György Lukács (/ˈluːkɑːtʃ/; Hungarian: [ˈɟørɟ
ˈlukaːt͡ʃ]; also Georg Lukács; born György Bernát Löwinger; 13
April 1885 – 4 June 1971) was a Hungarian
aesthetician, literary historian, and critic. He was one of the
founders of Western Marxism, an interpretive tradition that departed
Marxist ideological orthodoxy of the Soviet Union. He
developed the theory of reification, and contributed to
with developments of Karl Marx's theory of class consciousness. He was
also a philosopher of Communism. He ideologically developed and
organised Lenin's pragmatic revolutionary practices into the formal
philosophy of vanguard-party revolution.
As a literary critic Lukács was especially influential, because of
his theoretical developments of realism and of the novel as a literary
genre. In 1919, he was the Hungarian Minister of Culture of the
government of the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic
Lukács has been described as the preeminent
Marxist intellectual of
the Stalinist era, though assessing his legacy can be difficult as
Lukács seemed to both support
Stalinism as the embodiment of Marxist
thought, and yet also champion a return to pre-Stalinist Marxism.
1 Life and politics
1.2 Communist leader
1.3 Under Stalin and Rákosi
2.1 History and Class Consciousness
2.2 Literary and aesthetic work
2.3 "Realism in the Balance" (1938) – Lukács's defence of literary
2.4 Ontology of social being
4 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
Life and politics
Georg Lukács was born Löwinger György Bernát, in Budapest,
Hungary, to the investment banker József Löwinger (later Szegedi
Lukács József; 1855–1928) and his wife Adele Wertheimer
(Wertheimer Adél; 1860–1917), who were a wealthy Jewish family. He
had a brother and sister.
József Löwinger was knighted by the empire and received a baronial
Georg Lukács a baron as well, through inheritance.
As an Austro-Hungarian subject, the full names of
Georg Lukács were
Baron "Georg Bernhard Lukács von Szegedin", and the
Hungarian "Szegedi Lukács György Bernát"; as a writer, he published
under the names "Georg Lukács" and "György Lukács". Georg Lukács
studied at the Royal Hungarian University of
Budapest and the
University of Berlin, and received his doctorate of jurisprudence in
1906 from the Royal Hungarian University of Kolozsvár. In 1909, he
completed his doctorate of philosophy at the University of Budapest
under the direction of Zsolt Beöthy.
Whilst at university in Budapest, Lukács was part of socialist
intellectual circles through which he met Ervin Szabó, an
anarcho-syndicalist who introduced him to the works of Georges Sorel
(1847–1922), the French proponent of revolutionary syndicalism.
In that period, Lukács's intellectual perspectives were modernist and
anti-positivist. From 1904 to 1908, he was part of a theatre troupe
that produced modernist, psychologically realistic plays by Henrik
Ibsen, August Strindberg, and Gerhart Hauptmann.
Lukács spent much time in Germany, and studied in
Berlin from 1906 to
1910, during which time he made the acquaintance of the philosopher
Georg Simmel. Later, in 1913, whilst in Heidelberg he befriended Max
Weber, Ernst Bloch, and Stefan George. The idealist system to which
Lukács subscribed was intellectually indebted to
the dominant philosophy in German universities) and to Plato, Georg
Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Søren Kierkegaard, Wilhelm Dilthey, and
Fyodor Dostoyevsky. In that period, he published
Soul and Form
Soul and Form (1911;
tr. 1974) and The Theory of the
Novel (1916/1920; tr. 1971).
In 1915, Lukács returned to Budapest, where he was the leader of the
Sunday Circle, an intellectual salon. Its concerns were the cultural
themes that arose from the existential works of Dostoyevsky, which
thematically aligned with Lukács's interests in his last years at
Heidelberg. As a salon, the Sunday Circle sponsored cultural events
whose participants included literary and musical avant-garde figures,
such as Karl Mannheim, the composer Béla Bartók, Béla Balázs, and
Karl Polanyi; some of them also attended the weekly salons. In 1918,
the last year of the First World War (1914–18), the Sunday Circle
became divided. They dissolved the salon because of their divergent
politics; several of the leading members accompanied Lukács into the
Communist Party of Hungary.
Lukács in 1919
In light of the First World War and the Russian Revolution of 1917,
Lukács rethought his ideas. He became a committed
Marxist in this
period and joined the fledgling
Communist Party of Hungary
Communist Party of Hungary in 1918. As
part of the government of the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic,
Lukács was made People's
Commissar for Education and Culture (he was
deputy to the
Commissar for Education Zsigmond Kunfi).
