Summer 1948 • Vol. X No. 3 Nonfiction |

Aesthetic of Revolution: The Marxist Melodrama

The world of Dickens, we agree, is constructed upon a dualism of values that, aesthetically, are the values of melodrama: the good people and the bad, the proud and the humble, the hard and the soft, the simple and the devious, the rich and the poor. Edmund Wilson has remarked that the only complexity of which Dickens appears capable is to make one of his noxious characters wholesome or to turn one of his clowns into a serious person. The mechanism of the Dickens morality is the choice between extreme situations. The mechanism of the Dickens psychology is opposition and conversion—revolution within the psyche. These Dickensian oppositions and conversions—the revolutionary choice between extremes—are, aesthetically, the mechanics of much of the art and thought of the 19th Century, which reaches its most determinate effects by means of polarities. The extremities of the 19th Century dilemma are inherent in the bourgeois situation. They are recognized by Dostoievsky's undergr

Already have an account? Login

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece



Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.

Read More

Subscribe

Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.

Donate

With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.