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Mr Lukacs changes trains

Edward Timms, 19 February 1987

Georg LukacsSelected Correspondence 1902-1920 
translated by Judith Marcus and Zoltan Tar.
Columbia, 318 pp., $25, September 1986, 9780231059688
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... When Georg Lukacs joined the Hungarian Communist Party in December 1918, his admirers were taken by surprise. This gifted young man from an affluent Jewish background, then aged 33, had previously devoted himself exclusively to cultural pursuits. After coming into prominence around 1905 as one of the instigators of the Hungarian intellectual revival, he had gone on to make his mark in Germany as a cultural theorist in the tradition of Dilthey, Simmel and Weber ...

Kettles boil, classes struggle

Terry Eagleton: Lukács recants, 20 February 2003

A Defence of ‘History and Class Consciousness’: Tailism and the Dialectic 
by Georg Lukács, translated by Esther Leslie.
Verso, 182 pp., £10, June 2002, 1 85984 370 0
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... and supply Bolshevism, after the event, with its missing epistemology. The World Spirit summoned Georg Lukács to accomplish the task. Lukács did so most resourcefully in History and Class Consciousness (1923), the chief intellectual monument of Western Marxism. No other work of Marxist philosophy has proved so richly influential. Among other things, the ...

Dark Fates

Frank Kermode, 5 October 1995

The Blue Flower 
by Penelope Fitzgerald.
Flamingo, 226 pp., £14.99, September 1995, 0 00 223912 4
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... from 1772 to 1801. He figures largely in all accounts of the German literature of the time, and Georg Lukács is not much more extravagant than other critics in calling him the only Romantic poet. He spoke of the need to romanticise the world by the action of intellect and imagination; in this novel he parodies his teacher Fichte, crying: ‘Have you ...

War on the Palaces!

Ritchie Robertson, 19 October 1995

Georg Büchner: The Shattered Whole 
by John Reddick.
Oxford, 395 pp., £40, February 1995, 0 19 815812 2
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Complete Plays, ‘Lenz’ and Other Writings 
by Georg Büchner, translated by John Reddick.
Penguin, 306 pp., £6.99, September 1993, 0 14 044586 2
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... When the 23-year-old Georg Büchner died of typhus in February 1837, his acquaintances knew him mainly as a brilliant medical scientist who had just been appointed to a lectureship in anatomy at the University of Zurich, and as a revolutionary whose attempts to stir up revolt among the peasants of his native province of Hesse had obliged him to flee Germany and pursue a career in exile ...

Typical CIA

Ken Follett, 18 December 1980

Who’s on first 
by William Buckley.
Allen Lane, 276 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 7139 1359 2
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... historical events, but the poetic awakening of the people who figured in those events.’ When Georg Lukacs wrote that he was dealing with commercial fiction (specifically, Scott’s Waverley novels). Oakes is a running character in Buckley’s books, so there is room for him to develop into a person who will engage rather than just impress us. I hope ...

Communism’s Man of Letters

J.P. Stern, 26 September 1991

Georg Lukács: Life, Thought and Politics 
by Arpad Kadarkay.
Blackwell, 538 pp., £45, June 1991, 1 55786 114 5
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... was appointed director of one of the largest credit institutions in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Georg dropped the ‘gentry-bureaucratic’ designation of von only on his conversion to Communism in 1918. The mother came from an ancient family of rabbis and licensed moneylenders to the Habsburg emperors, and remained contemptuous of her self-made financier ...

A Man without Frustration

Raymond Williams, 17 May 1984

Record of a Life: An Autobiography 
by Georg Lukacs, edited by Istvan Eörsi.
Verso, 204 pp., £15, March 1984, 0 86091 071 7
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Lukacs Revalued 
edited by Agnes Heller.
Blackwell, 204 pp., £17.50, September 1983, 0 631 13159 0
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The Young Lukacs 
by Lee Congdon.
North Carolina, 235 pp., £15.75, May 1983, 0 8078 1538 1
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... It is still very difficult, in the English-speaking world, to focus the work of Lukacs. Any full understanding of it depends on a familiarity with classical German philosophy and with the intellectual development of Marxism which is still relatively uncommon in our language. The intricacy of the current international discussion of various phases of his thought contrasts very sharply with the few relatively general impressions which most of us have been able to register, even through careful study of those more readily accessible works which are said to be his most significant ...

