Lucien Goldmann Oleg Mandić - Essay

Oleg Mandić

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)


[Goldmann's] main conclusion [in Pour une sociologie du roman] is that the novel's form is directly connected with the structure of the social environment in which it originates. He calls this genetic structuralism, and stresses that the relation between "the creator group," to which an author belongs, and the work of art follows mostly this model…. (p. 639)

The most important problem of this kind of sociology is to study the connections between the economic structures of capitalistic society and the literary phenomenon called the novel. Certainly, from the Marxist point of view this main affirmation is true. But the author overemphasizes it, losing touch with other elements that interact in the formation of the literary work. He does not pay due attention to the relative independence of diverse elements of the social superstructure, particularly in the domain of culture, in regard to the economic infrastructure. In this way he approaches the border of economic materialism, a tendency criticized by Marx and Engels, which tries to explain all social phenomena exclusively by the activity of economic factors.

It is proper to praise every attempt to throw some light on tortuous and concealed ways by means of which an artistic work comes into being. Such is the case with the study under review. But it is likewise correct to draw attention to the fact that the methods used in this book can create a false image of the interaction of factors contributing to the formation of the work of art: the creator's class and group membership, his social standing and psychological conformation, the social motives which induced him to choose a particular theme and hero, personal reasons for which he made the choice, particularities of his social environment influencing him in the course of the creative effort, the way in which all these influences are refracted through the prism of his individuality,...

(The entire section is 805 words.)