Attention! Your ePaper is waiting for publication!

By publishing your document, the content will be optimally indexed by Google via AI and sorted into the right category for over 500 million ePaper readers on YUMPU.

This will ensure high visibility and many readers!


Your ePaper is now published and live on YUMPU!

You can find your publication here:

Share your interactive ePaper on all platforms and on your website with our embed function


Georg Lukacs, "The Ideology of Modernism" - Stthomas


You also want an ePaper? Increase the reach of your titles

YUMPU automatically turns print PDFs into web optimized ePapers that Google loves.

  • More documents
  • Recommendations

The Editor's Toolbox - Stthomas - University of St. Thomas

Extended embed settings


You have already flagged this document. Thank you, for helping us keep this platform clean. The editors will have a look at it as soon as possible.

Mail this publication

Delete template.

Are you sure you want to delete your template?


This ePaper is currently not available for download. You can find similar magazines on this topic below under ‘Recommendations’.

Save as template?


  • Help & Support
  • Terms of service
  • Privacy policy
  • Cookie policy
  • Cookie settings

the ideology of modernism essay pdf

Choose your language

Main languages

Further languages

  • Bahasa Indonesia

Performing this action will revert the following features to their default settings:

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!

SEP home page

  • Table of Contents
  • Random Entry
  • Chronological
  • Editorial Information
  • About the SEP
  • Editorial Board
  • How to Cite the SEP
  • Special Characters
  • Advanced Tools
  • Support the SEP
  • PDFs for SEP Friends
  • Make a Donation
  • SEPIA for Libraries
  • Entry Contents


Academic tools.

  • Friends PDF Preview
  • Author and Citation Info
  • Back to Top

Georg [György] Lukács

Georg (György) Lukács (1885–1971) was a literary theorist and philosopher who is widely viewed as one of the founders of “Western Marxism” and as a forerunner of 20th-century critical theory. Lukács is best known for his Theory of the Novel (1916) and History and Class Consciousness (1923). In History and Class Consciousness , he laid out a wide-ranging critique of the phenomenon of “reification” in capitalism and formulated a vision of Marxism as a self-conscious transformation of society. This text became a reference point both for critical social theory and for many currents of countercultural thought. Even though his later work did not capture the imagination of the intellectual public to the same extent as his earlier writings, Lukács remained a prolific writer and an influential theorist in his later career and published hundreds of articles on literary theory and aesthetics, not to mention numerous books, including two massive works on aesthetics and ontology. He was also active as a politician in Hungary in both the revolution of 1919 and during the events of 1956. Today, his work remains of philosophical interest not only because it contains the promise of an undogmatic, non-reductionist reformulation of Marxism, but also because it combines a philosophical approach that draws on Neo-Kantianism, Hegel, and Marx with an acute cultural sensitivity and a powerful critique of modern life inspired by Weber’s and Simmel’s sociological analyses of modern rationalization.

1. Life and Career

2.1 life and form, 2.2 neo-kantian aesthetics, 2.3 modernity and the loss of totality, 3.1 reification theory, 3.2 standpoint theory and revolution, 3.3 methodology and social ontology in history and class consciousness, 4.1 the critique of history and class consciousness, 4.2 re-reading the philosophical tradition: hegel and the struggle against “irrationalism”, 4.3 the ontology of social being, 4.4 aesthetics: realism and the work of art as a closed totality, biographies, primary sources, secondary sources and selected literature, other internet resources, related entries.

Lukács was born Bernát György Löwinger on April 13, 1885, in Budapest. He received a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Kolozsvár in 1906 and a doctorate from the University of Budapest in 1909. In the following years, Lukács made a name for himself as a literary and aesthetic theorist, working in Budapest, Berlin (where he was influenced by Georg Simmel), Florence, and Heidelberg. In 1910 and 1911, Lukács published his essay collection Soul and Form and, together with Lajos Fülep, founded the short-lived avant-garde journal A Szellem ( The Spirit ). Lukács’s world was sent into turmoil at that time by the death of his close friend Leo Popper and by the suicide of Irma Seidler, who had been his lover. He felt responsible for Seidler’s death, and it proved to have an enormous impact on him, as reflected in his 1911 essay “On Poverty of Spirit.”

During the same period, Lukács developed a close connection with Max and Marianne Weber in Heidelberg, with Ernst Bloch, and with the Neo-Kantian philosophers Heinrich Rickert and Emil Lask. Between 1912 and 1914 he worked on a first attempt to formulate a systematic approach to art, which remained unpublished during his lifetime ( GW 16). In the First World War, Lukács was exempted from frontline military service. In 1914, he married the Russian political activist (and convicted terrorist) Jelena Grabenko.

In 1913, Lukács began participating in the influential “Sunday circle” of Budapest intellectuals, which included Karl Mannheim. After returning from wartime service in the Hungarian censor’s office, he published The Theory of the Novel (1916). In 1917, despite Weber’s support, he failed to receive a Habilitation (teaching qualification) at the University of Heidelberg. Between 1916 and 1918, he also resumed his work on aesthetics, which resulted in the unpublished manuscript of the so-called “Heidelberg Aesthetics” ( GW 17). To the surprise of many of his friends, Lukács joined the Hungarian Communist Party in 1918, although, as his essay on “Bolshevism as a Moral Problem” attests, not without reservations.

Following his rapid ascent as one of the leading thinkers of the Communist Party, Lukács became more involved in day-to-day politics. After the revolution in 1919, he first served as a deputy commissar and then as commissar of public education in Béla Kun’s government. Later, when war broke out, he served as a political commissar in the Hungarian Red Army (in which role he ordered the execution of several soldiers; see Kadarkay 1991: 223). After the communist government was defeated, Lukács fled to Vienna at the end of 1919, where he married his second wife, Gertrud Bortstieber. Charged with coordinating the clandestine activities of the exiled Communist Party, he remained under constant threat of expulsion to Hungary.

In 1923, Lukács published his most famous work, the essay collection History and Class Consciousness . In these essays, Lukács argues forcefully for a philosophically self-reflective version of Marxism as a solution to the problems that vexed modern philosophy, develops the idea of capitalist society as a “totality” that is totally integrated as the value-form, sketches a distinctive Marxist epistemology, and identifies structural unfreedom (rather than exploitation or inequality) as the fundamental problem of capitalism. In these essays, Lukács draws not only on Marxist classics but also on sociological insights into the character of modern societies that he acquired through Weber and Simmel. His reformulation of the philosophical premises of Marxism entails a rejection of the then contemporary forms of materialism and scientism endorsed by many Soviet party intellectuals. Unsurprisingly, the party orthodoxy condemned the book as an expression of ultra-leftism (in spite of Lukács’s pro-Leninist revisions to the articles in the volume that had already appeared previously; see Löwy 1979: 172–179).

Nevertheless, the book had a decisive influence on the early Frankfurt School. Lukács participated in the 1923 “Marxist Work Week,” which laid the foundation for the founding of the Institute for Social Research, and there is evidence that the major critical theorists of the time were all deeply impressed by the reification essay in particular (Stahl 2018). Overall, History and Class Consciousness cemented Lukács’s position as a leading scholar of Marxism, putting him at the forefront of the debates of the time (an example being his quickly written study on Lenin on the occasion of the Soviet leader’s death in 1924). In 1928, however, Lukács had to give up his political activities after he presented the so-called “Blum Theses” (see 1928). In this draft of a party platform for Hungary, which was named after his party alias, he argued for a broad, democratic dictatorship of workers and peasants. These theses were condemned as a right-wing deviation by the party (which denounced him as both a left-wing and a right-wing dissident within a span of five years).

Following another arrest by the Austrian authorities, Lukács left Vienna in 1929, first for Berlin and then for Budapest, where he went underground for three months. He was eventually summoned by the Soviet party leadership to Moscow, where he stayed from 1930 on, leaving only for Comintern missions in Berlin and for Tashkent during the war. In Moscow, Lukács held a position at the Marx-Engels Institute. During this time, he first came into contact with early works by Marx that had previously remained unpublished. As Lukács became (at least outwardly) increasingly subservient to the Stalinist orthodoxy, he publicly retracted the views espoused in History and Class Consciousness (see 1933b). The degree of Lukács’s agreement with Stalinism is disputed to this day (see Lichtheim 1970; Deutscher 1972; Kolakowski 1978; Pike 1988). However, it is clear from his writings that while he publicly defended Stalinist dogmas in both aesthetics and politics during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s (1933a, 1938, 1951), he later repeatedly criticized Stalin and Stalinism (see 1957, 1962).

In 1944, Lukács returned to Budapest and became a professor at the local university. In 1948, he published his two-volume study The Young Hegel (written partly during the 1930s in Moscow). In 1949, he also traveled to Paris to engage in a debate about existentialism and Marxism with Sartre. The works of this period reflect both his allegiance to orthodox Soviet Marxism and his uneasiness with the Stalinist post-war situation. A widely criticized writing from this time is The Destruction of Reason , published in 1954. It denounced much of the German philosophical and literary tradition after Marx as an outgrowth of “irrationalism” and as bearing responsibility for the ascent of National Socialism. During this time, Lukács also continued to defend a conservative ideal of realism in aesthetics (see 1951).

After again being subjected to criticism from the party and virtually excluded from public life in the mid-1950s, Lukács was able to embark on a new chapter following the Hungarian uprising against Soviet rule in 1956. Following Stalin’s death, not only did it become increasingly possible for him to publicly criticize Stalinism and to again voice his vision of the future of Marxism (for the first time since 1928), arguing that the Communist Party should regain public trust by competing with other leftist forces within a multi-party democracy, but he also served in the short-lived Nagy government as minister for public education. After the subsequent Soviet invasion, he was arrested and imprisoned in Romania. Unlike other members of the government, he was not executed but merely expelled from the Communist Party, which he did not rejoin until 1969. From the 1960s on, Lukács—having had to retire from all academic positions—worked on his two-volume Specificity of the Aesthetic and on a Marxist ethics that would later partly become the Ontology of Social Being , which remained unfinished in his lifetime. He also continued to publish extensively on literature and art. Lukács passed away on June 4, 1971, in Budapest.

2. Early Writings

Lukács’s early writings—before his turn to Marxism in 1918—are animated by concerns that are also present, albeit transformed, in his later political thought. In this period, Lukács formulates a sophisticated aesthetic theory and critique of modern culture, which he diagnoses as being characterized by an insurmountable abyss between objective cultural forms and the richness of “genuine life.”

He takes up the issue of the relationship between “form” and “life” in three different but closely interconnected discussions. First, there is the question of how the element of “form” distinguishes art as a separate sphere of value. This is most explicitly discussed in his two attempts at a systematic philosophy of art. Second, there is the sociological-historical question about the relation between (individual and collective) life and aesthetic and ethical forms in modern bourgeois society. This topic is dominant both in the History of the Modern Drama (1909) and in the Theory of the Novel (1916). A third strand concerns existential and ethical questions, most explicitly discussed in Soul and Form and in the essay “On Poverty of Spirit.”

Alongside “form”, two central concepts in Lukács’s early thought are “totality” and “life.” By “totality” Lukács means a whole set of elements that are meaningfully interrelated in such a way that the essence of each element can only be understood in relation to the others. “Life” denotes the intrinsic richness and potentiality of experiences and actions. Both individual and social life are in principle capable of forming an integrated totality. However, this is only the case if the essential properties of life’s elements are intelligible in terms of their relations to other particulars of life. Lukács claims that this was the case in Homeric Greece, where a totality of meaning was immanent to life itself. This immanence of meaning and the totality it constituted were lost in subsequent historical developments, however, as form became external to life.

In regard to the relation between form and life, we can distinguish between forms that are forms of life itself, produced by that life, and abstract forms which are imposed onto life from the outside. When a form is imposed on life that is not a form of that specific mode of life (or if the form in question cannot be realized in empirical life), such an imposition always runs the risk of distorting the meanings of the particular actions or persons. But at the same time, form is necessary for life to become intelligible and unified (see Bernstein 1984: 77–80). Within the sphere of individual agency, persons face this dilemma in regard to the choice of either authentically expressing the particular meanings of their own life, risking the loss of form and, consequently, the loss of intelligible access to these meanings, or of imposing an external form as a normative demand on their life, risking distortion, inauthenticity and even the denial of life itself.

Except for the History of the Modern Drama (1909), Lukács’s earliest work is self-consciously essayistic in form. As Lukács explains in “On the Nature and Form of the Essay” (1911a), this is because the essay addresses life through the medium of form (1911a: 8) and takes form (in particular, the form of a work of art) seriously as a subject. Essayistic writing is not only writing about form, however; it must always examine the conditions under which life can be given form in the first place. Modernity has made this problem more virulent insofar as the existing means by which life can give itself form have become problematic, such that we now experience them as abstractions.

Following Weber, Lukács characterizes the bourgeois form of life in terms of the primacy of an ethics of work and inner strength. Corresponding to this form of life, Lukács claims, there was once a form of art that was capable of expressing an unproblematic relationship between life and form (for example, in Theodor Storm’s case, the insight that the bourgeois citizen must concentrate on work and entrust the formation of life to fate; see 1910a: 60). However, when that bourgeois life-form disappeared, the remaining bourgeois “way of life” was transformed into a kind of asceticism that grew hostile to life itself. The same holds for the corresponding movement, within art, of rejecting life in favor of “art for its own sake,” that is, a form of artistic production that self-consciously (and with justification) refuses to express life because it has no foundation in a corresponding life form.

Lukács thus argues that modern art is caught in the dilemma of having to achieve harmony between life and form, either at the expense of life’s intensity or at a purely symbolic and imaginary level—by effectively withdrawing from life (an idea he discusses in reference to Novalis; see 1908: 50; see also Butler 2010: 9). In both cases, art turns against life. By contrast, a genuine attempt to give “real” or “absolute life” (that is, genuinely meaningful life as opposed to the chaos of “empirical life”; see Kavoulakos 2014: 22–26; Márkus 1983: 11; Löwy 1979: 104) a distinct form necessarily involves the rejection of the meaningless necessities of ordinary life. In “The Metaphysics of Tragedy” (1910b), Lukács ascribes this task to modern tragedy. When nature and fate have become “terrifyingly soulless” (1910b: 154) and any hope for a “friendly order” (ibid.) has disappeared, the tragic becomes a task—that of rejecting ordinary life in favor of the opportunity to “live within the periphery of tragedy” (1910b: 173).

The ethical dimension of the relation between life and form is made most explicit in Lukács’s essay on Kierkegaard and in “On Poverty of Spirit.” Kierkegaard’s rejection of Regine Olsen’s love is lauded for its expression of the need to give one’s own empirical life a definite, unambiguous form, thereby transforming it into absolute life—in Kierkegaard’s case, by attempting to perform an authentic gesture (1910c: 28). Yet Kierkegaard’s ethical position suffered from a defect: he attempted to reconcile ordinary life with a form that was only appropriate for genuine, “absolute” life. Due to its inherent ambiguity and foreignness to form, ordinary life cannot ever be successfully lived in such a way (1910c: 40). Thus, Kierkegaard’s attempt to live a genuine life was doomed from the start.

The conclusion of this line of thought seems to point towards an insoluble dilemma. But the 1911 essay “On Poverty of Spirit”—a fusion of an autobiographical reflection on Lukács’s role in Irma Seidler’s suicide and an examination of theoretical issues—points to a different conclusion: the rejection of an “ethics of duty.” Lukács argues that our adherence to a formal, rule-based ethics is to be blamed for our alienation from life. Even though the submission to “form” that is implicit in adopting a formalist ethics is the basis from which social life becomes possible in the first place, it prevents people from forming “human relationships.” As Lukács writes, “[f]orm […] is like a bridge that separates” (1911b: 44). Lukács contrasts such an ethics with the ideal of “goodness,” which represents “real life.” “Goodness” involves a rejection of rules and duties towards others in favor of pure actions that may be sinful, chaotic, and futile. The soul of the good person, Lukács claims, “is a pure white slate, upon which fate writes its absurd command” (1911b: 48). This anti-consequentialist and anti-deontological ethics of pure action ultimately culminates in a conception of “works.” Only by sacrificing themselves for the sake of works can people (or, as Lukács’s narrator claims, “men”) empty themselves of the psychological content of everyday life and prepare themselves for the grace of goodness. This final line of thought points towards a social utopia: by overcoming the alienated world of “mechanical forces” (1911b: 45) through works that transform life, we may recover a genuine community with and a direct knowledge of others wherein “subject and object collapse into each other” (1911b: 46). This vision of a final overcoming of alienation seems to offer a way out of the theoretical impasse of Lukács’s earlier position, but at the cost of endorsing ethical decisionism.

While Lukács’s cultural criticism seeks to capture distinctively modern phenomena, its claims are backed up by an aesthetic theory that aims to discover transcendental conditions of the aesthetic that are immune to historical variability. Even though Lukács’s early work draws on Georg Simmel’s theory of culture and on the Nietzschean idea of an intrinsic tension between life and form, its central anchoring point is a Neo-Kantian framework (for a detailed discussion of the influence of Emil Lask in particular, see Kavoulakos 2014). This framework is most clearly evident in his two systematic attempts to produce a philosophy of art in Heidelberg ( GW 16 and 17). Here, Lukács seeks to provide a philosophical explanation of the conditions of the possibility of art that takes the work of art as the fundamental locus of aesthetic meaning, rather than deriving this meaning from either artistic creation or aesthetic experience.

In his early aesthetic thought, Lukács distinguishes—taking up Neo-Kantian terminology—between different spheres of reality. The most immediate sphere is the “reality of experience,” in which everything appears as an object of qualitative experience, or (in the 1916 version) as having a given object character ( Gegenständlichkeit ) that is fundamentally heterogeneous. Lukács envisages two arguments concerning the role that art can play in relation to this sphere: in the 1912 Philosophy of Art , he argues that any adequate communication of meaning between people must appear impossible from within the experiential sphere, since the infinite qualitative particulars of experience cannot ever be successfully communicated. However, the desire to communicate meaning drives people to adopt different means of communication that, although inadequate for expressing the reality of experience, enable them to overcome their separateness by relating to each other in terms of other spheres of reality (for example, the sphere of logical validity). While logic and ethics constitute “pure” spheres of communicable meaning, however, the categories of the aesthetic cannot be fully separated from experience.

In the 1916 Aesthetics , Lukács adopts a more radical version of this Neo-Kantian argument: whereas the reality of everyday life is characterized by a heterogeneity of forms of objects, the aesthetic sphere of validity is characterized by a distinct form of objectivity that is legislated as a norm by experience itself. Thus, the contrast between everyday life and art is not one between experience and validity but one between the heterogeneity of everyday life and the homogeneous form that is appropriate to the autonomy of experience ( GW 17: 36). Consequently, in comparison to the logical and ethical spheres of validity, aesthetics has a distinct status. While in these other spheres of validity objective norms and subjective attitudes are fully separable, the autonomy of experience legislates a normative standard that involves a specific relationship between subjective experience and objective norm.

The value that defines the aesthetic sphere, Lukács claims, can only be derived from the concept of the work of art since this concept is presupposed by all descriptions of artistic production or aesthetic experience. Even though neither production nor reception is constitutive of the value of works of art, they can still serve as a basis for reconstructing the independent normative status of aesthetics. The result of this analysis is a conception of the work of art as an ideal homogeneous unity of form and material . In the 1912 Philosophy of Art , this unity is characterized in terms of the experiential content’s becoming completely communicable and containing all possible aspects of a possible experience, thus forming a “concrete totality” ( GW 16: 83, 91, 112 and GW 17: 110) of its own world within itself. By contrast, in the 1916 Aesthetics , it is brought about through a process in which the constitutive function of experience becomes completely autonomous, determining both form and content. Such an ideal work of art is, in virtue of this harmony, a Utopian fulfillment of the attitudes that are already operative in the ordinary world of experience ( GW 16: 82).

Works of art therefore present us with an “immanent utopia” of experience, that is, with the vision of a form of experience that is ordered and unified by a constitutive “standpoint” ( GW 16: 82) such that form and content are completely appropriate for each other. Because of these features, such an experience embodies a maximum of objectivity in the subject’s relation to an object that is completely appropriate to its subjectivity ( GW 17: 100). This finally answers the question regarding the a priori conditions of art: as an ideal of a particular kind of possible experience, the work of art is always historically specific. However, both the potential to become a totality in virtue of their form and the normative demand to do so are timeless, a priori conditions of the possibility of works of art in the Neo-Kantian sense ( GW 16: 168).

Another aspect of Lukács’s early work concerns the historical changes undergone by our relation to form. In his early analysis of the history and sociology of drama ( History of the Modern Drama , 1909), Lukács develops an account of the connection between aesthetic genres and historical changes. He argues that drama is connected to specific historical circumstances: for drama to exist, there needs to be a prevailing Weltanschauung ( GW 15: 44) that seeks drama as its preferred mode of expression. This tragic Weltanschauung only exists in periods of societal disintegration, when individual emotions and objective facts are so mismatched as to elicit heroic forms of denial of social reality.

In The Theory of the Novel (1916), Lukács turns towards the philosophy of history in order to clarify the relationship between the historical changes undergone by transcendental standpoints and the “pure forms” of aesthetic genres. The primary object of his discussion is the epic: Lukács claims that works of art that belong to this genre—for example Homeric epic poetry and the modern novel—must always express the objective reality of social and individual human life as it is (1916: 46). However, because of the distinctive “metaphysical conditions” of different epochs, they express this objective reality in radically different ways. Homeric epic poetry takes as its starting point a world that constitutes a closed totality (1916: 33), that is, a world in which life, culture, meaning, actions, and social institutions form a harmonious whole. In particular, Lukács claims that in Ancient Greece the “essence” of being was immanent to life rather than having to be sought out in a transcendent realm. Furthermore, there was no gap between individual consciousness and objectified meaning in the world that would have required the individual to project meaning onto the world. Individuals in Ancient Greece only had to accept the totality of meaning within their world, even if they were, in some particular situation or another, unable to understand it. By contrast, modern society is constitutively alienated: merely conventional social institutions devoid of meaning are disconnected from individuals and their highly individualized self-understandings. Therefore, in modern society meaning can only be found within the inner life of the individual (1916: 61).

Starting from this description of a closed totality, Lukács claims that the intellectual history of the modern world was prefigured in the cultural history of Ancient Greece, in the movement from epic poetry to tragedy and then ultimately to philosophy. In the course of this movement, the sources of meaning became increasingly more external to immediate life. As a consequence, Lukács argues that these three genres inhabit three different “transcendental loci ” (1916: 36). Tragedy and philosophy reflect the loss of a meaningful totality, whereas the possibility of epic poetry depends on its immanence. As Lukács claims, this is why “art forms become subject to a historico-philosophical dialectic” (1916: 39).

The cause of this development is a loss of totality through historical changes that transform the objective institutions of social life into mere conventions and into a purely external “second nature” (1916: 62f., 112). This alienation of the individual from the world leads to a situation of “transcendental homelessness” (1916: 40, 60) in which individuals must take up a purely normative “should be” (1916: 47) stance toward the world. The novel is always related to the development of such individuals. This development can take the form of a subjective-idealist illusion (e.g., as in Don Quixote ) or of a disillusion, that is, of individuals understanding the impossibility of finding meaning in the world. Lukács consequently argues that the novel is the form of epic writing that is appropriate to a specific moment in history. In modernity, epic writing no longer has a distinct form that can express a particular relation between life and essence within a totality. Rather, the form of the novel is an attempt to deal with the absence of this relation (1916: 59; see Jameson 1971: 172).

Lukács’s understanding of alienation as a historical loss of totality and the consequent problem of form allows him to formulate the kernel of a Utopian vision: the very form of the novel points to the possibility of a renewed relation between the individual and the world in which meaning can again be found.

3. History and Class Consciousness

Not only did Lukács’s 1918 conversion to communism and his subsequent engagement with philosophical Marxism confound his friends, but even today’s readers can find it difficult to track the many shifts in Lukács’s theoretical commitments between 1918 and 1923.

In the December 1918 article “Bolshevism as an Ethical Problem,” Lukács draws a connection between his newfound Marxist convictions and his previous ethical views: whereas the historical necessity of class struggle is only a descriptive claim in Marxism, the normative , ethical requirement to establish a classless society must be separated from issues of truth and recognized as a utopian form of ethical idealism, appropriate for the expression of a pure will. In 1918, Lukács still thought that this insight led to a paradox: In order for the proletarian “messianic class” (1918: 218) to overcome class society, it must first seize power by creating the most extreme form of class dominance, i.e., a dictatorship. Bolshevism thus presupposes that evil actions can produce good outcomes, or, as Lukács puts it in the essay “Tactics and Ethics,” that tragedy cannot be avoided in revolutionary politics (1919a: 10). By the time History and Class Consciousness appeared, however, Lukács seems to have thought of himself as having found another conception of revolutionary action that paved the way for a new approach to political practice.

At the foundation of this new conception lies the theory of reification that Lukács introduces in the essay “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat.” This essay is credited not only with being one of the foundational texts of “Western Marxism” (Anderson 1976), but also with spelling out the paradigmatic “central problem” (Brunkhorst 1998) of critical theory.

Lukács frames his argument as an extension of Marx’s analysis of the “fetishism of the commodity form” in Capital I (Marx [1867] 1992: 163–176), where Marx refers to the fact that social relations between producers of commodities appear in capitalism under the guise of objective, calculable, properties of things (“value”).

While in Marx the form that social relations acquire due to this fetishism (i.e., a form that furnishes commodities with features that make taking an instrumental, quantifying attitude towards them—and ultimately towards social relations themselves—appropriate) is analyzed mainly with regard to how it distorts the relationship between subjects and their economic circumstances, Lukács adopts a far more radical claim. The commodity form, he argues, has gradually become the “universal category of society as a whole” (1923a: 86). In capitalist societies, the commodity form even becomes the dominant form of objectivity itself ( Gegenständlichkeitsform ). Drawing on debates in contemporary Neo-Kantian thought (see Lotz 2020: 27–31; Feenberg 2017: 113; Kavoulakos 2018), Lukács remains committed to the Kantian idea that the condition of the possibility of synthesizing our experience into an experience of objects depends on our having access to “forms,” which thus have a transcendental status. In contrast to Kant, however, Lukács understands these forms as both socially shared and historically variable. In capitalist societies in particular, the commodity form thus becomes the transcendental determining factor of both objectivity and subjectivity.

Both the objective and the subjective dimension of the emergence of the commodity form are analyzed by Lukács as emerging from concrete changes to the economic structure. On the objective side, when industrial work processes become rationalized as a result of their subsumption under the dominance of commodity exchange, these processes no longer display the typical “unity” of intentionally integrated human work. As each individual labor effort can in principle constitute an input to many products, each operation is related to a “set of heterogeneous use-values” (1923a: 89) and thus no longer forms part of a unique, unified work process. On the subjective side, reification entails the fragmentation of human experience, leading to an attitude of “contemplation” in which one passively adapts to a law-like system of social “second nature” and to an objectifying stance towards one’s own mental states and capacities.