During the Hungarian Soviet Republic, Lukács was a theoretician of
the Hungarian version of the red terror. In an article in the
Népszava, 15 April 1919, he wrote that "The possession of the power
of the state is also a moment for the destruction of the oppressing
classes. A moment, we have to use". Lukács later became a
commissar of the Fifth Division of the Hungarian Red Army, in which
capacity he ordered the execution of eight of his own soldiers in
Poroszlo, in May 1919, which he later admitted in an
Hungarian Soviet Republic
Hungarian Soviet Republic was defeated, Lukács was ordered
by Kun to remain behind with Ottó Korvin, when the rest of the
leadership evacuated. Lukács and Korvin's mission was to
clandestinely reorganize the communist movement, but this proved to be
impossible. Lukács went into hiding, with the help of photographer
Olga Máté. After Korvin's capture, Lukács fled from
Vienna. He was arrested but was saved from extradition due to a group
of writers including Thomas and Heinrich Mann.
Thomas Mann later
based the character Naphta on Lukács in his novel The Magic Mountain.
During his time in Vienna in the 1920s, Lukács befriended other Left
Communists who were working or in exile there, including Victor Serge,
Adolf Joffe and Antonio Gramsci.
Lukács began to develop
Leninist ideas in the field of philosophy.
His major works in this period were the essays collected in his magnum
History and Class Consciousness
History and Class Consciousness (1923). Although these essays
display signs of what
Vladimir Lenin referred to as "ultra-leftism",
Leninism with a substantive philosophical basis. In July
Grigory Zinoviev attacked this book along with the work of Karl
Korsch at the Fifth
Comintern Congress. In 1924, shortly after Lenin's
death, Lukács published the short study Lenin: A Study in the Unity
of His Thought. In 1925, he published a critical review of Nikolai
Bukharin's manual of historical materialism.
As a Hungarian exile, he remained active on the left wing of Hungarian
Communist Party, and was opposed to the Moscow-backed programme of
Béla Kun. His 'Blum theses' of 1928 called for the overthrow of the
counter-revolutionary regime of
Admiral Horthy in
Hungary by a
strategy similar to the Popular Fronts that arose in the 1930s. He
advocated a 'democratic dictatorship' of the proletariat and peasantry
as a transitional stage leading to the dictatorship of the
proletariat. After Lukács's strategy was condemned by the Comintern,
he retreated from active politics into theoretical work.
Under Stalin and Rákosi
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In 1930, while residing in Vienna, Lukács was summoned to Moscow.
This coincided with the signing of a Viennese police order for his
expulsion. Leaving their children to attend their studies, Lukács and
his wife ventured to
Moscow in March 1930. Soon after his arrival,
Lukács was "prevented" from leaving and assigned to work alongside
David Riazanov ("in the basement") at the Marx-Engels Institute.
Lukács and his wife were not permitted to leave the Soviet Union
until after the Second World War. During Stalin's Great Purge, Lukacs
was sent to internal exile in
Tashkent for a time, where he and
Johannes Becher became friends. Lukács survived the purges of the
"Great Terror," which claimed the lives of an estimated 80% of the
Hungarian émigrés in the Soviet Union. There is much debate among
historians concerning the extent to which Lukács accepted Stalinism.
After the war, Lukács and his wife returned to Hungary. As a member
of the Hungarian Communist Party, he took part in establishing the new
Hungarian government. From 1945 Lukács was a member of the Hungarian
Academy of Sciences. Between 1945 and 1946 he strongly criticised
non-communist philosophers and writers. Lukács has been accused of
playing an "administrative" (legal-bureaucratic) role in the removal
of independent and non-communist intellectuals such as Béla Hamvas,
István Bibó, Lajos Prohászka, and
Károly Kerényi from Hungarian
academic life. Between 1946 and 1953, many non-communist
intellectuals, including Bibó, were imprisoned or forced into menial
work or manual labour.
Lukács's personal aesthetic and political position on culture was
always that Socialist culture would eventually triumph in terms of
quality. He thought it should play out in terms of competing cultures,
not by "administrative" measures. In 1948–49 Lukács's position for
cultural tolerance was smashed in a "Lukács purge," when Mátyás
Rákosi turned his famous salami tactics on the Hungarian Communist
In the mid-1950s Lukács was reintegrated into party life. The party
used him to help purge the
Hungarian Writers' Union in 1955–56.
Tamás Aczél and
Tibor Méray (former Secretaries of the Hungarian
Writers' Union) both believe that Lukács participated grudgingly, and
cite Lukács leaving the presidium and the meeting at the first break
as evidence of this reluctance.
