This paper traces the complex relations of György Lukács to visual art and aesthetics, from his early writings through his engagement with artistic politics in the post-World War II ‘people’s democracy’ transitional period and during the Stalinist dictatorship. In one sense, Lukács seems obsolete for contemporary art and aesthetics, as a philosopher and critic with an out-of-fashion aesthetic theory, justifying a canon of works opposed even to the mainstream of the 20th century modernism, and deployed in the service of a cultural politics of Soviet and Eastern Bloc socialism now seen as historically superseded and discredited. In another sense, Lukács’s non-contemporaneity may been seen through the dispersed reception of his work, particularly across the Cold War East–West divide, in which different moments of Lukács’s oeuvre were picked up and developed in divergent ways. Given these multiple contexts of reception, the author and thinker ‘György Lukács’ could never be wholly contemporary with himself, but always signified a variable complex of his current writing as well as the afterlife of earlier phases of his work. Lastly, there is an additional sense of ‘non-contemporaneity’ that is associated especially with Lukács’s one-time friend and ally Ernst Bloch, for whom being non-identical with one’s time implied a reserve of potentiality not yet realized, but latent within the inheritance of culture. With reference to László Lakner’s works based on Lukács’s books, I conclude with the possibility that the ‘non-contemporaneity’ of Lukács may yet have something to offer contemporary art and aesthetics.
As a contribution to a larger theoretical discussion of the relationships between literature and political context, this paper offers an examination of the reception of the works of Hungarian poet and novelist Dezső Kosztolányi during the communist period, drawing particular emphasis to the origins of several misunderstandings. Over the past several decades Hungarian Marxist literary theorists, influenced by the philosophical and aesthetical heritage of György Lukács, have thought of artists as having a revolutionary role in society and literature as having an important role as a means through which to educate the nation. Kosztolányi’s concept of art for art’s sake did not minister to this ideological and political system, and as a consequence his reception and reputation suffered. Not only were critical evaluations of his writings, both literary and theoretical, distorted and crafted with the intention of creating a misleading image of the author, but the editions of his texts were also censored. It is not mere accident or circumstance that the critical edition series of his works could not be edited and research groups and projects dealing with an edition of his life’s work were not financed under the communist regime. Hungarian intellectuals have yet to raise the question as to why open discussion of the beginning of the 20th century (when events took place that continue to exert an influence on conceptions of culture today) remains a taboo. Why are there no (or few) critical editions and anthologies or studies dealing with the period? Twenty years have passed since the political transition and the situation remains essentially the same. Hungarian philologists who deal with Kosztolányi’s oeuvre must address these questions and challenge the Marxist axioms and stereotypes if they hope to further the development of Kosztolányi’s reception. Relying on postmodern theories is not sufficient if there is little fundamental research.
The paper investigates one of the most complex cases of visualizing leftist ideology from a critical, but nevertheless definitely leftist point of view within the Eastern Bloc — the case of László Lakner. Whatever way Lakner’s art can be related to several neo-avant-garde artistic strategies that ironically appropriate leftist symbols, in Lakner’s work, signs and symbols of communist ideology seem to be more than mere appropriated elements of a criticized visual and ideological system. Lakner was consistently looking for a system-critical, but leftist standpoint from the middle of the 1960s until his emigration in 1974. In this paper some examples of Lakner’s activity from this period are presented and the paper explores how he evoked documents and central figures of leftist movements, and how he used the iconography of socialist painting in a very peculiar way. The question whether some of his artistic strategies could be related to Marxist philosophy is also considered. The title of the paper refers to a conceptual drawing of the same title by Lakner that can be seen and read as an ambiguous tribute to Karl Marx.
Max Nordau, geboren als Simon Gabriel Südfeld (1849, Pest — 1923, Paris), tätig als Arzt, Journalist und kulturkritischer Essayist, zum zweitbedeutendsten Zionisten neben Theodor Herzl aufgestiegen, mit 34 Jahren über Nacht durch sein kulturkritisches Buch Die conventionellen Lügen der Kulturmenschheit berühmt geworden, prägte dann ein Jahrzehnt später mit seinem Hauptwerk Entartung endgültig die Geistes- und Begriffsgeschichte des Fin de Siècle. Seine Werke sind in 17 Sprachen zugänglich, sein Bestseller Entartung erlebte beispielsweise innerhalb von vier Monaten in England sieben Auflagen. Seine Verdienste sind von literatur-historischer Bedeutung, denn er gilt als Wegbereiter der modernen Kulturkritik par excellence, so ist seine Wirkung auf seine Nachwelt, wie etwa auf György Lukács, offensichtlich. Angesichts des Nordau’schen Œuvres wird deutlich, dass es sich bei ihm um einen Kulturkritiker von Friedrich Nietzsches Format und einen führenden Intellektuellen im Europa der Jahrhundertwende handelt. Aus dieser Vielfalt sollen nun die weniger bekannten Anfänge dieser vielfältigen Laufbahn nachgezeichnet werden.
