The University Bookman

 
 

Fall 2011

A Lukacs Symposium

The Editors

We are pleased to present over the course of this week a series of essays focusing on the life and achievement of historian John Lukacs. Lukacs is an historian of wide-ranging penetration and power, with works ranging from European history—including the Hungary that he fled at the end of World War II—to his adopted Philadelphia and the democratic culture of his new country. Perhaps best known for his work on the Second World War, including books such as The Duel, The Hitler of History, and Five Days in London, May 1940, Lukacs strongly defends the Anglo-American components of European civilization. Further, as a philosopher of history, Lukacs has also, in the magisterial Historical Consciousness, challenged the position that history, as a humane discipline, can be likened to a science.

Lukacs confronted the false contrast between objective “fact” and subjective “opinion” when it comes to history. As he wrote in an essay for the American Scholar, history seeks “understanding,” not a version of accuracy derived from an eighteenth-century view of scientific truth. Rather than freeing the historian to conjure “stories” in service to some ideological cause, as the postmodernists might have it, for Lukacs this realization of the participant nature of history—that is, that the historian creates history as well as records it—imposes a moral obligation upon the historian to recognize what he called “the condition of our participation” in examining reality. Lukacs’s insights into the nature of historical knowledge, his distinction between “patriotism” and “nationalism,” his reflections on democracy and the realities of national character all remain crucial to understanding our world.

These pieces cover a broad range of Lukacs’s work, including his abilities as a teacher (Lukacs spent most of his career at Chestnut Hill College in Pennsylvania) and his relationship with diplomat George Kennan, with whom he had a long correspondence, as well as Lukacs as a “biblical” historical thinker and his considerations of America.

Lukacs has long been a contributor to the Bookman, and we highlight two of his pieces here—What Moonlighting Reveals (1961) and The Tolstoy Locomotive on the Berlin Track (1980)—as well as a link to our review of his recent book of memoirs, Last Rites.

Further, our friends at the American Conservative and ISI have devoted significant attention to Lukacs, and ISI has made available three of Lukacs’s own lectures. And the American Scholar has a relevant 2009 essay by Lukacs, “Putting Man Before Descartes. 

Posted: December 19, 2011 in Symposia.

Did you see this one? book cover

The Left Bank in the Vieux Carré
Charles Jeanfreau
Spring 2013

Mere unthinking negative opposition to the current of events, clutching in despair at what we still retain, will not suffice in this age. A conservatism of instinct must be reinforced by a conservatism of thought and imagination.

Russell Kirk

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Bookman Contributors Elsewhere

John Lukacs —the great contemporary historian has pieces in both Chronicles (on being surrounded by books) and First Things (on a displaced pianist).

Joseph Bottom on fraud, American-style.

Andrew Bacevich on the end of endism.

Helen Andrews on the moon landing and the 1970s. Helen (a 2017 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow) wrote one of our most popular pieces, a consideration of the anti-suffragettes.

News

We are pleased to announce the release of The University Bookman on Edmund Burke, now available for Kindle. Collecting 21 reviews, essays, and interviews from the Bookman on the life and thought of Edmund Burke, this book is only $2.99, and purchases support our ongoing work to provide an imaginative defense of the Permanent Things. (3 Mar 2015)

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