In 1956 Lukács became a minister of the brief communist revolutionary
government led by Imre Nagy, which opposed the Soviet Union. At this
time Lukács's daughter led a short-lived party of communist
revolutionary youth. Lukács's position on the 1956 revolution was
Hungarian Communist Party
Hungarian Communist Party would need to retreat into a
coalition government of socialists, and slowly rebuild its credibility
with the Hungarian people. While a minister in Nagy's revolutionary
government, Lukács also participated in trying to reform the
Hungarian Communist Party
Hungarian Communist Party on a new basis. This party, the Hungarian
Socialist Workers' Party, was rapidly co-opted by
János Kádár after
4 November 1956.
During the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Lukács was present at debates
of the anti-party and revolutionary communist Petőfi society, while
remaining part of the party apparatus. During the revolution, as
Budapest Diary, Lukács argued for a new Soviet-aligned
communist party. In Lukács's view, the new party could win social
leadership only by persuasion instead of force. Lukács envisioned an
alliance between the dissident communist Party of Youth, the
Hungarian Social Democratic Party
Hungarian Social Democratic Party and his own
Soviet-aligned party as a very junior partner.
After 1956 Lukács narrowly avoided execution. Due to his role in
Nagy's government, he was no longer trusted by the party apparatus.
Lukács's followers were indicted for political crimes throughout the
1960s and 70s, and a number fled to the West. Lukács's books The
Hegel and The Destruction of Reason have been used to argue that
Lukács was covertly critical of
Stalinism as an irrational distortion
Following the defeat of the Revolution, Lukács was deported to
Romania with the rest of Nagy's government. Unlike Nagy, he survived
the purges of 1956. He returned to
Budapest in 1957. Lukács publicly
abandoned his positions of 1956 and engaged in self-criticism. Having
abandoned his earlier positions, Lukács remained loyal to the
Communist Party until his death in 1971. In his last years, following
the uprisings in France and
Czechoslovakia in 1968, Lukács became
more publicly critical of the
Soviet Union and Hungarian Communist
In an interview just before his death, Lukács remarked:
Without a genuine general theory of society and its movement, one does
not get away from Stalinism. Stalin was a great tactician... But
Stalin, unfortunately, was not a Marxist... The essence of Stalinism
lies in placing tactics before strategy, practice above theory... The
bureaucracy generated by
Stalinism is a tremendous evil. Society is
suffocated by it. Everything becomes unreal, nominalistic. People see
no design, no strategic aim, and do not move..." Thus Lukács
concludes "[w]e must learn to connect the great decisions of popular
political power with personal needs, those of individuals.
— Marcus & Zoltan 1989: 215–16
Part of a series on
Economic and Philosophic
Manuscripts of 1844
Theses on Feuerbach
The German Ideology
The Communist Manifesto
The Eighteenth Brumaire of
Grundrisse der Kritik
der Politischen Ökonomie
A Contribution to the
Critique of Political Economy
Dialectics of Nature
Philosophy of nature
Factors of production
Means of labor
Mode of production
Law of value
Socialist mode of production
Base and superstructure
Dictatorship of the proletariat
Relations of production
Anarchism and Marxism
Philosophy in the Soviet Union
Primitive capital accumulation
Marxism and religion
Daniel De Leon
Ho Chi Minh
Josip Broz Tito
Theodor W. Adorno
C. Wright Mills
Simone de Beauvoir
Richard D. Wolff
History and Class Consciousness
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Further information: History and Class Consciousness
Written between 1919 and 1922,
History and Class Consciousness
History and Class Consciousness (1923)
initiated Western Marxism. Lukács emphasizes concepts such as
alienation, reification and class consciousness.
Lukács argues that methodology is the only thing that distinguishes
Marxism: even if all its substantive propositions were rejected, it
would remain valid because of its distinctive method:
Orthodox Marxism, therefore, does not imply the uncritical acceptance
of the results of Marx's investigations. It is not the 'belief' in
this or that thesis, nor the exegesis of a 'sacred' book. On the
contrary, orthodoxy refers exclusively to method. It is the scientific
conviction that dialectical materialism is the road to truth and that
its methods can be developed, expanded and deepened only along the
lines laid down by its founders.
Marxist revisionism by calling for the return to this
Marxist method, which is fundamentally dialectical materialism.
Lukács conceives "revisionism" as inherent to the
insofar as dialectical materialism is, according to him, the product
of class struggle:
For this reason the task of orthodox Marxism, its victory over
Revisionism and utopianism can never mean the defeat, once and for
all, of false tendencies. It is an ever-renewed struggle against the
insidious effects of bourgeois ideology on the thought of the
Marxist orthodoxy is no guardian of traditions, it is the
eternally vigilant prophet proclaiming the relation between the tasks
of the immediate present and the totality of the historical process.
