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294Philosophy and Literature Lukács Reappraised, edited by Agnes Heller; 204 pp. New York: Columbia University Press, 1983, $25.00 hardbound, $12.00 paper. The stature of Georg Lukács was never so firmly established in this country as to elicit a sustained dialogue with the changing perspectives of his voluminous oeuvre. It may be justified, therefore, to regard the claim of a reasonably comprehensive revaluation of his work with some suspicion, especially since die audiors of the eight essays assembled here (G. Markus, A. Heller, S. Radnóti, F. Fehér, M. Vajda, and G. Tamas) were, with the exception of Tamas, students of Lukács's in Budapest. They were also his close personal friends until his death in 1971. But it is obvious very soon diat their loyalty to his philosophical heritage has not diminished the critical acumen and intellectual independence which gained them their privileged position in the first place. Their work, furthermore , is not a collective effort of most recent date. While it is acknowledged that five of their essays were first printed between 1975 and 1979 in the journal Telos, it should be noted also that they have been available elsewhere, injournals and collections, in German mosdy but also in English and other languages. (See the international bibliography by François Lapointe, Georg Lukács and his Critics, 1983, for complete details.) Only one is a previously unpublished contribution: "Lukács's Ontology: A Metacritical Letter," by Tamas (pp. 154-76). It was first written as a personal response to die "Notes" (pp. 125-53) that Lukács had asked of his students in order to clarify sections ofhis Ontology . Tamas reads die last phase of Lukács's work "as an objectivation, as a form, as merely die document of the history of an attitude" (p. 154). It is for him a gigantic failure, for "Lukács, like his protagonist, die young Hegel, embarked on die enterprise of rationalizing the unrationalizable. As a consequence, he had to attempt that which is beyond die limits of endurance of both logic and form, the transformation of his choice into law" (p. 155). The editor herselfparticipates in this critique with her discussion of"Lukács's Later Philosophy" (pp. 177-90), in which she dissects the adherence of the Ontology to "the conceptual arsenal of die official diamat" (p. 189). At the same time she shows the late Aesthetics, as a philosophy of history, to be the culmination of his diought. This means a return not, to be sure, to die conceptual tools and methodology but to die theoretical problems of his youth: the concern with the "function of art within the system of human activities" (p. 3), which is the topic of Markús's introductory essay on the "Young Lukács and the Problem of Culture" (pp. 1-26). All of these studies, then, are revised analyses that are shaped by a longer and consistent process of reappraisal. As a collection they cannot be a systematic survey; but in the choice of their focal points and perspectives they present the evolution of Lukács's enduring thought in paradigmatic discussions. Aside from one "biographical" chapter in which Heller analyzes die tragedy of Lukács's relationship with Irma Seidler (pp. 27-62), all contributions and the book as a whole work out a balance between philosophical and aesdietic/literary concerns. There is also clearly discernible the practice ofreading Lukács within historical contexts, of discovering affinities with odier thinkers — for example with Husserl's critique of nineteenth-century science (Vajda, pp. 107-24) and with the early Blochs philosophizing in a "God-forsaken world" (Radnóti, pp. 63-74). Lukács's conception of the classical culture of Weimar, summarized in Feller's brilliant central analysis (pp. 75-106), is shown to be an unambiguous revival ofSchiller's program ofan "aesthetic education ofmankind." This reveals the Specificity oftheAesthetic as the "apex ofthe Lukács- Reviews295 ian efforts in Weimar and the transformation ofan essentialist ontology of fetishism into a cosmology of the self-creation of the individual" (p. 105). It is the principle of mimesis, rather than "realism" and "reflection," which "provides a universal...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 294-295
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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