Literary Theory

  • Zygmunt G. Baranski


Soon after his arrest and imprisonment, Gramsci requested a copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy and proceeded to write a series of scholarly notes on the poem (Gramsci, 1975, pp. 221–38). Earlier Marx too had revealed a great admiration and an intelligent knowledge of the poem, using parts of it to bolster his more specifically economic and historical arguments (for example, Marx, 1976, p. 198). And it should be immediately noted that Dante is not somehow anomalous in the intellectual biographies of these two great thinkers. A recourse to literature and a sustained interest in its status and function within society underpin a not insignificant section of both their oeuvres (for Marx, see Arvon, 1973; Lifshitz, 1973; Prawer, 1978; for Gramsci, see Stipčević, 1968; Sapegno, 1969; Thibaudeau, 1976). And Marx frequently commented on the enjoyment he derived from art. Nor are Marx and Gramsci unique amongst major Marxist thinkers as regards their interest in aesthetic concerns.


Literary Theory Cultural Theory Historical Materialism Literary Text External Reality 
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© Zygmunt G. Barański and John R. Short 1985

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  • Zygmunt G. Baranski

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