— end of §5
According to him, "The premise of dialectical materialism is, we
recall: 'It is not men's consciousness that determines their
existence, but on the contrary, their social existence that determines
their consciousness.' ...Only when the core of existence stands
revealed as a social process can existence be seen as the product,
albeit the hitherto unconscious product, of human activity." (§5). In
line with Marx's thought, he criticises the individualist bourgeois
philosophy of the subject, which founds itself on the voluntary and
conscious subject. Against this ideology, he asserts the primacy of
social relations. Existence — and thus the world — is the product
of human activity; but this can be seen only if the primacy of social
process on individual consciousness is accepted. Lukács does not
restrain human liberty for sociological determinism: to the contrary,
this production of existence is the possibility of praxis.
He conceives the problem in the relationship between theory and
practice. Lukács quotes Marx's words: "It is not enough that thought
should seek to realise itself; reality must also strive towards
thought." How does the thought of intellectuals relate to class
struggle, if theory is not simply to lag behind history, as it is in
Hegel's philosophy of history ("Minerva always comes at the dusk of
night...")? Lukács criticises Friedrich Engels's Anti-Dühring,
saying that he "does not even mention the most vital interaction,
namely the dialectical relation between subject and object in the
historical process, let alone give it the prominence it deserves."
This dialectical relation between subject and object is the basis of
Lukács's critique of Immanuel Kant's epistemology, according to which
the subject is the exterior, universal and contemplating subject,
separated from the object.
For Lukács, "ideology" is a projection of the class consciousness of
the bourgeoisie, which functions to prevent the proletariat from
attaining consciousness of its revolutionary position. Ideology
determines the "form of objectivity", thus the very structure of
knowledge. According to Lukács, real science must attain the
"concrete totality" through which only it is possible to think the
current form of objectivity as a historical period. Thus, the
so-called eternal "laws" of economics are dismissed as the ideological
illusion projected by the current form of objectivity ("What is
Orthodoxical Marxism?", §3). He also writes: "It is only when the
core of being has showed itself as social becoming, that the being
itself can appear as a product, so far unconscious, of human activity,
and this activity, in turn, as the decisive element of the
transformation of being." ("What is Orthodoxical Marxism?", §5)
Finally, "orthodoxical marxism" is not defined as interpretation of
Capital as if it were the Bible or an embrace of "marxist thesis", but
as fidelity to the "marxist method", dialectics.
Lukács presents the category of reification whereby, due to the
commodity nature of capitalist society, social relations become
objectified. This precludes the spontaneous emergence of class
consciousness. In this context, the need for a party in the Leninist
sense emerges, the subjective aspect of the re-invigorated Marxian
In his later career, Lukács repudiated the ideas of History and Class
Consciousness, in particular the belief in the proletariat as a
"subject-object of history" (1960 Postface to French translation). As
late as 1925–1926, he still defended these ideas, in an unfinished
manuscript, which he called Tailism and the Dialectic. It was not
published until 1996 in Hungarian and English in 2000 under the title
A Defence of History and Class Consciousness.
Literary and aesthetic work
In addition to his standing as a
Marxist political thinker, Lukács
was an influential literary critic of the twentieth century. His
important work in literary criticism began early in his career, with
The Theory of the Novel, a seminal work in literary theory and the
theory of genre. The book is a history of the novel as a form, and an
investigation into its distinct characteristics. In The Theory of the
Novel, he coins the term "transcendental homelessness", which he
defines as the "longing of all souls for the place in which they once
belonged, and the 'nostalgia… for utopian perfection, a nostalgia
that feels itself and its desires to be the only true
Lukács later repudiated The Theory of the Novel, writing a lengthy
introduction that described it as erroneous, but nonetheless
containing a "romantic anti-capitalism" which would later develop into
Marxism. (This introduction also contains his famous dismissal of
Theodor Adorno and others in
Western Marxism as having taken up
residence in the "Grand Hotel Abyss".)
Lukács's later literary criticism includes the well-known essay
"Kafka or Thomas Mann?", in which Lukács argues for the work of
Thomas Mann as a superior attempt to deal with the condition of
modernity, and criticises Franz Kafka's brand of modernism. Lukács
steadfastly opposed the formal innovations of modernist writers like
Kafka, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett, preferring the traditional
aesthetic of realism.
During his time in
Moscow in the 1930s, Lukács worked on Marxist
views of aesthetics while belonging to the group around an influential
Moscow magazine "The Literary Critic" (Literaturny Kritik). The
editor of this magazine, Mikhail Lifshitz, was an important Soviet
author on aesthetics. Lifshitz' views were very similar to Lukács's
insofar as both argued for the value of the traditional art; despite
the drastic difference in age (Lifschitz was much younger) both
Lifschitz and Lukács indicated that their working relationship at
that time was a collaboration of equals. Lukács contributed
frequently to this magazine, which was also followed by
theoreticians around the world through various translations published
by the Soviet government.