Sausages and Higher Things

Patrick Parrinder, 11 February 1993

The Porcupine 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 138 pp., £9.99, November 1992, 0 224 03618 1
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... him of writing the same novel twice. Though his latest protagonist is what the Marxist critic Georg Lukács would have called a world-historical figure, this is far from being the sort of world history that Barnes once airily conjured up in 10½ chapters. Ex-President Stoyo Petkanov would be more at home in the pages of the Soviet Encyclopedia than in any ...

Bitten by the love geist

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 30 January 1992

by Francis Dunlop.
Claridge, 97 pp., £9.95, October 1991, 1 870626 71 0
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... disenchantment by calling for a charismatic führer to raise the moral tone; or convinced, like Georg Lukacs, that the triumph of the philistines could be transcended with a Hegelianised Marx. But nor would he, like Theodor Adorno, resign himself to a cultural criticism that could at best reflect the dreadful fractures; or, like the academic ...


Daniel Johnson, 20 June 1996

The Dear Purchase: A Theme in German Modernism 
by J.P. Stern.
Cambridge, 445 pp., £40, February 1995, 0 521 43330 4
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... and the result was far more persuasive than the contemporary Marxist criticism, typified by Georg Lukàcs in The Destruction of Reason, by virtue of the fact that Stern did not merely dismiss the purely literary appeal of Jünger’s works under the rubric of ‘irrationalism’. Instead, he sought to act as devil’s advocate, accepting Jünger’s ...

Pork Chops and Pineapples

Terry Eagleton: The Realism of Erich Auerbach, 23 October 2003

Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature 
by Erich Auerbach.
Princeton, 579 pp., £13.95, May 2003, 9780691113364
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... the descriptive and the normative. It can be either a neutral comment or a glowing commendation. Georg Lukács believed that it was both at once: for him, a work of art which was realist in a descriptive sense was also aesthetically superior. Realism in this Lukácsian or Hegelian sense means more than simple representation, as well as more than ‘actually ...

Outside the Academy

Robert Alter, 13 February 1992

Authors and Authority: English and American Criticism 1750-1990 
by Patrick Parrinder.
Macmillan, 392 pp., £40, August 1991, 0 333 43294 0
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A History of Modern Criticism 1750-1950. Vol. VII: German, Russian and Eastern European Criticism, 1900-1950 
by René Wellek.
Yale, 458 pp., £26, October 1991, 0 300 05039 9
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... critics of real intellectual power like Erich Auerbach, Mikhail Bakhtin, Ernst Robert Curtius, Georg Lukacs, Viktor Shklovsky and Leo Spitzer, he offers trenchant and detailed critiques of their key concepts and methods, while also conveying a sense of their achievement. Auerbach’s Mimesis is a masterwork of 20th-century criticism, but it is based ...

In Transit

Geoff Dyer: Garry Winogrand, 20 June 2013

... and extent of this animate inventory that makes Winogrand so important. Taking his lead from Georg Lukács, George Steiner wrote of Balzac that when he ‘describes a hat, he does so because a man is wearing it.’ Granted, in photography hats are forever being verbed – worn, carried, tipped – but it’s helpful to see Winogrand as a visual novelist ...

Anyone can do collage

Hal Foster: Kurt Schwitters, 10 March 2022

Poisoned Abstraction: Kurt Schwitters between Revolution and Exile 
by Graham Bader.
Yale, 240 pp., £45, November 2021, 978 0 300 25708 3
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Myself and My Aims: Writings on Art and Criticism 
by Kurt Schwitters, edited by Megan R. Luke, translated by Timothy Grundy.
Chicago, 656 pp., £30, October 2020, 978 0 226 12939 6
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... painting’. At the height of the Merz project, another mode of abstraction was being theorised by Georg Lukács (and not much later by Alfred Sohn-Rethel): the equivalence of commodities in capitalist exchange. (Along with ‘merde’ we hear ‘merch’ in Merz; the Freudians were on to the connection between shit and money as well.) This is the condition ...


Sheila Fitzpatrick: Andrei Platonov, 1 December 2016

... drew Igor to people. Sats had become a literary critic in the orbit of the Marxist philosopher Georg Lukács, a Hungarian émigré then associated with Literary Critic (Literaturnyi kritik), the only ‘thick’ journal left in Stalinist Moscow that was able to maintain a distinctive and more or less independent line. Despite the fact that it was a journal ...

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