The Origin and Development of The Proletarian Novel


Scientific Essay, 2016

59 Pages


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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
INTRODUCTION
Novel derived from Italian novella, Spanish novella, German
novelle and French nouvella, meaning `piece of news, short
stories or tales' of the kind one finds in Boccaccio's "Decameron"
(1349-51), Marguerite of Navarre's "Heptameron" (1530),
George Perrie's "A Petite Pellace of Pettie his Pleasure" (1576)
and Cervantes' "Novelas ejemplares" (1613). The term usually
applies to a wide variety of writings whose only common
attribute is that they are extended reasonable piece of prose
fiction. For this reason, a novel has traditionally defined as a
piece of prose fiction, which possesses a reasonable length. This
definition of novel is of course, not sufficient and it is restricted
in many respects because all novels are not pieces of prose
fiction but also are written in verse. Alexander Pushkin's
"Eugene Onegin", Les Murray's "Fedy Neptune", Catherine
Bateson's "A Dangerous Girl", and Angela Johnson's "The
Other Side: Shorter Poems" and Karen Hesse's "Newbery
Medal: Winning Out of the Dust", Vikram Seth's "The Golden
Gate", "Stephanie Hemphill's "Things Left Unsaid" and many
others for example are novels in verse. Novel is not a purely
piece of fiction but it is based upon the facts too. Novel's
reasonable length is also questionable because Andre Gide's
"The Immoalist" is considered as a novel and Anton Chekov's
"The Duel" as a short story, although, they possess the same
length. These points challenge the established definition of the
novel. The fact is that novel resists exact definition.
Several historians proposed Miguel de Cervantes, John
Banyan and Daniel Defoe as plausible candidates but the game
of tracing the absolute origins of novel is always a dangerous
task because they are obscure. Mikhail Bakhtin, the Russian
literary theorist locates the birthplace of novel in the imperial
Rome and traces its origins in ancient Hellenistic romance
(Emerson, C and Michael Holquist, 1981 and Hirschkop, K.,
1999). Margret Anne Doody likewise traces the origins of novel
back to the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean (Doody, M.
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
A., 1997). However, the roots of the genre can be traced back to
the writings such as "The Princess of Backstaw", "The
Predestined Prince" and "Sinube" in the time of the X11th
Dynasty Middle Kingdom (1200 BC). The classical works of
fiction that have come down to us notably, "The Milesian Tales"
(2nd BC), Longus' "Daphnis and Chloe" (2nd AD), Apuleius'
"The Golden Ass" (2nd AD), Petronius Arbiter's "The Satyricon"
(1st AD) are associated with love of one sort and another,
containing the rudiments of novel. The Japanese classical
works such as "The Taketori Monogatari" (800-900 AD), "The
Utsubo Monogatari" (850- 900), "The Yamato Monogatari"
(950), "The Ochikubo Monogatari" (10th c), "The Sumiyoshi
Monogatari" (1200), "Gempei Seisuki" (1200-50) and "The
Takeiki" (1367-74) are containing some elements of novel. The
collection of stories subsequently known as "The Arabian and
One Night" (10th c) was in embryonic form of novel. The
parables of "The Bible", the Morality plays of the feudal Middle
Ages, the sermons also possess some elements of novel that for
centuries the common people had listened to every Sunday in
every village, town and city throughout the world.
Novel did not come into being in the slave-owning age and
serf-owning feudal era prior to the age of capitalism. There was
no novel in the feudal Middle Ages because the educated middle
class of the readers and writers was lying in the dormant. The
Roman Catholic Church authority was dominant in every field
of life and the inhuman conditions were prevailing everywhere
in the social formation, which hindered the development of the
novel. In the Renaissance era, which was the transition
between feudalism and capitalism, the replacement of old
feudal values and traditions with the new ones was a
continuous process. The mercantile capitalism changed not only
the feudal economic foundation of the feudal Middle Ages but
also changed the idealist way of thinking. The modern man
realised his essential human qualities and universality for what
he really was. The new human thought was based upon
"curiosity about men and women, the interest in how as well as
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
what of human character and action, which is a prerequisite of
emergence of novel. Boccaccio, the Italian writer of the
Renaissance period wrote a vogue for collection of novelle
"Decameron" in the 14th century, which contained some
rudiments of novel. The work had much influence on Geoffrey
Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" and many of its stories were later
translated by William Painter under the title "Palace of
Pleasure" (1566-1567). Bandello's "Le Novelle" (1560),
Marguerite of Navarre's "Heptameron" and Malory's "Morte
Darthur" (1485) followed the form of Boccaccio's "Decameron".
Therefore, novel emerged in the era of capitalism along with
the emergence of the educated middle class of readers and
writers, their "curiosity about men and women and interest in
how as well as what of human character and action, which is
pre-requisite of the novel, arise. "Chaucer and Boccaccio, at the
dawn of the Renaissance, showed first this most important
feature of the novelist" (Fox, R., 1948, p. 53).
In the Renaissance period, Spain went ahead of the rest
of Europe in the development of the novel form. We find the
works near to novel called "El Caballero Cifar" from the very
beginning of the 14th century until the 16th century, "The
Amadis de Gaula" (1508), "Las sergas de Esplandian" (1510),
"Amadis de Grecia" (1530), "La Celestina" (1499-1502),
"Lazarillo de Tormes" (1554) "Abencerraje" (1600), "Guzman de
Alfarache" (1604). The work that is most nearest to the novel
form is Cervantes' "Don Quixote". The works that could be
classed as a novel are Rabelais' "Pantagruel" (1532) and
"Gargantua" (1534). In Europe Lyly's "Euphues" (1580), Sir
Philip Sidney's "Arcadia" (1590), Gascoigne's "The Adventure of
Master F. J" (1575), Greene's "The Carde of Fancie", Nashe's
"The Unfortunate Traveller" (1594), Deloney's "Jack of
Newbury", "Thomas of Reading" and "The Gentle Craft" (1600)
are the earliest forms of the European novel. Sorel's "Francion"
(1623), D'Urie's "L' Astree" (1628), E. Foord's "Ornatus and
Artesia" (1634), Mime de Lafayette's "La Princess de Clieves"
(1678), Mrs Aphra Behn's "Oroonoko" (1688) and John Banyan's
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
"Pilgrim Progress" are a further advance in the development of
novel.
The next step of novel's development was to be built up
on the self-confidence of the common people and growth of
reading public. The novel developed in the eighteenth century
along with rising of the middle class readers but it did not
originate with the works cited above. Novel is associated in
particular with such developments as the emergence of the
mercantile capitalism, growth of science, the beginnings of
journalism and the growth of the reading public in eighteenth-
century England. Congreve wrote a book entitled "Love and
Duty Reconciled" (1713) and he called it a novel. There is a
space to mention such European works as Jonathan Swift's "A
Tale of A Tub", (1697), "Gulliver's Travels" (1726), Prevost's
"Manon Lescaut" (1731), Lesage's "Gil Blas" (1735), Marivaux's
"La Vie de Marianne" (1741). Danial Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe"
(1719), "Moll Flanders" (1722), "A Journey of The Plague Year"
(1722), Samuel Richardson's "Pamela" (1740), "Clarissa" (1748),
"Sir Charles Grandison" (1754), Henry Fielding' "Joseph
Andrews" (1742), "Jonathan Wild" (1743) and "Tom Jones"
revolutionised the form and content of novel. Smollett's
"Roderick Random" (1748), "Peregrine Pickle" (1751),
"Humphry Clinker" (1771), Johnson's " Rasselas" (1759),
Goldsmith's " The Vicar of Wakefield" (1766), Laurence Sterne's
"Tristram Shandy" (1767) were milestone in the development of
novel. Voltaire's "Zadig" (1747), "Candide" (1759, Jean-Jacques
Rousseau' "La Nouvelle Heloise" (1761), Johann Wolfgang Von
Goethe's "Sorrows of Werther" (1774), "Wilhelm Meister"
(1796), Laclos' "Les Liasons dangereuses" (1782), and Diderot's
"La Religieuse" (1796) developed novel.
Danial Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding,
Smollett, Laurence Sterne, Goldsmith and other novelists were
no doubt affected by the quantitative and qualitative changes in
the reading public of their time; but their works are surely
more profoundly conditioned by the new socio-economic
conditions that they and their eighteenth-century readers
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
shared. Arnold Kettle, the most eminent British Marxist critic
remarks that, "The writers whom today, looking back, we see
specifically as novelists were not, of course, alone in building up
the novel tradition. The studies of the Tatler and Spectator, the
polemics of the pamphleteers, the habit of diary and journal-
keeping, the growth of historical writings, the increasing
popularity of travel-books all contributed, along with other even
more general influences, towards the production of novels.
Defoe's "Journal of the Plague Year" and Swift's "Tale of a Tub"
are, obviously, near-novels; Boswell's Journal and Gibbon's
"Autobiography" are not even near-novels, but they would have
a place in an exhaustive history of the growth of fiction" (Kettle,
A., 1960 a, p. 41).
How this was connected with the emergence of the new
literary form without deciding what the Novel's distinctive
literary features were and are. It is not by chance that Danial
Defoe and other novelists were journalists and pamphleteers,
caught up in the topical issues of their day less through any
passionate moral partisanship than through a lively concern
with the exciting business of living and making a living. Their
dominant interest was in what has come to be called in a
debased currency human interest. Danial Defoe began to write
fiction using traditional plots; instead, he merely allowed his
narrative order to flow spontaneously from his own sense of
what his protagonists might plausibly do next. In so doing,
Danial Defoe initiated an important new tendency in fiction: his
total subordination of the plot to the pattern of the
autobiographical memoir is as defiant an assertion of the
primacy of individual experience in the novel. After Danial
Defoe, Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding in their very
different ways continued what was to become the novel's usual
practice, the use of non-traditional plots, either wholly invented
or based in part on a contemporary incident. It cannot be
claimed that either of them completely achieved that
interpenetration of plot, character and emergent moral theme
that is found in the highest examples of the art of the novel. In
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
this matter, as in that of originality, Danial Defoe and Samuel
Richardson established the characteristic literary direction of
the novel.
The novel involved in a many sided break with the
current literary tradition, which made it possible for that break
to occur earlier and more thoroughly in England than
elsewhere. A considerable importance must certainly be
attached to qualitative and quantitative changes in the
eighteenth-century reading public. Leslie Stephen suggested
that "the gradual extension of the reading class affected the
development of the literature addressed to them" (Stephen, L.,
1904, p. 26.) and he pointed to the rise of the novel, together
with that of journalism, as prime examples of the effect of
changes in the audience for literature. The evidence is,
however, that a reasonably full analysis would be inordinately
long and yet fall far short of completeness in some important
matters, where information is scanty and difficult to interpret:
what is offered here. Therefore, it is only a brief and tentative
treatment of a few of the possible relations between changes in
the nature and organisation of the reading public, and the
emergence of the novel.
The eighteenth-century developed novel along with the
growth of a reading public, which showed one of remarkable
and increasing popular interest in reading. It is probable that
although the reading public was large by comparison with
previous periods, it was still very far from the mass reading
public of today. The most convincing evidence of this is
statistical that all the numerical estimates available are, to
varying but always considerable degrees, both untrustworthy in
themselves and problematic in their application. The only
contemporary estimate of the size of the reading public was
made very late in the century: Burke estimated it at 80,000 in
the nineties (Collins, A. S., 1928, p. 29). There are at least six
millions of people, and would probably imply an even smaller
figure for the earlier part of the century. The implication of the
most reliable evidence available on the circulation of
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
newspapers and periodicals: one figure that of 43,800 copies
sold weekly in 1704 (Sutherland, J., 1934, Pp. 111-113.) implies
less than one newspaper buyer per hundred persons per week;
and another later figure, of 23,673 copies sold daily in 1753,
(Collins, A. S., 1927, p. 255). The number of the newspaper
buying public was tripled in the first half of the century. The
highest estimate of the number of readers per copy, that of
twenty made by Addison in the Spectator, with a maximum
newspaper-reading public of less than half a million at most
one in eleven of the total population; and since the estimate of
twenty readers per copy seems a wild (and not disinterested)
exaggeration.
The real proportion was probably no more than half of
this, or less than one in twenty. The sale of the most popular
books in the period suggests a book-buying public that is still
numbered only in tens of thousands. Most of the very few
secular works with sales of over ten thousand were topical
pamphlets, such as Swift's "Conduct of the Allies", with a sale
of 11,000 copies, and Price's "Observations on the Nature of
Civil Liberty" (1776), with a sale of 60,000 in a few months. The
highest figure recorded for a single work, which of 105,000, for
Bishop Sherlock's "1750 Letter from the Lord Bishop of London
to the Clergy and People of London on the Late Earthquakes"
was for a somewhat sensational religious pamphlet, many of
which were distributed free for evangelical purposes. Sales of
full-length, and therefore more expensive, works were much
smaller, especially when they were of a secular nature. Figures
showing the growth of the reading public are an even more
unreliable guide than those indicating its size but two of the
least dubious suggest that a very considerable increase
occurred during the period. In 1724 Samuel Negus, a printer,
complained that the number of printing presses in London had
increased to 70; but by 1757 another printer, Strahan,
estimated that there were between 150 and 200 constantly
employed.
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
A modern estimate of the average annual publication of new
books, excluding pamphlets, suggests that an almost fourfold
increase occurred during the century; annual output from 1666
to 1756 averaging less than 100, and that from 1792 to 1802,
372. . It is likely, therefore, that when, in 1781, Doctor Samuel
Johnson spoke of a 'nation of readers', he had in mind a
situation, which had to a large extent arisen after 1750, and
that, even so. His phrase must not be taken literally: the
increase in the reading public may have been sufficiently
marked to justify hyperbole, but it was still on a very limited
scale. A brief survey of the factors, which affected the
composition of the reading public, will show why it remained so
small by modern standards. The first and most obvious of these
factors was the very limited distribution of literacy not literacy
in its eighteenth-century sense-- knowledge of the classical
languages and literatures, especially Latin -- but literacy in the
modern sense of a bare capacity to read and write the mother-
