Originally published in the 1930s, these essays on realism, expressionism, and modernism in literature present Lukacs's side of the controversy among Marxist writers and critics now known as the Lukacs-Brecht debate. The book also includes an exchange of letters between LukÃ¡cs, 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.
"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.
Using the technique of prepared questions, Conversations with Lukacs 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.
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 fo 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 Lukacs History and Class Consciousness by Communist Party leadership.
Georg Lukac'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.In the first essay Lukacs compares the novella One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich to short pieces by "bourgeois" writers Conrad and Hemingway and explains the nature of Solzhenitsyn's criticism of the Stalinist period implied in the situation, characters, and their interaction.
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: