Originally published in the 1930s, these essays on realism, expressionism, and modernism in literature present Lukács's side of the controversy among Marxist writers and critics now known as the Lukács-Brecht debate. The book also includes an exchange of letters between Lukács, writing in exile in the Soviet Union, and the German Communist novelist, Anna Seghers, in which they discuss realism, the European literary heritage, and the situation of the artist in capitalist culture.
Using the technique of prepared questions, Conversations with Lukács is a brilliant gathering of thoughts and insights covering topics as ontology, the techniques of manipulative societies, the pitfalls of combating Stalinism with Stalinist methods, and the problems of intellectuals in advanced capitalist societies. Above all, there is the restatement of Lukács's unshaken conviction that the working class, with all the changes that have occurred in its way of life and composition, is still the historical carrier of social transformation.
"If we are to understand not only the direct impact of Marx on the development of German thought but also his sometimes extremely indirect influence, an exact knowledge of Hegel, of both his greatness and his limitation, is absolutely indispensable."- from the preface.
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 actuality of the revolution: this is the core of Lenin's thought and his decisive link with Marx."
This essay on Lenin, which appeared in 1924, was intended to head off the massive criticism leveled at Lukács History and Class Consciousness by Communist Party leadership. It was a period in which Lukács was decisively influenced by Lenin and by Rosa Luxemburg, and his intellectual development proceeded concretely toward a political (Marxist-Leninist) interpretation of history and of literature.
Georg Lukács's most recent work of literary criticism, on the Nobel Prize winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn, hails the Russian author as a major force in redirecting socialist realism toward the level it once occupied in the 1920s when Soviet writers portrayed the turbulent transition to socialist society.
This is the first time one of the most important of Lukács' early theoretical writings, published in Germany in 1923, has been made available in English. The book consists of a series of essays treating, among other topics, the definition of orthodox Marxism, the question of legality and illegality, Rosa Luxemburg as a Marxist, the changing function of Historic Marxism, class consciousness, and the substantiation and consciousness of the Proletariat. Writing in 1968, on the occasion of the appearance of his collected works, Lukács evaluated the influence of this book as follows: