The Theory of the Novel
A Historico-philosophical Essay on the Forms of Great Epic Literature
160 pp., 5 x 8 in,
- Published: December 15, 1971
- Published: January 15, 1974
Georg Lukács wrote The Theory of the Novel in 1914-1915, a period that also saw the conception of Rosa Luxemburg's Spartacus Letters, Lenin's Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Spengler's Decline of the West, and Ernst Bloch's Spirit of Utopia. Like many of Lukács's early essays, it is a radical critique of bourgeois culture and stems from a specific Central European philosophy of life and tradition of dialectical idealism whose originators include Kant, Hegel, Novalis, Marx, Kierkegaard, Simmel, Weber, and Husserl.
The Theory of the Novel marks the transition of the Hungarian philosopher from Kant to Hegel and was Lukács's last great work before he turned to Marxism-Leninism.
The first English translation of Lukács's early theoretical work on the novel. It begins with a comparison of the historical conditions that gave rise to the epic and the novel. In the age of the novel the once known unity between man and his world has been lost, and the hero has become an estranged seeker of the meaning of existence. Later, Lukács offers a typology of the novel based on whether the hero struggles for the realization of a meaningful idea, or withdraws from all action. The balance of these extremes forms the third possibility, and each type is exemplified. The book is not a study of artistic technicalities, but of man, history, and art tied closely in their development. It is written in a moving, lyrical style well rendered by the translation.