As Lukács writes concerning the commodity form:

[it] stamps its imprint upon the whole consciousness of man; his qualities and abilities are no longer an organic part of his personality, they are things which he can “own” or “dispose of” like the various objects of the external world. And there is no natural form in which human relations can be cast, no way in which man can bring his physical and psychic “qualities” into play without their being subjected increasingly to this reifying process. (1923a: 100)

Lukács calls this development “reification.” It is a process that primarily affects the objective way in which human beings relate to the totality of social relationships that is constitutive of the meaning of their actions, separating this totality (and thus the meaning of their actions) from their self-understanding and establishing it as a form of objective reality. Derivatively, the socially created features of objects (primarily their features as commodities), relations between individual people, and their relations to themselves also acquire the character of a subject-independent, alien objectivity (Stahl 2011). The objective and subjective dimensions of the dominance of the commodity form constitute a complex of reification because the properties of objects, subjects, and social relations become “thing-like” in this particular way. These properties become independent, quantifiable, non-relational features that must remain alien to any subjective meaning that one could attach to them.

With this description of the way in which the dynamics of capitalist society affect not only people materially but the very form of objectivity by which they can relate to the world, Lukács combines Weber’s theory of rationalization, Simmel’s theory of modern culture, and his own idea of a modern contradiction between “form” and “life” (see Dannemann 1987) with Marx’s theory of value. The resulting theory of reification as a socially induced pathology not only had considerable influence on the Frankfurt School (Stahl 2018; on Lukács’s influence on Adorno, see Schiller 2011 and Braunstein/Duckheim 2015; on the engagement of the later generations of Frankfurt School criticism with Lukács, see Habermas 1984: 355–365; Honneth 2008; cf. also Chari 2010, Kavoulakos 2017) but also led Lucien Goldmann to speculate that Heidegger’s Being and Time should be read as an answer to Lukács (Goldmann 1977).

The theory of social rationalization on which Lukács’s argument rests goes beyond a mere description of economic relations, towards a theory of cultural change. The core of this argument is the claim that the dominance of the commodity form in the economic sphere must necessarily lead to the dominance of rational calculation and formal reason in society as a whole and will consequently involve a break with the organic unity and totality of previous forms of human existence. By forcing politics and law to adapt to the demands of capitalist exchange, the commodity form transforms these spheres into a mode of rational calculability (a line of thought that clearly stems from Weber)—which helps to explain the rise of the bureaucratic state and the dominance of formal, positive law that continues to alienate individuals from society and encourages their passivity in the face of objectified, mechanical rules (1923a: 98).

This development leads to a contradictory situation on both the practical and the theoretical level: because the process of rationalization precludes grasping society as a totality, it cannot ever succeed in making society subject to rational calculation in its entirety, for it must exclude all irrational, qualitative dimensions from such calculation. Here, Lukács rephrases his earlier argument regarding the tension between form and life in Marxist terms (López 2019: 72), as an inability of theories that express a reified perspective to grasp the concrete, material content of history. One example, Lukács alleges, is the inability of economics as a science to explain the movements of the economy (1923a: 105–107). The same holds for formalist models of law, which cannot theoretically acknowledge the interdependence of their principles and their social content and must therefore treat this content as an extra-legal, irrational foundation (1923a: 107–110).

This analysis of the social and cultural features of reification allows Lukács, in a third step, to present an analysis of the “antinomies of bourgeois thought” (1923a: 110)—defending the radical claim that the unsolved epistemological problems of the entirety of modern philosophy are rooted in its failure to break through capitalist reification. In attempting to achieve a rational system of principles, Lukács claims, modern philosophy is always confronted with the issue of there being a “content” necessary for the application of its formal principles of knowledge, a content which cannot be integrated into a formal philosophical system—a prime example of which is Kant’s “thing in itself” (see Bernstein 1984: 15–22). Kantian dualism is nothing other than the most self-conscious expression of this “hiatus” between subject (the source of rational unity) and object (the source of non-rational content). This dualism between subject and object—and, in ethics, between norms and facts—haunts modern philosophy. As Fichte and Hegel partly recognize, Lukács argues, this problem arises only because modern thought takes the contemplative subject of reified self-world relations as its paradigm, ignoring the alternative of an active subject that is engaged in the production of the content. Fichte’s proposal to postulate an “identical subject-object” (that is, a subject that produces objectivity by positing objective reality as distinct from itself) is also the key to Lukács’ answer. But Fichte’s solution still suffers from an inadequacy in that he conceives of the constitutive activity still as the act of an individual subject confronted with an external, alien reality (1923a: 124).

An alternative is to be found in the idealist conception of art as an activity directed at the creation of a meaningful totality and in Schiller’s view of artistic activity, which is not an application of external, given laws but a form of play (1923a: 138). However, the conceptualization of practice from the standpoint of aesthetics obscures its historical dimension. Lukács acknowledges Hegel as the thinker who came nearest to finding a solution to this problem by recognizing that it is the totality of concrete history , understood as the expression of a subject, of a “we”, which is the only standpoint from which the antinomies between form and content can be overcome (1923a: 146f.). But Hegel adopts a mythologizing view of this subjectivity in terms of a “World Spirit” that lies beyond any concrete historical agency. The subject Hegel desperately tried to find could only be discovered by Marx—it is the proletariat to which Lukács assigns the role of the “subject-object” of history (1923a: 149).

In the “Reification” essay, Lukács is one of the first authors defending what has later come to be called a “standpoint theory” and thereby has become an important forerunner especially of models in feminist epistemology (Jameson 2009).

In particular, Lukács argues that the position of the proletariat is one of epistemic advantage concerning the acquisition of knowledge about society. Both the proletariat and the bourgeoisie are confronted, Lukács argues, with a reified social reality (1923a: 164). They will therefore form correct beliefs about this reality, but only insofar as they understand it in the form in which it is immediately (“ unvermittelt ”) given to them. This is contrasted by Lukács to a different understanding which realizes that the nature of all the individual elements of social reality is ultimately to be explained in terms of their role and relationships within the totality of society, which is governed by the commodity form as its structuring principle. Although the “empiricist” beliefs that are immediately accessible to all members of society are thus not strictly speaking false, they are incomplete, insofar as they are insufficient to comprehend the ultimate nature of social phenomena, and they are misleading, insofar as theorists will tend, on the basis of these beliefs, to adopt further, false beliefs about that nature. Lukács emphatically does not state, however, that the proletariat, merely in virtue of its social position, has access to this superior understanding, but that the proletariat is capable of achieving it. While the bourgeoisie must remain “imprisoned within this immediacy” (1923a, 147), the proletariat is “forced” to go beyond it.

Which feature of the proletariat’s existence gives rise to this advantage is a matter of interpretive disagreement. While many later forms of feminist standpoint theories assume that social positions give rise to epistemic opportunities in virtue of the distinctive experiences they make available that are positively contributing to acquiring knowledge (see, for example, Jaggar 1983, 371, Smith 1974, 7), other feminist authors, such as Hartsock (1983), draw on the idea that the distinctive proletarian standpoint might be one that is closer to use-value than exchange value, since workers have to interact more directly with material objects, rather than just exchanging them. While some authors (such as Jameson 2009) also read Lukács as endorsing the claim that it is the distinctive experience that members of the proletariat have which gives rise to a higher probability of forming correct beliefs, more recent interpretations (see Teixeira 2020, Feinberg 2020) emphasize that Lukács characterizes the experience of workers as identical to that of members of the bourgeoisie. However, whereas the latter can integrate that experience into a consistent self-understanding, in the case of workers, the experience of society as something alien and objective includes understanding themselves and their own activities. In Lukács’s words, the worker “appears to himself immediately as an object and not as the active part of the social process of labour” (1923a, 167). The epistemic privilege of the proletariat is not rooted in the fact that this experience would make some truth accessible to them, but rather in the fact that this necessitates workers to acquire a “bifurcated consciousness” of themselves as subject and as pure objects which is inconsistent and thus drives them beyond accepting reality as it appears immediately. Therefore, the distinctive epistemic position of the proletariat is not that it is uniquely situated in a way that is conducive to forming correct beliefs, but that it is uniquely situated in a way that makes it increasingly difficult to continue to hold a set of true beliefs that restrict themselves to immediate appearances.

The epistemic possibility of gaining insight into the mediated nature of social phenomena, however, cannot be realized merely by individual proletarians revising their beliefs. Ultimately, the epistemically superior perspective is one in which the proletariat not merely discovers this nature, but also discovers itself, as the collective author of the structures of social reality. By realizing that it is the “subject-object of history”, the proletariat discovers itself to be the subject of the process of social reproduction (see 1923a: 181; Jay 1984: 107f). As Lukács writes, this “act of consciousness overthrows the objective form of its object” (1923a: 178). The proletariat can thus overcome reification only through a practical engagement with totality—by consciously transforming reality into the product of the proletariat’s collective action —which this totality in its essence has always already been. This process is, in Lukács’ mind, nothing other than the communist revolution. As many critics of Lukács have remarked (Adorno 1973: 190f., Bewes 2002; Jay 1984; Rose 2009), this seems to commit Lukács to the view that there can be a complete overcoming of reification resulting in a totally transparent society. However, this interpretation downplays Lukács’ insistence that the resistance against reification must be understood as a never-ending struggle (see 1923a: 199, 206; Feenberg 2011; Feenberg 2014: 116; López 2019).

As Lukács’ essay on the “Problem of Organisation” (1923b, written shortly before the reification essay) shows, the distinction between “empirical” and “imputed” class consciousness had not entirely been resolved by the introduction of a dialectics of consciousness that is supposed to ground the spontaneous process that is to lead the proletariat beyond immediacy. Non-reified consciousness remains only an objective possibility, always threatened by the seductions of the immediate consciousness.

This has political consequences, as it seems to establish that the communist party has the function of expressing and disciplining the already achieved forms of consciousness. This does not lead Lukács to endorse the Leninist party conception, however, mainly because Lenin’s vision of politics is incompatible with his radical criticism of bureaucracy in the reification essay (Arato and Breines 1979: 154). In his political writings immediately preceding History and Class Consciousness , Lukács rather seems to endorse at different points either a qualified Luxemburgian view of proletarian spontaneity (for example in 1920b) or an elitist conception of party vanguardism (a “party myth”, Arato and Breines 1979: 145), not arriving at an overall consistent position on this question.

It is easy to see that the resulting conception of society that Lukács articulates owes as much to Hegel as to Marx. This inheritance commits Lukács to a number of methodological claims which put him into stark opposition not only to social democrats like Eduard Bernstein but also, perhaps unintentionally, to the orthodoxy of the Soviet party.

In his essay “What is Orthodox Marxism?” (1919b), Lukács contrasts his method with social democratic economic determinism. He describes Marxism as a purely methodological commitment to Marx’s dialectics rather than as depending on any belief regarding the truth of Marx’s economic theory. In his essay on Luxemburg, Lukács even goes so far as to claim that “it is not the primacy of economic motives in historical explanation that constitutes the decisive difference between Marxism and bourgeois thought, but the point of view of totality” (1921: 27).

This primacy of the social totality not only affects the Marxist method, but also the conception of practice and the underlying social ontology: by insisting on a foundational role of practice in the social totality, Lukács makes political action rather than labor into the foundation for overcoming reification (Feenberg 1998). Within his social ontology, Lukács is finally committed to the claim that the totality of historical processes, rather than individual facts, are the foundation of objective reality (1923a: 184; for the resulting view of history, see Merleau-Ponty 1973), leading him to a rejection of all “contemplative” epistemologies (such as Lenin’s) which rely on the idea of a simple correspondence between thoughts and facts (1923a: 199ff; see also Lichtheim 1970: 62–65; in addition, it follows from the premise that only the perspective of the social totality solves the epistemological problems of classical philosophy that Lukács must reject Engels’ claim that the experimental method is a model for the type of defetishizing praxis that can overcome the subject-object divide, see 1923a: 131–133). This ontology of pure processuality finally entails a normative conception of society that is critical towards all forms of institutional rationalization which are rejected as forms of alienation across the board. At the same time, in insisting that the emancipated society must be capable of presenting itself as a totality for its subjects, Lukács is unable to discover any resources for progress in the differentiation of social spheres (Arato and Breines 1979: 155).

4. The later Lukács: Praxis, Totality, and Freedom

By many of those who were looking for a sophisticated Marxist philosophy, History and Class Consciousness was judged to be a supremely important book (as for example by Karl Korsch and Ernst Bloch, see Bloch 1923). The party orthodoxy, was not quite so enamored with Lukács, however. In Germany and Hungary, party intellectuals disapproved of the book because of its idealist tendencies, culminating in its condemnation by Grigory Zinoviev in his opening address to the June 1924 World Congress of the Third International (see Arato and Breines 1979: 180). Lukács’s hastily composed study on Lenin (1924) ultimately resolved the tension between a Luxemburgian view of revolutionary politics as an expression of the spontaneity of the proletariat and a Leninist conception of the party as a vanguard agent—a tension that characterizes History and Class Consciousness (see Feenberg 1988)—in favor of the latter. This anticipated a theoretical development towards a more traditional form of Marxism to which he subscribed for the remainder of his life (see also the unpublished defense of History and Class Consciousness in 1925a and Löwy 2011).

While the condemnation of Lukács’s work by party intellectuals and Lukács’s reaction may have been motivated by political expediency, the conception of society and of political practice contained in History and Class Consciousness had real shortcomings. Jay (1984: 106–115) argues that the idea of the proletariat as the “subject-object” of history seems to entail a Fichtean conception of the self-constitutive capacities of the revolutionary agent, unlimited by historical circumstances, and, correspondingly, of a self-constitutive practice that is hostile to all objectivity, an objection that is echoed by many of his more recent interpreters (e.g., Rose 2009: 30–1; for a criticism of this interpretation, see López 2019: 134).

That the reification essay is characterized by a problematic insistence that it is the very objectivity of social relations that is to be rejected is bolstered by Lukács’s own evaluation in the 1967 preface to the new edition of History and Class-Consciousness . Here, Lukács claims (alongside a number of exercises in self-criticism, which appear both unjustified and externally motivated) that his earlier arguments involved a confusion between objectification ( Vergegenständlichung ), externalization ( Entäußerung ), and alienation ( Entfremdung ). Lukács argues that Hegel was essentially correct to view objectification (that is, the fact that the objects of our labor and the institutions of society are independent of our consciousness) not as a deficiency but as a necessary stage in the development of self-consciousness. Extending this argument, he claims that the fact that social relationships appear external is not problematic in itself. Rather, it is alienation (the causes of which Marx uncovered) that should be the object of the critique of reification: “Only when the objectified forms in society acquire functions that bring the essence of man into conflict with his existence […]. This duality was not acknowledged in History and Class Consciousness ” (1967, xxiv; see also Pitkin 1987; see López 2019 for an argument that this self-critique was unjustified).

The distinction between objectification and alienation entails i) the possibility of a critique of reification that does not require a complete reappropriation of objective social forms by a collective subject and ii) a conception of political praxis that acknowledges the mutual dialectical dependence of subject and object (an insight that, according to Feenberg 2014 and López 2019, is already present in History and Class Consciousness ).

These problems motivated Lukács’s turn to another model of practice—a model of political and social practice that he attempted to work out up until the end of his life. While the critique of Fichteanism in his writings between 1923 and 1928—for example in his review of an edition of Lasalle’s letters (1925b) and in a piece on Moses Hess (1926)—constituted a significant step towards such a model, it was impossible for him to write anything controversial on contemporary Marxism after the hostile reception of his 1928 “Blum Theses.” Instead, he tackled the philosophical foundations of these problems in the context of a new reading of the philosophical tradition, especially of Hegel.

In the reification essay, Lukács describes Hegel’s philosophy as the only “bourgeois” theory of history and freedom that comes close to solving the problem of reification due to its insight that the abyss between subject and object can only be overcome by seeing both as elements within a process that actively produces the very distinction between them. Thus, Lukács remains committed to the claim that Marxist social theory must be read as a critical completion—rather than a rejection—of Hegel. This means, however, that he must show that the Hegelian idealist metaphysics that Marx rejects does not exhaust Hegel’s philosophy. His writings on Hegel, most prominently The Young Hegel (1948) and the relevant sections of the Ontology of Social Being , can be read as a defense of this commitment. In the former work, Lukács argues that Hegel’s development of dialectics was informed by his reading of the British economists Steuart and Smith. According to Lukács, this empirical grounding enabled Hegel’s dialectics to draw on the idea of objective, social-historical progress and to understand modern society and economy as a processual totality that is structured by contradictions. Hegel’s view of an ontological dialectics must therefore be read as reflecting the structure of objective social reality. The resulting “objectivism” allowed Hegel to avoid the subjectivist conception of dialectics to which (as Lukács alleges) Kant and Fichte still subscribed. Hegel, however, subordinated this objectivist ontology to logic in the course of the development of his system. It is this “logicism,” i.e., the primacy of categories over being, that led Hegel to postulate the idealist conception of the “subject-object” that is needed to explain the identity of logical categories and ontological determinations. This split between a “genuine” dialectics that reflects the objective contradictions of society (even if in an idealist manner) and a “logicist” system is the main argument in Lukács’s discussion of Hegel in the Ontology (see GW 13: 489f., 506, 520–523).

A second, much more problematic set of commitments was made explicit in Lukács’s writings between the 1930s and the 1950s. This concerns his conviction that, after Hegel, modern thought had become sharply divided into two opposing tendencies: “Marxist dialectics” and “bourgeois irrationalism.” Lukács’s view that virtually all non-Marxist theorists after Hegel—including Schelling, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Heidegger—can be subsumed under the label of irrationalism (a blanket term which, depending on the context, refers to everything from theories of “intellectual intuition,” ontological subjectivism, and “aristocratic” epistemological positions to the denial of progress in history) was perhaps motivated by an earnest desire to apply the method of immanent critique (see Aronowitz 2005) to developments within philosophy that had facilitated the rise of National Socialism. Some of his arguments against Heidegger also resemble Adorno’s critique (see also Adorno 1997). Overall, however, his philosophical arguments for the simplistic distinction between progressive materialism and irrationalism—in particular those that he presents in The Destruction of Reason (according to George Lichtheim, “the worst book he ever wrote”; Lichtheim 1970: 68)—are dogmatic and superficial. A number of particularly problematic claims are made in the postscript to the Destruction , where Lukács not only defends the Soviet Union under Stalin but also accuses Bertrand Russell of being secretly religious (1954: 808) and Wittgenstein and the pragmatists of being proponents of a form of subjectivism that had facilitated the rise of a new form of fascism (1954: 782ff.; for other examples, see the unpublished 1933a).

The most fundamental level on which Lukács develops his revised model of Hegelian Marxism is that of ontology, or, more specifically, an “ontology of social being.” Lukács claims that, as far as ontology is concerned, we can distinguish three levels of being in the world: material or inorganic being, organic life, and social reality ( GW 13: 22). All three levels are distinguished by a division between the genuine essence of entities and their appearance. While on all three levels entities appear as fixed objects, their real essence is always that of interrelated, irreversible processes ( GW 13: 240). This entails that the basic form of all being is temporality and historicity ( GW 13: 228).

While this general ontology remains underdeveloped and is not informed by much knowledge of concurrent philosophical developments, Lukács’s theory of social reality has contemporary relevance. Social reality, Lukács claims, differs from the other levels of reality not only insofar as it is governed by causal, non-teleological laws but also insofar as it contains an element of teleology as a result of “teleological positing” ( GW 13: 20; 1971c: 12ff.). Due to their ability to perform labor, humans can “posit” functions or goals that are to govern the natural, causal processes they manipulate. By choosing one of the potential results of the employment of their natural and technological capacities as the correct one, individuals can draw a distinction between successful and unsuccessful executions of their intended actions in labor. This, Lukács argues, introduces normative distinctions or values into the world (see 1971b: 75f and 153–156; 1968: 140). In particular, Lukács claims that the objectification of human intentions in institutions enables us to understand the existence of objective values as products of social-historical developments without sliding into historical relativism. However, as some of his own students noted, this explanation remains too unclear to solve the problem of normativity for Marxism (see Fehér et al., 1976). The same doubts remain with regard to Lukács’s further claim that there is one fundamental, immanent value of social history, namely the unfettered development of human capacities ( GW 14: 153).

Because Lukács sees the process of labor as the foundation of all social and normative phenomena (see also 1971c: 65; Thompson 2011), the totality of society can be described as the totality of all relations between the teleological acts of “positing” conditions of success in labor. However, even though Lukács thus acknowledges intentional consciousness as an irreducible factor in these acts (see Lukács 1968: 138), their meaning is ultimately determined by the objective, historical development of social relations.

From these ontological commitments it follows that intentionality, which guides individual acts of labor, is a condition for the existence of the totality of social facts, and vice versa (see Tertullian 1988). In particular, he describes language and institutions as media of “indirect” teleological positing because they enable forms of action that do not directly modify nature but that indirectly aspire to bring others to do so ( GW 14: 172; 1968: 142). Although he remains committed to the primacy of labor, Lukács allows that these linguistic and institutional mediations acquire a dynamic of their own over time, becoming independent of the goal of dominating nature, in particular because they allow for a generalization of the cognitive grasping of particular phenomena (see GW 13: 47; GW 14: 165ff, 342–357) and for greater distance between subject and object (1971c: 100).

Lukács’s conception of individuality as a product of the choice between alternatives within a socially determined totality ultimately led to a theory of alienation that partially replaced the theory of reification of his younger years. Whereas the latter theory was closely connected to the ideal of the collective reappropriation of society, Lukács describes alienation in the Ontology as primarily the result of social conditions that turn individuals into merely “particular” personalities ( GW 14: 530) instead of allowing them to develop their capacities to the degree that the present development of productive forces could make possible. This means that alienation (for instance the alienation brought about by excessive professional specialization) must be understood as the socially induced incapacity of individuals to participate in “species being” or the social totality. The overcoming of alienation thus always demands—along with social changes—subjective transformation, i.e., individual change ( GW 14: 551). This points towards the ethical dimension of the Ontology . Lukács claims that there is a normative ideal immanent in society as such, namely, the ideal of social relations that allow all to fully participate in the social totality with their whole personality, thereby realizing their universal nature. This suggests a conception of political praxis that amounts to a form of democratic politics.

While Lukács made his ontological commitments explicit only towards the end of his life, they informed the development of his aesthetics from the 1930s on. From the general materialist premises of his ontology and from his rejection of the epistemology of History and Class Consciousness in favor of the Leninist alternative (see 1938), it follows that cultural and mental phenomena must always be seen as reflections (or “mirroring,” Widerspiegelungen ) of an objective reality ( GW 11: 22, 55).

Like science and ethics, art breaks with the immediacy of our everyday practical engagements that dominates more common forms of reflection ( GW 11: 207, 214). Yet aesthetic reflections on reality differ from science (or more generally from conceptual and theoretical reflections) in three respects: First, while scientific knowledge presupposes the “deanthropomorphization” of the subject matter (meaning that reality is presented as independent of human desires or subjectivity), the aesthetic subject matter remains anthropomorphized insofar as art presents reality in the form of inner experience. Thus, aesthetic representation always remains connected to a possible “evocation” of a human subject’s reactions ( GW 11: 438). Second, while science is always conceptually mediated, art breaks with the immediacy of everyday life in favor of a new immediacy of experience ( GW 11: 237, 509, 513). And third, while science reflects reality in the form of general laws, aesthetic representation is always bound to represent universal aspects of the essence of reality in the form of the individuality (or specificity) of the work of art (Lukács’s term for individuality is Besonderheit , a concept which he takes from Hegel’s Science of Logic , where it describes the dialectical sublation of both generality and particularity within the “notion”).

According to this conception of art as a mode of reflection, the function of a work of art is to present humans with the totality of the objective, historical reality within an “homogeneous medium” (such as pure visibility in painting or poetic language in poetry; see GW 11: 642). The employment of such a medium makes it possible for art to single out and represent the universal aspects of a given form of human reality as a “closed world-in-itself” or as an “intensive totality” ( GW 11: 238, 461, 774; GW 12: 232). As Lukács argues ( GW 11: 660), the medium of each specific form of art establishes strict laws that allow the work of art to adequately present the world of humanity from a specific standpoint. For this reason, such works of art allow us to comprehend the universal aspects of our existence and to consciously participate in the collective life of humanity ( GW 11: 519–530). Lukács describes this effect as “defetishization” ( GW 11: ch. 9), anticipating the ethical call to overcome alienation formulated in the Ontology . A successful work of art can thus have the effect of “catharsis” ( GW 11: 811), transforming the “whole person” of everyday life (the person who is entangled in their diverse relationships) into a “person as a whole” (the person who realizes their humanity by acquiring a sense of self-consciousness regarding the richness of the human relations that constitute the historical development of humankind).

Even though they represent objective reality, works of art are, in virtue of this mode of reflection, subject-dependent because their character is constituted by their capacity to evoke a subjective reaction: i.e., an understanding of how and why the world revealed in art is appropriate to the comprehending subject in its universal nature ( GW 11: 305). This reaction is not only one of passive acknowledgment; it also actively transforms the subject by facilitating consciousness of that very universal nature. Thus, in the work of art, subjectivity and objectivity are mutually constitutive of each other. In a transformed sense—as Lukács explicitly acknowledges ( GW 11: 582; GW 12: 217)—the subject-object of idealism is an appropriate concept for works of art (which, one might add, fulfills Lukács’s aspirations for the socialist revolution he had to renounce, both politically and philosophically). Of course, in this new sense the term “subject-object” no longer signifies a privileged agent becoming self-conscious, but only the interdependence of subjectivity and objectivity in a specific sphere of experience.

Lukács makes a similar conceptual move by endorsing the claim that all consciousness is a reflection of reality. On the one hand, this signals a revision of the epistemological position he defended in History and Class Consciousness (where he criticized the distinction between a seemingly objective reality and purely subjective forms of perception) in favor of Lenin’s theory of consciousness. On the other hand, Lukács is keen to make room—at least within the boundaries of the aesthetic—for the idea that some insights can be had only in relation to a totality that encompasses subjectivity and objectivity.

At this point, Lukács no longer derives his aesthetic commitments from purely philosophical premises—as he did in his early Heidelberg writings—instead building on anthropological premises (especially concerning the concept of everyday life, in regard to which he notes the similarity between his analysis and Heidegger’s notion of practical engagement; see GW 11: 68–71; for related points on the Ontology see Joós 1982), psychological theorizing (proposing an extension of Pavlov’s behaviorist classification of signal systems; see GW 12: 11–191), and a speculative notion of world history. The most important concept binding these premises together is the idea of mimesis . Mimetic behavior, Lukács argues, is a fundamental way of coping with the world and a source of both magic and art. Through the mimetic imitation of natural processes, humans acquire the ability to represent the salient aspects of the world in a closed and totalizing manner, gradually learning to separate such imitations from the necessity of immediate reaction. In contrast to magic, which does not separate reflection and objective causation, mimesis in art is consciously taken as reflection and has an aesthetic effect on its audience specifically in virtue of this feature ( GW 11: 382). In other words, while both art and science overcome the superstition of magic, only art can retain the mimetic dimension of representation.

Lukács’s commitment to a conception of the work of art as a closed totality structured by the strict laws of its medium and objectively reflecting the development of humanity in the mode of mimetic evocation had considerable implications for his own judgments as an aesthetic theorist. His writings on literary realism published from the 1930s to the 1950s—especially “Realism in the Balance” (1938), The Historical Novel (1955), and The Meaning of Contemporary Realism (1955)—display to various degrees a mixture of philosophical insight and Stalinist orthodoxy. In any case, they are animated by a strong commitment to the superiority of realism, as exemplified by Balzac, Tolstoy, Gorky (see GW 5), and Thomas Mann (see 1949), which he contrasts with the “decadent” avant-garde literature of his time. This position drew sharp criticism, for example from Seghers, Brecht, and Adorno (see Lukács 1981; Brecht 1977; Adorno [1958] 1977; on the Lukács-Brecht debate, see Pike 1985).