"The collaboration between Lifschitz and Lukács resulted in the
formation of an informal circle of the like-minded Marxist
intellectuals connected to the journal Literaturnyi Kritik [The
Literary Critic], published monthly starting in the summer of 1933 by
the Organisational Committee of the Writers' Union. ... A group of
thinkers formed around Lifschitz, Lukács and Andrei Platonov; they
were concerned with articulating the aesthetical views of
creating a kind of
Marxist aesthetics that had not yet been properly
Lukács famously argued for the revolutionary character of the novels
Sir Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott and Honoré de Balzac. Lukács felt that both
authors' nostalgic, pro-aristocratic politics allowed them accurate
and critical stances because of their opposition (albeit reactionary)
to the rising bourgeoisie. This view was expressed in his later book
Novel (published in Russian in 1937, then in Hungarian
in 1947), as well as in his essay "Realism in the Balance" (1938).
Novel is probably Lukács's most influential work of
literary history. In it he traces the development of the genre of
historical fiction. While prior to 1789, he argues, people's
consciousness of history was relatively underdeveloped, the French
Revolution and Napoleonic wars that followed brought about a
realisation of the constantly changing, evolving character of human
existence. This new historical consciousness was reflected in the work
of Sir Walter Scott, whose novels use 'representative' or 'typical'
characters to dramatise major social conflicts and historical
transformations, for example the dissolution of feudal society in the
Scottish Highlands and the entrenchment of mercantile capitalism.
Lukács argues that Scott's new brand of historical realism was taken
up by Balzac and Tolstoy, and enabled novelists to depict contemporary
social life not as a static drama of fixed, universal types, but
rather as a moment of history, constantly changing, open to the
potential of revolutionary transformation. For this reason he sees
these authors as progressive and their work as potentially radical,
despite their own personal conservative politics.
For Lukács, this historical realist tradition began to give way after
the 1848 revolutions, when the bourgeoisie ceased to be a progressive
force and their role as agents of history was usurped by the
proletariat. After this time, historical realism begins to sicken and
lose its concern with social life as inescapably historical. He
illustrates this point by comparing Flaubert's historical novel
Salammbô to that of the earlier realists. For him, Flaubert's work
marks a turning away from relevant social issues and an elevation of
style over substance. Why he does not discuss Sentimental Education, a
novel much more overtly concerned with recent historical developments,
is not clear. For much of his life Lukács promoted a return to the
realist tradition that he believed it had reached its height with
Balzac and Scott, and bemoaned the supposed neglect of history that
Novel has been hugely influential in subsequent
critical studies of historical fiction, and no serious analyst of the
genre fails to engage at some level with Lukács's arguments.
"Realism in the Balance" (1938) – Lukács's defence of literary
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The initial intent of "Realism in the Balance", stated at its outset,
is debunking the claims of those defending
Expressionism as a valuable
literary movement. Lukács addresses the discordance in the community
of modernist critics, whom he regarded as incapable of deciding which
writers were Expressionist and which were not, arguing that "perhaps
there is no such thing as an Expressionist writer."
But although his aim is ostensibly to criticise what he perceived as
the over-valuation of modernist schools of writing at the time the
article was published, Lukács uses the essay as an opportunity to
advance his formulation of the desirable alternative to these schools.
He rejects the notion that modern art must necessarily manifest itself
as a litany of sequential movements, beginning with Naturalism, and
Expressionism to culminate in
Surrealism. For Lukács, the important issue at stake was not the
conflict that results from the modernists' evolving oppositions to
classical forms, but rather the ability of art to confront an
objective reality that exists in the world, an ability he found almost
entirely lacking in modernism.
Lukács believed that desirable alternative to such modernism must
therefore take the form of Realism, and he enlists the realist authors
Maxim Gorky, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, and
Romain Rolland to champion
his cause. To frame the debate, Lukács introduces the arguments of
critic Ernst Bloch, a defender of Expressionism, and the author to
whom Lukács was chiefly responding. He maintains that modernists such
as Bloch are too willing to ignore the realist tradition, an ignorance
that he believes derives from a modernist rejection of a crucial tenet
Marxist theory, a rejection which he quotes Bloch as propounding.
This tenet is the belief that the system of capitalism is "an
objective totality of social relations," and it is fundamental to
Lukács's arguments in favour of realism.
He explains that the pervasiveness of capitalism, the unity in its
economic and ideological theory, and its profound influence on social
relations comprise a "closed integration" or "totality," an objective
whole that functions independent of human consciousness. Lukács cites
Marx to bolster this historical materialist worldview: "The relations
of production in every society form a whole." He further relies on
Marx to argue that the bourgeoisie's unabated development of the
world's markets are so far-reaching as to create a unified totality,
and explains that because the increasing autonomy of elements of the
capitalist system (such as the autonomy of currency) is perceived by
society as "crisis," there must be an underlying unity that binds
these seemingly autonomous elements of the capitalist system together,
and makes their separation appear as crisis.