This paper is a reassessment of Béla Bartók's The Wooden Prince, in light of the attitudes and beliefs of Bartók's contemporaries, in particular György Lukács, and the Ballet's librettist, Béla Balázs. Particular emphasis is given to Lukács's relationship with Irma Seidler and Balázs through examination of Lukács's essay, “Søren Kierkegaard and Regine Olsen” — a source overlooked in previous studies of this work. After analysing the views of Bartók's milieu regarding love and relationships, I conclude that the ballet's message is much more pessimistic than previously thought. This study places The Wooden Prince, which has been compared unfavourably with Bartók's other two stage works, alongside Duke Bluebeard's Castle as its companion in both musical and intellectual depth, and confirms Kodály's view that the ballet is the Allegro which balances the “desolate Adagio of the opera.”
Imre Kertész's current role in the German debate about the Holocaust is contrasted to the reception of Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, the influence of György Lukács, and the prominence of Martin Walser. Kertész's popularity in Germany dovetailed with that of Goldhagen, but whereas the latter's impact was fleeting, Kertész has become a guardian of Holocaust memory in Germany. While Goldhagen repudiated past German culture, Kertész is both a survivor of the Holocaust and champion of a lost Central European Jewish-German culture, in the tradition of Wagner, Nietzsche, and Thomas Mann. In this capacity he serves as an anti-Lukács, reviving or rather honoring a lost cosmopolitan tradition. Both Kertész and Walser capture the adolescent confusion, but the message and cosequences of Kertész's camp experiences of 1944 and 1945 and Martin Walser's autobiographical account of the same years in the Hitler Jugend are starkly different. In the present German dialogue on the Holocaust, Kertész's language of homelessness acts as an antedote to Walser's cult of the Heimat.
The intellectual-emotional community or even symbiosis of the friends György Lukács and Leó Popper was fuelled by irresolvable antagonisms as well. Popper's concept of form, “form as event” inevitably withstands any attempt at historicizing or theorizing. Popper's was a deeply anti-theory aesthetic attitude, which reveals a lot about the ethos of the psychology of creation, but the first and foremost tenet of this morality is “the will of form will be done”. The will of form and not the will of the thinker, however close one may come to the morality of Lukács's demand for the detachment of the personality. The contradistinction between life and work becomes the antagonistic opposition between “work as life” and thinking. This opposition is timeless, supra-historical. Popper's principal intellectual legacy is not the idea of double misunderstanding, even if Lukács promotes him to be a forerunner of the aesthetics of reception and “an anticipator of modern hermeneutics”. A very talented person needn't even be present when he creates – this was Popper's opinion.
Béla Bartók’s “On Hungarian Music,” one of his controversial articles published in 1911, is known for criticizing Géza Molnár’s book, Theory of Hungarian Music (1904). However, it has not been mentioned that Molnár himself replied to Bartók’s article in the next volume of Aurora [Dawn] magazine, using exactly the same title as Bartók’s. While Bartók asserted that true Hungarian music had never existed before, Molnár, a musicologist in Budapest, bitterly criticized Bartók’s assertions from an academic perspective. This controversy over Hungarian music published in Aurora seemed quite crucial for understanding and relativizing Bartók’s position at that time. The historian Mary Gluck explained that several intellectuals, including György Lukács and Béla Balázs, had to depend on the older generation, both financially and philosophically, during that period. Using Gluck’s framework, this paper examines the genesis of Bartók’s article and the connection between him and the intellectuals in 1911, as well as to interpret this controversy. In conclusion, the controversy with Molnár, and plausible “defeat” in the field of musicology could be added to his list of challenges and setbacks before 1912, the year that saw Bartók’s temporal exit from public musical life.
The conflict between Charles de Tolnay and Erwin Panofsky that grew unprecedentedly acrimonious in the history of the discipline – the so-called Tolnay–Panofsky affair – was more than mere personal bickering. The documents clearly reveal that the “affair”, which basically affected financial and professional positions, was based on embarrassingly ordinary, occasionally petty-minded questions instead of scientific arguments, and led to a break of relationship probably in spring 1943, also directs the attention to the science political consequences of the hierarchic establishment of American science financing and academia in general in the interwar years and the 1940s, and to differences between European and American scholarship. It can be gleaned that Tolnay’s efforts to be allotted raised stipends (often by a great degree, as the documents unanimously testify) and a confirmed position led to the deterioration of his relationship with the Princeton IAS leaders and community – in spite of the fact that the former leader of the Institute Flexner took Tolnay’s side, at times with threats to Panofsky and Oppenheimer and accusing Panofsky of professional jealousy. Though Tolnay received raised scholarship up to 4000 dollars for three years, the institute decided to part with Tolnay in 1948. In the background of the affair, however, one may discover conflicts based on the diverging views on art history by Panofsky and Tolnay rooted far deeper, in the elementary influences of the Vienna School of Art History and Max Dvořák on the one hand, and of the Sunday Circle and György Lukács, on the other. The art philosophical aspects and methodological consequences of these dissenting concepts of art history may bear significance for the practitioners of the discipline today as well.