Georg Lukacs, (1885-1971) was one of the most important intellectuals of the 20th century and arguably the most original and profound thinker ever to have worked within the Marxian tradition. This is his biography. The author has drawn upon all Lukacs's writings, from the dramas of his youth to his major works in political and literary theory, and made use of archive material to which few Western scholars have had broad access. Lukacs stood at the epicentre of almost every major historical event of the turbulent 20th century, from the Russian Revolution in 1917 to the Hungarian uprising and its aftermath in 1956. He was both a philosopher and an actor. In striving to imbue the power to Communism with dignity in its thought and with tolerance in its realization he suffered both exile and persecution, goading the powerful into attacking him at the very moment he achieved world wide recognition as a philosopher of the first rank. His final realization that the attempt to achieve a Communist utopia had been a moral disaster has by no means diminished the value of his interpretation of the interactions between politics, culture and moral philosophy.
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Throughout most of his long life (1885-1971), Lukacs ardently supported Soviet Communism, and he is generally ranked as the leading 20th-century Marxist intellectual. As Kadarkay makes clear in this comprehensive biography, Lukacs's revolutionary career deviated sharply from his interests as a student. Before World War I, he acquired a reputation as a prodigy in literature and philosophy. Max Weber thought highly of him. His utopian fascination found its definitive outlet with the onset of Bolshevism. Embracing Leninism, he presented his vision of the vanguard party in History and Class-Consciousness (1923). Kadarkay traces in detail Lukacs's political activities and his work as a literary scholar, emphasizing his personal side more than his ideas. To Kadarkay, Lukacs's complex psychology is fascinating. Those not in the grip of Lukacs's personality may find the book overly detailed. The product of much labor and devotion, it will probably become the standard biography.
- David Gordon, Bowling Green State Univ., Ohio
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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