Returning to modernist forms, Lukács stipulates that such theories
disregard the relationship of literature to objective reality, in
favour of the portrayal of subjective experience and immediacy that do
little to evince the underlying capitalist totality of existence. It
is clear that Lukács regards the representation of reality as art's
chief purpose—in this he is perhaps not in disagreement with the
modernists—but he maintains that "If a writer strives to represent
reality as it truly is, i.e. if he is an authentic realist, then the
question of totality plays a decisive role." "True realists"
demonstrate the importance of the social context, and since the
unmasking of this objective totality is a crucial element in Lukács's
Marxist ideology, he privileges their authorial approach.
Lukács then sets up a dialectical opposition between two elements he
believes inherent to human experience. He maintains that this
dialectical relation exists between the "appearance" of events as
subjective, unfettered experiences and their "essence" as provoked by
the objective totality of capitalism. Lukács explains that good
realists, such as Thomas Mann, create a contrast between the
consciousnesses of their characters (appearance) and a reality
independent of them (essence). According to Lukács, Mann succeeds
because he creates this contrast. Conversely, modernist writers fail
because they portray reality only as it appears to themselves and
their characters—subjectively—and "fail to pierce the surface" of
these immediate, subjective experiences "to discover the underlying
essence, i.e. the real factors that relate their experiences to the
hidden social forces that produce them." The pitfalls of relying on
immediacy are manifold, according to Lukács. Because the prejudices
inculcated by the capitalist system are so insidious, they cannot be
escaped without the abandonment of subjective experience and immediacy
in the literary sphere. They can only be superseded by realist authors
who "abandon and transcend the limits of immediacy, by scrutinising
all subjective experiences and measuring them against social reality;"
this is no easy task. Lukács relies on Hegelian dialectics to explain
how the relationship between this immediacy and abstraction effects a
subtle indoctrination on the part of capitalist totality. The
circulation of money, he explains, as well as other elements of
capitalism, is entirely abstracted away from its place in the broader
capitalist system, and therefore appears as a subjective immediacy,
which elides its position as a crucial element of objective totality.
Although abstraction can lead to the concealment of objective reality,
it is necessary for art, and Lukács believes that realist authors can
successfully employ it "to penetrate the laws governing objective
reality, and to uncover the deeper, hidden, mediated, not immediately
perceptible of relationships that go to make up society." After a
great deal of intellectual effort, Lukács claims a successful realist
can discover these objective relationships and give them artistic
shape in the form of a character's subjective experience. Then, by
employing the technique of abstraction, the author can portray the
character's experience of objective reality as the same kind of
subjective, immediate experience that characterise totality's
influence on non-fictional individuals. The best realists, he claims,
"depict the vital, but not immediately obvious forces at work in
objective reality." They do so with such profundity and truth that the
products of their imagination can potentially receive confirmation
from subsequent historical events. The true masterpieces of realism
can be appreciated as "wholes" which depict a wide-ranging and
exhaustive objective reality like the one that exists in the
After advancing his formulation of a desirable literary school, a
realism that depicts objective reality, Lukács turns once again to
the proponents of modernism. Citing Nietzsche, who argues that "the
mark of every form of literary decadence ... is that life no longer
dwells in the totality," Lukács strives to debunk modernist
portrayals, claiming they reflect not on objective reality, but
instead proceed from subjectivity to create a "home-made model of the
contemporary world." The abstraction (and immediacy) inherent in
modernism portrays "essences" of capitalist domination divorced from
their context, in a way that takes each essence in "isolation," rather
than taking into account the objective totality that is the foundation
for all of them. Lukács believes that the "social mission of
literature" is to clarify the experience of the masses, and in turn
show these masses that their experiences are influenced by the
objective totality of capitalism, and his chief criticism of modernist
schools of literature is that they fail to live up to this goal,
instead proceeding inexorably towards more immediate, more subjective,
more abstracted versions of fictional reality that ignore the
objective reality of the capitalist system. Realism, because it
creates apparently subjective experiences that demonstrate the
essential social realities that provoke them, is for Lukács the only
defensible or valuable literary school of the early twentieth century.
Ontology of social being
Later in life Lukács undertook a major exposition on the ontology of
social being, which has been partly published in English in three
volumes. The work is a systematic treatment of dialectical philosophy
in its materialist form.
György Lukács bibliography
History and Class Consciousness
History and Class Consciousness (1972). ISBN 0-262-62020-0.
The Theory of the
Novel (1974). ISBN 0-262-62027-8.
Lenin: A Study in the Unity of His Thought (1998).
