Cleanth Brooks's Essay Irony as a Principle of Structure

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His effectiveness rests on the fact that he has developed the practical essence of Marxism to a pitch of clarity and concreteness never before achieved. He has rescued this aspect of Marxism from an almost total oblivion and by virtue of this theoretical action he has once again placed in our hands the key to a right understanding of Marxist method. For it is our task — and this is the fundamental conviction underlying this book — to understand the essence of Marx’s method and to apply it correctly. In no sense do we aspire to ‘improve’ on it. If on a number of occasions certain statements of Engels’ are made the object of a polemical attack this has been done, as every perceptive reader will observe, in the spirit of the system as a whole. On these particular points the author believes, rightly or wrongly, that he is defending orthodox Marxism against Engels himself. We adhere to Marx’s doctrines, then, without making any attempt to diverge from them, to improve or correct them. The goal of these arguments is an interpretation, an exposition of Marx’s theory as Marx understood it. But this ‘orthodoxy’ does not in the least strive to preserve what Mr. von Struve calls the ‘aesthetic integrity’ of

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