Literature and Thought

Sociology and Literature — Frankfurt School

At least one contribution of this essay to the field of literary analysis is that it makes sense. A wave of nonsense swept over the field after a structural approach had seemed to satisfied so many of the literary questions facing the field that those who were in “Publish or Perish” situations had to invent a new paradigm. Semiotics, Deconstructionist Approaches, and a mess of other idiocies were allowed to take over the field. It even got to the point where the writer no longer wrote his works. Shakespeare’s works were a result of the reader, not Shakespeare. It was time to leave them in their stables to rot. Here, at least, are some approaches that may be of use, but they do not help the student of literature much. The sole, and much neglected, objective of literary criticism, of scholarship, is to make the literature more available. That is to say, to clear up what might be problems in understanding. For that reason, it is not a stretch to say that the most important literary researchers are those who re-read the plays of Shakespeare in their original format and put them into clear print. Keeping that in mind, we may then proceed to discuss whether particular approaches are worthwhile.

Leo Lowenthal 1948

On Sociology of Literature

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