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Raymond Williams

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Chapter Summary

Raymond Williams's relationship to Marxism went through two phases, separated by a long interlude. The first was natural. Born in 1922 in a rural region of Wales, son of a Labour Party railway man who was active in the 1926 General Strike, his political engagement in the British workers' movement was natural. This phase culminated with his arrival at Cambridge University in 1939 and began his career in political and cultural journalism. The second phase began with the early 1960s. At the time, Williams was known as an historian and theoretician of culture. He studied literature not as a succession of great works but as a cultural formation, determined by the history of the society in which it was inserted and determining it in return. Experience, tradition, style, structure of feeling, culture: these are rather unusual Marxist concepts. They justify the description of Williams's oeuvre as neo-Marxism.

Keywords: Marxism; Raymond Williams



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