By Jeffrey Mehlman
In this book, Mr. Mehlman reopens the question of the relation between Karl Marx's writings and the institution of literature. He presents not an application of Marxian categories to literary texts, but a delineation of how the phenomenon of revolution in France is refracted through two divergent series of writings. The first comprises three works by Marx: The Class Struggles in France 1848-1850, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, and The Civil War in France. The second consists of two exemplary nineteenth-century novels on revolution: Victor Hugo's Quatrevingt-treize and Balzac's Les Chouans.
Mehlman also explores the limits and opportunities of reading per se. Within a series of precise textual analyses, the reader will encounter Jean Laplanche's lectures on "anxiety" in Freud, Jacques Derrida's Glas, Georg Lukacs' "Balzac" and Michel Foucault's genealogy of prisons, Surveiller et punir. As such, this volume is a working introduction to what may be termed French "post-structuralism."