The Young Lukács

By Lee Congdon

The Young Lukács

256 pp., 5.5 x 9

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-6520-0
    Published: May 2011

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Awards & distinctions

1983 American Association for the Study of Hungarian History Book Award

Based upon recently found manuscripts and correspondence, The Young Lukács is the first comprehensive and fully researched portrait of Georg Lukács to appear in any language. Lee Congdon finds in the young Lukács's estrangement from his family and from Hungarian society roots for his continuing concern with the philosophic problem of alienation.

The chance discovery in 1972 of Lukács's early manuscripts and correspondence has made possible an authoritative intellectual biography of this major Marxist thinker. Congdon has mined the wealth of material in the Lukács Archives in Budapest and drawn upon Hungarian scholarship that is all but unknown in the West. The result is a biography that reveals the relationship between the ideas Lukács entertained, the world in which he lived, and the conditions of his personal existence.

Congdon argues that Lukács's understanding of Simmel, Dostoevski, and Hegel was profoundly affected by the world of fin de siècle Europe, the Great War, and the Russian Revolution. The evolution of Lukács's own ideas, Congdon finds, was an expression of his relationships with three women -- Irma Siedler, Ljena Grabenko, and Gertrud Bortstieber. No one, writing in any language, has previously examined Lukács's life and work in this context.

Although Congdon acknowledges some sympathy for the young Lukács and his enthusiasms, he shows that the brilliant and sensitive thinker, in the words of Dostoevski, "started out with the idea of unrestricted freedom and . . . arrived at unrestricted despotism." The tragedy of Lukács, he concludes, was that he hated injustice more than he loved human beings.

Originally published in 1983.

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