tongue. George Lukacs, the most eminent Hungarian Marxist
critic and literary theorist in his most remarkable work
"Studies in European Realism" has remarked that, "The great
English novelists of the eighteenth century lived in a post-
revolutionary period and this gives their works an atmosphere
of stability and security and also a certain complacent short-
sightedness (Lukacs, G., 1950, p. 150). In short, the novels of
Marivaux, Daniel Defoe, Smollett and Henry Fielding are the
best example of this step of novel's development in England.
They employed minor role to the low characters of working
classes for providing comic relief in their novels.
However, long before the imperialist era, the portrayal of
the working class and its economic plight had appeared in the
novels of the nineteenth-century novelists of the popular
tradition, which developed form and content of novel a step
further, covering a variety of themes. In England, the
Industrial Revolution changed the social relations that proved
the triumph of bourgeoisie. Even Charles Dickens ignored
industrial workers, manufacturers, and industrialism in his
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
industrial novel "Hard Times" as Terry Eagleton states that,
"Dickens' London was commercial rather than industrial
metropolis, which was why the focus of his fictional attention is
clerks and bankers rather than industrial workers and
manufactures. His only industrial novel, "Hard Times"
expresses him as pretty ignorant of industrialism, we never
even get to know what is produced in Bounderby's factories,
and the city of Coketown is portrayed in vaguely impressionist
terms, almost as though he was seeing it from a train"
(Eagleton, T., 2005, p. 102). In fact, Charles Dickens, Thomas
Hardy, Trollope, George Eliot, Mrs Gaskell, Thomas Hardy,
George Eliot, Walter Scots and many other novelists depicted
the worse economic condition of the poor. However, the
economic plight of labour force is central subject in Charles
Dickens' "Oliver Twist", "Hard Times", Mrs Gaskell's "Mary
Barton", "Cranford", "North and South" and "Wives and
Daughters" but the actuality of that life in the workplace is
barely attended in the kind of significant detail these novelists
provide us in these novels. Arnold Kettle remarked that, "What
is the secret of the power? Is it merely the objective existence of
the horrors, the fact that such things were, that strikes at our
minds? Fairly obviously not or we should be moved in just the
same way by a social history. There is a particularity about this
world, which is not the effect of even a well-documented history.
It is not just any evocation of the life of the poor after the
Industrial Revolution, when we read the Hammonds' "Town
Labourer" or Engels's "Condition of the Working Class in
England" in 1844 our reaction may not be less profound than
our reaction to Dickens's "Oliver Twist", but it is different, more
generalized, less vivid, less intense" (Kettle, A., 1960a, p.124).
In 1830, (the year of July Revolution), the novel
appeared in France with new political ideas by the restored
Bourbon sovereigns. The failed autocrat Charles X was
banished from France and Louis-Philippe, the bourgeois king
succeeded to throne. A bicameral parliament governed France
for the next eighteen years but bankers and business persons
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
exercised control in reality. This period made possible steady
industrial expansion in France. Railways and factories spread,
the landless peasants left the land and flocked to the big cities
in search of job. Victor Hugo, Balzac, Emile Zola, Stendhal,
George Sand, Edmund and Jules De Goncourt gave an unusual
prominence to ill-educated persons of low rank. Balzac took the
lower classes seriously in his straightforward novel "The
Chouans" (1829), centring on the 1799 royalist rising in
Brittany and contemporary settings in "Cure de Tours" (1832)
and "Histoire de la Grandeur et de la decadence de Cesar
Birotteau" (1837). We find in these three novels sympathetic
characters like honest sergeant in the Republican Army, a
humble minor canon and a Parisian tradesman of exceptional
honesty. Stendhal, Balzac, Edmund, and Jules De Goncourt
realistically portrayed the members of working classes such as
peasants, artisans, domestics and the small but growing
numbers of factory-workers and miners, who are called
proletariat. Stendhal presented the lower orders in his novel
"La Chartreuse de Parme". His discontented hero Julien Sorel
in "Le Rouge et le noir" was a carpenter's son and a poor
peasant. Stendhal presented such type of characters in his
novel "La Chartreuse de Parme" like Ludovic, Fabrice's
manservant, Giletti, the strolling player and Ferrante Palla,
the self-styled tribune of the people. Similarly, we find Blanes,
the oddly impressive village priest who dabbles in astrology in
Galeotti Martivalle's "Quentin Durwand". The novel "Germinie
Lacerteux" (1864) of Edmund and Jules De Goncourt depicted
the lower classes.
Stendhal and Balzac also depicted the condemned class:
the feudal aristocracy, which was doomed to extinction.
Stendhal presented Octave de Malivert as a representative of
one of the old feudal aristocratic families in his first novel
"Armance" which enjoyed great wealth and privileges before the
Revolution that reduced them to penury and economic
decadence. We also find realist class portrait of condemned
class: the land-owning feudal aristocracy in Balzac's scores of
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
novels and short stories in "Human Comedy". The old
aristocrats like Baron du Guenic in "Beatrix" lost in dreams of a
feudal past. Some aristocrats like Savinien de Portenduere in
"Ursule Mitrouet" break the law and find themselves in prison.
Others like Victutnien d'Esgrignon in "The Collection of
Antiques" are saved by the efforts of their bureaucrat friends. A
few turn bohemians like Eugene de Rastignac in "Pere Goriot",
living in utter poverty but do not want to lose all the old
arrogance of their estates. Gustave Flaubert depicted middle
classes and their illusion and disillusion in his novels. His novel
"Sentimental Education" depicted a reality coincides precisely
with the hero Frederic's sentimental education and great
disenchantment of the country after the collapse of the hopes by
the February Revolution. The novel overs the period 1840-51,
the last eight years of the July Monarchy and the brief span of
the Second Republic. When Frederic comes nearest to making
the dream of his love for Marie Arnoux, he comes across with
the outbreak of the Revolution, when the socialists came
nearest to making the dream of a socialist republic; Marie
Arnoux fails to keep the appointed rendezvous. Fredric's
vacillations between Rosanette, with her lower class origins,
and the great lady, Mme Dambreuse reflect the political
wavering of Paris in which political struggle between left and
right, workers' republic and middle class reaction was at its
zenith. The unattainable Mme Arnoux seems to incarnate the
ideal harmonizing of class interests, which is finally dashed at
the end of 1851 and the Arnoux family has to leave France to
enter into indefinite exile.
Champfleury introduced the lower middle classes in his
novels. His novel "Les Aventure de Mademoiselle Mariette"
(1851) deals with a love-affair between a writer and his cold-
hearted mercenary mistress. His other novel "Les Souffrances
du professeur Delteil" (1853) describes the tribulations of a
shabby middle-aged schoolteacher who cannot maintain
discipline in class and finally loses his job. We find in
Champfleury's novel "Les Bourgeois de Molinchart" (1855) an
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
adulterous liaison between the wife of a provincial solicitor and
a local landowner who eventually elopes with her provides the
focus of action. In his novel "Monsieur de Boisdhyver" (1856),
we find a young and handsome clerk who runs away with the
daughter of a parishioner. Similarly, in "The Le Camus Legacy"
(1857), we find a widow of a young miser plundered by her lady-
companion. Likewise, Edmond Duranty's novel "La Cause du
beau Guillaume" (1862) is centred on a liaison between a young
townsman and a country girl. On the contrary, Eugene Sue,
George Sand and Emile Zola presented working class heroes in
their novel. George Sand depicted working class heroes in her
"Andre", "The Miller of Angibault" and other novels. Emile Zola
likewise presented Jacques Lantier as a proletariat hero in his
novel "The Beat in Man", who is the engine-driver in railway.
In Russia, a new type of the novel appeared, in the age of
the liberation of the serfs in 1861, during the great public
debate preceding the emancipation of the serf. The
emancipation of the serfs forced the landless peasants to flock
to the big cities and towns, where they lived in poor lodgings
and they were inadequately paid. This period supplied a new
class of the proletarians to the newly established Russian
industry, which made the development of capitalism possible.
However, the power of capital was still seriously restrained by
the interests of the land-owning and serf-holding nobility and
the absolute Tsarist State. The economic conditions in the
patriarchal countryside of Russia prevented the development of
home market. Most of the large industrial enterprises were still
depended upon receiving State orders especially for the
railways and Army. Nevertheless, a new class of bourgoisified
nobility and industrialist bourgeoisie began to emerge and a
few members of this class became the pioneer of modern
western ideas in Russia. The capitalist and tax collector began
to shake the old foundations of peasant life in the patriarchal
countryside. As a result, the old foundations of peasant
economy were rapidly broken up for scrape. Alexander
Pushkin's "Eugene Onegin" Mikhail Lermontov's "A Hero of
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
Our Time", and Nikolay Vasilievich Gogol's "Dead Souls",
"Overcoat", Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev's "Khor and Kalinych",
"The Diary of A Superfluous Man", "Hamlet of Shchigrosky
District", "Sketches from a Hunter's Album" and Alexander
Herzen's "Who is Guilty?" developed the popular tradition of
novel. Moreover, Ivan Goncharov's "Oblomov", Feodor
Dostoevsky's "Poor People", "The Humiliated and Insulted
People", Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina"
are the best examples of the popular tradition of the nineteenth
century novel. The Russian novels depicted poor peasants and
their worse economic ethos under the yoke of decadent serf-
owning and land-owning feudalism and rising capitalism in
Tsarist Russia.
The German popular tradition of novel entered in a new
horizon of development in the time of the unification of
Germany in 1871. The apparent success of Bismarck's political
policies have been accompanied by a correspondingly
development of political realism in novel. Young Germans, the
first generation of the novelists emerged after 1830 from the
political upheavals, which culminated in July Revolution in
France. All the works of Young Germans had been put in ban
by the Decree of the Federal Diet of 1835 because they attacked
the Christian religion, criticising the existing socio-political
order and rejecting all property and morality. These writers
were Heine, Gutzkow, Laube, Wienbarg, Maundt and Borne.
The revolutionary upheaval of 1848 developed the middle class
German novel, which focused on man of business and middle-
class ideology as depicted in Freytag's "Soll and Haben".
Nevertheless, Georg Weerth wrote about the working classes
not of proletariat but the artisans and smallholder in his novel
"Life and Death of the Famous Knight Schnapphahnski",
because the proletarian class had not yet to appear in the mass
in Germany. The novels of Wilhelm Raabi and Theodor Fontane
likewise depicted lower strata of German social formation.
Michael Georg Conrad wrote from personal experience of life of
the worker.
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
The popular tradition of novel developed in Spain relatively late
in the nineteenth century. However, Spain has the best claim
as the candidate for being the birthplace of modern novel,
because the first masterpiece of the genre "Don Quixote" was
written in Spanish language. In the nineteenth century, socio-
political developments transformed the other countries of
Europe hardly touched Spain. There was neither Industrial
revolution nor an adequate home market for industrial
products. Spain possessed no sufficient capital to generate
industrial development. The native economy was based upon
totally agriculture. Only Catalonia and Barcelona were true
industrial complexes. In 1848, the growth of industry enabled
the middle classes to achieve a dominant position in social
formation. The War of Independence (1807-14), the repressive
rule of Ferdinand V11 (1814-33) and the ensuing civil war
(1833-9) were a crippling blow materially and morally. Spain
was beginning to take on the appearance of modern state in the
period of 1856-67. French capital and French engineering skill
made possible the establishment of railway system and
industrial growth in the country. In 1868, the September
Revolution resulted the dethronement of Isabel (Ferdinand
V11's daughter and successor but the subsequent attempt to set
up a radical government was ultimately failed. As a result, the
monarchy was restored in 1874.
Galdos reflected in his very first novel "Dona Perfecta"
(1876) socio-economic ethos of Spain's contemporary social
formation. He also presented a Fortunata, a working class girl
in his novel "Fortunata y Jacinta", who was the mistress of the
wealthy young man Juanito Sauta Cruz. Similarly, Jose Maria
de Pereda depicted poverty, squalor and ugliness of Spain.
Emilia Pardo Bazan in her novel "The Orator" chose a
proletarian heroine, Ampato, who was employed in a cigar and
cigarette factory in Corumna in north-west Spain, reflecting the
reality of proletarian life. He concerned with the bourgeoisie
and miner aristocracy of Madrid on summer holiday in
Santander in his novel "Summer Clouds". Armando Palacio
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
Valdes likewise satirized Madrid high life, presenting its
contrast with the brutish lives of miners. Similarly, the popular
tradition of novel developed in Portugal in the nineteenth
century. The Peninsular War devastated Portugal. Prince John
of Braganca took charge of the affairs of the kingdom when his
mother Queen Maria lapsed into a melancholy madness in
1792. He succeeded to the throne when Queen finally died. The
same royal house continued to rule Portugal until 1889. The
growth of industry and the opening of the first railway line
between Paris and Coimbra in 1864 brought extraordinary
revolution in Portugal that opened up new avenues of popular
tradition of novel. Eca de Queiros developed the tradition in his
novels.
These European novelists had written novels about the
economic plight of working class, presenting plebeian masses,
which was conglomeration of small traders, dwarf-bourgeoisie,
hawkers, semi-proletarian elements, artisans and landless
peasants but not class-conscious mature proletarian
revolutionary class. In this manner, they represented a form of
popular life, which in comparison to the industrial proletariat
already in existence in the several parts of Western Europe and
North America represented an archaic or patriarchal social
formation whose days were numbered. The social formation for
a fully valid tradition of the popular novel was finally destroyed
with the collapse of the old popular European way of life in
1860s. In this period, the novelists presented human being as a
totality of his intellectual, emotional, and sensual aspects in
their novels. This process performed functions along with the
same unified totally of channels. As Karl Marx points out that
man recognizes a phenomenon as `manifestation of man's
essential human qualities' with his whole sensibility, "Thus,
man is affirmed in the objective world not only in the act of
thinking, but with all his senses" (Marx, Karl, 1961). George
Lukacs has applied this to literature that; "...the only
development in this literature is the gradual revelation of the
16

