Kantians such as Rickert and his school put a methodological chasm between timeless value and historical realisation of value. In the age of the novel the once known unity between man and his world has been lost, and the hero has become an estranged seeker of the meaning of existence. We need only think of Ernst Bloch’s Der Geist der Utopie (1918, 1925) and Thomas Munzer als Theologe der Revolution, of Walter Benjamin, even of the beginnings of Theodor W. Adorno, etc. is accidental, not a possible subject for theoretical economic consideration. No trace of such a mood is to be found in the author of The Theory of the Novel, for all that his philosophical startingpoint was provided by Hegel, Goethe and Romanticism. I was then in process of turning from Kant to Hegel, without, however, changing any aspect of my attitude towards the so-called ‘intellectual sciences’ school, an attitude based essentially on my youthful enthusiasm for the work of Dilthey, Simmel and Max Weber. Such distortions must be mentioned, if only to reveal the limitations of the method of abstract synthesis practised by the ‘intellectual sciences’ school. Later, Lukács offers a typology of the novel based on whether the hero struggles for the realization of a meaningful idea, or withdraws from all action. The first, general part of the book is essentially determined by Hegel, e.g. Source: The Theory of the Novel. The first, general part of the book is essentially determined by Hegel, e.g. It is written in a moving, lyrical style well rendered by the translation. The book’s aesthetic problematic of the present is also part of the Hegelian legacy: I mean the notion that development from the historico-philosophical viewpoint leads to a kind of abolition of those aesthetic principles which had determined development up to that point. This edition published in 1967 by Free Press in New York. He was looking for a general dialectic of literary genres that was based upon the essential nature of aesthetic categories and literary forms, and aspiring to a more intimate connection between category and history than he found in Hegel himself; he strove towards intellectual comprehension of permanence within change and of inner change within the enduring validity of the essence. Kierkegaard’s direct influence cannot yet be proved here. When I met Max Dvorak personally in Vienna in 1920 he told me that he regarded my book as the movement’s most important publication. It was not until a decade and a half later (by that time, of course, on Marxist ground) that I succeeded in finding a way towards a solution. A considerable part of the leading German intelligentsia, including Adorno, have taken up residence in the ‘Grand Hotel Abyss’ which I described in connection with my critique of Schopenhauer as ‘a beautiful hotel, equipped with every comfort, on the edge of an abyss, of nothingness, of absurdity. The epilogue in War and Peace is, in fact, an authentic conclusion, in terms of ideas, to the period of the Napoleonic Wars; the development of certain figures already foreshadows the Decembrist rising of 1825. Thus, if anyone today reads The Theory of the Novel in order to become more intimately acquainted with the prehistory of the important ideologies of the 1920s and 1930s, he will derive profit from a critical reading of the book along the lines I have suggested. the comparison of modes of totality in epic and dramatic art, the historico-philosophical view of what the epic and the novel have in common and of what differentiates them, etc. The Theory of the Novel is not conservative but subversive in nature, even if based on a highly naive and totally unfounded utopianism — the hope that a natural life worthy of man can spring from the disintegration of capitalism and the destruction, seen as identical with that disintegration, of the lifeless and life-denying social and economic categories. It is perfectly evident that the contradiction between The Theory of the Novel and Hegel, who was its general methodological guide, is primarily social rather than aesthetic or philosophical in nature. The author of The Theory of the Novel did not go so far as that. This tendency is already detectable in Dilthey’s researches into the young Hegel (1905) and assumes clearly-defined form in Kroner’s statement that Hegel was the greatest irrationalist in the history of philosophy (1924). The Theory of the Novel The Theory of the Novel But Thomas Mann’s later development, as early as in the 1920s, justifies his own description of this work: ‘It is a retreating action fought in the grand manner, the last and latest stand of a German romantic bourgeois mentality, a battle fought with full awareness of its hopelessness ... even with insight into the spiritual unhealthiness and immorality of any sympathy with that which is doomed to death’. This is why the ‘prose’ of life is here only a symptom, among many others, of the fact that reality no longer constitutes a favourable soil for art; that is why the central problem of the novel is the fact that art