The Faust Variations

In: Historical Materialism
Alberto Toscano Reader in Critical Theory, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London UK
Visiting Faculty, Digital Democracies Institute, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University Burnaby BC Canada

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This essay explores Jameson’s reading of Goethe’s Faust II in Allegory and Ideology, putting it into dialogue with enquiries into Goethian allegory by other Marxist critics, namely Georg Lukács, Cesare Cases and Franco Fortini. Allegories of monetisation and dispossession in Faust II are explored, along with the limits of Lukács’s partial devaluation of the allegorical. The essay focuses in particular on how Jameson’s reading of Faust II can be interpreted as an allegory of theory itself, and in particular of the dialectic, thereby returning us to Lukács’s own parallel reading of Faust and Hegel’s Phenomenology, albeit in a different key.

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