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
human condition. Man is now what he has always been and
always will be" (Lukacs, G., 1963, Pp. 21-24).
LITERATURE REVIEW
Robert Tressell received great prominence after the publication
of his novel and the researchers, authors, historians, critics of
the world paid great attention to his life, and works. Critics
have assumed that "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" is
based on Robert Tressell's experience of working as a house
painter in Hastings. Fred Ball, a Hastings gas meter reader,
who was Robert Tressell's contemporary, tirelessly reached
Robert Tressell's life between 1940s and 1970s. He wrote the
two superb biographies of Robert Tressell under the titles of
"Tressell of Mugsborougb" (London: 1951) and "One of the
Damned: The Life and Times of Robert Tressell, Author of The
Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" (London: 1973) in which he
described the life, works and times of the proletarian novelist.
Dave Harker also wrote an interesting and informative
biography of Robert Tressell entitled "Tressell: The Real Story
of "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" (London: 2003).
David Alfred edited different lectures on Robert Tressell
entitled "The Robert Tressell Lectures 1981-1988" (1988) which
provide deep understanding of The Robert Tressell's novel.
In "Socialist Propaganda in the 20
th
Century Novel
(Macmillan: 1978) David Smith discussed the various kinds of
political discourses found in "The Ragged Trousered
Philanthropists". Peter Mile wrote a research article entitled
"The Painter's Bible and the British Workman, Robert
Tressell's Literary Activism" (1984) in which he treated political
discourse in the novel in historical and literary manner,
considering its origin, development and impact within the text.
As he remarked, "Obtrusiveness needs not mean poor
integration" (Mille, P., 1984, p. 6). Peter Mile emphasised on
integrating the political discourse of presentation into the text
of the novel. "Tressell's mode of characterisation as the
17

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
dissolution of individual identity into the representative"
(Miles, P. p. 9) ensures the presence of collectivity. In this way,
he avoided dismissal of the text made by the critics such as
George Orwell, who said that, "The Ragged Trousered
Philanthropists" is a wonderful novel "but clumsily written"
(Orwell, G., 1968, Pp. 39-40). Raymond William stated in his
"The Robert Tressell Memorial Lecture" (1983) that, Robert
Tressell's perspective is one that is "inside the condition of the
working class, outside its consciousness" (William, R., 1983, p.
76). H. Gustav Claus refers to "The Ragged Trousered
Philanthropists" as "the crest of a wave rather than an isolated
phenomenon" (Klaus, H.G., 1985, p. x). David Bell writes that,
"The pre-war culmination of this growth of a socialist working-
class fiction is publication of Robert Tressell's new classic "The
Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" (1914). The important point
that Tressell makes is that his is a literary effort, an attempt to
deal imaginatively with working-class lives and to treat the
subject of socialism, as a means to eradicating poverty
incidentally" (Bell, D., 1995, Pp. 43-44).
In addition, many books have been written on Robert
Tressell's novel "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists". Alan
Sillitoe wrote "Introduction to Robert Tressell, The Ragged
Trousered Philanthropists" (London: 1965), which is very
interesting and important in many respects. Jack Mitchel wrote
a book "Robert Tressell and The Ragged Trousered
Philanthropists" (London: 1969) in which he brought many
phases of Robert Tressell's life and the text of his novel. A.
Swingewood wrote a book "The Myth of Mass Culture" (London:
1977) in which he related the novel with mass culture, David
Smith wrote a book "Socialist Propaganda in the Twentieth-
Century British Novel" (London: 1978) in which he discussed
the novel as socialist propaganda. Stephen Ingle wrote a book
"Socialist Thought in Imaginative Literature" (1979) in which
he sought to trace socialist thought in Robert Tressell's novel.
Mary Eagleton and David Pierce wrote a book "Attitudes to
Class in English Novel" (London: 1979) in which they discussed
18

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
Robert Tressell's attitudes to working class in his novel. Gustav
Klaus wrote a book "The Socialist Novel in Britain" (1982) in
which he discussed Robert Tressell's novel as a British socialist
novel.
J. Hawthorn edited a book "The British Working-Class
Novel in the Twentieth Century" (London: 1984) in which the
contributors discussed Robert Tressell's novel from different
angles. Cedric Watts wrote a book "Literature and Money"
(Harvester, London: 1990) in which he discussed the novel in
the light of socio-economic ethos of capitalism. R. McKibben
wrote a book "The Ideologies of Class" (Oxford: 1994) in which
he related the text of the novel with different ideologies of class.
Pamela Fox in her book "Class Fictions: Shame and Resistance
in the British Working Class Novel, 1890-1945" (London: 1995)
also did so. Raphael Samuel writes in his book "Island Stories:
Unravelling Britain" (1998) "that, the novel has been
"Socialism's one serious contribution to English literature"
(Samuel, R., 1998, p.282).Gustav Klaus and Stephen Knight
edited a book "British Individual Fictions" (Cardiff: 2000) in
which the different contributors discussed Robert Tressell's
novel. Jonathan Rose wrote "The Intellectual Life of the British
Working Classes" (London: 2001). Peter Miller wrote
"Introduction and Notes to Robert Tressell, The Ragged
Trousered Philanthropists" (Oxford: 2005) in which he
introduced the novel and explained the text of the novel.
Brian Mayne wrote an article "The Ragged Trousered
Philanthropists" (1967) in which he interpreted the text of the
novel in an innovative way. John Nettleton wrote a research
paper "Robert Tressell and the Liverpool Connection" (1981) in
which he described Robert Tressell's relationship with
Liverpool where he worked as a painter and this reflected in his
novel as Mugsborougb. James D. Young wrote an excellent
article entitled "Militancy, English Socialism and The Ragged
Trousered Philanthropists" (1985) in which he related the novel
with militancy and English socialism. He pointed out that
Robert Tressell articulated the anti-working-class prejudices
19

