Marxism and Modern Art: An approach to social realism by F. D. Klingender 1943


The following books and articles are recommended for further study on the subjects outlined in this essay:

Section II:

Roger Fry: Vision and Design, London, 1920 (and numerous reprints), especially the essays ‘Art and Life’, ‘An Essay in Aesthetics’, ‘Art and Socialism’, ‘Art and Science’, ‘Retrospect’.

Roger Fry: Reflections on British Painting, London, 1934.

Virginia Woolf: Roger Fry, A Biography, London, 1940.

Section III:

Any standard edition of Tennyson’s Poems will contain the final version of the ‘Palace of Art’; for a comparison between the 1832 and 1842 versions cf. A. M. D. Hughes: Tennyson, Poems Published in 1842, Oxford, 1914. For biography and criticism cf.:

Alfred Lord Tennyson, A Memoir by his Son, London, 1906.

Harold Nicolson: Tennyson, Aspects of his Life, Character and Poetry, London, 1923.

Section IV:

N. G. Chernyshevski: Life and Aesthetics (1853), International Literature, 1935, Nos. 6-10. The first instalment of this edition contains a selection of references to Chernyshevski by Marx and Lenin. Cf. also the Supplement to Chapter Four, Section I, of Lenin’s Materialism and Empiriocriticism (Collected Works, 1938 edition, p. 366), entitled From What Angle did H. G. Chernyshevski Criticize Kantianism?

Section V

Marx and Engels: The German Ideology, ed. Roy. Pascal, London, 1938.

From the Selected Works (Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute ed.): Vol. I:

Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach (another version in The German Ideology).

Manifesto of the Communist Party.

Preface to ‘A Critique of Political Economy’ (the important MS. Introduction to the Critique, which contains Marx’s well-known reference to Greek art, will be found in the Kerr edition of the Critique, Chicago, 1904).

Letters on Historical Materialism (esp. Engels’ letter of January 25, 1894, to Heinz Starkenberg – also in Selected Correspondence of Marx and Engels).

Engels: Ludwig Feuerbach.

From Vol. II:

The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte: the first five pages (pp. 315-9) are of fundamental importance to artists since they contrast the role played by art in the bourgeois revolution, in France and England, with its role in the proletarian revolution. The passage defining the relations of the ideologist to the class he represents occurs later in this work (cf. reference on p. 30).

Speech at the Anniversary of the People’s Paper.

Marx and Engels’ scattered references to art and literature have been reprinted from time to time in International Literature (esp. in 1933-5), the most comprehensive collection I know is:

Sur la Littérature et l’Art, Vol. I: Marx and Engels; ed. by Jean Fréville, Paris, 1937. The disadvantages inherent in taking what are often merely incidental remarks from their context are avoided in Mikhail Lifshitz’s brilliant attempt to reconstruct The Philosophy of Art of Karl Marx (English translation: Critics Group Series, No. 7, New York, 1938). The excellent translations in which the New York Critics Group has made a number of the classics of Marxist criticism available to English-speaking readers were not, unfortunately, republished in this country and only very few copies were imported. The assembly of a complete set at Marx House would be a great service to Marxist students.

Section VI:

Plekhanov’s most important contributions to art history and criticism are the three essays:

‘Historical Materialism and the Arts’ (Critics Group: Dialectics No. 3),

‘Art and Society’ (Critics Group Series No. 3, 1936),

‘French Drama and Painting in the 18th century’ (Critics Group: Series No. 3),

in addition Fundamental Problems of Marxism (Marxist-Leninist Library No. 14) should be consulted.

Of Mehring’s profound studies only part of the Lessing Legend (Critics Group Series No. 11) and of his criticism of Ibsen (Critics Group Series No. 6) are available in English.

Plekhanov’s point of view is criticised in:

Lunacharski: ‘Basic Problems of Art’, International Literature, 1935, XII ;

Literature and Marxism, A Controversy (Critics Group: Series No. 9, 1938) and in the works mentioned in the following section.

Section VII:

Lenin: Materialism and Empiriocriticism (Collected Works, Vol. XIII, 1938), the most important sections also in Selected Works, Vol. XI.

On Dialectics in Selected Works Vol. XI;

6 Articles on Tolstoi: 2 in Selected Works, Vol. XI; 3 in International Literature, 1934, No. VI; 5 in Critics Group Dialectics, No. 6; all in

Sur La Littérature et l’Art, Vol. II, Lenin and Stalin, Paris, 1937.

Lunacharski: Lenin and Literature (an extremely important article) International Literature, 1935, No. I.

Lunacharski: Lenin on Art, International Literature, 1935, No. V.

Mark Rosenthal: Relative versus Absolute Criteria in Art (an important recent contribution) Critics Group Dialectics, No. 8.

Section VIII:

Clara Zetkin: ‘On Lenin’ (in Sur la Littérature et l’Art, Vol. II).

Lenin: From the History of the Workers’ Press in Russia (Selected Works, Vol. XI).

William Morris: The Art of the People, and other essays in the Nonesuch Press edition of Morris’ works, London, 1942.

Maxim Gorki: ‘Soviet Literature’, in Problems of Soviet Literature, 1934.

Kalinin: ‘The Tasks of Soviet Art’, Voks Bulletin, Nov. -Dec., 1940.