As I read Raymond Williams’ “Marxism and Literature” I found myself really connecting with his views pertaining to how not only literature should be understood but more importantly on how it should be viewed.  Williams hooked me in when he explained early on that ‘literature’ is not something that can simply be viewed as a concept. By looking at literature as a concept we do not give it the depth that something as massive as literature needs to have. Another section that I found helpful was the breakdown of even the word literature. Combined with some history I learned a great deal of information that I never even considered. As an English Education major I felt foolish that I have spend many years and thousands of dollars studying literature and I didnt even have a concrete understanding if what it even was.  

One part that I did not fully grasp was Williams ideas regarding a ‘national literature” On page 1572 Williams explains “National literature drew on all the positive forces of cultural nationalism and it’s real achievements. It brought with it a sense of the greatness or the glory of the native language…”. This idea of national literature reminded me of the Canon. A collection of works that displays the true greatness that has been achieved in literature. One way this could be understood would be if Aliens from space flew down to Earth and asked us for a few examples of our species idea of literature. Even though cheesy pharmacy novels with Fabio on  the cover are considered literature, would we want Fabio to represent our idea of literature or would we give them some Shakespeare, Kurt Vonnegut, or some Morrisson  and let them chew on that for a while? It seems that Williams wants the reader to analyze the way they view literature and look at its many sections with an abstract point of view.

From Williams I continued onto Deleuze and Guattari’s “Rhizome”  and quickly found myself being bombarded with metaphors connecting literature to anything that has many parts that rely on each other. Even though I did not fully understand other connections they were trying to make I immediatly could see how they looked at literature as a working body. Another aspect which helped was how they broke down the different types of books. “Root books ” were explained on page 1603 as “This is the classical book as noble, signifying, and subjective organic interiority…the book imitates the world as art imitates nature…” This section was not as clear to me as I would have liked it so hopefully a good ol’ class discussion will help clear up the true purpose of “Rhizome”.

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