Lukács, Georg

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LUKÁCS, GEORG (György ; 1885–1971), Hungarian philosopher, literary critic, and socialist. Born in Budapest into a family of bankers, Lukács first attracted public attention through his collection of essays on art and philosophy entitled Die Seele und die Formen (1911) and he founded a new theater in Budapest for the production of modern plays. He left Judaism at this period. During World War i, Lukács championed the cause of the proletariat and joined the Communist Party in 1918. When the communist regime of Bela *Kun came to power in 1919 Lukács was made commissar for education. In this post he established a national council for culture to impose communist ideas on Hungarian literature and culture. After the collapse of the Kun regime Lukács fled to Vienna where he wrote Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein (1923; History and Class Consciousness, 1971), a controversial volume of essays reinterpreting cultural values from a Marxist viewpoint which criticized Communism as it had developed in Russia. His biography, Lenin (1924), restored him to favor as an orthodox Marxist. In 1933, when Hitler came to power in Germany, Lukács fled to Russia where he edited several communist journals including Internationale Literatur and the Hungarian literary journal Uj Hang ("New Voice").

Lukács returned to Hungary after World War ii and was elected a member of Parliament. He was made president of the Academy of Sciences and professor of aesthetics and cultural philosophy at the University of Budapest. His unorthodox views led to frequent clashes with the Hungarian Communist Party and after the abortive rising in 1956, he was forced to hide in the Yugoslav embassy. He was restored to favor in the following year and was the recipient of many tributes and honors on his 80th birthday in 1965.

A prolific writer, Lukács was well known for his Marxist interpretations of literature. He was much influenced, however, by the humanitarian concept of Socialism as preached by the Jewish socialist, Moses *Hess. His writings, especially his autobiography Mein Weg zu Marx (1933), reflected his opposition to the militant revolution of the orthodox Marxists and advocated humanitarian Socialism based on respect for the individual. His study of Hess, Moses Hess und das Problem der idealistischen Dialektik, was published in 1926.


H. Althaus, Georg Lukács (1962); V. Zitta, Georg Lukács' Marxism, Alienation, Dialectics, Revolution (1964); F. Benseler (ed.), Festschrift zum 80. Geburtstag von Georg Lukács (1965); G. Lichtheim, G. Lukács (1971); G.H.R. Parkinson (ed.), Georg Lukács: The Man, His Work and His Ideas (1971).

[Sol Liptzin]