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
with great brilliance in his novel. D. A. Stack wrote a research
paper "The First Darwinian Left: Radical and Socialist
Responses to Darwin, 1859-1914" (2000) in which he traced the
impact of Darwinism on the novel. Jonathan Hyslop wrote a
research paper "A Ragged Trousered Philanthropist and the
Empire Robert Tressell in South Africa" (2001) in which he
described the political struggle of the socialist hero of the novel,
Robert Owen against capitalism, tracing Robert Tressell's
identity in his relationship with Irish nationalism. He
suggested that Robert Tressell's critique of capitalism should be
studied in the light of his life experience in Johannesburg,
where he became socialist and labour organiser.
In his publication "Omkring Pelle Erobreren" (1975)
Borge Houmann presents several reviews and critiques of
"Pelle, The Conqueror" written for a variety of Danish
newspapers (Fyns Social-Demokrat; Politiken; Berlingske
Tidende; Kristeligt Dagblad, etc.) between 1906 and 1910. In
these reviews, the author of "Pelle, The Conqueror" is
considered as being one of at least four internationally famous
Danish authors (alongside H.C. Andersen, Johannes Jorgensen
and Soren Kierkegaard) (Gjesing cited in. Nilsson, Sophie-Anne
C., 2014, p. 15). Martin Anderson Nexo was in good and
friendly terms with these authors and being recognised, among
other things, for their realism. As a reviewer writes that, he
was particularly admired for his ability "to go beyond what is
described as the surface realism of the day with his use of `real'
figures that are actually symbols of something more" (New York
Times, 1921). Nilsson, Sophie-Anne C. (2014). Much of the
positive critique of "Pelle, The Conqueror" centres on Martin
Anderson Nexo's realistic style: through highlighting his ability
to draw the reader into `Pelle's world'; by the way this world
and the people in it appear so real that the reader is almost
able to smell the life portrayed in the pages of the book. How
the humour and compassion further add `living' detail. These
aspects correlate with the features of realism in literature and
an idea of the illusionary effect of realism created by Martin
20

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
Anderson Nexo with "Pelle, The Conqueror". Shortly after the
publication of "Pelle, The Conqueror", Ingerborg Peterson wrote
to Martin Anderson Nexo that, "Your book is a realistic idyll
without equal" (Petersen cited in Houmann., 1975, p.26).
Houmann expands this statement that, "The portrayal of life at
Stengården was so realistic that it permanently took the wind
out of the sails of those, who wished to present Denmark as a
model among to Matthiasen. In this way, the proletarians took
the novel to their hearts. "That was a dizzying amount of copies
of "Pelle, The Conqueror" that you spread across the country, I
have come across only very few labourers' homes that do not
possess a copy of the novel" (Nexo, M. A., 1919, cited in
Houmann, B., 1975, pp.41­2). A later review of The Literary
Digest, 1918 draws attention to the realism of the novel by
highlighting aspects that it considers less savoury but
nonetheless important in providing a realistic image: "...and
portrays the open-air life of a provincial district with startling
realism, by turns fascinating and repulsive,..." (The Literary
Digest, 1918). In The Sewanee Review Quarterly, Joel
Johanson refers to "Pelle, The Conqueror" as being "...the true
epic of labour" and praises the book for taking a `labourer's view
on life and allowing the world to be constructed and interpreted
according to the labourer's principles and philosophy
(Johanson, 1919, p.225). In Johnson's opinion, "Pelle, The
Conqueror" is the first book to look at the life of labourers and
`humble' people in society, not from a distance but from within
((Johanson, 1919, p.225). Sophie-Anne Cobby Nilsson wrote a
master thesis entitled "Lifting the Veil of Illusion:
Transparency and Invisibility in English Language
Translations of Pelle Erobreren" submitted to Department of
Culture & Identity, Roskilde University Denmark on June
30th, 2014, in which she analysed various English translations
of Martin Anderson Nexo's "Pelle, The Conqueror" and its
effects on literature.
Social Democratic critics in Germany and elsewhere
hailed the novel for its complex narrative of an impoverished
21

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
Swedish immigrant, from his peasant childhood to a leading
role in the urban proletarian movement, as a major step in
extending the proletarian hero to depict the suffering of the
proletarian class (Houmann, B., 1975, Pp.121-122). From 1923
to 1929, Martin Andersen Nexo lived in Germany (Le Bras-
Barret, J., 1969, Pp. 224-227). He was thus an inescapable
reference point for a Marxist critic considering the prospects of
proletarian literature in the mid-1920s (Bewes, T and Timothy
H., 2011, p. 168). Anderson Martin Nexo had joined the Danish
Social Democratic Party in 1910, but was dismayed by the
craven response of European Social Democracy to the First
World War in 1918; quit the party out of disgust with its right-
wing leadership. From then on he was a committed and quite
uncritical supporter of the USSR; he played a role in the
formation of the Danish Communist Party in 1923 and was at
one stage on its central committee" (Ingwersen, F and N.
Ingwersen, 1984, Pp. 11-13). However, George Lukacs highly
appraised "Pelle, The Conqueror" in a short piece published in
Berlin in 1947, but Martin Andersen Nexo did not figure as an
exemplar in his 1930s criticism in the way, Maxim Gorky,
Thomas Mann and Roman Roland did (Lukacs, Georg, 1975,
reprinted in Houmann, B., 1975, Pp. 290-294).
In short, "Pelle the Conqueror" has conquered the hearts of
the proletarian reading public of Denmark. There is that in the
novel, which should conquer also the hearts of a wider public
than that of the little country in which its author was born. In
this way, the novel also succeeded to attract the attention of
Vladimir Lenin who never missed to read the world socialist
literature as Vladimir Shcherbina states in his book "Lenin and
Problems of Literature" that, "Lenin missed none of the major
events in the socialist literature of other countries. In 1922, he
met the well-known Danish revolutionary writer Martin
Anderson-Nexo who gave Vladimir Illyich and Nadezhda
Konstantinovna a copy of his novel "Pelle, The Conqueror" with
the following inscription:
22

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
"To the Comrades Krupskaya and Vladimir Ulyanov-Lenin with
thanks and good wishes,
Their-in love,
Martin Anderson Nexo"
(Shcherbina, V., 1974, p. 16).
On the contrary, "The Jungle" greatly influenced George
Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht and many other writers.
(Scriabine, C., 1981, Pp. 31-37). The German Marxist
playwright was so inspired by the novel that he made it basis
for his drama "St. Joan of the Stockyards" in 1931. Jack
London, a fellow socialist American novelist hailed the novel
with unrestrained enthusiasm in the pages of "Age of Reason",
remarking that, "It will open countless ears that have been deaf
to socialism. It will make thousands of converts to our cause. It
depicts what our country really is, the home of oppression and
injustice, a nightmare of misery, an injustice of wild
beasts...What "Uncle Tom's Cabin" did for the black slaves,
`The Jungle' has a large chance to do for the white slaves of
today" (Sullivan, M., 1927, p. 473 and Harris, L. A., 1975, p.
64). Historian Stewart H. Holbrook also writes that, "The
grunts, the groans, the agonized squeals of animals being
butchered, the rivers of blood, the steaming masses of
intestines, the various stenches . . . were displayed along with
the corruption of government inspectors and, of course, the
callous greed of the ruthless packers" (Holbrook, Stewart H.,
1953, Pp. 1I0-11I). The novel was so convincing for its realistic
portrayal of the era that J. Braeman assures the readers that,
"The Jungle" will enhance their awareness of "the social history
of the era" (Braeman, J., 1964, Pp. 35-80).
Contemporary criticism overemphasis on the relevance of
realistic and accurate depiction of socio-economic conditions of
America in the novel but neglected the literariness of the novel.
In this connection, McChesney`s article "Upton Sinclair and the
Contradictions of Capitalist Journalism" and Kowalski's
"Exploring Real Life in The Jungle" are very interesting and
important. However, these studies neglected the literary
23

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
artistry and style of the novel. As far as the literariness of the
novel is concerned, Folsom's "Upton Sinclair's Escape from
Jungle" and Wilson's "Labour of Words" and Howard's "Form
and History in American Naturalism are thought-provoking
studies on the subject. Mathew J. Morris describes how
influential critics such as William Dean Howells and Georg
Lukacs in "Narrate or Describe?" (Writer and Critic: and Other
Essays) "Dismissed formless fiction and their influence on the
critical discourse promoted the tendency to view "The Jungle"
as containing "vivid descriptions" (Morris, M. J., p. 51). J.
Michael Duvall wrote an analytical study of the novel entitled
"Processes of Elimination: Progressive-Era Hygienic Ideology,
Waste and Upton Sinclair's The Jungle" in which his main
concern is for ideology and social commentary. Nevertheless,
he looks at the novel as an extended metaphor of body and
machine, with a particular detail of hygiene, consumption and
waste, neglecting the socio-political development of Jurgis
Rudkus.
Michael Lundblad's article "Epistemology of The Jungle:
Progressive-Era Sexuality and The Nature of the Beast" and
Louse Carroll Wade's "The Problem with Classroom Use of
Upton Sinclair's The Jungle" are some of the examples of the
thematic analysis of the novel, but they are far from the socio-
political analysis of the novel. On the contrary, Lawrence
Sanford Dembo briefly describes the political progression of
Jurgis Rudkus but offered little new insight and situated the
textual analysis within the socio-political context of Upton
Sinclair's collected works and his political struggle. Orm
Overland's descriptive and innovative analysis with the details
of political development of Jurgis Rudkus lacks the description
of the stages containing within the novel. Mathew J. Morris in
his research article "Two Lives of Jurgis Rudkus" rightly claims
that the second section of the novel is based upon the
foundations of the first. The novel no doubt, have a much more
organic whole of progression of the successive levels that
gradually and steadily progress their way from the most acute
24

