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This article is taken from PN Review 53, Volume 13 Number 3, January - February 1987.

Critic of Crisis Nicolas Tredell

The case of Georg Lukács remains compelling and controversial. To call him, with demeaning intent, a 'Marxist' critic is like calling F. R. Leavis a 'liberal-humanist' critic; their work has a range, a pressure, a cohesion that resists such pejorative placement. But Lukács was a Marxist, and one who stayed the course; who lived through the darkest oppressions of Stalinism; who served in two Communist governments in Hungary, those of Béla Kun in 1919 and Imre Nagy in 1956, and survived the fall of both; who could easily have gone West, whether recanting like a Kolakowski or keeping heterodox faith like a Bloch, but who chose not to do so. In 1968, when - the image is from a contemporary poster - Lenin wept as the Russian tanks destroyed the Prague springtime, Lukács apparently said: 'I suppose that the whole experiment that began in 1917 has now failed and has to be tried again at some other time and place' (Record of a Life, 1983). But in 1971 he declared: 'I have always thought that the worst form of socialism was better to live in than the best form of capitalism', and his final autobiographical notes affirmed: 'Authentic Marxism the only solution'.

But Lukács did not join the Hungarian Communist Party until December 1918, when he was thirty-nine, and that fate would not necessarily have been predicted for him. For instance, Irma Seidler, whom it seemed at one time he might marry, wrote to him in 1910: ...


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