However, to the extent that Lukács’s commitment to realism reflects a commitment to the notion that works of art should present a totality of meaning that is not alien to the life of individuals but rather overcomes the alienation they suffer in everyday life, it expresses (even in its most distorted versions) an intuition that sustained his work from the beginning: a desire to overcome the tension between human life and the objective social forms that constitute modern society.

The only English-language biography of Lukács is Kadarkay, A., 1991, Georg Lukács. Life, Thought, and Politics , Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. In German, there is an extended autobiographical interview in Lukács, Georg, 1980, Gelebtes Denken , Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, and a collection of photographs and original sources in Raddatz, F., 1972, Georg Lukács in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten , Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1972.

Collected Works

There is no complete edition of Lukács’s works in English. The most accessible collection is the (incomplete) German edition of his works:

Lukács, Georg, 1968–1981, Gesammelte Werke, Darmstadt: Luchterhand (cited as GW ).

Cited Primary Sources

This list comprises the bibliographical entries for the works by Lukács that are cited in the main article. English translations are cited where available. If no translation is available, the Gesammelte Werke are cited. In the remaining cases, the original publication is cited. Sources are listed by original publication date.

  • 1908, “On the Romantic Philosophy of Life. Novalis,” in Soul and Form , A. Bostock (trans.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971, pp. 42–54.
  • 1909, The Sociology of Modern Drama , Oshkosh, WI: Green Mountain Editions, 1965 (A chapter from Lukács’ dissertation which is published in its entirety in GW 15).
  • 1910a, “The Bourgeois Way of Life and Art for Art’s Sake. Theodor Storm,” in Soul and Form , A. Bostock (trans.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971, pp. 55–78.
  • 1910b, “The Metaphysics of Tragedy. Paul Ernst,” in Soul and Form , A. Bostock (trans.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971, pp. 152–174.
  • 1910c, “The Foundering of Form against Life. Sören Kierkegaard and Regine Olsen,” in Soul and Form , A. Bostock (trans.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971, pp. 28–41.
  • 1911a, “On the Nature and Form of the Essay,” in Soul and Form , A. Bostock (trans.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971, pp. 1–18.
  • 1911b, “On Poverty of Spirit,” in The Lukács Reader , A. Kadarkay (ed.), Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1995, pp. 42–56.
  • 1916, The Theory of the Novel , A. Bostock (trans.), London: Merlin, 1971.
  • 1918, “Bolshevism as an Ethical Problem,” in The Lukács Reader , A. Kadarkay (ed.), Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1995, pp. 216–221.
  • 1919a, “Tactics and Ethics,” in Tactics and Ethics, Political Writings 1919–1929 , R. Livingstone (ed.), London: NLB, 1972, pp. 3–11.
  • 1919b, “What is Orthodox Marxism?,” in History and Class Consciousness , R. Livingstone (trans.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971, pp. 1–26.
  • 1920a, “Class Consciousness,” in History and Class Consciousness , R. Livingstone (trans.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971, pp. 46–82.
  • 1920b, “The Moral Mission of the Communist Party,” in Tactics and Ethics, Political Writings 1919–1929 , R. Livingstone (ed.), London: NLB, 1972, pp. 64–70.
  • 1921, “The Marxism of Rosa Luxemburg,” in History and Class Consciousness , R. Livingstone (trans.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971, pp. 27–45.
  • 1923a, “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” in History and Class Consciousness , Rodney Livingstone (trans.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971, pp. 83–222.
  • 1923b, “Towards a Methodology of the Problem of Organisation,” in History and Class Consciousness , R. Livingstone (trans.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971, pp. 294–342.
  • 1924, Lenin: A Study on the Unity of his Thought , Nicholas Jacobs (trans.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971.
  • 1925a, A Defence of History and Class Consciousness: Tailism and the Dialectics , S. Žižek (ed.) and E. Leslie (trans.), London: Verso, 2000.
  • 1925b, “The New Edition of Lasalle’s Letters,” in Tactics and Ethics, Political Writings 1919–1929 , R. Livingstone (ed.), London: NLB, 1972, pp. 147–177.
  • 1926, “Moses Hess and the Problems of Idealist Dialectics,” in Tactics and Ethics, Political Writings 1919–1929 , R. Livingstone (ed.), London: NLB, 1972, pp. 181–223.
  • 1928, “Blum Theses,” in Tactics and Ethics, Political Writings 1919–1929 , R. Livingstone (ed.), London: NLB, 1972, pp. 227–253.
  • 1933a, Wie ist die faschistische Philosophie in Deutschland entstanden? , L. Sziklai (ed.), Budapest: Akadémiai Kiad, 1982.
  • 1933b, “Mein Weg zu Marx,” Internationale Literatur , No. 2, 185–187 (reprinted in Schriften zur Ideologie und Politik , Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1967, 323–329).
  • 1938, “Realism in the Balance,” in The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism , V.B. Leitch (ed.), New York: Norton, 2001, pp. 1033–1058.
  • 1948, The Young Hegel , R. Livingstone (trans.), London: Merlin, 1975.
  • 1949, Thomas Mann , Aufbau: Berlin.
  • 1951, “Hegel’s Aesthetics”, in Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal , 23 (2), 2002: 87–124.
  • 1954, The Destruction of Reason , London: Merlin, 1980.
  • 1955, The Historical Novel , London: Merlin, 1962.
  • 1957, “Postscriptum 1957 zu: Mein Weg zu Marx,” in Marxismus und Stalinismus. Politische Aufsätze. Ausgewählte Schriften IV , Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1970, pp. 161–171.
  • 1962, “Reflections on the Cult of Stalin,” in Survey , No. 47, 1963: 105–111.
  • 1967, “Preface to the New Edition,” in History and Class Consciousness , Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971, pp. ix–xl.
  • 1968, “The ‘Vienna Paper’: The Ontological Foundations of Human Thinking and Action,” in Lukács’s Last Autocriticism: The Ontology , E. Joós, Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1982, pp. 135–148.
  • 1971a, Ontology of Social Being, Vol. 1: Hegel’s False and his Genuine Ontology , D. Fernbach (trans.), London: Merlin, 1978 (see part III in GW 13).
  • 1971b, Ontology of Social Being, Vol. 2: Marx’s Basic Ontological Principles , D. Fernbach (trans.), London: Merlin, 1978 (see part IV in GW 13).
  • 1971c, Ontology of Social Being, Vol. 3: Labour , D. Fernbach (trans.), London: Merlin, 1980 (see part I in GW 14).
  • 1981, Essays on Realism , R. Livingstone (trans.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Anderson, Perry, 1976, Considerations on Western Marxism , London: NLB.
  • Adorno, Theodor W., 1973, Negative Dialectics , London: Routledge.
  • –––, [1958] 1977, “Reconciliation under Duress,” in Aesthetics and Politics , F. Jameson (ed.), London: Verso, pp. 151–176.
  • –––, 1997, “Ad Lukács,” in Gesammelte Schriften , Vol. 20.1, Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, pp. 251–256.
  • Arato, Andrew, and Paul Breines, 1979, The Young Lukács and the Origins of Western Marxism , New York: The Seabury Press.
  • Aronowitz, Stanley, 2015, “Georg Lukács’s Destruction of Reason,” in S. Aronowitz (ed.), Against Orthodoxy: Social Theory and Its Discontents . Political Philosophy and Public Purpose. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US, pp. 59–72.
  • Bernstein, Jay M., 1984, The Philosophy of the Novel: Lukács, Marxism, and the Dialectics of Form , U of Minnesota Press.
  • Bewes, Timothy, 2002, Reification. Or the Anxiety of Late Capitalism , New York: Verso.
  • Bloch, Ernst, 1923, “Aktualität und Utopie: Zu Lukács’ Philosophie des Marxismus,” Der Neue Merkur , 7: 457–77.
  • Brecht, Bertolt, 1977, “Against Georg Lukács,” in Aesthetics and Politics , F. Jameson (ed.), London: Verso, pp. 68–85.
  • Braunstein, Dirk, and Simon Duckheim, 2015, “Adornos Lukács. Ein Lektürebericht,” Lukács 2014/15. Jahrbuch der Internationalen Georg Lukács-Gesellschaft , 2014/2015: 27–79.
  • Butler, Judith, 2010, “Introduction,” in Soul and Form , J. Sanders, and K. Terezakis (eds.), New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 1–15.
  • Brunkhorst, Hauke, 1998, “Paradigm-core and theory-dynamics in critical social theory: people and programs,” (translated by Peter Krockenberger), Philosophy & Social Criticism , 24(6): 67–110.
  • Chari, Anita, 2010, “Toward a political critique of reification: Lukács, Honneth and the aims of critical theory,” Philosophy & Social Criticism , 36(5): 587–606.
  • Dannemann, Rüdiger, 1987, Das Prinzip Verdinglichung: Studie zur Philosophie Georg Lukács , Frankfurt a. M.: Sendler.
  • Deutscher, Isaac, 1972, “Georg Lukács and ‘Critical Realism’,” in Marxism in our Time , T. Deutscher (ed.), London: Jonathan Cape, pp. 283–294.
  • Fehér, Ferenc, Ágnes Heller, György Márkus, and Mihály Vajda, 1976, “Notes on Lukacs’ Ontology,” Telos , 1976(29): 160–181.
  • Feenberg, Andrew, 1988, “The Question of Organization in the Early Marxist Work of Lukács. Technique or Praxis?,” in Lukács Today. Essays in Marxist Philosophy , T. Rockmore (ed.), Dordrecht: Reidel, pp. 126–156.
  • –––, 1998, “Dialektischer Konstruktivismus: Zur Aktualität von Lukács’ Konzept der transformierenden Praxis,” Jahrbuch der Internationalen Georg-Lukács-Gesellschaft , 1998/99: 52–63.
  • –––, 2011, “Reification and its Critics,” in Georg Lukács Reconsidered. Critical Essays in Politics, Philosophy and Aesthetics , M. J. Thompson (ed.), London: Continuum, pp. 195–209.
  • –––, 2014, The Philosophy of Praxis: Marx, Lukács and the Frankfurt School , London: Verso.
  • –––, 2017, “Why Students of the Frankfurt School Will Have to Read Lukács,” in The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Theory , M.J. Thompson (ed.), New York: Palgrave, pp. 109–133.
  • Feinberg, Joseph Grim, 2020, “Georg Lukács’s Archimedean Socialism,” in G.R. Smulewicz-Zucker (ed.), Confronting Reification: Revitalizing Georg Lukács’s Thought in Late Capitalism . Leiden: Brill, pp. 186–202.
  • Goldmann, Lucien, 1977, Lukács and Heidegger. Towards a New Philosophy , London: Routledge.
  • Habermas, Jürgen, 1984, The Theory of Communicative Action , Vol. 1, T. McCarthy (trans.), Boston: Beacon Press.
  • Hartsock, Nancy, 1983, “The Feminist Standpoint,” in S. Harding and M.B. Hintikka (eds.), Discovering Reality . Dordrecht: Reidel, pp. 283–310.
  • Heller, Ágnes, 1983, “Lukács’s Later Philosophy,” in Lukács Revalued , Á. Heller (ed.), Oxford: Basil Blackwell, pp. 177–190.
  • Honneth, Axel, 2008, Reification: A New Look at an Old Idea , Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Jaggar, Alison M., 1983, Feminist Politics and Human Nature , Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Allanheld.
  • Jameson, Fredric, 1971, Marxism and Form , Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • –––, 2009, “History and Class Consciousness as an ‘Unfinished Project’,” Rethinking Marxism , 1(1): 49–72.
  • Jay, Martin, 1984, Marxism and Totality: The Adventures of a Concept from Lukács to Habermas , Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Joós, Ernest, 1982, Lukács’s Last Autocriticism: The Ontology , Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press.
  • Kavoulakos, Konstantinos, 2014, Ästhetizistische Kulturkritik und ethische Utopie. Georg Lukács’ neukantianisches Frühwerk , Berlin: de Gruyter.
  • –––, 2017, “Lukács’ Theory of Reification and the Tradition of Critical Theory,” in The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Theory , M.J. Thompson (ed.), New York: Palgrave, pp. 67–86.
  • –––, 2018, Georg Lukács’ Philosophy of Praxis: Reconsidering His Early Marxist Work. , London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • Kolakowski, Leszek, 1978, The Main Currents of Marxism. Vol III: The Downfall , Oxford: Clarendon.
  • Lichtheim, George, 1970, Lukács , London: Collins.
  • López, Daniel Andrés, 2019, Lukács: Praxis and the Absolute , Leiden: Brill.
  • Lotz, Christian, 2020, “Categorial Forms as Intelligibility of Social Objects: Reification and Objectivity in Lukács,” in G.R. Smulewicz-Zucker (ed.), Confronting Reification . Brill, pp. 25–47.
  • Löwy, Michael, 1979, Georg Lukács—From Romanticism to Bolshevism , London: New Left Books.
  • –––, 2011, “Revolutionary Dialectics against ‘Tailism’: Lukács’ Answer to the Criticisms of History and Class Consciousness ,” in Georg Lukács Reconsidered. Critical Essays in Politics, Philosophy and Aesthetics , M. J. Thompson (ed.), London: Continuum, pp. 65–64.
  • Márkus, György, 1983, “Life and the Soul: the Young Lukács and the Problem of Culture,” in Lukács Revalued , á. Heller (ed.), Oxford: Basil Blackwell, pp. 177–190.
  • Marx, Karl, [1867] 1992, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy E. Mandel (ed.), New York: Penguin.
  • Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, 1973, Adventures of the Dialectic , Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
  • Mészáros, István, 1972, Lukács’ Concept of Dialectic , London: Merlin Press.
  • Pike, David, 1988, “The Owl of Minerva: Reappraisals of Georg Lukács, East and West,” German Studies Review , 11(2): 193–225.
  • –––, 1985, Lukács and Brecht , Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • Pitkin, Hannah, 1987, “Rethinking reification,” Theory and Society , 16(2): 263–293.
  • Rockmore, Tom, 2001, “Lukács, Marxist Aesthetics and Truth,” Jahrbuch der Internationalen Georg-Lukács-Gesellschaft , 2001: 139–159.
  • Rose, Gillian, 2009, Hegel Contra Sociology , London: Verso.
  • Schiller, Hans-Ernst, 2011, “Tod und Utopie: Ernst Bloch, Georg Lukács,” in R. Klein, J. Kreuzer, and S. Müller-Doohm (eds.), Adorno-Handbuch: Leben – Werk – Wirkung . Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler, pp. 36–45.
  • Smith, Dorothy E., 1974, “Women’s Perspective as a Radical Critique of Sociology,” Sociological Inquiry , 44(1): 7–13.
  • Stahl, Titus, 2011, “Verdinglichung als Pathologie zweiter Ordnung,” Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie , 59(5): 731–746.
  • –––, 2018, “Lukács and the Frankfurt School,” in The Routledge Companion to the Frankfurt School , P.E. Gordon, E. Hammer, and A. Honneth (eds.), London: Routledge, pp. 237–250.
  • Teixeira, Mariana, 2020, “The Revolutionary Subject in Lukács and Feminist Standpoint Theory: Dilaceration and Emancipatory Interest,” in Confronting Reification , Brill, pp. 227–251.
  • Tertulian, Nicolas, 1988, “Lukács’ Ontology,” in T. Rockmore (ed.), Lukács Today: Essays in Marxist Philosophy , Sovietica, Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, pp. 243–273.
  • Thompson, Michael, 2011, “Ontology and Totality: Reconstructing Lukács’ Concept of Critical Theory,” in Georg Lukács Reconsidered. Critical Essays in Politics, Philosophy and Aesthetics , M. J. Thompson (ed.), London: Continuum, pp. 229–250.
How to cite this entry . Preview the PDF version of this entry at the Friends of the SEP Society . Look up topics and thinkers related to this entry at the Internet Philosophy Ontology Project (InPhO). Enhanced bibliography for this entry at PhilPapers , with links to its database.
  • Internationale Georg Lukács-Gesellschaft ( International Lukács Society , in German).

feminist philosophy, interventions: epistemology and philosophy of science | Fichte, Johann Gottlieb | Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich | Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich: aesthetics | Kant, Immanuel: aesthetics and teleology | Kierkegaard, Søren | Marx, Karl | Weber, Max

Copyright © 2023 by Titus Stahl < titus . stahl @ rug . nl >

Support SEP

Mirror sites.

View this site from another server:

  • Info about mirror sites

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is copyright © 2023 by The Metaphysics Research Lab , Department of Philosophy, Stanford University

Library of Congress Catalog Data: ISSN 1095-5054 no longer supports Internet Explorer.

To browse and the wider internet faster and more securely, please take a few seconds to  upgrade your browser .

Enter the email address you signed up with and we'll email you a reset link.

  • We're Hiring!
  • Help Center

by Mary Caroline McLeod

Although the word &quot;modernism&quot; is commonly used today to refer to twentieth-century modern architecture, its occurrence was rare in the first half of that century. Instead, a variety of terms were used, including Neues Bauen, Nieuwe Bouwen, Architettura Razionale, &quot;Modern Architecture&quot;, and &quot;Modern Movement&quot;, reflecting the values and emphases of its various proponents. This essay gives a brief history of the evolution of the vocabulary employed to describe modern architecture during the 1920s and 1930s, and then proposes several reasons for the shift in vocabulary that began to occur after the rise of postmodern architecture.

  • Access 47 million research papers for free
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest research
  • Share your research and grow your audience
  •   We're Hiring!
  •   Help Center
  • Find new research papers in:
  • Health Sciences
  • Earth Sciences
  • Cognitive Science
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Academia ©2023

Free Related PDFs

YiBing Wang

Histories of the Immediate Present: Inventing Architectural Modernism, 1930-1975

Anthony Vidler

2011, Common Knowledge

Histories of the Immediate Present: Inventing Architectural Modernism

iheb guermazi

An Archeology of Postmoden Architecture: A Reading of Charles Jencks&#39; Work

An Archeology of Postmodern Architecture: A Reading of Charles Jencks' work

Dr. Shyama Ramsamy

An Archeology of Postmoden Architecture: A Reading of Charles Jencks' Work Program Authorized to Offer Degree: Department of Architecture

William Whyte

2009, The Journal of British Studies

The Englishness of English Architecture: Modernism and the Making of a National International Style, 1927–1957

Kai Gutschow

The Culture of Criticism: Adolf Behne and the Development of Modern Architecture in Germany, 1910-1914

Revista Bitácora Urbano Territorial

2008, Bitácora Urbano Territorial

El artículo establece como tesis de partida que a partir de una serie de edificios, textos y exposiciones, se construyó una imagen engañosa de lo moderno en arquitectura, que ha llevado a concebirlo como un Estilo. La temática central del artículo la constituyen tres aspectos: primero, la reconstrucción de esta concepción estilística –cuyos responsables son los herederos de la teoría de la historia del arte de Heinrich Wölffing; segundo, sus problemas teóricos y prácticos, y tercero, una propuesta para sustituirla que, como tesis final, propone entender el modernismo como un Discurso en sí mismo; no como el resultado de un discurso sino como un debate entre concepciones y prácticas formales diversas, bajo el proyecto común de afrontar y responder al fenómeno mismo de la modernidad. La tesis considera, además, que el modernismo en arquitectura continúa siendo una conversación en curso entre la arquitectura y la sociedad, sobre la posibilidad de prever un mundo mejor. El concepto de Discurso se ha tomado de las ciencias sociales, en especial de lo que Jürgen Habermas denomina acción comunicativa; reconociendo, sin embargo, que sin las intuiciones y hallazgos de anteriores investigaciones en arquitectura, no sería posible la concepción de lo moderno arquitectónico como discurso. La idea de modernismo también se ha tomado de otras disciplinas: de la sociología de Emil Durkheim, para la cual modernismo hace parte de la trilogía modernidad-modernización-modernismo; y de la historia del arte, en donde modernismo se asocia con una amplia red de categorías definitorias que incluye diferentes estilos, movimientos, géneros y medios.

Algo de qué hablar. Modernismo, Discurso, Estilo

Dustin Valen

2015, RACAR: Revue D’Art Canadienne / Canadian Art Review

Engagé en 1949 par l’Université McGill pour donner le cours sur l’histoire de l’architecture moderne, l’architecte natif de Montréal Hazen Edward Sise (1906–1974) prôna à ses étudiants et étudiantes les vertus du modernisme et leur décria le retard de l’architecture canadienne. Formé dans l’atelier de Le Corbusier et engagé dans la guerre d’Espagne, son expérience immediate du mouvement moderne et ses opinions politiques influèrent grandement sur son enseignement. Faisant écho à une poignée d’historiens modernes novateurs dont la representation tautologique du passé cherchait à revitaliser l’architecture du xxe siècle, Sise enseigna l’histoire comme une forme d’instruction pratique, ambitionnant ainsi la transformation de l’architecture canadienne au travers de ses futurs praticiens.

Hazen Edward Sise and the History of Modern Architecture at McGill, 1949-1957

Elizabeth Baldwin Gray

2017, Courtauld MA Dissertation

The Bauhaus remains well known today for the ‘machine aesthetic’ its founder, Walter Gropius, promoted following his emigration to the United States. His revisionist history of the Bauhaus has had a profound effect on present-day pedagogy in schools of design, extending from the changes he made while Chairman at Harvard. Seminal architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner defers to Gropius’s story, but also adds his own, arguing that German modernism was inspired by the English Arts and Crafts movement. Without this connection to the English-speaking world, the Bauhaus might never have proved as well-received as it has since then worldwide. Likewise, if Gropius had not moved to the United States and presented the Bauhaus as the origin of the International Style, it might not have had such a long-lasted and pervasive influence on the field of architecture. Over time, however, the legacy of modernism has come in for sustained criticism. The International Style has been charged with cluttering cityscapes with singularly boring buildings the world over. This decline in quality could not be further from the hopes of the Bauhaus, as well as the Deutscher Werkbund which preceded and inspired them. The early Bauhaus began as a Gothic revival, drawing upon the nineteenth-century Romantic architecture of Karl Friedrich Schinkel and the ideas of Gottfried Semper. Craft workshops focused on specific materials and techniques became the basis for a new system of teaching architectural design. By mastering craft, Bauhäusler would develop the skills necessary to participate in the ultimate aim of the Bauhaus: ‘building’, working together on Gesamtkunstwerke such as the Sommerfeld Blockhaus, seen as analogous to Gothic cathedrals. Overlooking this deep history of the Bauhaus has damaged architectural education, reflected in the failings of present-day corporate architecture, athough, some ‘stararchitects’ continue to give due attention to craft. With a fuller and more accurate picture of the history of the Bauhaus, schools of design would be able to help aspiring architects discover and cultivate some of the complexity and sensitivity associated with the architecture of the Schinkelzeit, as well as the Bauhaus.

Medieval Mythos and Modern Histories of the Bauhaus

2013, Journal of the International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art Riha

Nikolaus Pevsner: art history, nation, and exile

Rodrigo Almonacid

2019, Arquitectura, Diseño y Sociedad en la temprana Edad Moderna

ISBN: 978-84-949522-7-2 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ESP. Análisis sobre la importancia del arte y la arquitectura del Renacimiento en la genealogía y crisis del Movimiento Moderno a partir de la obra teórica de 3 autores: Sigfried Giedion, Rudolf Wittkower y Colin Rowe. ENG. Analysis on the relevance of Renaissance Art and Arquitecture in the genealogy and crisis of the Modern Movement upon the theoretical work of 3 authors: Sigfried Giedion, Rudolf Wittkower and Colin Rowe.

CLASICISMO Y MODERNIDAD: LA ARQUITECTURA DE LA EDAD MODERNA EN LA GENEALOGÍA Y CRISIS DEL MOVIMIENTO MODERNO (Classicism and Modernity: The Architecture of the Modern Age in the Genealogy and Crisis of the Modern Movement).

2003, Art Bulletin

Nigel Whiteley, Reyner Banham, Historian of the Immediate Future

2006, Journal of Architectural Education

This study investigates the gradual evolution of the idea of installation in three experimental exhibition pavilions designed before World War I by the German architect Bruno Taut. In collaboration with the critic Adolf Behne, Taut gradually transferred ideas from Expressionist painting to architecture and helped move his designs, and with it modern architecture more generally, from a focus on visual “objects,” to multisensory “experiences,” an idea that continues to resonate in modern installations today.

From Object to Installation in Bruno Taut's Exhibit Pavilions

Macarena de la Vega de León

Paper recommended by the Journal of Art Historiograph: The aim of this essay is to re-open and re-read the content of Emil Kaufmann's Von Ledoux bis Le Corbusier. Even though Panayotis Tournikiotis and Anthony Vidler included it in their discussions of the historiography of modern architecture, this investigation recommends a needed reconsideration of Emil Kaufmann as a pioneer historian of the Age of Reason. Three ideas can be highlighted: first, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux is the main character of Kaufmann's discourse; second, the architecture around 1800 needed a reevaluation; and third, Kaufmann's work takes place in a time of searching for a new science of art and for a new history of architecture. To sum up, it can be concluded that Kaufmann is a transitional figure between a previous generation of art historians who established fundamental concepts and principles; and others of his own generation who embarked on the hard task of considering modern architecture as a subject of historical research.

Reconsidering Emil Kaufmann's Von Ledoux bis Le Corbusier

Joana Brites

“Widening the scope of modernism: is there room for Portuguese fascist architecture?”, em Southern Modernisms. Critical Stances through Regional Appropriations, ed. de Joana Cunha Leal, Maria Helena Maia e Begoña Farre, Porto, CEAA e IHA, 2015, p. 59-71.

Irene Sunwoo

Whose Design? MoMA and Pevsner's Pioneers

2015, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

This article examines architectural critique of housing and style as it unfolded in the East German journal Deutsche Architektur (German architecture) from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s. Through an analysis of articles published in the journal as well as primary source documents, Emily Pugh investigates the reception of newly built housing developments in East Germany by a group of influential socialist architects, historians, and critics who were then writing for Deutsche Architektur. Pugh highlights individual architects’ attempts to subvert or resist the control of state and party authorities and considers how these individuals’ efforts might have influenced the development of the East German building economy. She also argues that these architects’ understanding of architectural modernism differed from that of their counterparts in the Cold War West, having been influenced by political and economic circumstances specific to East Germany.

From "National Style" to "Rationalized Construction": Mass-Produced Housing, Style, and Discourse in the East German Journal Deutsche Architektur, 1956–1964

Beatriz Villanueva


The Manifesto & the Hammer. A Review on How Contemporary Architecture Theories are being built

Irina Davidovici

“ A Partial Synthesis ” : Debates on Architectural Realism

This paper examines and discusses the postmodern historiographical revision of the concept of modernism in architecture. On the one hand, it highlights the deconstruction of the militant meta-narrative of the Modern Movement and the consequent expansion of the boundaries of modern architecture. On the other hand, it shows that remnants of an evaluative scale of modernisms linger on and the ideologically motivated refusal to draw parallels with the contextual architectural approaches found in 20th century dictatorships still endures. Crucial contributions for reframing the architecture of fascisms are underlined and the requirements for its critical historiography are propounded. To test them the architecture of the Portuguese New State – regarded as particularly modernization-resistant – is characterized as modern, thus supporting, in conclusion, a further extension of modernism's scope.

