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This book extends the theme of Raymond Williams's earlier work in literary and cultural analysis. He analyzes previous contributions to a Marxist theory of literature from Marx himself to Lukacs, Althusser, and Goldmann, and develops his own approach by outlining a theory of `cultural materialism' which integrates Marxist theories of language with Marxist theories of literature.
Williams moves from a review of the growth of the concepts of literature and idealogy to a redefinition of `determinism' and `hegemony'. His incisive discussion of the 'social material process' of cultural activity culminates in a re-examination of the problems of alignment and commitment and of the creative practice in individual authors and wider social groups.