Georg Lukács

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Lukács, Georg

 

Born Apr. 13,1885, in Budapest; died there June 4, 1971. Hungarian philosopher and literary critic. Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Lukács received his philosophical education in Budapest, Berlin, and Heidelberg. He was influenced by G. Simmel and M. Weber, although classical German philosophy also played a major role in the formation of his idealistic outlook. The most important of his early works were The Soul and the Forms (1910), The History of the Development of Modern Drama (1912), and The Theory of the Novel (1920). During World War I (1914-18) his protest against bourgeois culture and his sympathy for the working class ripened. Lukács broke with the Weber group and became an internationalist.

The Great October Revolution in Russia profoundly affected Lukács. In 1918 he joined the Hungarian Communist Party, and in 1919 he was People’s Commissar for Cultural Affairs of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. After the collapse of the republic in 1919 he took refuge in Vienna, where he was active in the underground activities of the Communist Party of Hungary. In the early 1920’s his political views bore the imprint of leftist sectarianism, but he soon acknowledged V. I. Lenin’s criticism of these views (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 41, pp. 135-136). Later, Lukacs also recognized the shortcomings of his philosophical work History and Class Consciousness (1923). Thereafter his views were not always consistent, and he sometimes committed serious political blunders. His activity in Moscow between 1930 and 1945 was of crucial importance for the development of his philosophical outlook. Here he studied the aesthetic heritage of Marx and Engels and worked out the theory of classical realism, attacking vulgar sociology and modernism. He was affiliated with the Communist Academy and with the journal Literaturnyi kritik. His mature works were written during this period, notably the collections Nineteenth-century Literary Theories and Marxism (1937) and History of Realism (1939) and such other works as The Historical Novel, Goethe and His Epoch, and Young Hegel.

In 1945, Lukács returned to Hungary, where he took part in the creation of the new Hungarian culture. He was active in the peace movement and a member of the World Peace Council. His attacks on contemporary bourgeois philosophy attracted worldwide attention (The Destruction of Reason, 1954). In the 1950’s he worked on a systematic exposition of Marxist aesthetics. The first two volumes of this work (The Specific Character of Aesthetics, 1963) contain an analysis of the principles of realism in art from the standpoint of Lenin’s theory of reflection, which drew

sharp criticism from the bourgeois press and revisionists, including the Frankfurt school and R. Garaudy. His last works were devoted to the ontology of social existence. Other parts of this vast work have been published posthumously. Lukács was awarded the Kossuth Prize in 1948 and 1955 and the Jubilee Medal of the USSR in commemoration of the centennial of Lenin’s birth.

WORKS

Lenin: Studie überden Zusammenhang seiner Gedanken. Berlin-Vienna, 1924.
Fortschritt und Reaktion in der deutschen Literatur. Berlin, 1947.
Existentialisme ou marxisme. Paris, 1948.
Schicksalswende: Beiträge zu einer neuen deutschen Ideologic, 2nd ed. Berlin, 1956.
Adalékok az esztétika történetéhez. Budapest, 1957.
Beiträge zur Geschichte der Ästhetik. Berlin, 1956.
Német realisták. Budapest, 1955.
Skizze einer Geschichte der neuren deutschen Literatur. Berlin, 1955.
A különösség mint esztetikai kategoria. Budapest, 1957.
Wider den missverstandenen Realismus. Hamburg, 1958.
Schriften zur Literatursoziologie: Ausgewahlt und eingeleitet von R. Ludz. Berlin, 1961.
Utam markhoz, vols. 1-2. Budapest, 1971.
In Russian translation:
“Materializatsiia i proletarskoe soznanie.” Vestnik Sotsialisticheskoi Akademii, 1923, books 4-6.
Bor’ba gumanizma i varvarstva. Tashkent, 1943.