Literary Theory: Marxist Criticism

I have already talked at length about Russian contributions to the field (here and here), so it was really only a matter of time before I would get around to Marxism. As you will hopefully all remember from history class, the aim of Marxism is to bring about a classless society, based on the common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange; it sees progress as coming about through the struggle for power between different social classes. I won’t go through the entire Communist Manifesto or Das Kapital with you, but only focus on those ideas and concepts that shape Marxist literary criticism.

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Reading List: Doppelgänger

Original illustration by Chuck Groenink.

One of my favourite tropes: the doppelgänger! The word is borrowed from the German language and translates as “double walker.” It is a figure that is physically nearly identical (either a twin or of supernatural origin) to someone else, usually the protagonist. These stories tend to center around the double creating conflict and the protagonist trying to contain the damage while suffering the consequences (“that wasn’t me, it was my evil twin!“). The doppelgänger often functions as a dark double, the embodiment of things the protagonist has tried to suppress in himself.

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