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Hungarian Essays on Literature, Art, and Democratic Transition, 1945-1948
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When the Hungarian Marxist philosopher and literary critic György Lukács returned to Hungary from Moscow after World War II, he engaged in a highly active phase of writing and speaking about the democratic culture needed to exorcise the remnants of fascism and to create the conditions for the advance of socialism in Central Europe. His essays of the period, including the influential volume Literature and Democracy, appear here for the first time in English translation. Engaged with questions of realist and modernist world-views in art, the relations of literary history to politics and social history, and the role of cultural intellectuals in public life, these essays offer a new look at one of the most influential Marxist thinkers of the twentieth century.
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How is it possible that works of art exist? How do we become receptive aesthetic subjects? The Specificity of the Aesthetic extends these fundamental ontological and phenomenological questions around which Georg Lukács’s theory of art was organised. This late work of aesthetics seeks to solve a puzzle that neither philosophy nor socialist politics was able to: the fundamental ethical question of what individuals and humanity as a whole ought to do. Art offers Lukács the already-existing means through which the damaged edifice of Marxism might be reconstructed on a durable basis on which to rest the philosophy, politics, and ethics of a non-Soviet-style Marxism.