A Defense of
History and Class Consciousness
History and Class Consciousness (2000).
Budapest School (Lukács)
Marx's notebooks on the history of technology
^ Marcus & Tarr 1989, p. 2.
^ Lichtheim 1970, p. ix.
^ Georg Lukács: Neo-Kantian Aesthetics, Stanford Encyclopedia of
^ European writers, Volume 1, Scribner, 1983, p. 1258.
^ Benét's Reader's Encyclopedia, Third Edition (1987) p. 588.
Leszek Kołakowski (, 2008), Main Currents of Marxism, Vol. 3:
The Breakdown, W. W. Norton & Company, Ch VII: "György Lukács:
Reason in the Service of Dogma, W.W. Norton & Co
^ Lunching under the Goya. Jewish Collectors in
Budapest at the
Beginning of the Twentieth Century, Konstantin Akinsha, Quest. Issues
in Contemporary Jewish History
^ Júlia Bendl, "Lukács György élete a századfordulótól
1918-ig", 1994 (Hungarian)
^ L. Ferenc Lendvai, A fiatal Lukács: utja Marxhoz, 1902–1918,
Argumentum, 2008, p. 46; István Hermann, Georg Lukács: sein Leben
und Wirken, Böhlau, 1986, p. 44.
^ Lukács 1989, pp. ix–x: "On the other hand, the
contradictions in my social and political views brought me
intellectually into contact with
Syndicalism and above all with the
philosophy of George Sorel. ... My interest in Sorel was aroused by
Benét's Reader's Encyclopedia
Benét's Reader's Encyclopedia Third Edition (1987) p. 588.
^ The hinterland of the white terror. Wien, 1920. Online:
^ Népszava, 1919.04.15 Online:
^ Georg Lukács. Revolutionäres Denken. Eine Einführung in Leben und
Werk (hg. v. Frank Benseler), Darmstadt-Neuwied, 1984, p. 64.
^ Lengyel András: A "tizedeltető" Lukács. Egy politikai
folklór-szüzsé történeti hátteréhez. In Forrás, 2017-01.
Online: http://www.forrasfolyoirat.hu/1701/lengyel.pdf page 75.
^ Váry Albert: A vörös uralom áldozatai Magyarországon (The
victims of the Reds in Hungary. Online:
^ Congdon, Lee (2014). Exile and Social Thought: Hungarian
Intellectuals in Germany and Austria, 1919–1933. Princeton, New
Jersey: Princeton University Press. pp. 45–46.
^ Tamás Aczél, Tibor Méray, "The revolt of the mind: a case history
of intellectual resistance behind the Iron Curtain."[page needed]
^ Woroszylski, Wiktor (1957), Diary of a revolt:
Polish eyes (pamphlet)format= requires url= (help), Trans. Michael
Segal, Sydney: Outlook .
^ Bien, Joseph (1999). Audi, Robert, ed. The Cambridge Dictionary of
Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 521.
^ McLellan, David (2005). Honderich, Ted, ed. The Oxford Companion to
Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 547.
^ Wright, Erik Olin; Levine, Andrew; Sober, Elliott (1992).
Reconstructing Marxism: Essays on Explanation and the Theory of
History. London: Verso. pp. 103–4.
^ G. Lukacs, The Theory of the Novel, London: Merlin Press, 1963, p.
^ Young, Joyce. A Book Without Meaning: Why You Aren't Happy With the
Ending of Infinite Jest. May 2009, p. 4.
^ Gutov D., Learn, learn and learn. In: Make Everything New – A
Project on Communism. Edited by Grant Watson, Gerrie van Noord &
Gavin Everall. Published by Book Works and Project Arts Centre,
Dublin, 2006 PP. 24–37.
^ Evgeni V. Pavlov, Perepiska (Letters), Mikhail Lifschitz and György
Lukács. Moscow: Grundrisse, 2011
Woroszylski, Wiktor, 1957. Diary of a revolt:
Budapest through Polish
eyes. Trans. Michael Segal. [Sydney : Outlook]. Pamphlet.
Aczel, Tamas, and Meray, Tibor, 1975. Revolt of the Mind: a case
history of intellectual resistance behind the iron curtain. Greenwood
Granville, Johanna. "
Imre Nagy aka 'Volodya' – A Dent in the
Martyr's Halo?", "Cold War International History Project Bulletin",
no. 5 (Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Washington,
DC), Spring, 1995, pp. 28, and 34–37.
Granville, Johanna, "The First Domino: International Decision Making
During the Hungarian Crisis of 1956", Texas A & M University
Press, 2004. ISBN 1-58544-298-4
Kadvany, John, 2001.
Imre Lakatos and the Guises of Reason. Duke
University Press. ISBN 0-8223-2659-0.
