Philosopher, critic, literary and political theorist, Marxist scholar and communist party activist, Georg Lukacs is a towering figure in the history of Marxism, but one whose work presents us with special problems in the late twentieth century. Although recognised as one of the founders of what has become known as 'Western Marxism', Lukacs was associated for much of his life with the more doctrinaire, and nowadays discredited, Eastern European Marxist tradition. Lukacs was also to the end of his career a staunch defender of 'realism' in aesthetic matters and a bitter critic of modernism who attacked such modernist icons as James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka and Bertolt Brecht for their ideological failings. While the commitment to realism can make Lukacs seem old-fashioned the advent of postmodernism and its radical problematisation of modernist aesthetics has led to a revival of interest in Lukacs' work. Lukacs has become a test case as to whether anything can be saved from Marxism as a political force. Written from the standpoint of a post-Marxist, postmodernist culture, this study positions Lukacs' theoretical writings with respect to recent debates in Marxism and postmodernism in order to establish his lasting importance as a theorist. There are chapters on Lukacs' major works on realism (The Historical Novel, Studies in European Realism, and The Meaning of Contemporary Realism, for example), as well as on Lukacs' contributions to Marxist philosophy and political theory. The Brecht-Lukacs debate is considered beside Lukacs' critical legacy.
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