Ever since Baumgarten and Wincke1mann, Germany has been the classical land of

aesthetic thought in Europe. In the 20th century, Marxism itself has repeated the
rule. No other country has produced a tradition of major aesthetic debate to
compare with that which unfolded in German culture from the thirties to the
ffties. The key texts of these great Marxist controversies over literature and art are
now, for the frst time anywhere outside Germany, assembled in a coherent order.
They do not form a conventional collection of separate documents but a
continuous debate between their dramatis personae. In exile before the war, Bloch
and Lukacs polemicized against each other over the nature of expressionism.
Brecht attacked Lukacs for literary formalism. Benjamin disputed over classical
and modem works of art with Brecht. Adorno criticized Benjamin's hermeneutics,
and challenged Brecht's poetics and Lukacs's politics. The multilateral exchanges
which resulted have a variety and eloquence without rivaL Fredric Jame�n,
Professor of French at Yale University and author of Marxism and Form and The
Prison House of Language, sums up their paradoxical lessons for art and criticism
today, in an essay of theoretical conclusion. Aesthetics and Politics will provide a
pole of reference and a source of illumination to students of literature throughout
the English-speaking world.
Ernst Bloch
Aesthetics and Po Ii tics
Georg Lukacs
Bertolt Brecht
Walter Benjamin
Theodor Adorno
Afterword by Fredric Jameson
Verso Translation Editor: Ronald Taylor

Ernst Bloch 'Discussing Expressionism', frst published in Das Wlrt 1938, then in
Erbschaf dieser Zeit, Frankfurt 1962, ©Suhrkamp Verlag; Georg Lukac, 'Realism in
the Balance', frst published in Das Wort 1938, then in Probleme des Realsmus, Neuwied
1971, ©Artisjus; Bertolt Brecht, text of 'Against Georg Lukacs', frst publishe in
Schrien zur Kunst und Literatur, Frankfurt 1967, ©Stefan Brecht, 1967. All rights
reserve through Suhrkamp Verlag; Walter Benjamin 'Conversations with Brecht', frst
published in Versuche fber Brecht, Frankfurt 1966, ©Suhrkamp Verlag - this translation
frst published in Walter Benjamin, Understandng Brecht, London 1973, © NLB;
Theodor Adoro, 'Letters to Walter Benjamin', published in Uber Walter Benjamin,
Frankfurt 1970, ©Suhrkamp Verlag, and Walter Benjamin 'Reply', published in
Briefe II, Frankfurt 1966, ©Suhrkamp - these translations frst published in New Left
Review, September-October 1973, ©New Left Review; Theodor Adorno, 'Reconciliation
under Dures' and 'Engagement', published in Noten zur Literatur II and III, Frankfurt
1961 and 1965, © Suhrkamp Verlag; Fredric Jameson, 'Reflections in Conclusion',
©NLB 1977.
Aesthetics and Politics, frst published 1977
((,)NLB 1977
Verso edition frst published 1980
Verso Editions, 7 Carlisle Street, London W.l.
Printed and bound in Great Britain by
Whitstable Litho Ltd, Whitstable
ISBN 86091 722 3 (paper)
ISBN 902308 38 6 (cloth)
Írr5rnlûlI0n Ì
Erst Bloch
Georg L uk:cs
Írr5rnlûlI0n 1Ì
Bertolt Brecht
Walter Benjamin
Theodor Adorno
Walter Benjamin
Írr5rnlûlI0n ÌÌ
Theodor Adorno
Theodor Adoro
Fredric Jameson
Discussing Expressionism I6
Realism in the Balance ì8
Against Georg Lukac 68
Conversations with Brecht 86
Letters to Walter Benjamin lI0
Reply Il+
Reconciliation under Duress IiI
Commitment l11
Reflections in Conclusion Iº6
Publisher's Note
The texts assemble mthis volume have been selecte for the coherence
of their inter-relationships. Brief presentations are designe to provide
the Anglo-Saxon reader with biographicl and cultural background to
the successive exchanges containe in them. They were prepare by
Rodney Livingstone, Perry Anderson and Francis Mulher. The trans­
lators of the text - Anya Bostock, Stuart Hood, Rodney Livingstone,
Francis McDonagh and Harry Zohn - are credite at the end of them:
Ronald Taylor edited the translations for the volume. Fredric Jameson's
essay forms a contemporary conclusion.
