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The Lumpenproletariat and the Itinerary of a Concept: Some Literary Reflections

The Lumpenproletariat and the Itinerary of a Concept: Some Literary Reflections AbstractIn their theory of class formation and social revolution, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were scathing about the lumpenproletariat, condemning it as anti-revolutionary, morally bankrupt, and a bribable tool of the bourgeoisie, a view that remained influential well into the mid-twentieth century. Not until Frantz Fanon appropriated the term lumpenproletariat in The Wretched of the Earth (1961) and applied it to what he saw as a whole class of people waiting to be brought into and redeployed as the vanguard of a new revolutionary proletarian consciousness did it shed its negative connotations. The changed trajectories of the proper place and role of the lumpenproletariat can be seen in working-class literatures of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries, which constitute an important stage upon which to refine Marxian and Fanonian understandings of the lumpenproletariat. This essay examines three novels written in the last thirty years: Herbert, by Nabarun Bhattacharya, written originally in Bengali and published in 1993; How Late It Was, How Late, by Scottish writer James Kelman (1994); and Sacred Games, by Vikram Chandra (2006). Read contrapuntally, these works provide a literary platform for the exploration of the representational shift in the role and function of the lumpenproletariat in the twenty-first century. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Asian Review of World Histories Brill

The Lumpenproletariat and the Itinerary of a Concept: Some Literary Reflections

Asian Review of World Histories , Volume 9 (2): 34 – Jul 16, 2021

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
2287-965X
eISSN
2287-9811
DOI
10.1163/22879811-12340094
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

AbstractIn their theory of class formation and social revolution, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were scathing about the lumpenproletariat, condemning it as anti-revolutionary, morally bankrupt, and a bribable tool of the bourgeoisie, a view that remained influential well into the mid-twentieth century. Not until Frantz Fanon appropriated the term lumpenproletariat in The Wretched of the Earth (1961) and applied it to what he saw as a whole class of people waiting to be brought into and redeployed as the vanguard of a new revolutionary proletarian consciousness did it shed its negative connotations. The changed trajectories of the proper place and role of the lumpenproletariat can be seen in working-class literatures of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries, which constitute an important stage upon which to refine Marxian and Fanonian understandings of the lumpenproletariat. This essay examines three novels written in the last thirty years: Herbert, by Nabarun Bhattacharya, written originally in Bengali and published in 1993; How Late It Was, How Late, by Scottish writer James Kelman (1994); and Sacred Games, by Vikram Chandra (2006). Read contrapuntally, these works provide a literary platform for the exploration of the representational shift in the role and function of the lumpenproletariat in the twenty-first century.

Journal

Asian Review of World HistoriesBrill

Published: Jul 16, 2021

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