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Politique et histoire, de Machiavel à Marx by Louis Althusser PDF

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By Louis Althusser

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And, after all, it is natural enough, considering his rather negative attitude towards society. In the last resort there is nothing he admires except common decency. Science is uninteresting and machinery is cruel and ugly (the heads of the elephants). Business is only for ruffians like Bounderby. As for politics—leave that to the Tite Barnacles. Really there is no objective except to marry the heroine, settle down, live solvently and be kind. And you can do that much better in private life. Here, perhaps, one gets a glimpse of Dickens’s secret imaginative background.

But he was not one of those people who feel a need to use their hands. It is difficult to imagine him digging at a cabbage-patch, for instance. He gives no evidence of knowing anything about agriculture, and obviously knows nothing about any kind of game or sport. He has no interest in pugilism, for instance. Considering the age in which he was writing, it is astonishing how little physical brutality there is in Dickens’s novels. Martin Chuzzlewit and Mark Tapley, for instance, behave with the most remarkable mildness towards the Americans who are constantly menacing them with revolvers and bowieknives.

This is the case even with legal processes, about which actually he must have known a good deal. Compare any lawsuit in Dickens with the lawsuit in Orley Farm, for instance. And this partly accounts for the needless ramifications of Dickens’s novels, the awful Victorian “plot”. It is true that not all his novels are alike in this. 1 The two first-person novels are also good stories, apart from their sub-plots. But the typical Dickens novel, Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist, Martin Chuzzlewit, Our Mutual Friend, always exists round a framework of melodrama.

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Politique et histoire, de Machiavel à Marx by Louis Althusser


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