Abstract

A series of meditations on history and criticism, György Lukács's The Soul and the Forms appeared first in Hungarian in 1910 and then in German in 1911—arguably having been translated by the author himself, as a work of mourning. Despite renewed interest in the work, English-language editions have been taken from the German translation and barely consider the Hungarian version. This essay argues that an exemplary skirmish takes place in translation between the Hungarian and the German texts, as Lukács shifts from an Epicurean-Lucretian to a Stoicist view of causality. Not unlike in the early notebooks of Marx, a materialist Lukács can be located in his first collection of essays, despite the fact that it is usually pigeonholed as part of his grand idealist phase. Farkas is particularly interested in how Lukács's self-translation washes over a Romantic concept of irony as Lukács posits the necessity of a mixture of necessity and contingency as the origin of the critic's irony, a move that undermines his own non-totalizing view of irony as a structural principle of the novel in his 1917 work The Theory of the Novel.

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