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
form of individualism until the top of the class-consciousness of
political revolutionary involvement, culminating in the ultimate
destination of struggle against capitalism for socialism. Orm
Overland briefly refers in two paragraphs "the determinism of
naturalist novel.
Orm Overland's analysis is limited to general
determinism and lacks the discussion of natural, economic,
historical or social determinism. It is a fact that, Upton Sinclair
focuses on labour-capital relation and politics in his novel,
describing the real conditions at that time that is the social
change. In fact, "The Jungle" deals with economic plight and
miseries of Chicago factory workers. They are relegated to
being the background of a family drama, which is what really
interests the author. In this way, "The Jungle" has same
themes in common the with Emile Zola's "Germinal". Together,
they give real insight into the real conditions that led to the
proletarian political revolutionary movements of the nineteenth
and twentieth centuries but in the former novel, Jurgis Rudkus
does not remain socially, historically or naturally determined
but he breaks out the limits of determination, adopting
socialism as a way of life, he crosses the limits of deterministic
tabulations. In Maniates' opinion, "The more powerless one
feels at work, the more one is inclined to assert power as a
consumer" (Maniates, M.F., 2001, p. 48). Whereas in the latter
novel, Etienne Lantier, the hero of the novel as an unemployed
and uneducated railway worker compelled to get a back-
breaking job at Le Voreux mine when he lost this job and failed
to take other job, he found that his fellow-miners were ill,
hungry and in debt, unable to feed and clothe their children and
family. Therefore, he led a strike that meant starvation or
salvation for him and his other fellow mine workers. He
stepped back from the allure of violence and destruction and
came to place his faith in legality. The strike was defeated. The
hero's view were grounded much of pessimistic determinism. In
this way, Emile Zola failed to appreciate the place of the
proletarian class in social development of history.
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
John Spargo wrote that, "Tolstoy, Gorky declared, is without
influence in Russia to-day, contrary to a widely prevailing
notion in this country. Of the older writer's consummate
literary art, the younger man spoke with reverential
admiration, while condemning his views as reactionary. But the
Count's teaching has no real influence in Russia to-day, either
for good or for ill, Gorky says. There was a period, in the
seventies, when Peter Lavroff's works dominated the thought of
Russia; in the eighties it was Tolstoy in the nineties Tolstoy's
influence waned and there was a blank. Now, younger writers
with new ideas provide the real intellectual motive force of
Russia" (Spargo, J., 1906, p. 155). During his stay in America,
Maxim Gorky was especially interested in the forms of socialist
and social activity in America that could change and develop
the spiritual self. "He wanted to know about American
Socialism, expressing a fear that there exists a tendency to
measure its growth by votes instead of by its spiritual
development, its devotion to the ideal. My explanation of the
mechanism of the Socialist movement, the party organization,
means of propaganda, the party press, and the growing hold of
Socialism upon the literary class seemed to interest him
greatly" (Spargo, J., 1906, p.153). Stephen Zweig wrote about
Maxim Gorky that, "It is difficult to describe the enormously
powerful effect which even Gorky's early writing had on
Europe. Whereas, in the works of Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and
Turgenev Russian life is limited to spiritual sphere, and the
tortured awareness of one's own duality and approaching
turning-point in human history appear as the pangs of
tormented conscience. In Gorky's writing Russian people
appear in flesh and blood, not in the spirit, as a human mass,
not as obscure, nameless, isolated individuals, and this mass
becomes an indisputable reality" (Zweig, S., 1963, Pp. 355-356).
In the preface of his pioneering book on Maxim Gorky
"Maxim Gorky and His Russia" (New York, 1968), Professor
Alexander Kaun studied all the works of the author as well as
the critical literature about him. This remarkable work
26

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
remained the only serious attempt at full-length biography of
the author, despite the incorporation of several good general
introductions to his work. In addition, there are such other
works on the topic as F. Holtzman's "The Young Maxim Gorky
1868-1902" (New York, 1948), R. Hare's "Maxim Gorky,
Romantic Realist and Conservative Revolutionary" (London,
1962), which shed light on the author and his work. Irwin Well
in his research article entitled "Gorky's Relations with the
Bolsheviks and the Symbolists" (1960) described the
relationship of Maxim Gorky with the Bolsheviks and the
Symbolists. D. Levin's book "Stormy Petrel: The Life and Works
of Maxim Gorky" (London: 1965) is an interesting and
innovating account of Maxim Gorky's life and works.
V. S. Pritchett's essay "The Young Gorky" (London, 1965) is
also the best work on Maxim Gorky. Irwin Well's "Gorky: His
Literary Development and Influence on Soviet Intellectual Life"
(New York: 1966). Bertram D. Wolf's "The Bridge and the
Abyss: The Troubled Friendship of Maxim Gorky and
V.I.Lenin" (London: 1967) described the rise and fall of the
friendly terms between Maxim Gorky and Vladimir Lenin. The
German author Jurgen Ruhle's book "Literature and
Revolution: A Critical Study of The Writer and Communism in
the Twentieth Century" (London: 1969) is also one of the best
studies on individual aspects of his life and works in detail.
Tova Yedlin's research article "Maxim Gorky: His Early
Revolutionary Activity and His Involvement in The Revolution
of 1905" (1975) presented an account of Maxim Gorky's political
and literary activities in 1905. N. Leizerov wrote about the new
heroes of Maxim Gorky in his essay "The Birth of New Art"
that, "The new heroes, the workers, shown to the world by
Maxim Gorky, were not like their processors in classical
literature; for example, not like the unfortunate toilers
deserving of compassion in Dickens, the loners, enlighteners-
utopians in George Sand, or the people blinded by hate and
beaten by life in Zola or Kuprin's novel "Moloch"( Leizerov, N.,
1976, p. 157).
27

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
Andrew Barratt wrote six essay on Maxim Gorky, which are
incorporated in his book entitled "The Early Fiction of Maksim
Gorky: Six Essays in Interpretation" (Nottingham, England:
1993). These are excellent essays on Maxim Gorky's early
novels and short stories. Similarly, F. M. Borras' book "Maxim
Gorky, The Writer: An Interpretation" (Oxford: 1962) provides
useful material on Maxim Gorky`s life and works, which is one
of the more astute literary interpretations of Gorky's works
especially his novels and plays. Unlike many other books and
articles that only concentrate either on biography or political
issues, Borras's book emphasizes Maxim Gorky's literary and
artistic achievements. In Chapter two, the author analyses his
short stories. F. Orlando wrote an article entitled "Maxim
Gorky and the Russian Revolution" (1996), which is a valuable
study on the relationship of Maxim Gorky with Russian
revolutionary movement of the working classes that shaped his
fiction in a revolutionary form. T. Yedlin wrote a political
biography "Maxim Gorky: A Political Biography" (London:
1999) in which he sought to relate his political ideas and
struggle to his literature because politics and literature are
inseparable in Maxim Gorky' personality and works.
There are many books, dissertations and articles written
on these four selected mature proletarian revolutionary novels
of the four mature proletarian revolutionary novelists, which
are very interesting, informative and thought provoking on the
subject in many respects, but no one compared these four
mature proletarian revolutionary novels with one another. As
long as the researcher knows, there is no previous research
conducted on the subject at least in University of Balochistan
Quetta (Pakistan) and elsewhere in the world. Therefore, this
study is the first attempt in this field. Further, in this study,
the writer studies the subject based on the Marxist literacy
theory. This dissertation will interpret and analyse these four
mature proletarian revolutionary novels and conduct a
comparison of them. Therefore, the present dissertation would
be an analysis from new and innovative Marxist perspective on
28

