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

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