaginative lit e rature'. We n oo d, on th e o ne

hand. to acknowledge (and welcome) the specificity of these elements-specific feelings , specific rhythms-and yet to find ways of recognizing their specific kinds of sociality, thus pre- venting that extraction from social experience which is conceiv· able only when social experience itself has been categorically (and at root historicaUy) redu ce d. We are th en not only co n· cerned wi th the restoration of social content in its (ull sense, that

The idea of a structu re of feeling ca.n

be specifically related to the evidence of forms and conven-

figures-which, in art and litorature, are o ften

imple than mor o formally suuctured hYPQth eses

systems is

of a generative immediacy.

tions- semanti c

among the very first indications that such a new structure is formin g. These re lati o ns will be discu sse d in more detail in subsequent chapters, but as a matter of cultural theory this is a way of defining forms and conventions in art and literature as inalienable elements o( a social material process: not by deriva- tion from other social forms and pre-forms. but 8S social forma- tion of a specific kind which may in turn be seen as the artiqlla- tion (ofte n the only fully available articulation) of structures of feeling which as living processes are much more widely experi-

enced.

For structures of feeling ca n be d efi ned as ~

ial

e~'perie

n

c~s

in solution , as distinct from other social semantic formations

-----

134 Marxism and Literature

which have been p recipitated and are more eVidently and more imm ed iate ly ava il abl e. No t a ll a rt . by a ny m ea ns, relates to a

contem po rary structure of feelin g. The effecti ve forma ti ons of

m ost actual 8 rt relate to already manifest socia l formations. domina nt or resi du a l, a nd it is pr imaril y to emerge nt form ations (though often in the form of modifi ca tion or disturban ce in old er

fo

speci fi cso iuti on is never whi ch, beca use it Is althe

many of the characte ri stics of a pre- fo rmatio n. until specifi c

arti c ul a tions- new ial prac ti ce : oft en.

wh ich a re o nl y lat er see n to compo se

mino rity ) ge nera ti on; this often, in turn , the genera ti on that

su bs tantia ll y co nn ects to its succes sor s. It is thu s a

structure of particular linkages, particular emphases and s up ~

press ions. a nd . in what are orten its m os t recogni za ble fo rm s,

pa rti cul ar d ee p s t a

id eo logy, for exampl e, spec::ified th e e xposu re ca used by pove rt y

or by debt or by ill egitimacy as social failure or de vi a tion; the

con temporary structure of feelin g, meanwhile.

se ma nti c fi gu res of Di c k. ens. of Emil y Br o nt e,

spec ified exposure and isolation as a general cond it ion, and pove rt y, debt , or ill eg iti macy as its oo nn ec tin g instances . An

alternative ideology, relating such exposure to the natu re of the soc ial ord e r, w as o nl y later ge nera ll y form ed: off ering expJ an a·

li ons but now at a red uced tension: th e soc ial

admitted . the intens ity of exper ienced fea r

persed a nd generalized. The exa mple re minds us, fin all y. of the oomplex rela tio n of differe ntiated structures offeeling to differentiated classes. This

is hi s to rica ll y

for exampl e. two stru ctures of feelin g (a mong th e defeated Puri·

tans a nd in th e res tored Co urt ) can be r ea dil y

a significa nt (o rt en in fact

rm s) th at th e structure of fee lin g. as so lu tio n I relates. Yet thi s

me re flu x. It is

a structured fo rm a ti on

ve ry ed ge of semantic ava il a bilit y, has

se mantic figures- are d isco vered in ma ter· as it ha ppen s, in rela tiv ely iso lat ed ways,

rt

i

n

g~

poin

ts

and co

sp eci fi c

nclusion s. Earl y Vi ctor ian

in the new and o th er s,

explanation fu ll y

a nd shame now d is·

ve ry varia bl e. In England be twee n 1660 and 1690.

dis tin gu

ished,

th ough ne ith er, in its th e id eo logies of th ese

cl ass rela ti ons. At tim es th e em erge nce of a new stru cture of

groups orto their formal (in fa ct co mpl ex)

literature and el se where,

is redu ci bl e to

feeling is bes t rela ted to th e ri se of a class (En gland , 1700·60) ; at o th er tim es to co ntra di c tion , fracture, or mut a ti on with in a

n form a tion

ap pea rs to br ea k. aw ay fr om its cla ss no rm s, th ough it re tai ns it s

cla ss (En g land. 1780-18 30 or 1890-1 93 0) , wh en

Structures of Feeling

135

affili a ti on, a nd th e tension is at on ce li ved a nd in radica ll y new se ma ntic fi gu res. An y of th ese

wh a t is now in mod e of soc ial

form a ti on, ex pli cit a nd recog n izab le in specific ki nd s of a rt.

ques tion . th eo re ti ca ll y.

exa mpl es requi res detai led substanti a ti on, but

substa ntial articul a ted

is th e hypo th es is of a

whi ch is di stin gui sha ble fro m ot her social and sema nti c fo rma- tions by its articul a tion of p resence .