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
the subject, applying the Marxist hermeneutics to the texts of
the four selected novelists under discussion.
DISCUSSION
The new stage in the popular tradition of the novel would have
to be formed on self-confidence and self-realisation of the
international revolutionary proletariat class. There was an
immature proletarian novel, which showed the immediate stage
between the popular novel and the mature proletarian
revolutionary novel. The typical novelists of the Chartist
movement in 1840s deal with the socio-economic problems of
individual in bourgeois social formation, contemplating change
as a serial process in which changed class relations would bring
about betterment and improvement in the horrifying conditions
of the working classes from utopian socialist perspective. The
novels of such Chartist as Kinsley, Brambury, Ernest Jones,
Thomas Martin Wheeler, J. W. Overton, Thomas Wright and
others marked this stage of novel's development. Their novels
are in fact, a partly reaction to the personage of the
proletarians in bourgeois novels, rejecting popular novel with
its conservative social message and preferring moral fable.
Thomas Martin Wheeler's "Sunshine and the Shadows" (1850)
is based on class social formation, which places the behaviour of
individual in a socio-political context. It combines melodrama
and romance of popular fiction with political didactism and
critique of the bourgeois capitalist social formation. The novel
deals with a working-class individual named Arthur Morton,
who achieves political consciousness through the miseries of
unemployment, material want and exile. Similarly, J. W.
Overton's novel "Hartley: or Social Science for the Workers"
(1859) and Thomas Wright's "The Bane of a Life" (1870) deal
with the socially and politically failure of individual working-
class people who come to political consciousness. However,
Thomas Wright's second novel "Grainger Thorn" (1872) reflects
more fully the conflict of capital and labour.
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
Political utopias and dystopias presented most famously in
Nikolai Chernyshevsky's novels "What is to be Done?" (1862)
and "Prologue" (1864) and the novels of Gleg Uspensky,
Saltykov-Shchedrin, Nikolai Pomyalovsky, Ivan Goncharov,
Edward Belamy's "Looking Backward, 2001-1887" (1888) and
the works of Reshetnikov in Russia portrayed the spiritual
world of vagabond unskilled workers and peasants. We find in
their works growing protest against social injustice. Moreover,
Jack London's "The Iron Heel" (1907), the works of George Sand
and many others raised the mirage of a socialist feature as well
as the tragic cost of its nonrealization. In short, these novels are
some examples of the immature proletarian novel. In America,
the emergence of popular novel was inseparable from its socio-
historical context, which was characterised by the development
of capitalism and growth of the working classes. Harriet
Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" exhibits concern with
tyranny, oppression and resistance, characteristically featured
the slave characters, whose psychological and political
development anticipated the class-conscious maturation of the
popular and proletarian novelists. Many American and
European novels are generally categorised under the rubric of
naturalism. Emile Zola's naturalist novel "Germinal" (1885)
possesses the mood of sardonic pessimism and lacks robust
faith in life, in the socialist future of humankind. Stephen
Crane's "Maggie: A Girl of the Street" (1899) and such type of
many other novels are grounded much of their pessimistic
determinism in an analysis of the roots of poverty and other
socio-economic problems in the class system of capitalism. In
addition, Margaret Harkness' immature proletarian novel "City
Girl" (1887) passively portrayed the proletariat class and Mina
Kautsky's novel "Old and the New" is one of the examples of an
immature type of the proletarian novels.
However, the portraits of Viera Pavlovna in Nikolai
Chernyshevsky's novel "What is to be Done?" and Mary
Graham, the working class woman in Thomas Martin Wheeler's
chartist utopian novel "Sunshine and Shadow" is a step forward
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
in the development of working-class heroine and she is an
ancestor of the two Paulines in "The Revolution in Tennet's
Lane", and of the woman heroine in William Morris's "The
Pilgrims of Hope" is a big historical achievement. These types
are also an undeveloped shape of the characters of Nora Owen
in Robert Tressell's "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists",
Ellen in Martin Anderson Nexo's "Pelle, The Conqueror", Ona
in Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle", and Pelageia Nilovna in
Maxim Gorky's "Mother". Similarly, Nikolai Chernyshevsky
introduced `New People' in the personages of Viera Pavlovna,
Lopukov, Kirsanov and above all the proto-revolutionary hero
Rekhmetov in "What is to be Done?" and Volgin, the hero of
"The Prologue" who are the prototypes of the mature class-
conscious revolutionary proletarian hero. Moreover, Arthur
Morton, working-class hero in Thomas Martin Wheeler's novel
"Sunshine and Shadow" is also one of the prototypes of the
proletarian hero, which were not-existent in the previous
novels. In fact, these heroes were still in the embryo in the mid-
nineteenth century European novel and they were further
developed fully in the mature class-conscious proletarian
characters in the mature proletarian revolutionary novel in the
imperialist era.
The further growth and development of the proletariat
movement, trade unionism and socialism towards the end of the
century gave rise to the radical novels. H. J. Brambury's novel
"A Working Class Tragedy" highlighted the poor conditions of
the proletarian class. The novelist of late nineteenth century
depicted labour strikes in their novels. The Lancashire
novelists also depicted labour strikes of industrial Lancashire
in their novel. They attempted to present socialism as a way of
salvation of the proletarians without understanding it. Allan
Clarke in his novel "The Knobstick: A Story of Love and
Labour" depicted an engineering strike in northern England.
The novel presented a conflict between capital and labour that
resulted in a labour strike, which turned so violent that
blackleg labour fought with pickets. Police came and violence
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
mounted in a police baton charge and a child was killed. These
entire novel including William Morris' socialist utopian novel
"News from Nowhere" are also the radical novels of this period.
All these immature proletarian novels possess the
aesthetic flaws, which hindered the development of a mature
aesthetic relationship between the subjective and objective
elements of the mature proletarian revolutionary novel. For
this reason, these novelists failed to pick up where the popular
novelists had left off. The curiosity about men and women,
which Ralph Fox saw as the most important pre-requisite of the
novel that complex, intimate, positive aesthetic subject-object
relationship based on the recognition in the object of aspects of
man's power and universality could not yet matured. Moreover,
the popular tradition of the novel also failed to develop further
in the utopian novels of the Chartist and other European
novelists prior to the appearance of the first mature proletarian
revolutionary novel, "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" in
1900, because the international proletarian movement was not
fully developed and matured at that time. Therefore, the
mature proletarian revolutionary novel was unable to develop
until the development of the proletarian class in Europe. It took
the proletarian class many years to develop. As Fredrick Engels
puts it, "In European countries, it took the working class years
and years before they fully realised the fact that they formed a
distinct and, under the existing social conditions, a permanent
class of modern society" (Engels, F., 1953, p. 2).
Afterwards, the international proletarian movement
reached at its zenith in the imperialist era. The imperialist era
began in its modern sense in the last decades of the nineteenth-
century. The industrial growth and development in Western
Europe and North America caused the growth of the
proletarian class as well as class struggle between the
bourgeoisie and the proletariat class. Karl Marx and Fredrick
Engles' book "Communist Manifest" published in 1847, which
sketched out the dialectical-historical materialism. The
dialectical-historical materialist philosophy of Marxism rejected
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
all the previous utopian socialist theories of the world. In
addition, Karl Marx's book "Capital" appeared in 1867, which
provided scientific foundations to the development of the
international proletarian movement. A large majority of the
proletarians throughout the world adopted Marxism and the
Communist parties came into being in Europe and North
America. Karl Marx and Fredrik Engels founded the First
International in 1867. The rise and fall of Paris Commune in
1871 resulted in the dissolution of the First International. Karl
Marx predicted long before that, "The growth of the
international character of the capitalist regime will worsen the
mass misery, slavery, degradation" (Marx, K., 1977, p. 929).
This situation forced the proletarian movement to organise in
Europe and North America. Accordingly, capitalism entered
into the phase of imperialism (to which Vladimir Lenin called
"The Last Stage of Capitalism") in the end of the nineteenth
century.
The imperialist era produced the socio-economic
conditions, which gave birth to the mature proletarian
revolutionary fiction. The first mature proletarian
revolutionary novelist who achieved this was none other than
Robert (Noonan) Tressell. He wrote the first mature proletarian
revolutionary novel entitled "The Ragged Trousered
Philanthropists" in 1900 that anticipated and initiated a new
genre of socialist novel. It is a very mature revolutionary
proletarian novel encompassing many characters as well as the
author himself. Consequently, Martin Anderson Nexo, Upton
Sinclair and Maxim Gorky developed and enriched the mature
proletarian revolutionary novel in this era with their thought-
provoking ideas and aesthetic credo. Grounded in a Marxist
view of history, these mature proletarian revolutionary
novelists' adaptation of the new format in their mature
proletarian revolutionary novels clearly goes beyond the
concern for the individual and his tragic or ironic fate. The
protagonists' "espousal of-or at least growth towards-
revolutionary class consciousness embodies in microcosm the
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
change that is occurring and must continue to occur on a larger
scale, in the working class" (Foley, B., 1993, 327). B. Foley
further says that, "There are not the protagonist's personal
failures and disappointments but the struggle to correlate
his/her particularity with the destiny of his/her class" (Foley,
B., 1993, 359). This new type of class-conscious proletarian
revolutionary protagonist is not identical to the hero of the
decadent modernist literature because "The development of
character in much modernist literature is restricted in two
ways. First, the hero is strictly confined within the limits of his
own experience. Secondly, he is depicted as a solitary being,
incapable of meaningful relationships" (Lukacs, G., 1963,
Pp.21-24).
Robert Tressell is the first mature proletarian
revolutionary novelist who set the tradition of the mature
proletarian revolutionary novel to write the first mature
proletarian novel entitled "The Ragged Trousered
Philanthropists". The novel was written in 1900 but
posthumously published in 1914. In his life, Robert Tressell
despaired of the book published as publisher after publisher
rejected the manuscript. After his death, his daughter Kathleen
sold it for £ 25 to Grant Richard, who said that, "the book was
damnably subversive but was extremely real". The successful
reception of the novel in Britain was quite astounding. Its real
popularity mounted when its publisher, Grant Richards
published a sort-ended version of the original edition in 1918.
This was reprinted seven times between 1918 and 1923 (Ball,
F.C., 1973, 257). Unfortunately, the editor Miss Jessie Pope had
greatly altered the manuscript of the novel. The 1914 edition
and subsequent the editions the novel comprised only about
two-third of the whole. In this way, it was hacked about, the
extensive cuts had been made in the text, and the passages
incorporated in it were not matched to the original text,
changing the author's original intention. The happy and
optimistic ending was substituted from the middle of the text,
depressing ending with the chief character, the Socialist
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
worker, Frank Owen bent on suicide after contemplating the
death of his family In addition, and many important incidents
of the plot were omitted altogether. The important role of
Barrington, a Socialist character in the author's original
conception was erased. A sub-plot comprising of the seduction of
a worker's wife by their lodger was entirely altered. The editor
did useful editing and systematising of grammar, spelling and
punctuation in readiness for the press. In May 1918, an
abridged edition appeared in which eleven chapters of the 1914
version were omitted from it.
The great credit is due to F.C. Bell for tracing down the
original manuscript and editing the full 1955 version of "The
Ragged Trousered Philanthropists", which saved the novel from
editorial mutilations, which it had suffered in its earlier
versions. Therefore, the complete unabridged edition of the
novel came off the presses with Robert Tressell's uplifting final
chapter restored and published by the left-wing publisher
Lawrence and Wishart in 1955, which gave it rebirth and it has
seldom been, if ever, out of print since (Ball, F. C., 1973, p. 189).
In this edition, some pages of Robert Tressell's manuscript were
pasted over, corrected, paraphrased or summarised. The
author's original grammar, spellings, punctuation and
inconsistent use of capital letters were restored. The titles of
chapters were arranged according to the list of chapters, which
the author labelled to the manuscript in all except one
particular. Out of the fifty-five chapters in the original list, the
third character is entitled "Mugsborough". There was attached
to the manuscript a fragment reproduced as an Appendix.
Therefore, the fifty-five chapters reduced to fifty-four. The
author's original incomplete Preface was also restored. The
author designed his own title page was reproduced. The
incorrect spellings of the author's pen-name Tressel that were
rendered in the previous editions was corrected as the author
Tressell.
After its first stage adaption in 1927, `The Ragged
Trousered Philanthropists" became the staple fare of British
35

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
political theatre during the 1930s and 1940s (Miles, P., 1984,
Pp. 2-3). Afterwards, Grant Richards published a further
thirteen printings of the original edition between 1935 and
1954(Ball, F.C., 1973, Pp. 185-186, p. 257). The novel attained
a huge wartime popularity amongst the British armed forces,
when the Penguin edition appeared in 1940s, which is
sometimes considered to have been a factor contributing to the
Labour Party's 1945-election victory (Ball, F.C., 1973, p. 186).
British television broadcast in 1967 and 1983 further increased
its popularity (Miles, P. p. 3). The labour movement's great
interest in "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" that the
proletarians took it to their hearts, which gave it prominence in
early 1980s and its scene of the "Great Money Trick" was still
being used as the basis of trade union educational on Liverpool
building sites (Nettleton, J., 1981, Pp. 163-171). It has been the
Left's semi-underground classic text in the miners `strike of
1984. The copies of the novel passed by hand from one activist
to another, and hence from one political generation to another
(Miles, P., 1984, Pp. 1-17). Even in the era of Tony Blair the
prominence and appeal of the novel continued. In 1998, a CD
musical version of the novel was recorded. The original town of
Mugsborough, Hastings hosted successful Robert Tressell's
Festivals in 1999 and 2000. In short, the prominence of "The
Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" has been an overwhelming
phenomenon in Brittan and other countries of the world. There
have been a number of translations of the novel and its
admirers can be found around the world.
"The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" set in
Edwardian England. "The distribution of incomes in Edwardian
England was just about as it has ever been anywhere" (Laski,
M., 1964, p. 145). Robert Tressell presented the economic plight
and appallingly poverty of the English proletarian class in
Edwardian England. The novel centred on the lived of a group
of house painters and decorators of Edwardian town
`Mugsborough' in the southern England, which brilliantly
combined Marxism with vitriolic satire, slapstick humour and
36

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
stories of pathos to achieve an enduring appeal. All the
citations from histories of the period serve to validate Tressell's
representation of the poor proletarian class in Edwardian
England, a world he knew intimately and pictured with
authority as the working-class slum life of East End of London
are depicted in Jack London's book "The People of the Abyss".
"The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" is full of the
arguments against capitalism and need for a socialist politics
on behalf of the proletarian class. In the Preface of the novel,
Robert Tressell describes his novel as "not a treatise or essay,
but a novel. My main object was to write a readable story full of
human interest and based on the happenings of everyday life,
the subject of Socialism being treated incidentally" (Tressell, R.,
2012, Pp.33-34). No novel shaped the twentieth-century British
proletariat movement as powerfully as Robert Tressell's
"Ragged Trousered Philanthropists". Robert Owen, the hero of
the novel has been developed from simple worker to the class-
conscious proletarian revolutionary leader of the proletarian
movement. He is a socialist and his socialist ideas indicate how
far they are unwitting embodiments of "The Ragged Trousered
Philanthropists", contributing to the wealth they produce
through their work but not sharing in it. "The Golden Light
that will be diffused through the entire happy world from the
risen sun of Socialism" (Tressell, R., 2012, p. 606) remain very
distant hope and prospect for Robert Owen and his fellow
workers at the close of the novel.
The proletarian novel took a very different turn with the
work of the Danish proletarian novelist Martin Andersen-Nexo.
He was a Marxist novelist with a working-class background,
spoke for landless agricultural peasants and the industrial
proletarians, which had been signally absent from Danish
literature. Martin Andersen Nexo established himself with the
series "Pelle Erobreren" (1906-10; "Pelle, The Conqueror"). The
first volume of the novel describes the boyhood of a proletarian
child named Pelle cursed with a feckless father. Later Pelle
rises above the humiliations of his childhood to become a
37

