GEORG LUKACS, GELEBTES DENKEN. EINE AUTOBIOGRAPHIE IM DIALOG, (ed) Istvan Eorsi, Frankfurt, 1981.
IN 1971, in virtually the last months of his life, the 86-year-old Lukacs drafted the outlines of an autobiographical sketch. Rapidly deteriorating health which prevented him from working with the required energy on the revision of his last theoretical effort, the Ontology of Social Being, also made it impossible for him to develop the sketch into a full-length autobiography. The editor tells us that the scrupulous scholar Lukacs no longer had the strength to consult archives or libraries for material to confirm his memory. Following the advice of his students he recorded in May 1971 a series of conversations in which aspects of the sketch were amplified. Istvan Eorsi who has edited the volume, reports the extraordinary act of will and strength Lukacs summoned in order to complete the inteviews. Since all aspects could not be covered, Eorsi has collated earlier interviews he conducted with Lukacs in order to provide chronological cohernce and readability. This is of course philologically a problematical procedure which moreover strengthens the already large editorial presence and imposes an interpretative filter onto the sketch An editorial preface, the edited conversations and the sketch constitute the volume.
The 40-page sketch with its telegram-style compression oscillates between discursive clarity, crypticness, opaqueness, and reading it one turns to the conversational amplificatians, editorial interpretations and returns to the sketch, fascinated by the scope and complexity of the material provided. It is the same fascination that emanates from Lukacs' books—a fascination that persists in the reader in spite of numerous and necessary differences of opinion.
Excerpts from the sketch were included earlier in an attractive pictorial biography (Budapest 1980, Stuttgart 1981), and there are indications that more material lying in the Lukacs Archive in Budapest will be published soon In particular a projected volume of letters will tell us more about some aspects of his life, specially the great life-crises after his friend Irma Seidler committed suicide in 1911. The sketch and conversations contain forthright opinions on his contemporaries, and one of the coherent sections is a tribute to the role his wife Gertrud Bortstieber-Lukacs pijyed in his life, notably in the decision to join the Hungarian Communist Party.
The title "Gelebtes Denken'9 does not quite 'clkk' in English.