In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

GRAHAM GOOD LUKACS' 'GREAT TRADITIONVA REVIEW ESSAY Georg Lukacs, Marxism and Human Liberation: Essays on ¡¡istori-. Culture and Revolution, ed. E. San Juan, Jr. (New York Dell, 1973), pp. xviii - 332, $2.95. This is an excellent introductory anthology of Lukacs" writings. The title is a little misleading: "liberation" in its current sense is not really a central concern, but it may help to give the book the wide audience it deserves. Except for the pre-Marxist phase and the late writings on aesthetic theory, most ofthe periods of Lukacs' long intellectual career are represented, as are the different areas of his endeavours: political, philosophical and literary. The first group of selections gives some reasonably clear and concise expositions of basic Marxist principles for the study of culture, along with Lukács' views of Lenin (for) and Stalin (against). The second section includes the essay "Idea and Form in Literature," elsewhere translated (more closely) as "Narrate or Describe," and pieces on Scott, Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn and Lessing. In the third section we have the hostile, but not uncompassionate, account of Sartre and Heidegger entitled "Existentialism," the important essay on "The Ideology of Modernism" and an interview which took place in 1969, two years before Lukács' death. Some of this material is easily available in other translated collections, and some of it is not; but it constitutes a reasonably balanced representation of the works (although personally I would have liked to see the important essay on Hegel's Aesthetics included). It is well introduced and well edited - - though there are some errors: for instance, V itch Ian Vohr, of Scott's Waverley, twice appears with his German spelling as Wick Ian Wor-- and there is a handy bibliography of English translations of Lukács and of critical writings on him. The appearance of this representative anthology shortly after his death offers us a good occasion for a general assessment of his contribution to literary history. Although Lukács never wrote a systematic history of Western literature, there is nevertheless a total view of it which implicitly underlies his individual essays, and which it may be helpful at this point to sketch. At the beginning, of course, there is Homer, whose "epic greatness" Lukacs at times seems to be using as a touchstone for all subsequent literature: the wholeness of the Homeric universe in all its aspects is a constant point of reference in the assessment of such writers as Scott, Tolstoy and Solzhe113 nitsyn. But the main focus of Lukács' work is on modern bourgeois culture, from the Enlightenment to the present; though it is always viewed from the implied critical standpoint of a nonbourgeois past and a non-bourgeois future. The basic outline of the bourgeoisie's historical development is conveniently sketched in "The Old Culture and the New Culture," the first essay in this anthology. As a necessary resultof capitalism's anarchy of production, the bourgeois class, when struggling for power and when first in power, could have but one ideology: that of individual freedom. The crisis of capitalist culture must appear the moment this ideology is in contradiction with the bourgeois social order. As long as the advancing bourgeois class - - in the eighteenth century, for example - - directed this ideology against the constraints of feudal estate society, it was an adequate expression of the given state of class struggle. Thus the bourgeoisie in this period was actually able to have a genuine culture. But as the bourgeoisie came to power (beginning with the French Revolution) it could no longer apply the idea of individual freedom to the whole society without the self-negation of the social order that brought this ideology into being in the first place. Briefly: it was impossible for the bourgeois cla>- to npplv it>- own idea of freedom to the proletariat If we supplement this outline from other sources in Lukács, we arrive at a rough division of bourgeois cultural history into three phases. First is the pre-revolutionary phase, up to 1789. Here, bourgeois culture is humanistic and progressive, stressing the ethical value of the individual and opposing the irrationality of feudalism and absolutism. Second is an intermediate period (1789-1848) in...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 113-122
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.