KGB Chief Kryuchkov to CC CPSU, 16 June 1989 (trans. Johanna
Granville). Cold War International History Project Bulletin 5 (1995):
36 [from: TsKhSD, F. 89, Per. 45, Dok. 82.].
Arato, Andrew, and Breines, Paul, 1979. The Young Lukács and the
Origins of Western Marxism. New York: Seabury Press.
Baldacchino, John, 1996. Post-
Marxist Marxism: Questioning the Answer:
Difference and Realism after Lukacs and Adorno. Brookfield, VT:
Corredor, Eva L., 1987.
György Lukács and the Literary Pretext. New
York: P. Lang.
Heller, Agnes, 1983. Lukacs Revalued. Blackwell.
Kettler, David, 1970. "
Marxism and Culture: Lukács in the Hungarian
Revolutions of 1918/19," Telos, No. 10, Winter 1971, pp. 35–92
Lichtheim, George (1970). Georg Lukács. New York: Viking Press.
Löwy, Michael, 1979. Georg Lukács—From
Romanticism to Bolshevism.
Trans. Patrick Chandler. London: NLB.
Marcus, Judith T.; Tarr, Zoltán (1989). Georg Lukács: Theory,
Culture, and Politics. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.
Lukács, Georg (1971). History and Class Consciousness: Studies in
Marxist Dialectics. Cambridge: MIT Press. ISBN 0262620200.
Meszaros, Istvan, 1972. Lukács' Concept of Dialectic. London: The
Merlin Press. ISBN 978-0850361599
Muller, Jerry Z., 2002. The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Western
Thought. Anchor Books.
Shafai, Fariborz, 1996. The Ontology of Georg Lukács : Studies
in Materialist Dialectics. Brookfield, USA: Avebury.
Sharma, Sunil, 1999. The Structuralist Philosophy of the Novel: a
Marxist Perspective: a Critique of Georg Luckács [sic], Lucien
Goldmann, Alan Swingewood & Michel Zéraffa. Delhi: S.S.
Snedeker, George, 2004. The Politics of Critical Theory: Language,
Discourse, Society. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Thompson, Michael J. (ed.), 2010.
Georg Lukács Reconsidered: Essays
on Politics, Philosophy, and Aesthetics. Continuum Books.
Kadarkay, Arpad, 1991. Georg Lukács: Life, Thought, and Politics.
Gerhardt, Christina. "Georg Lukács," The International Encyclopedia
of Revolution and Protest, 1500 to the Present. 8 vols. Ed. Immanuel
Ness (Malden: Blackwell, 2009). 2135–2137.
Hohendahl, Peter Uwe. "The Scholar, The Intellectual, And The Essay:
Weber, Lukács, Adorno, And Postwar Germany," German Quarterly 70.3
Hohendahl, Peter U. "
Art Work And Modernity: The Legacy Of Georg
Lukács," New German Critique: An Interdisciplinary Journal of German
Studies 42.(1987): 33–49.
Hohendahl, Peter Uwe, and Blackwell Jeanine. "
Georg Lukács In The
GDR: On Recent Developments In Literary Theory," New German Critique:
An Interdisciplinary Journal of German Studies 12.(1977): 169–174.
Marxism and Form: Twentieth-century Dialectical
Theories of Literature. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972.
Stern, L. "George Lukacs: An
Intellectual Portrait," Dissent, vol. 5,
no. 2 (Spring 1958), pp. 162–173.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: György Lukács
György Lukács at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about
György Lukács at Internet Archive
Georg Lukács Archive, Marxists website
Guide to Literary Theory, Johns Hopkins University Press
Georg Lukács, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Petri Liukkonen. "György Lukács". Books and Writers
Bendl Júlia, "Lukács György élete a századfordulótól 1918-ig"
Lukács and Imre Lakatos
Georg Lukács Archive, Libertarian Communist Library
Múlt-kor Történelmi portál (Past-Age Historic Portal): Lukács
György was born 120 years ago (in Hungarian)
Levee Blanc, "Georg Lukács: The Antinomies of Melancholy", Other
Voices, Vol.1 no.1, 1998.
Michael J. Thompson, "Lukacs Revisited" New Politics, 2001, Issue 30
Commissar of Education
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Ministers of Education of
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Revolution of 1848
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G. Lukács (*1865)
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Life imitating art
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Logical positivism / analytic philosophy
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Russian positivism (empiriomonism)
Critique of metaphysics
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1830 The Course in Positive Philosophy
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1886 The Analysis of Sensations
1927 The Logic of Modern Physics
1936 Language, Truth, and Logic
1959 The Two Cultures
2001 The Universe in a Nutshell
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1923 History and Class Consciousness
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1964 One-Dimensional Man
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