Presentation I
The confict between Ernst Bloch and Gerg Lukac over expressionism
m 1938 forms one of the most revealing episode in moder German
letters. Its resonanc is in part due to the criss-crossing of intellectual
evolution and political destiny between its two protagonists. The main
outline of the career of Lukac are now well-known mthe Anglo-Saxon
world; those of his intimate friend and exact contemporary Bloch less so.
Bor in Ludwigshafen in the Rhineland in 1885, the so of a railway
ofcial, Bloch was educate in Bavaria at Wurzburg and Munich. He
soon displaye polymathic gifts, studying philosophy, physic and music.
He frst met Lukac when m his early twenties, at a soire of Georg
Simmel's m Berlin, and later during a visit to Budapest. However, it
was m the perio of their common residence in Heidelberg, from 1912
to 1914, that the two men were drawn together into an intense philoso
phical partnership. Paradoxically, in view of their later development, it
was Bloch who essentially infuence Lukac towards serious study of
Hegel, while it was Lukac who directe Bloch towards Christian
mysticism, especially the work of Kierkegaard and Dostoievsky.l Russia
on the eve of the revolution held a magnetic interest for the two men,
together with others in Max Weber's circle at Heidelberg at the time.
The onset of the First World War marked their frst divergence: Lukacs
answered the call-up in Hungary, to the incomprehension of Bloc whose
much more radical rejecton of the war took him to Switzerland and a
fonn of revolutionary defetism. However, eve four years later, Lukacs
was still suggesting to Bloch that they collaborate together on an Aesthetic,
with Bloch contributing to it on music. Bloch's frst major work, De
eeist der Utopie (1918), a wild synthesis of religio-apocalyptic and proto­
socialist ideas, containe ardent tribute to his friend.
Se Michael Lowy, Pour Une Sociologic des Inte//ectuels Rivolutionnaires, Paris 1977,
pp. 292-300, for Bloch's erly relationship with Lukac.
After the war, Lukac joined the Hungarian Communist Party, fought
for the Commune, and then worke in exile as a party organizer and
Marxist theorist within the Third International throughout the twenties.
Bloch, by contrast, did not join the KPD in Germany, remaining a
heterodox sympathizer rather than enlisted militant - herald of a revo­
lutionary romanticism that he was never to disavow. Bloch, too, was
much closer to experimental and esoteric literary circles in Weimar
Germany.' The philosophicl trajectory of the two men now increasingly
separated, as Lukac exalted the realism of the later Hegel and Bloch
defended the irrationalist reaction of Schopenhaue to it. The Nazi
seizure of power drove them from Germany. Bloch went to Prague,
Lukacs to Moscow. Their response to the victory of fascism soon proved
to be sharply contrasted in emphasis. Bloch's book Erbschaft dieserlZeit,
publishe in exile in 1934, took the fonn of a kaleidoscopic set of apho­
ristic refections and evocations from the quotidian and cultural life of
Germany in the twenties. It sought to understand the elements of genuine _
protest - however irrational their guise - in the revolt of the German
petty-bourgeoisie that had been captured by fascism. To extricate these
and to win the pauperized petty-bourgeois masse over to the working­
class was, he argued, as important a task for the revolution in Germany
as the conquest of the peasantry had been in Russia. Lukacs, on the other
hand, had from 1931 onwards - at a time of extreme Third Period
sectarianism in the Cominter - been developing literary positions that
anticipate the cultural policie of the Popular Front period. Their main
watchwords were to be: reverence for the classical heritage of the
Enlightenment, rejection of any irrationalist contaminations of it, assimi­
lation of modernist trends in literature to Irrationalism, identifcation of .
irrationalism with fascis. After the installation of the Nazi dictatorship, '
Lukacs's frst major essay was a scathing requisitory of Expressionism
as a phenomenon within German culture, publishe in the journal
Interationale Literatur in January 1934.
In it, he argue that Wilhelmine Germany, increasingly a society of
parasitic rentiers, had been dominated by philosophies (Neo-Kantianism,
Machism, Vitalism) that conjured away the connections between ideology
and economic or politics, preventing any perception or critique of
imperialist society as a whole. Expressionism had been a literary refection
2 He was, for example, a friend of Benjamin, whom he once used as a personal emissary,.
to Luklcs, when the latter was living underground in Vienna. In the later twenties, Bloch
and Benjamin took narcotics together, cross-annotting their impressions ofthe experience-
a typical miniature eddy of the time.
Presentation I 11
of that obfuscation. Its 'creative method' was a search for essences
pursue through stylization and abstraction. While the Expressionists
professed to attain the kerel of reality, they merely gave vent m their
own passions, in a subjectivism that verge on the solipsistic, since words
were use not referentally but only 'expressively'. Politically, the
Expressionists had oppose the War; while in other respect their con­
fusions were a kind of cultural analogue of the political ideology of the
Independent Socialists (USPD). The Expressionists voice a general
hostlity to the bourgeois, but they were unable to locate bourgeois vices
in any particular class. Thus they could discer capitalist symptoms in
workers, and could postulate an 'eternal' confict, beyond mere class
struggle, between bourgeois and non-bourgeois. The latter were seen
as an elite that should rule the nation, an illusion that eventually led to
It was these antithetical interventions by Bloch and Lukacs, imme­
diately after the victory of Nazism, that form the background t the
exchange below. In 1935 the Comintern switched to the Popular Front
strategy. In July, the International Writers Congress for the Defence of
Culture in Paris approved a decision to create a German literary journal
in exile, as a forum for anti-fascist writers and critics. The three formal
editors were intended to refect a representtive spectrum of opinion:
Bertolt Brecht, a Marxist without ofcial party afliation, Willi Bredel
of the KPD, and Leon Feuchtwanger, a bourgeois admirer of the USSR.
The journal was published from Moscow and sinoe none of thee writers
was on the spot for long, their contibution and infueno varie notably.
Feuchtwanger showed the greatest enthusiasm, while Brecht remained
luke-warm, confning his own contributions largely to poems and extracts
from his plays. After staying in Moscow for six months, Bredel left for
the Spanish Civil War. Efective control was thus exercised by Fritz
Erpenbeck, a journalist and actor who had been active in Piscator's
theatre. His views tallie in all essentials with those of Lukacs.
Once controversial, Lukacs's views had meanwhile bee steadily
gaining in infuence and in 1937, some two years after the Seventh
World Congress of the Comintern, a coordinate assault on German
Expressionism was launche in Das Wort. The signal for it was give by
Alfre Kurella -a disciple of Lukics who was later to rise to prominence
in the DDR - with a violent attack on the heritage of Expressionism,
manifestly inspired by Lukacs's long esay thre years before. Kurella's
article provoked a food of replies, only some of which could bpublished.
Among those to appear were contributions by former Expressionists
like Wangenheim, Leschnitzer and most importantly, Herwarth Walden
- who, as the editor of Der Sturm (19W-32) had playe a key role in
publicizing the works of the Expressionists, as well as those of foreign
schools like Cubism. Other essays were written by associate of Brecht.
like Johanne Eisler, and a number of other defenders o modernism,
including Bela Balazs. The most trenchant rejoinder, however, came
from Bloch. Dismissing Kurella, he now directly engage with Lukac as
the sourc of the current polemics against Expressionism. 'It was his
essay which brought Lukacs himself into the fray, with a lengthy reply.
Why did Expressionism excite so intense a debate in the German
emigration? Expressionism as a movement had fourishe from about
1906 to the early twenties. It had been composed of a serie of small
groups complexly inter-related and extending over the visual arts, music
and literature. Die Brucke and Der Blaue Reiter were essentially pre-war
phenomena, though of a number of their artists survived into the thirties.
Most of the leading poets, however, had die during or even before the
war (Heym, Stadler, Trakl, Stramm), or had turned away from Expres­
sionism (Werfel, Benn, Doblin). Its last major achievement were the
retrospective anthology of poems, Menschheitsdimmerun (1920) and
the plays of Toller and Kaiser. If the normal defnitions are slightly
extended, Expressionis may lay claim to Karl Kraus's Th Last Days
ofMankind and the early works of Bertolt Brecht. A number of factors
determine the demise of the movement. Among them was the War,
which the Expressionists had at frst prophesie and then opposed, and
whose end rendered them superfuous. A profound disillusionment fol­
lowe when their League of Nations dream of a new mankind was
exploded. Expressionism was also upstage by more 'radical' movements
like Dada and Surrealism, while in Germany the anti-revolutonar mood
and cynical 'realism' of Neo-Objectivity (Neu Sachlichkeit) made their
idealis look naively theatical. Finally, the Naz take-ove drove the
survivors int silence, exile or imprisonment Yet, although it had
petered out in such failure, Expressionism had memorably and indis­
putably represente the frst German version o modem art. The
argument between Bloch and Lukac and their respective allie over
it fate were thus essentially a contest' over the historical meaning of
modernism in general. Bloch's ple for Expressionism starte with an
efectve counter-attack against Lukacs's remoteness from the actual
productions of the movement, especially in the feld of painting, where the
most durable achievements of Expressionism (Marc had long been
Presentation I 13
admired by Bloch)' and the most persistent weakness of Lukicsian
aesthetics coincided. Bloch went on to reafnn the legitimacy of Expres­
sionism, ideologically as a protest against the imperialist war and
artistically as a response to the crise of a transitional epoch, when the
cultural universe of the bourgeoisie was disintegrating, while that of the
revolutionary proletariat was still inchoate. Finally, Bloch sought to
acquit Expressionism of the recurrent charges of elitism and cultural
nihilism, by stressing its latent humanism and the interest shown by its
exponents in popular, traditional forms of art and decoration. Lukacs
remaine unmoved. In answer to Bloch's refections on the fragmentry
character of contemporary social experience, he insisted that capitalism
forme a unitary whole, and most visibly at precisely those moment of
crisis that prompte Bloch to speak of fragmentation. The characteristic
subjectivism of Expressionist art was a denial of this cardinal truth and
a repudiation of the objective of all valid art, the faithful refecton of
the real. Furthermore, he argued, 'popularity' in art implie much more
than the idiosyncratic enthusiasms of the Expressionists. Authentically
popular art was distinguished by its afrmation of the most progressive
experience of the nation, and by it close tie with realism, an aesthetic
form that was truly accessible to 'the people'.
Few will dissent from Bloch's comments on his adversary's critical
methods. Lukacs's normal procedure was to construct an ideal type of .
what he took to be the ideological substrate of the works in question;
these were then judged collectively, in the light of his own politico-
ideological positions. The results of this were often grave confations
and reductions, and sometimes, when he did venture to analyse individual
works, sheer blindness - as Adorno, unconstraine by feelings of friend-
ship as Bloch may well have been, later showed. This diference of
procedure was not simply technicl. For Lukacs, literary history com-
posed an ordered and univocal past whose meaning and value were fxed
by the wider history that determined it; the tradition handed down to the
present by the 'progressive' epochs of the past was a set of compelling
norms, a mortmain that literary legatees must honour on pain of disin­
heritance. For Bloch, on the other hand, this history was the Erbe, a
reservoir in which nothing was ever simply or defnitively 'past', less a
´Bloch was later to recount that h had confde his enthusiasm for the Blaue Reiter
exhibition of 1916 to Lukacs, who replied that it resembled the outpourings of a 'nerve­
wracked gypsy'.
system of precepts than a sum of possibilities. Thus, no work was simply
replaceable by another, by virtue of its ideological exchange-value, or
wholly to b discounted because of its divergence from this or that
aesthetic canon. The appropriate focus of a criticism so motivate was
the individual art-work, the notorious blind spot of Lukacsian criticism.
At the same time, however, it should be said that Lukacs's procedure
was also part of the greter coherence and ambition of his work, which
produced, as no other contemporaneous oeuvre did, the elements of a
systematic history of prose narrative and a sustaine account Qf the
relations between ideology and literary fann - his Historical Novel,
written around the same time as the rejoinder to Bloch, is perhaps the
strongest example.
The pivotal issue of the exchange - the relatonship between Expres­
sionist art and social reality - is not easily arbitrated. Bloch's defence of
Expressionism avoided direct confrontation with the aesthetic premisses
of Lukacs's attack. Circumventing his opponent's assumption that the
,{ proper function of art was to portray objective relity, m organic and
concrete works from which all heterogeneous material, and especially
conceptual statement, was excluded, Bloch chose instead to insist on the
historical authenticity of the experience that underlay Expressionism.
It was thus left open to Lukacs simply to remind him that the subjective
impression of fragmentation was theoretcally groundless, and t con­
clude that Expressionism, as an art that typically misrepresented the
real nature of the social whole, was invalid. The efect of Bloch's demarche
was to distract Lukacs's attention, and his own, from one of the most
crucial issues in the exchange between them. Driven by the 'impres­
sionistic' character of Bloch's defence to emphasize the unit of the
social whole, Lukacs faile to register its essental point: that this unity
was irreducibly contradictory. In this way, an opportunity to debate the
problems of the artistic presentation of contradiction - the absent
context of Bloch's remarks on montage, and a stubborn crux in Lukacs's
realist aesthetic - was missed.
(' The explicit politico-cultural context of the exchange was the Popular
Front. It may be said, indeed, that it represente one of the high points
of popular-frontist cultural debate in that period. But it should also be
noted that both essays are weakest at precisely that point. If Lukac was
right to point out that Bloch's catalogue of Expressionism's popular
interests and debts was quite arbitrary, and that modernism m general
was objectively elitist and thus estrange from 'the people' in every
practical sense, it seems no less clear that his own invocations of national
Presentation I 1 S
popular traditions, especially those of Germany, were at best straine and
at worst vapid. The problems of defning a 'popular' literary practice
were not necessarily entirely intractable, as the example oBrecht was
to show. However, fnal judgment of the rival these of Bloch and Lukacs
in the matter should probably be referred to a wider enquiry into the
cultural and political limits of popular frontism itself.' In that perspective,
the role of the two men in the perio would probably be revealed in
yet another light. For, despite the lamentable conclusion of Lukacs's
essay - so far below the level of his main argument, and so symptomatic
of the administrative tone of ofcial culture within the Cominter during
the Popular Front - it would be a mistake to assume that Bloch was
freer than Lukacs from the worst deformation of the time. In fact, it was
Bloch m Czechoslovakia who volunteered fulsome afdavit for the
Moscow trials, complete with the ofcial tale of Nazi-Japanese plots
m the Bolshevik Party, at the very same time that he was resisting the
campaign against Expressionism;5 while Lukacs in the USSR, un­
deceived, avoided the subject wherever he could -compromising himself
far less seriously. The real history of the epoch afords no comfort to
facile retrospective alignments, in either aesthetics or politics.
` For a pioneering study of this sort, see Franc Fortini, 'The Writers' Mandate and the
End of Anti-Fascism', Screen 15, 1 (Spring 1974), pp. 33-70.
¯ See in particular the article 'Kritik einer Prozesskritik' and 'Buchain Schlusswort',
now coilected in Vom
Hasard zur Katastrophe. Politische AuJitze aus der Jahren 19341939,
Frankfurt 1972.
Ernst Bloch
Discussing Expressionism
It is excellent that people should be starting to argue about this again.
Not so long ago such a thing seemed unthinkable; the Blue Rider' was
dead. Now we hear voice invoking it memory once more, and not only
with reverence. It is almost more important that there are people who can
get so worked up over a movement long sinc past, as if it still existed
and were standing in their way. Expressionism assuredly doe not belong
to the present; yet can it b that it still shows signs of life?
Ziegler has represented it as at most a haunting memory in the minds
of a few elderly people. Such people were onc fushed with the zeal of
youth; now they declare their allegiance to the classical heritage, but still
sufer from the after-eff ects of their earlier beliefs. Benn - a particularly
striking exponent of Expressionism - ended up in Fascism. Ziegler
observes his evolution and concludes: 'Such a development was inevit­
able. The other Expressionists were simply too illogicl to arrive at the
same goal. Today we can clearly see what sort of a phenomenon Expres­
sionism was and where it leads, if followed to it logicl end; it leads to
The irritation recently provoke by the Expressionists is thus not
simply private; it also has a cultural-political aspect, an anti-Fascist
dimension. The Dawn ofMankind' turned out to be one of the pre-
' Der blaue Reiter, founded in Munich in 1911, was the second important school of Gennan
Expressionist painting, after Di Bricke. It outstanding members were Wassily Kandinsky,
Franz Marc and August Macke.
"Bernhard Ziegler was the pseudonym of Alfre Kurella, whose article 'Nun ist dies
Erbe zuende . . .' had been published in Das Wort, 1937, vol. 9.
´Mensckkeitsdimmerung, edited by Kurt Pinthus and publishe i 1920, was the mot
infuential anthology of Expressionist lyric poetry, containing sample of the work of Trakl,
Benn, Werfel, Becher, Lasker-Schier, Heym and Stadler. The Dammerun i the title was
ambiguous, suggesting at onc the twilight ofthe human race that had failed i the World
War and the birth of a new, redemptive mankind.
Bloch against Lukacs 17
conditions of Hitler. Unfortunately for Ziegler, just a few weeks before
his research into the antecedents of Fascism was published, Hitler
letely failed to recognize them m his Munich speech and at the
exhibition there.' Indeed, seldom has the absurdity of a false deduction,
a hurried negative judgement been so swiftly and so strikingly demon­
But was the absurdity demonstrated absolutely, in such a way to
persuade us today? To concur with Hitler in his denunciation of Ex pres­
sionism must have been a shock to Ziegler, for such a coincidence of
views would be lethal t any man. Yet the charlatan in Munich might
have had his reasons (though what it is hard to see) for covering the tracks
of Fascism. So if we are to get to the heart of the matter, we should not
focus on Ziegler's chronological misfortune, or even on his article itself,
but instead direct our attention to the prelude to the whole discussion
cited by Leschnitzer m his earlier contribution to the discussion of
Expressionist lyrics. We refer to Lukacs's essay Th Greatness and the
Decline of Expressionism, published four years ago in Internationale
Literatur. It is that essay which furnishes the conceptual framework for
the latest funeral oration on Expressionism. In what follows we shall
concentrate our attention on it, since Lukacs supplie the intellectual
foundations of both Ziegler's and Leschnitzer's contributions. In his
conclusions, Lukacs was indeed signifcantly more circumspect than
they; he insisted that the conscious tendencie of Expressionis were
not Fascist, and that in the fnal analysis, Expressionism 'could only
become a minor component of the Fascist "syntheis"'. But in his
summing-up he also observed that 'the Fascists were not without
justifcation in discerning m Expressionism a heritage they could use'.
Goebbels had found the 'seeds of some sound ides" here, for 'as the
literary mode corresponding to fully-develope imperialism (1), Expres­
sionism is grounded in an irrationalist mythology. Its creative style
tends towards that of an emotive, rhetorical, vacuous manifesto, a
declamatory pseudo-activism. . .. What the Expressionists intended
was undoubtedly the very opposite of atavistic. But since they were
unable to free themselve intellectually from an imperialist parasitism,
and since they colluded m the ideological decay of the imperialist
bourgeoisie without off ering either criticism or reistance, acting indeed
` In June 1937, the Nazis organize an Exhibition of Degenerate Art i Munich, in which
leading modernist works, plundered fromthe museums of Germany, were ridiculed.
¯ In 1933 Goebbels had said: 'Expressionis contained the seeds of some sound ideas,
for there W something Expressionistic about the whole age.'
on occasÍonasÍts\anguard,thcìrcrcatÍ\c mcthodcouldwÍthoutdÍstor-
whÍch Ís thc dcmagogy oI ¡ascÍsm`. ¡t can ÍmmcdÍatcly bc sccn that th
\Ícw that LxþrcssÍonÍsm and ¡ascÍsm arc cast Ín thc samc mould ha°
íts ultímatc sourcc hcrc. ¯hc antÍthcsÍs oI LxþrcssÍonÍsm \crsus - lct
us say- thc LlassÍml McrÍtagc, Ís ¡ust as rÍgÍd Ín 1ukacs as Ín ZÍcglcr.
Mowc\cr, m 1ukacs Ít acguÍrca conccþtual IoundatÍonand Ís not ¡ust
a mattcr oI þurþlc-þatch ¡ournalÍsm.