"Is there an Ideologically-Biased Broadening of the Concept of Modern Architecture? Questioning the Limits of Postmodernism's Inclusivism and Testing a Further Expansion", RIHA Journal 0133, 15 July 2016. [revised and extended version of a previous paper]

Martino Stierli

2010, Neo-avant-garde and Postmodern: Postwar Architecture in Britain and Beyond

Taking on Mies: Mimicry and Parody of Modernism in the Architecture of Alison and Peter Smithson and Venturi / Scott Brown

Jindřich Vybíral

The Vienna School of Art History and (Viennese) Modern Architecture. Journal of Art Historiography 1:1, 2009.

Morgan Ridler

The Bauhaus wall painting workshop: Mural painting to wallpapering, art to product

Ljiljana Blagojević

Investigating and Writing Architectural History: Subjects, Methodologies and Frontiers, Papers from the Third EAHN International Meeting, edited by Michaella Rosso, 2014

The paper explores the emergence of architectural postmodernism in Belgrade (Serbia) and its sources, that is to say, the web of different socio-political, artistic and intellectual tributaries to the new architectural outlook. The focus on ‘sources’ terminologically and methodologically relates to the classic formulation of Nikolaus Pevsner’s book The Sources of Modern Architecture and Design from 1968. If, according to Pevsner, printing and clocking-in or, rather, mass communication and mass production sourced the aesthetic production he wrote about, which were the streams that bespoke a river and the basin beyond modern architecture and design, that we want to explore in this particular conference session on postmodernism in late socialism? I will examine several timelines which I argue to be indicative of profound changes that effected the emergence of postmodernism in Belgrade architecture: socio-economic, discursive and aesthetic. The paper will focus specifically on the architectural discourse which culminated in 1980s with a series of translations of key texts by Christian Norberg-Schulz, Robert Venturi and Charles Jencks, and exhibitions and events in Belgrade galleries, such as Group of architects MEČ show at the Student Cultural Centre (1980), and a series of collective exhibitions held at Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art, namely Solar Architecture (1980), Earth Architecture (1981) and Water Architecture (1983). The paper asks how at that time of economic stagnation and socio-political disillusionment, uncertainty about the future and imminent crisis of the socialist system as a whole, the architectural discourse of postmodernism emerged and detached itself from realities of economy, construction, technology and production, and transferred into domain of arts and culture.

Sources of Postmodern Architecture in Late Socialist Belgrade

Marvin Trachtenberg

Extensive critical review of the state of architectural history as practiced in the late 20th century, examining major categories of study including the building monograph, authorship, period survey, urbanism, and theory. Remains relevant as of 2015, as no comparable analysis has been published.

"Some Observations on Recent Architectural History,"  The Art Bulletin, Vol. 70, No. 2 (Jun., 1988), pp. 208-241

Roy Kozlovsky

2019, The Journal of Architecture

Pairing is a technique for historicising and theorising architecture by explicitly comparing two entities, be they architects, buildings or periods. As this mechanism constitutes the object of knowledge by establishing a relationship between two discrete objects, it raises a host of methodological, theoretical and historiographical concerns, among them the criteria for selecting the cases, the concepts by which their differences and similarities are assessed and made meaningful, the interrelation between linguistic and visual media, and finally, the agency of aesthetics in works of architectural scholarship. Le Corbusier serves as the case study for exploring pairing formally, as a rhetorical trope, and contextually, as a discursive intervention within a given field of knowledge. This paper analyses successive comparative ‘events’ performed in the history of architecture by Colin Rowe, Reyner Banham, Stanislaus von Moos, and Beatriz Colomina, to argue for the portability of this form and its discursive function as an alternative, counter-narrative mode of historical inquiry. As a series, the pairings reaffirm Le Corbusier’s position as the central reference point around which the history of modernism revolves. The paper concludes with a discussion of pairing as a medium for incorporating historiographical methods of research into architectural theory and pedagogy.

Pairing Le Corbusier and the affordances of comparisons for architectural history

radu gabriel

Space time architecture

Mirela Duculescu


KEYWORDS: Romanian design; modern design; industrial aesthetics; design education; modernism; industrialization; socialism This paper attempts to trace connections and intersections between the Western notion of modernism and the development of Romanian design in the inter-bellum and the socialist periods in relation to the European and international context. It also rehabilitates the history of Romanian design, suggesting the manner in which a history seen as minor and peripheral is historically and theoretically an integral part of the so-called major, hierarchized, and non-inclusive canonical history of modern industrial design.

Indefinite Faces of Modernism: Notes on Design in Interwar and Socialist Romania

Bill Westfall

Toward the End of Architecture

John Macarthur

2019, Architectural Histories

Das Malerische and the Picturesque: Seeing Architecture in Translation

Atli M Seelow

Since the so-called »type-debate« at the 1914 Werkbund Exhibition in Cologne – on individual versus standardized types – the discussion about turning Function into Form has been an important topic in Architectural Theory. The aim of this contribution is to trace the historic shifts in the relationship between Function and Form: First, how Functional Thinking was turned into an Art Form; second, how Functional Analysis was applied to design and production processes; third, how Architectural Function was used as a social or political argument. A comparison of the different aspects of the relationship between Function and Form may not only shed new light on the creative process in Modern Architecture. Looking at the historic shifts driving this re-evaluation of values – from Art to Science and Politics – may also serve as a stepstone towards a new poetic rethinking of the relationship of Function and Form that contemporary values may require.

Turning Function into Form Historic shifts in Modernist Architects’ creative process

Magali Sarfatti Larson

1995, The British Journal of Sociology

University of California Press Berkeley and Los Angeles, California University of California Press, Ltd. London, England © 1993 by The Regents of the University of California First Paperback Printing 1995 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Larson, Magali Sarfatti. ...

Behind the Postmodern Facade: Architectural Change in Late Twentieth-Century America

Bettina Cetto

2021, Arquitectura moderna en México/Modern Architecture in Mexico

This OA facsimile edition of Max L. Cetto´s classic book Modern Architecture in Mexico/Arquitectura moderna en México—coedited by myself and Cristina López Uribe—is accompanied by a dossier of data and texts by connoisseurs of Cetto’s work: views, analyses and reflections from the field of architecture itself. My text “In Cetto’s Proximity” is more anecdotal, primarily giving me the opportunity to render several testimonies.

Arquitectura moderna en México FA

Vincenzo FONTANA

how architectural history and criticism interacted with projects. A gallery of architect historians and historians who had an influence on architects.

history and architecture

Daniella Ohad

2008, Journal of Interior Design

T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings: Crafting a Modern Home for Postwar America

Simon Sadler


An Avant-Garde Academy

jelena bogdanovic

On the Very Edge: Modernisms and Modernity of Interwar Serbia

Artemis Yagou

"Modernist complexity on a small scale: The Dandanah glass building blocks of 1920 from an object-based research perspective", Deutsches Museum Preprint, no 6, 2013.

egor belash

A forty year encounter with Hans Scharoun Commentary on the submission of a Ph D by publication

Rebeka Vidrih

Nikolaus Pevsner's Pioneers of Modern Movement is considered the foundational text of two new historical fields, the history of modern architecture and the history of design. This contribution, nevertheless, discusses this text in the context of art-historical discipline. Pevsner himself namely understood his work as a complement to Kunstgeschichte: by defining the 'Modern Movement' in established art-historical terms and also by discussing not only architecture but attempting to define the style and the worldview expressed in it for the whole period and all of visual arts. Specifically, this contribution is interested in the place that Pevsner allocated to the design within his art-historical edifice, since inclusion of objects of everyday use within an art-historical study was not (and still is not) usual. For Pevsner, on the contrary, design (linked to architecture) turns out to be a key component of his narrative, even if not for aesthetic but rather for moral or social reasons. Keywords: Nikolaus Pevsner, history of design, history of modern architecture, the Modern Movement, Herbert Read, Alois Riegl.

The Bauhaus Pots and Cups Express the Spirit of the Twentieth Century. Design in Art History and Pevsner's Definition of the Modern Movement, Res Mobilis, 2020, vol. 9, no. 11, pp. 19–31.

History od Architecture and Architects from Renaissance to Modern times, how relationship has changed.

Architecture, history and theory

Lina Stergiou

2017, “Cultural Production in the 20th and 21st Centuries: Art Collectives, Institutions and Culture Industry" special issue, ed. Ana Varas Ibarra and David Murrieta Flores, Re·bus - a journal of art history and theory 2, no.8: 1-34

While not underestimating the ambivalence that the question ‘what is the avant-garde’ still has in the arts and the literary field today, if it is a historic category or an ongoing project, and if so, what defines this project, a respective straightforward inquiry did not yet amply preoccupy the architectural field. Even so, the sixties mark a shift. It is this decade when the term ‘avant-garde’ begins describing buildings, architects and diverse productions of the latter, correlating with the study of the reciprocal relation between architecture and the avant-garde.

1960s, Institution Architecture: Avant-Garde Roots and Function

With the breakthrough of modernism, various efforts were undertaken to rationalize architecture and building processes using industrial principles. Few architects explored these as intensively as Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus. Before World War One, and increasingly in the interwar years, Gropius and a number of colleagues undertook various experiments that manifested in a series of projects, essays, model houses and Siedlungen. These were aimed at conceptually different goals, i.e., they followed two different categories of industrial logic: First, a flexible construction kit and, second, an assembly line serial production. This article traces the genesis of these two concepts and analyses their characteristics using these early manifestations. Compared to existing literature, this article takes into account hitherto neglected primary sources, as well as technological and construction history aspects, allowing for a distinction based not only on theoretical, but also technological and structural characteristics. This article shows that Gropius succeeds in formulating and exploring the two principles, in theory and practice, as well as drawing conclusions by the end of the 1920s. With them, he contributed significantly to the rationalization of architecture, and his principles have been picked up and developed further by numerous architects since then.

The Construction Kit and the Assembly Line—Walter Gropius' Concepts for Rationalizing Architecture

hugues henri

On the question of whether Chicago is linked to the origins of modern architecture, the works cited allow us to provide fairly precise, though contrasting, answers. No author makes Chicago the absolute starting point for modernity in general. Either the rupture is placed earlier; or Chicago's architecture crystallizes trends that appeared earlier; or it is only one phenomenon among others of the emergence of modern architecture. From this point of view, the idea that Chicago would be the place par excellence where modern architecture appeared, the idea that the invention of a radically new architectural structure would be seen there by its effects, this idea is part of the myth constructed a posteriori. In spite of the lack of theoretical consensus, the above-mentioned historians agree that something important happened in Chicago at the end of the 19th century. This is no longer a general historical break, but rather a set of significant breaks within a broader evolution: 1st Economic break, first of all, on which Giedion and Francastel agree. 2nd Technical break: emergence of the great metropolis and its urban problems. 4th Rupture of typology: the skyscraper and vertical architecture. 5th Doctrinal rupture: the bias of structural clarity. 6th Cultural rupture: the anthropomorphic character of Sullivan's architecture. So there are several levels of rupture that converge to make Chicago at this time a typical place of modernity. Chicago the load-bearing steel framework. 3rd Rupture of scale: is, in all probability, one of the origins of American Modernity, insofar as economic, ideological, social and constructive problems characteristic of contemporary America were posed with acuity and largely temporarily resolved. These solutions to the problems essentially concern the invention of an unprecedented typology, namely the tertiary work building and the way in which its relationship with a rapidly expanding city was thought out. The skyscraper as an unprecedented architectural structure inscribes Chicago in the problematic of modernity, whatever the content given to this word.

Architectural modernity in the USA: A retrospective look at the 20th century, by Hugues HENRI

Natalia Vikhreva

REGIONALISM, NATIONALISM & MODERN ARCHITECTURE international conference Conference proceedings October 25-27, 2018 CEAA | Centro de Estudos Arnaldo Araújo Escola Superior Artística do Porto Portugal, Edited by Jorge Cunha Pimentel Alexandra Trevisan Alexandra Cardoso

In 1927, architect Gregory Warchavchik built the first modernist house in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo. The synthesis of local and international, laid down in the works of Warchavchik at the turn of the 20's and 30's, developed into a national version of modernist architecture. The article analyzes the architect’s approach in combining worldwide modernist features and national elements, which appears to be in tune with the ideas of Oswald de Andrade laid out in his Cannibal Manifesto, laying a foundation for the development of brazilianness in architecture. Pp.465-473


Alina Payne

2018, The Italian Renaissance in the 19th Century. Revision, Revival, and Return

Between Renaissance Aesthetics and Medieval Crafts: The Vexed Genesis of Modernist Architecture

Book cover

Jameson and Literature pp 79–113 Cite as

Jameson and the High-Modernist Novel: Absence, Imperialism and Metacommentaries

  • Jarrad Cogle 2  
  • First Online: 02 September 2020

157 Accesses

This chapter provides a detailed account of Jameson’s discussions of high-modernist literature, often found in more obscure essays across his career. The chapter argues that while Jameson’s modernist canon is often limited in certain ways, his work on this literature nevertheless often engages with wider global contexts. The chapter aims to demonstrate that Jameson’s engagement with canonical modernist literature acknowledges a multitude of literary practices and processes of uneven development, while maintaining an underlying narrative of capitalist development for the period. The chapter also considers Jameson’s ongoing reflections on the historical process of canonisation. In particular, the chapter discusses Jameson engagement with an earlier set of debates between Western Marxists such as Theodor W. Adorno and Georg Lukács.

  • Fredric Jameson
  • Postcolonialism

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution .

Buying options

  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
  • Durable hardcover edition

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Donougho, Martin. “Postmodern Jameson.” In Postmodernism/Jameson/Critique , edited by Douglas Kellner, 75–95. Washington DC: Maisonneuve Press, 1989.

Google Scholar  

Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism . Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991.

Wegner, Philip. E. “Periodizing Jameson, or, Notes toward a Cultural Logic of Globalization.” In On Jameson: From Postmodernism to Globalism , edited by Caren Irr and Ian Buchanan, 241–280. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2006.

Wegner, Phillip E. Periodizing Jameson: Dialectics, The University, and the Desire for Narrative . Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2014.

Jameson, Fredric. A Singular Modernity. London: Verso, 2002.

Dunst, Alexander. Review of The Modernist Papers , by Fredric Jameson. Textual Practice 23, no. 1 (2008): 182–185. .

Horne, Haynes. “Jameson’s Strategies of Containment.” In Postmodernism/Jameson/Critique , edited by Douglas Kellner, 268–300. Washington DC: Maisonneuve Press, 1989.

Buchanan, Ian. Fredric Jameson: Live Theory. London: Continuum, 2006.

Jameson, Fredric. Sartre: The Origins of a Style . New York: Columbia University Press, 1984. First published 1961 by Yale University Press.

Jameson, Fredric. Marxism and Form: Twentieth-Century Dialectical Theories of Literature . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971.

Jameson, Fredric. Fables of Aggression: Wyndham Lewis, the Modernist as Fascist . Berkley: University of California Press, 1979.

Jameson, Fredric. The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act . London: Methuen, 1981.

Jameson, Fredric. “On Raymond Chandler.” In The Critical Response to Raymond Chandler , edited by J. Kenneth Van Dover, 65–87. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995.

Jameson, Fredric. “Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism.” Social Text , no. 15 (Autumn 1986): 65–88. .

Lazarus, Neil. “Fredric Jameson on ‘Third-World Literature’: A Qualified Defence.” In Fredric Jameson: A Critical Reader , edited by Sean Homer and Douglas Kellner, 42–61. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Ahmad, Aijaz. “Jameson’s Rhetoric of Otherness and the ‘National Allegory.’” Social Text , no. 17 (Autumn 1987): 3–25. .

Buchanan, Ian. “National Allegory Today: A Return to Jameson.” In On Jameson: From Postmodernism to Globalism , edited by Caren Irr and Ian Buchanan, 173–188. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.

Doyle, Laura, and Laura Winkiel. “Introduction: The Global Horizons of Modernism.” In Geomodernisms: Race, Modernism, Modernity edited by Laura Doyle and Laura Winkiel, 1–16. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.

Friedman, Susan Stanford. Planetary Modernisms: Provocations on Modernity Across Time . New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.

Jameson, Fredric. The Modernist Papers . London: Verso, 2007.

Mepham, John. Virginia Woolf . Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, 1992.

Jameson, Fredric. “Modernism and Imperialism.” A Field Day Pamphlet , no. 14 (1988): 5–24.

Jameson, Fredric. “Modernism and Imperialism.” In Nationalism, Colonialism, and Literature , 43–68. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990.

Jameson, Fredric. The Antinomies of Realism . London: Verso, 2013.

Bennett, Bridget, Rachel Bowlby, Andrew Lawson, Mark Storey, Graham Thompson, and Fredric Jameson. “Roundtable. The Antinomies of Realism .” Journal of American Studies 48, no. 4 (2014): 1069–1086. .

Gartman, David. “Postmodernism; or, The Cultural Logic of Post-Fordism?” The Sociological Quarterly 39, no. 1 (1998): 119–137. Accessed May 24, 2020. .

Jameson, Fredric. The Geopolitical Aesthetic: Cinema and Space in the World System . Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.

Friedman, Susan Stanford. Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.

Berman, Jessica. “Modernism’s Possible Geographies.” In Geomodernisms: Race, Modernism, Modernity, edited by Laura Doyle and Laura Winkiel, 281–296. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.

Boer, Roland. “A Level Playing Field? Metacommentary and Marxism.” In On Jameson: From Postmodernism to Globalism , edited by Caren Irr and Ian Buchanan, 51–70. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.

Gross, David S. “Marxism and Resistance: Fredric Jameson and the Moment of Postmodernism.” In Postmodernism/Jameson/Critique , edited by Douglas Kellner, 96–116. Washington DC: Maisonneuve Press, 1989.

Tally Jr., Robert T. Fredric Jameson: The Project of Dialectical Criticism . London: Pluto Press, 2014.

Jameson, Fredric. The Ideologies of Theory . Vol. 2, The Syntax of History . London: Routledge, 1988.

Irr, Caren, and Ian Buchanan. Introduction to On Jameson: From Postmodernism to Globalism . Edited by Caren Irr and Ian Buchanan, 1–14. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.

Download references

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

Melbourne, Australia

Jarrad Cogle

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2020 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Cite this chapter.

Cogle, J. (2020). Jameson and the High-Modernist Novel: Absence, Imperialism and Metacommentaries. In: Jameson and Literature. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Download citation


Published : 02 September 2020

Publisher Name : Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

Print ISBN : 978-3-030-54823-0

Online ISBN : 978-3-030-54824-7

eBook Packages : Literature, Cultural and Media Studies Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)

Share this chapter

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

  • Find a journal
  • Publish with us


  1. Modernism Essay

    the ideology of modernism essay pdf

  2. Understanding Modernism: Mankind and Jeopardy of Traditions Free Essay

    the ideology of modernism essay pdf

  3. (PDF) The Continued Theoretical Relevance of Modernism for Contemporary Art

    the ideology of modernism essay pdf

  4. (PDF) Modernism, Formalism, and Structuralism

    the ideology of modernism essay pdf

  5. 😊 Ideology of modernism summary. Ideology of Modernism Essay. 2019-01-23

    the ideology of modernism essay pdf


    the ideology of modernism essay pdf


  1. Arthaus

  2. Post Modernism in Literary Theory ||Explained in Urdu/Hindi

  3. Issues of Modernisation

  4. Introduction to Political Ideologies : Contexts, Ideas, and Practices

  5. Marxism: Unveiling the Foundation of Revolutionary Ideology

  6. 51. Civil Rights Attorney David Pivtorak


  1. The Ideolgy of Modernism- Georg Lukacs

    The Ideology of Modernism. Georg Lukacs. 1. Georg Lukacs says that modern literature is anti-realist. There are possibilities for bourgeois realism in modernism. In this essay, Lukacs investigates how and why modern literature is anti-realistic. He condemns this anti realism. 2

  2. (PDF) A Modern Critique of Modernism: Lukács, Greenberg, and Ideology

    Ideology of Modernism," 2 the other by the American art critic and theorist Clement Greenberg, in his very short but influential 1960 essay "Modernist Painting." 3 And to best

  3. The Ideology of Modernism

    It is the view of the world, the ideology or. weltanschauung underlying a writer's work, that counts. And. it is the writer's attempt to reproduce this view of the world. which constitutes his 'intention' and is the fonnative principle. underlying the style of a given piece of writing. Looked at in.

  4. PDF Modernism

    modernism in America. [1] Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society in the late 19th and ...

  5. PDF The Ideology of Modernism in HCI

    The ideology of modernism Over the course of my research career, I have become increasingly convinced that a key to understanding how HCI research approaches the problem of IT design and evaluation is by looking at technical research as an embodiment of an ideology of modernism. By "modernism" I am referring to a broad cultural

  6. PDF Beyond the Cave: Demystifying the Ideology of Modernism

    Demystifying the Ideology of Modernism By Fredric R. Jameson There's a novel by Iris Murdoch in which one of the characters-an el-derly philosophy professor-reminds us of Plato's conclusions, in the ... The following essay was delivered at the Opening General Session of the 1974 Meeting of MMLA. 1 Beyond the Cave. day autonomy of a given form ...


    E&I W.B. Yeats, Essays and Introductions (New York: Collier Books, 1961). ELH English Literary History ... 978--521-12093-7 - Modernism and the Ideology of History: Literature, Politics, and the Past Louise Blakeney Williams Frontmatter More information. Title: 5.5 x 10 Three Lines.p65

  8. PDF Redefining Modernism and Postmodernism

    Modernism and Postmodernism , in Izmir, Turkey, in April 2009. Thereby, this volume brings together scholars from various countries who renegotiate and redefine the interrelated categories of modernism and postmodernism in a series of essays that cover a broad range of cultural issues and artefacts.

  9. Introduction: A History of "Modernism"

    A PDF of this content is also available in through the 'Save PDF' action button. Type Chapter Information The Cambridge History of Modernism, pp. 1 ... him nowhere near the extremity of Marxist critique that Georg Lukács formulated a decade earlier in his polemical essay " The Ideology of Modernism," which presents the word as a ...

  10. Lukács and modern literature

    Lukács and modern literature. ANDREW K. Kennedy. Search for more papers by this author. ANDREW K. Kennedy. Search for more papers by this author ... PDF. Tools. Request permission; Export citation; Add to favorites; Track citation; Share Share. Give access. Share full text access. Share full-text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions ...

  11. Modernism and the Ideology of History

    She also revisits the theory that the Edwardian age was a difficult period of transition to the modern world. Finally, she illuminates the contribution of non-Western culture to the literature and thought of the period. This wide-ranging and inter-disciplinary study is essential reading for literary and cultural historians of the modernist period.

  12. A Handbook of Modernism Studies

    Featuring the latest research findings and exploring the fascinating interplay of modernist authors and intellectual luminaries, from Beckett and Kafka to Derrida and Adorno, this bold new collection of essays gives students a deeper grasp of key texts in modernist literature. Provides a wealth of fresh perspectives on canonical modernist texts, featuring the latest research data Adopts an ...

  13. Georg Lukacs, "The Ideology of Modernism"

    Georg Lukacs, "The Ideology of Modernism" - Stthomas . Georg Lukacs, "The Ideology of Modernism" - Stthomas . SHOW MORE . SHOW LESS . ePAPER READ ... Turn your PDF publications into a flip-book with our unique Google optimized e-Paper software.

  14. Georg [György] Lukács

    Georg (György) Lukács (1885-1971) was a literary theorist and philosopher who is widely viewed as one of the founders of "Western Marxism" and as a forerunner of 20th-century critical theory. Lukács is best known for his Theory of the Novel (1916) and History and Class Consciousness (1923).

  15. The Ideology of Modernism

    The Ideology. of modernism GEORG LUKACS ARAVIND R NAIR, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, DEPT. OF ENGLISH,SH COLLEGE, THEVARA Georg Lukacs - Hungarian Marxist Theoretician 1923 book - 'History and class consciousness. The end of any novel is the restoration of the wholeness of life. Modernist novels have forsaken this end. György Lukács (1885-1971), Hungarian literary critic and political theorist ...

  16. Ideology of modernism

    IDEOLOGY OF MODERNISM. This essay taken from Meaning of Contemporary realism by the Hungarian Marxist literary critic George Lukacs, who is perhaps was one of the premier theorists of socialist realism, is a critique of modernism. ... According to Lukacs, this ideology of modernism manifests itself in multiple ways, first being the static form ...

  17. Essay on Georg Lukacs, "the Ideology of Modernism"

    Essay on Georg Lukacs, "the Ideology of Modernism". The Hungarian Marxist literary critic Georg Lukacs (pronounced GAY-org LOU-cotch) was one of the premier theorists of socialist realism, the only acceptable style of literature in the Soviet Union. In order to champion realism, and specifically an ideologically charged realism, as the only ...

  18. Modernism

    Definition. Some commentators define modernism as a mode of thinking—one or more philosophically defined characteristics, like self-consciousness or self-reference, that run across all the novelties in the arts and the disciplines. More common, especially in the West, are those who see it as a socially progressive trend of thought that affirms the power of human beings to create, improve ...

  19. (PDF) Modernism

    Clement Greenberg gives this definition although for Huyssen and Bürger, concerned with broader political issues, in his oft-quoted essay, Modernist Painting, originally delivered as part of Voice of modernism was distinguished from another cultural tendency: for Bürger, America's Forum Lectures in 1960 and then published the following year ...

  20. PDF On the Ubiquity of Ideology in Modern Societies

    Is, then, ideology ubiquitous in modern times? To assess this possi-bility, it is necessary to confront the assertion that pragmatic debate within an "open" society is devoid of the doctrinaire rigidity associated with ideology. To do so, we must first examine the last criterion criteria presented above, according to which the ideological ...

  21. Jameson and the High-Modernist Novel: Absence, Imperialism and

    Abstract. This chapter provides a detailed account of Jameson's discussions of high-modernist literature, often found in more obscure essays across his career. The chapter argues that while Jameson's modernist canon is often limited in certain ways, his work on this literature nevertheless often engages with wider global contexts.

  22. Ibsen, Theatre, and the Ideology of Modernism

    This brief polemical essay is only a sketch of a longer argument about Ibsen, modernity and, aesthetics. A more developed essay about the same issues will be published as "Ibsen and the Ideology of Modernism," in The Persistence of Form: Culture, History, and the Aesthetic, ed. R. M. Berry et al., Proceedings of the 29th Annual Conference on Literature and Film, Florida State University ...

  23. the ideology of modernism essay pdf

    Beginnings Eugène Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People, 1830, a Romantic work of art The first half of the 19th century for Europe was marked by a number of wars and revolutions, which contributed to an aesthetic "turning away" from the realities of political and social fragmentation, and so facilitated a trend towards Romanticism.... The Ideology of Modernism.

  24. The commander-in-chief of Ukraine's armed forces on how to win the war

    General Valery Zaluzhny is commander-in-chief of Ukraine's armed forces. He has held the position since July 2021. Read a more detailed new essay by General Zaluzhny on this topic. Technology is ...