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
successful class-conscious labour organizer. In this sense, this is
the second mature proletarian novel, which followed "The
Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" which appeared in 1906.
When the first part of "Pelle Erobreren" (Pelle, The Conqueror)
appeared in 1906, the name and fame of its author, (Martin
Andersen Nexo), was hardly known even in his own native
country. His name was known only to a few literary people who
knew that he had written some volumes of stories and a book
full of sunshiny reminiscences from Spain. The rise and fall of
Martin Anderson Nexo's popularity were in tune with his
revolutionary socialist ideas, leading to his books being burned
in Finland and banned during the German occupation of
Denmark. He and his family were forced to flee Dresden, where
he died at the age of 85 in 1954. He was famous for his
compassion to help all in need whether they were refugees from
Germany or Russian orphans, which turned him a controversial
personality. The both extremes of people's love and hatred for
him can be illustrated by the story that on his last visit to
Denmark, the waiter refused to serve him coffee on the simple
grounds that he was Martin Andersen Nexo! (Korst, S., 1998, p.
22). On the contrary, his 80th birthday was celebrated in great
style in Copenhagen by around 50,000 people (Korst, S., 1998,
Pp.20-21).
In fact, "Pelle, The Conqueror" is a mature revolutionary
proletarian novel. In Martin Anderson Nexo's opinion, "Pelle,
The Conqueror" is intended to be a book about the proletarian
that is to say about man himself, who naked and with only his
health and appetite. He reported for duty in the service of life,
about the broad march of the worker on earth, on his endless,
semi-consciousness journey towards the light" (Nexo, M. A.,
1906, Forward). "Pelle, The Conqueror" consists of four parts,
each, except perhaps the last, a complete story in itself. First
part of the novel is based upon an open-air life of the boy in
country surroundings in Bornholm. Then, the story sheds light
on the lad's apprenticeship in a small provincial town not yet
invaded by modern industrialism and still innocent of
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
socialism. Next, the author tells the story of the youth's
struggles in Copenhagen against employers and authorities;
and last the man's final victory in laying the foundation of a
garden-city for the benefit of his fellow-workers. The
background everywhere is the rapid growth of the proletarian
movement; but social problems are never obtruded, except,
again, in the last part, and the purely human vividness of
characterization. The author's sympathy is of the widest, and
he makes us see tragedies behind the little comedies, and
comedies behind the little tragedies, of the seemingly sordid
lives of the proletarian classes whom he loves.
The novel is also an autobiographical novel because there
are many parallels between the lives of Martin Anderson Nexo
and the hero of the novel Pelle, which are also referred to in the
Forward to "Pelle, The Conqueror" written by Otto Jespersen,
where it is mentioned that the novel is "largely
autobiographical". In this manner, Pelle's world begins to form
almost before one starts to read the novel. "Both author and
character", for example, "grew up in poverty and were both
eight years old, even sharing the same birthday of June 26
(Houmann, B., 1975, p. 26), when they arrived on Bornholm to
seek for work with themselves and their families. In the same
way, Lasse built expectations up of Bornholm in "Pelle, The
Conqueror", a place where nobody were hungry and life was
good, so did Martin Andersen Nexo's father told the stories to
his family about Bornholm, where: everyone has his own house,
there is work for all, nobody has to go hungry or suffer from
hardship. Martin Anderson Nexo and Pelle were both
employed as herd boys, taking cattle out to pasture in the
summer. In a letter to an American author Waldo Browne,
Anderson Martin Nexo himself refers to these aspects and
experiences from his childhood that, "...wonderfully rich for my
later task" and providing some sort of autobiographical content
to "Pelle, The Conqueror" (Nexo, M. A., in Houmann, B., 1975,
p.377).
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
In the same way, memoirs and autobiographies can also be
regarded as works of art and not as a pure representation of
events and experiences as there will always be some form of
either alteration made by the author, unconsciously or
consciously (Stern, 1973, Pp.60­90). Although the novel, in
great extent, is autobiographical, but its story is told with such
scrupulous art that it conveys the impression of objectivity in a
much greater degree than that work to which it has been justly
compared, Romain Rolland's "Jean Christophe". Martin
Anderson Nexo knows the life of the labourer from within. He
has firm belief in its future, but he can regard it also with that
tranquillity in which alone passion is transmuted into art.
(Jones, L., 1917, writing for The Chicago Evening Post, in
Houmann, 1975, Pp.134­137). The novel is considered by some
reviewers of The New York Times, 1913 and The Literary
Digest, 1918 to be mainly autobiographical. A fact attributed in
part to the foreword written by Otto Jespersen, but also to the
style, as the reviewer in The New York Times puts it: "...for it
reads, not like fiction, but like an exceptionally vivid record of
actual events; events commonplace enough ­ as commonplace
as life itself" (The New York Times, 1913). Describing Pelle's
childhood, the same article states that, "That childhood is here
presented neither in rosy nor in very dark colours... but a
genuine realism which shows the mingling of pleasure and
sorrow..." (The New York Times, 1913).
Martin Andersen Nexo's greatest power lies in the perfect
frankness and naturalness with which he records the most
homely, sordid and even bestial facts of human experience. No
novelist, unless it is Hamsun, is so wholly unforced and
undramatic in the depiction of facts in themselves disagreeable
but which in his large scene are no more than details. These
Scandinavian realists accept life more wholly and more sanely,
one feels that do we, with our taboos and our obliquities. Martin
Anderson Nexo portrays life unflinchingly but with a
casualness, a freedom from false emphasis, which is wholly
disarming. He is no more coarse nor prurient than a text-book
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
on physiology (Grabo, C., 1928, in Houmann, 1975, Pp.221­
224). Waldo Browne highlights the depth and passion with
which Martin Anderson Nexo portrays his characters in the
following words:
"To me it is a masterpiece: with M. Rolland's "Jean-
Christophe" one of the two greatest creative works of our
generation. You have put the surging pageant and infinite
complexity of modern life within the covers of a book as no one
else has ever done...Best of all, you have revealed the workings
of the universal human heart with such compassionate insight
as only a very few writers have ever attained to" (Browne, 1918,
in Houmann, 1975, p.376). Furthermore, comparing with the
Nobel Prize -winning Romain Rolland's novel Jean-Christophe
Martin Anderson Nexo's another friend Ivy Livinof says that,
"...it seems to me Rolland has written from the outside, you
from the inside, there is a strong smell of humanity exuding
from your book which fascinates me. "... and the tremendous
variety, colour and even smell of human life can be felt once
more" (Litvinof, 1919, in Houmann, 1975, pp.378­379). Niels
Ingwersen refers "Pelle, The Conqueror" in A History of Danish
Literature as a masterpiece, producing vivid narratives through
the use of "...stark realism, an underlying symbolism, a sense of
detail reminiscent of Hans Christian Andersen, and a rollicking
sense of humour ­ all paired with sympathy and compassion for
the protagonists..." (Ingwersen, N., 1992, p.312).
Upton Sinclair's epoch-making novel "The Jungle" is
also continuation of the tradition of the mature revolutionary
proletarian novel in America. The reputation of an unknown
author named Upton Sinclair was rocketed immediately, after
the successful reception of his mature proletarian revolutionary
novel entitled "The Jungle". As one of the reviews of the novel
states that, "Not since Byron awoke one morning to find himself
famous has there been such an example of world-wide celebrity
won in a day by a book as has come to Upton Sinclair.
Yesterday unknown the author of "The Jungle" is today a
familiar name on two continents. Paris, London and Berlin
41

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
know him only less well than New York and Boston. They know
about him even in far-off Australia" (Bachelder, C., 2006, p. 72).
Upton Sinclair had been highly successful in the early years of
the twentieth century, but despite his astonishing productivity
(over ninety books); his work has been neglected by later
generations of readers, critics and academics. Upton Sinclair's
turn-of-the-century novel, "The Jungle" reveals economic
exploitation and social injustices, especially in American
business and industry. It centres on the inevitable destruction
of Jurgis Rudkus and his family, poor Lithuanian immigrants
whose American dream fragmented into pieces by the predatory
capitalist socio-economic ethos of Chicago' meatpacking
industry. The last third of the novel chronicles the regeneration
of Jurgis as a class-conscious revolutionary proletarian hero,
who finds at last, salvation in socialism. In this way, Upton
Sinclair concentrated on the unsanitary, unhygienic conditions
and corrupt management of the meatpacking industry of
Chicago, revealing the brutish severity and gut-wrenching
depiction of inhuman working conditions of Chicago
packinghouse proletarians who had just lost a strike against
Beef Trust.
However, both the author and publisher shrewdly
promoted the novel and as a result, it became a best seller.
First serialised in 1905 in "Appeal to Reason" a largest
circulation socialist newspaper of the early twentieth century,
and after rejection of many times published by Doubleday, Page
& Company in February 1906, this novel enjoyed a commercial
success and played an important role in shaping American
political history. It generated the public's visceral reaction,
leading Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana to call for
extensive federal regulation of meatpacking and compelled
Congress to pay full attention to pending legislation that would
set government standards for food and beverages. In this way,
this novel succeeded to get the attention of American President
Theodore Roosevelt, who appointed a commission of inquiry
into the meatpacking industry, setting two sets of investigators
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Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
to Chicago and played a major role in securing congressional
approval of Albert Beveridge's measure. Although the
commission exonerated the packers, Upton Sinclair's novel
exerted pressure that resulted in a second commission and the
passing of the Beef Inspection Act. When the President signed
both the Meat Inspection Act and the Foods and Drugs Act in
June 1906, he graciously acknowledged Albert Beveridge's help
but mentioned nothing about "The Jungle" and Upton Sinclair
(Sullivan, M., 1927, Pp. 471-552, Anderson, O. E., 1958, Chaps.
7-9 and Young, J. H., 1989, Chaps. 8-11).
The "The Jungle" contained socialist message and Upton
Sinclair's own concern focused far more on the proletarian
classes than on meat. The slaughterhouses and the fate of the
animals consigned there symbolised a much greater human
tragedy being played out in factories and urban slums
throughout the world. "One could not stand and watch very
long without becoming philosophical," Upton Sinclair wrote,
"without beginning to deal in symbols and similes and to hear
the long-squeal of the universe" (Sinclair, U., 1962, p. 126).
Upton Sinclair tried to convince the critics that the novel was
"an exact and faithful picture of conditions, as they exist in
Pakingtown". Telling the readers of "Appeal to Reason", he
states that, "The Jungle" was planned "to drive home to the
dullest readers" the point the reality that destruction of the
Rudkus family was "the inevitable and demonstrable
consequence of an economic system". "I believe in the Socialist
movement," vowed Upton Sinclair said, "if I did not, I should
never have written "The Jungle" (Sinclair, U., 1905, quoted in
Sub, S. B., 1985, Pp. 117-131). He sought to win converts, not
to meat inspection but to socialism. As he stated that, "I aimed
at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach"
(Sinclair, U., 1962, p. 126).
Upton Sinclair is well documented and the short
description provided here draws on information provided by
numerous sources that do not differ in terms of the basic,
factual information they provide about Upton Sinclair's life and
43