has to write off the closed and total forms which stem from a rounded totality of being — that art has nothing more to do with any world of forms that is immanently complete in itself. But the author of The Theory of the Novel sticks so obstinately to the schema of L'Education sentimentale that all he can find here is ‘a nursery atmosphere where all passion has been spent’, ‘more melancholy than the ending of the most problematic of novels of disillusionment’. Let me quote just a few examples. If Hilferding, the most celebrated economist of the Second International, could write of communist society in his Finanzkapital (1909): ‘Exchange (in such a society: trans.) Today we publish over 30 titles in the arts and humanities, social sciences, and science and technology. Philosophische Grundfragen I, Zur Ontologie des Noch-Nicht-Seins, Frankfurt 1961) does honour to his strength of character but cannot modify the outdated nature of his theoretical position. The discovery of a ‘recherche du temps perdu’ can be objectively justified, if at all, only with regard to the last part of the novel (after the final defeat of the revolution of 1848). And the daily contemplation of the abyss between excellent meals or artistic entertainments, can only heighten the enjoyment of the subtle comforts offered.’ (Die Zerstörung der Vernunft, Neuwied 1962, p. 219). Such was the mood in which the first draft of The Theory of the Novel was written. But if he picks up the book in the hope that it will serve him as a guide, the result will only be a still greater disorientation. Methodologically, this had the very important consequence that I did not, at first, feel any need to submit my view of the world, my scientific working method, etc., to critical reassessment. Any number of such examples could be supplied. That does not mean, of course, that the author of The Theory of the Novel was precluded in principle from uncovering any interesting correlations. The Theory of the Novel remained at the level of an attempt which failed both in design and in execution, but which in its intention came closer to the right solution than its contemporaries were able to do. So far as I am able to judge, The Theory of the Novel was the first German book in which a left ethic oriented towards radical revolution was coupled with a traditional-conventional exegesis of reality. His opposition to the barbarity of capitalism allowed no room for any sympathy such as that felt by Thomas Mann for the ‘German wretchedness’ or its surviving features in the present. The Theory of the Novel marks the transition of the Hungarian philosopher from Kant to Hegel and was Lukács's last great work before he turned to Marxism-Leninism. Of course there is also the positivist historical relativism, and it was precisely during the war that Spengler combined this with tendencies of the ‘intellectual sciences’ school by radically historicising all categories and refusing to recognise the existence of any suprahistorical validity, whether aesthetic, ethical or logical. This highly abstract criterion is useful, at most, for illuminating certain aspects of Don Quixote, which is chosen to represent the first type. 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 first English translation of Lukács's early theoretical work on the novel. These facts are mentioned here, not for biographical reasons, but to indicate a trend which was later to become important in German thought. (The phenomenon we are about to examine was known much earlier in France.) But the author of The Theory of the Novel was not an exclusive or orthodox Hegelian; Goethe’s and Schiller’s analyses, certain conceptions of Goethe’s in his late period (e.g. For that reason, as has already been pointed out, it leads only too often to arbitrary intellectual constructs. Dilthey himself saw the contradiction as far less extreme, but did not (in his preliminary sketches for a method of a history of philosophy) get beyond establishing a meta-historical typology of philosophies, which then achieve historical realisation in concrete variations. But his method remains extremely abstract in many respects, including certain matters of great importance; it is cut off from concrete socio-historical realities. The book is not a study of artistic technicalities, but of man, history, and art tied closely in their development. The theory of the novel. At first it was meant to take the form of a series of dialogues: a group of young people withdraw from the war psychosis of their environment, just as the story-tellers of the Decameron had withdrawn from the plague; they try to understand themselves and one another by means of conversations which gradually lead to the problems discussed in the book — the outlook on a Dostoevskian world. During the debate between expressionism and realism in the 1930s, this gave rise to a somewhat grotesque situation in which Ernst Bloch invoked The Theory of the Novel in his polemic against the Marxist, Georg Lukács.
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