By Josephine M. Guy
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Extra resources for The Victorian Social-Problem Novel: The Market, the Individual and Communal Life
The problem for Marxism (and particularly for Marxist critics interested in art and literature) was that the identification of such a realm with works of art tended to imply that art itself is non-social; but the whole idea of non-social explanations of human products or human phenomena is precisely what Marxism rejected. One disappointment of Lucas's argument is his failure to make any reference to these larger debates. 39 In practice, of course, Lucas's account avoids confronting these and similar problems by implying that imaginative thinking is either simply the 'truth' or that it offers an unmediated access to it.
To put matters bluntly, it is ideology which is silently providing the criteria for judgement about rhetoric. This suspicion is reinforced towards the end of the essay, when Lodge elaborates another rhetorical strategy which the novel employs: that of the fairy-tale. Lodge notices that the devices of the fairy-tale are used by Dickens with varying degrees of success: where Dickens invokes the world of the fairy-tale ironically, to dramatize the drabness, greed, spite and injustice which characterize a society dominated by materialism, it is a highly effective rhetorical device; but where he relies on the simplifications of the fairy-tale to suggest means of redemption, we remain unconvinced.
49 Cazamian argues that the fiction of the period can be explained (and should be judged) in terms of this opposition. So, on the one hand, there are novels which are characterised by their rationalist intellectual trend- 'utilitarian novels'; and on the other, there are works which endorse interventionism- the 'interventionist novels'. Within this framework 'utilitarian novels' are criticised as 'feeble' while 'interventionist novels' are described as 'rich'. Cazamian goes on to define interventionism as 'a positive attempt by the individual or the community to improve social relations'; for a novel to be 'truly a part of the interventionist movement, then its author must expressively have demanded positive action, either from the State, or organised institutions, or private persons'.