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
works in general and about his novel "The Jungle" in
particular. Upton Sinclair's novel "The Jungle was so popular
that there were 772 translations in forty seven languages in
thirty nine countries. However, the mix critical reception of the
novel raged controversial debate among the critics and
academicians of the time. Conservative critics such as Elbert
Hubbard labelled the novel as libellous and a reviewer of the
"Outlook" states that, "Mr. Sinclair's indictment of the
employing classes would have been more convincing it less
hysterical" (Flenning, E., 1906, p. 323). ) The future British
Prime Minister, Winston Churchill found the ending of the
novel unconvincing. He stated that, "The reader will not, I
think, be satisfied with (The Jungle's) conclusion. After all that
has happened...he will look for some more consolation. Not so
Mr Sinclair...Consolation...have we not the Socialist orator?
Regeneration...is not Jurgis fully instructed?" (Dowson, H. H.,
1991, p. 77). Upton Sinclair undauntedly encountered this sort
of criticism. In an article entitled "What Art means to Me",
defended his stance that, "The Jungle" marks the beginning of a
proletarian literature in America" and insisted that the "
proletarian writer is a writer with purpose" who refused to
produce "art for art's sake" (Sinclair, U., 1906, p. 594). "My
main concern had been for the fate of the workers, and I
realised with bitterness that I had been made a `celebrity', not
because the public cared anything about the sufferings of these
workers, but simply because the public did not want to eat
tubercular beef" (Sinclair, U., 1920, p. 47). He concluded the
discussion that, "All art is propaganda" (Sinclair, U., 1925, p.
9).
The tradition of mature revolutionary proletarian novel
reached at its culmination with the appearance of Maxim
Gorky's novel "The Mother" in 1907 immediately after the
unsuccessful Russian Bourgeois-Peasant Revolution of 1905
and prior to The First World War. The first part of the novel
was written in America and the second part in Italy. Its English
translation was serialized in "Appleton Magazine" (New York)
44

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
between 1906 and 1907. Maxim Gorky turned a searchlight on
the depths of the Russian Proletariat life. He realistically
portrayed socio-economic conditions of the proletarian classes in
the Tsarist Russia. The commercial success of Maxim Gorky's
works among the educated readers was short-lived in 1903 and
after the Revolution of 1905, his works published in small
editions. In booksellers' trade journals there were complaints
that Maxim Gorky "has died as for as the public is concerned",
and that his books were "dead capital" (Todd, W. M., 1978, p.
114). "The Mother" enjoyed enormous popularity and influence
in its own day in America and Europe, and this popularity
endured over the years. The prominence of the novel generated
a great controversy in Russia. The novel was banned in Russia
after publishing its few chapters in two issues of "Znanie".
Nevertheless, reviewing literature practically is by no means
possible because there are massive body of critical literature on
the author and his novel "The Mother" in Russia and the other
countries of the world since that was rendered.
Immediately identified with Maxim Gorky's comradely
relations with Vladimir Lenin and the rise of the revolutionary
proletarian movement and socialism in Russia at the turn of
the century, Maxim Gorky was, from the beginning of his
literary career, became as a controversial literary figure. His
novel "The Mother" provided the revolutionary proletarians the
sense of true comradeship through which they became keenly
aware of the fraternity of all proletarians of the world.
Addressing Nilovna Andrei Nakhodka, Pavel's closely comrade
says that, "We are all children of one mother, all fired with
invincible faith in the brotherhood of the workingmen of the
whole world" (Gorky, M., 1971, p. 53). Peasant Rybin sensed
this well; in addition, "It's a great thing to make people feel
their oneness. When you know that millions want the same
thing you do, it makes your heart feel kinder" (Gorky, M., 1971,
p. 265). The proletarians, whom Maxim Gorky called splendid
people through Nikolai, another close comrade of Pavel, are
vanguard of revolution. "Splendid people, Nilovna! I mean the
45

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
younger workers-so strong, sensitive, and anxious to learn!
When you look at them you can't help thinking that someday
Russia will be the most democratic country in the world!"
(Gorky, M., 1971, p. 362). This novel provoked the wrath of the
symbolists, decadents and Mensheviks but inspired the
Bolsheviks, who highly appraised his literary achievement.
Warmly Hailed by Vladimir Lenin as "Stormy Petrel of
the Revolution" (Lenin, V.I., 1970, Volume 11, p. 140), Maxim
Gorky was criticised by others as a dangerous and subversive
influence on social formation. In 1905 Revolution, Maxim Gorky
was famous as a Bolshevik proletarian author. The polemic
comments on him and his novel "The Mother" turned all the
more fanatical. However, Maxim Gorky became the subject of
aesthetic and political debate between the critics and politicians
of anti-Gorky and pro-Gorky camps, who were less concerned
with an objective assessment of his aesthetic achievement and
literary place in the history of Russian Literature than with
defending their own ideologies and discrediting those of their
opponents. Apropos of Maxim Gorky's novel "The Mother",
Georgi Plekhanov maintained that, "In this book, Gorky
undertook to be a preacher of Marx's views, but as evidenced by
the book itself Gorky was quite unsuited for the role of a
preacher of these views because he did not understand Marx's
views at all" (Plekhanov, G. V., 1958, p. 132). On the contrary,
Vladimir Lenin highly appraised Maxim Gorky's novel
"Mother", remarking that, "The book is needed; many workers
took part in the revolutionary movement without awareness,
spontaneously; now they will read Mother with great profit for
themselves" (Gorky, M., 1960, p. 7). Addressing Maxim Gorky,
Vladimir Lenin further wrote that, "with your gifts as an artist,
you have rendered such a tremendous service to the working-
class movement of Russia-and indeed not only of Russia"
(Lenin, V. I., 1965, Vol. 34, p.404).
The anti-Gorky camp of critics was spearheaded by the
Symbolist critics Filosfov and Gripius, who attacked him for
placing art at the service of political cause. Their
46

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
uncompromising criticism found wide acceptance amongst their
contemporaries and provoked an equal, and opposite reaction
from the pro-Gorky camp headed by Anatoly Lunacharsky and
Vorovsky. Anatoly Lunacharsky has turned the anti-Gorky
criticism of Symbolist, decadent and Menshevik critics on its
head writing about Maxim Gorky, that " In the creative work of
Maxim Gorky the proletariat first gain awareness of itself
artistically, just as it did philosophically and politically in the
work of Marx, Engels and Lenin" (Lunacharsky, A, 1947, p.
393). Anatoly Lunacharsky further writes in his essay entitled
"Maxim Gorky" that, "The results and full significance of
Maxim Gorky's work as concerns our epoch and Russian and
world culture as a whole, and his relative place on the great
map of human achievement will only become clear at a future
date" (Lunacharsky, A., 1973, p. 170).
The pro-Gorky campaign continued in Soviet Union with
the Soviet critics. V. M. Molotov appraised Maxim Gorky that,
"None of the great writers of our country and of other countries
knew so closely the life of "the depths" of the people under
capitalism. None of them personally experienced so much the
ferocity and infamy of the masters and exploiters. None of them
had even seen with his own eyes so many people tortured by
labour and broken under the yoke of capital as our Gorky, in
whom all this suffering was forged into irreconcilable and
revolutionary hatred toward the capitalist system, and
boundless faith in the liberating power of Communism"
(Molotov, V. M., 2007, p. 2). Another most eminent Soviet
science fiction author Alexei Tolstoy wrote about Maxim Gorky
that, "Great men do not have two dates of their existence in
history-birth and death, but only one: their birth" (Tolstoy, A.,
2007, p. 5). Eugenia Knipovich wrote that, "Unforgettable in
Gorky's works are the figures of men moulded in the
revolutionary movement and together with it. From Pavel
Grachev to Pave Vlassov, Gorky realised in loving portraiture
figures of the vanguard of the proletariat, to whom
47

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
revolutionary enlightenment brought will, faith, new emotions,
new ideas" (Knipovich, E., 2007, p. 27).
Andre Gide, Georg Lukács, Stephen Zweig and John
Spargo hold the flag of pro-Gorky campaign in Europe. Andre
Gide admired Maxim Gorky that, "He lent his voice to those
who had not before then able to make themselves heard, those
who, thanks to him, will henceforth be heard. Henceforth,
Maxim Gorky belongs to history. He takes his place with the
greatest" (Gide, A., 2007, p. 8). Similarly, Georg Lukács
discussed Maxim Gorky in his book "Studies in European
Realism" (1950) from a Marxist perspective. Georg Lucács
wrote in another article about Maxim Gorky that true realistic
writers, Maxim Gorky among them, are able to forecast the
future of a social formation:
"Great realism, therefore, does not portray an
immediately obvious aspect of reality but one, which is
permanent and objectively more significant, namely man in the
whole range of his relations to the real world, above all those
which outlast mere fashion. Over and above that, it captures
tendencies of development that only exist incipiently and so
have not yet had the opportunity to unfold their entire human
and social potential" (Lukács, G., 2001, p. 1049 ). Georg Lukacs
further wrote about Maxim Gorky and his novel "The Mother"
that, "He could see that with Marxism, with the Bolsheviks, the
humanist principle is more than an ideal, more than a distant
prospect. With them humanism is rather a direct basis and
principle of revolutionary practice itself. This Bolshevik
humanism makes Mother a heroic song of the power of the
revolutionary labour movement to free humanity and lends this
book its unique power" (Lukacs, G., 2007, p. 9).
CONCLUSION
The employment of Marxist literary hermeneutics in this
research study yielded the result that the mature revolutionary
novel came into existence along with the maturity of the
48

Javed Akhter- The Origin and Development of the Proletarian Novel
international proletarian movement in the age of imperialism.
The popular novel of Victorian era paved the way of
establishing the working class novel but it lacked the
proletarians. The Chartist novel lacked the aesthetic subject-
object relationship based on the self-realisation of the
proletarian class in the object of the international proletarian
movement because it could not yet mature. A mature
revolutionary novel was therefore a historical impossibility in
the age of Chartism and remained so until the dawn of
imperialism in the twentieth century before the World War
First. Robert Tressell's novel "The Ragged Trousered
Philanthropists" was the first novel, which set the tradition of
the mature revolutionary proletarian novel, assimilating the
aesthetic subject-object relationships that were prerequisites of
the mature revolutionary proletarian novel. Martin Anderson
Nexo's "Pelle, The Conqueror", Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and
Maxim Gorky's "The Mother" were the continuation of the
tradition of the mature revolutionary proletarian novels in the
age of imperialism.
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59 of 59 pages

Details

Title
The Origin and Development of The Proletarian Novel
College
University of Balochistan  (English Literature)
Course
Literature
Author
Year
2016
Pages
59
Catalog Number
V337563
ISBN (Book)
9783668268265
File size
1371 KB
Language
English
Tags
origin, development, proletarian, novel
Quote paper
Javed Akhtar (Author), 2016, The Origin and Development of The Proletarian Novel, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/337563

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