Saturday, 5 November 2011

György Lukács Library project: assistance sought

György Lukács was a fundamental figure in the development of twentieth- century Marxist philosophy, theory of culture, and literary criticism. His works have inspired radical Marxist thinkers from Ernst Bloch and Walter Benjamin to Agnes Heller and Fredric Jameson. Moreover, his critical and historical writings on the literary realism played a crucial role in European literary politics from the 1930s to the 1960s. He was already a key figure in Central European and German cultural life prior to his turn to Marxism in 1919, a leader in the 1919 Hungarian Commune, a communist organizer, cultural politician, ideologist, and scholar of renown. Subject to a persecutory "Lukács debate" during the Stalinist dictatorship in Hungary in the early 1950s, he participated in the 1956 uprising and, following his arrest and eventual return from Romania, was restricted in Hungary for the remaining decade of his life to conducting his scholarship with a limited circle of students and collaborators, despite his continuing international influence and prestige. Throughout his extraordinary six decades of intellectual, political, and cultural life, Lukács wrote constantly, both in German and Hungarian, in forms ranging from reviews, lectures, and polemics to major essays to full-scale studies, including his monumental late aesthetics and ontology. Although some of Lukács's major works--such as History and Class Consciousness and Theory of the Novel--have been long translated and widely read, other of the major works have never seen translation into English. This is true of a large number of major essays in German as well, and of the Hungarian essays, few have even appeared in German, much less English. There are well over 10,000 pages of Lukács's work that have never appeared in English translation; the already- translated portion is thus only a fraction, which represents at best a partial view of his thought and life work. Lukács's constant correspondence, speaking, and writing as he moved between Budapest, Vienna, Berlin, and Moscow over the course of his adventurous life also means that a substantial amount of his work was disseminated in difficult-to-find periodicals, pamphlets, or books. Nor are even existing English translations easy to access. Many of the earlier translations of Lukács into English from the 1940s to the 1970s remain out of print or mostly out of reach in limited distribution journals.

A project is underway to collect and bring out in English a large amount of previously untranslated writing by Lukács, a "Lukács library," in the Historical Materialism book series at Brill Publishers. The first volume, The Culture of People's Democracy: Hungarian Essays on Literature, Art, and Democratic Transition will appear in 2012, and the translation of the first volume of The Particularity of the Aesthetic has been initiated. Although we are exploring grant and other funding, we presently have no financial backing.

Therefore we are seeking two kinds of assistance:
• Suggestions about how we might obtain funds for the project : Are there cultural institutions, university translation offices, government funded academic research programs or philanphropic institutions which we could tap into, either on our own as project editors or through your assistance and collaboration in the project?
• We would also like to solicit qualified translators who are prepared to donate their efforts to the project. The translations will be from German (the majority), Hungarian (a sizeable minority), and Russian (a limited number) into English. The contribution of translations of individual, shorter works as well as longer texts would be appreciated. All translators will be acknowledged for their contributions.We would particularly like to hear from individual translators or a small group of collaborators who would commit to realizing one of the project volumes of the Lukács Library.

I will be serving as series editor and in many case also editing the individual volumes, providing historical and critical introductions, annotations, and other apparatus. However, if anyone would like to participate in an editorial or co-editorial role as well, I am open to discussing the possibility of editorial collaboration on particular volumes. We are interested in getting several volumes into print at the earliest date possible, to help gain institutional support for the project and to make an impact on current discussions with an influx of previously unavailable Lukács writings. If you are interested in assisting with this project, please get in touch with me. In solidarity,Tyrus
P.S.: If you are attending the Historical Materialism conference in London, following the "For Lukács" session at 12-13:45 on Sunday, November 13, 2011, please join me for lunch afterwards to discuss collaborations and translations for the Lukács Library.
Tyrus Miller
Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate StudiesUniversity of California at Santa Cruz

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