Diane Stjern ENGL 358 Discovering the Marxist Qualities of Fight Club Chuck Palahniuk’s novel,Fight Club, is more than grotesquely descriptive novel with a devilish twist at the end. It is clearly driven by underlying principles which reveal themselves to the reader different times during the novel. Before revealing the lens I chose to work with, the reader of this analysis should remember the method and purpose behind reading a text through a literary lens. Briefly, literary lenses are used view a work (a novel in this case) through a specific set of characteristics or assumptions based on an already established theory. The reader reads past the plotline and into the author’s underlying comments and criticisms. As the reader of Fight Club, I see Chuck Palahniuk making many references to the ideas of Marxism. The Marxist principles make themselves known through both Palahniuk’s descriptive style of writing and certain scenes in the novel. In reading this novel, I chose a Marxist lens because of the prominence of class struggle and instances of “getting back at the man”. The Marxist principles used in this analysis are discussed further. When beginning to understand Marxism, one needs to understand the man whose namesake is the title of this movement. Karl Marx, a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, and revolutionary sociologist was born in 1818. He studied law in Berlin, and after completing a doctorate, hoped for a position in academia. However, because he had become heavily involved in several radical groups, his hopes of being in academia were squashed. He entered into journalism and became interested in political and social issues, still with an underlying background of economics. He developed his famous communist theory soon after
becoming involved in historical studies. His economic ideas helped in the establishment of several communist states well after his death in 1883. Marx saw epochs of history as moving through struggles with production and class. Marx uses Rome and the Middle Ages to describe this in the Manifesto of the Communist Party. “In ancient Rome, we have patricians, knights, plebians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeyman, apprentices, serf; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations”(Marx). In other words, Marx saw the hierarchy of classes in these societies (and other societies as well) and did not see the modern world (at the time of this manifesto, 1848, in which the industrial revolution was making its way) as being much different. At his time in history, he considered the society to be split between the bourgeoisie and the proletariats. The struggles between the proletariats (the working class) and the bourgeoisie (those in control of the capital) defined his era. At the end of any specific time in history, Marx believed communism rose out of the ashes of the breakdown of the capitalist state (Wolff). It is important to remember that Marx’s theories were not discussed much during his lifetime.