Mowc\cr, ob¡cctÍ\cly thc antÍthcsÍs Ís not so rcadÍÌy dcmonstrabÌc,
Anyonc whoactualÌy Ìooksat1ukacs's cssay (a þroccdurc hÍghly to bc
rccommcndcd: thc orÍgÍnal Ís always thc most ÍnstructÍ\c), wÍll notÍcc
at thc \cryoutsctthat nowhcrc Ís thcrc anymcntÍonoI a sÍnglcLxþrcs-
síonístþaíntcr. Narc,Þlcc,Þokoschka,Poldc,Þandínsky,Lrosz,Líx¸
Lhagall sÍmþly do not hgurc at all- to say nothÍng oImusÍcaÌ þarallcls,¸
such as thc contcmþorary works oI bchonbcrg. ¯hís Ís all thc morc`
surþrÍsÍng Ín that thc lÍnks bctwccn þaÍntÍng and ÌÍtcraturc at that tÍmc
wcrc cxtrcmclyclosc, and thc þaÍntÍngsoILxþrcssÍonÍsmwcrc Iar morc
charactcrÍstÍc oI thc mo\cmcnt than Íts lÍtcraturc. KcIcrcncc to thc
þaÍntcrs,morco\cr,wouldha\c had thcaddÍtÍonaÌ ad\antagc oI makíng
Ít hardcr to dÍsmÍss LxþrcssÍonÍsm so catcgorÍcally, Ior somc oI thcÍr
þÍcturcs ha\c a lastÍng Ímþortancc and grcatncss. Uut c\cn thc lÍtcrary
works ha\c not rcccÍ\cd thcattcntÍon thcy mcrÍt, cÍthcrgualÍtatÍ\clyor
guantÍtatÍ\cly - thcÍr crÍtÍcs bcÍng contcnt to makc do wÍth a \cry
lÍmÍtcd and hÍghÌy untyþÍcaÌ'sclcctÍon'. ¯rakl,Mcym andLlsc 1askcr-
bchí|lcr arc totally abscntj VcrIcl`s carly work Ís only mcntÍoncd
bccauschcwrotcaIcwþacÍhst\crscs, thcsamcÍstrucoILhrcnstcÍnand
Mascnclc\cr. ¯hccarly andoItcnÍmþortant þocms oI}ohannc Ucchcr
mcrcly attract thc commcnt that thc author 'gradually succccdo Ín
dÍscardÍng' thcLxþrcssÍonÍstmanncr,whÍlcguotatÍons Irom þoctastcrs
lÍkc1udwÍgKubÍncr abound, agaÍn only Ior thc þurþoscoI rcÍnIorcÍng
thc chargc oI abstract þacÍhsm. oÍgnÍhcantÌy, a guotatÍon Irom Kcnc
bchÍckclc Ís aÌso Íntroduccd Ín thÍs contcxt, c\cn though bchÍckcÌc was
nc\cr an LxþrcssÍonÍst but ¡ust an abstract þacÍhst(lÍkc many worthy
mcnandþocts,McrmannMcsscandbtcIan ZwcÍgamong thcm).
Vhat matcrÍal doc 1ukaO thcn usc to cxþound hÍs \Ícw oI thc
Lxþrcssíonísts? Mc ækcs þrcIaccs or þos0crÍþts to anthologícs, 'ÍnUo-
ductÍons` by¡Ínthus, ncwsþaþcr artÍclcs by1conhard, KubÍncr,MÍllcr,
and othcr Ítcms oI thc samc sort. bo hc docs not gct to thc corc oI thc
mattcr, thc ÍmagÍnatÍ\c works whÍch makc a concrctc ÍmþrcssÍon Ín
Bloch against Lukacs 19
sclI. MÍs matcrÍal Ís sccond-hand Irom thc outsct, Ít Ís ÌÍtcraturc on
LxþrcssÍonÍsm, whÍch hc thæ þrocccds to usc as a basÍs Ior lÍtcrary,
ctÍcal and crÍtÍcal ¡udgcmcnts. Po doubt 1ukacs`s þurþosc Ís to
cxþlorc 'thcsocÍal basc oI thc mo\cmcnt and thc ÍdcologÍcalþrcmÍsscs
arÍsÍng Irom that basc'. Uut Ít thcrcby suñcrs Irom thc mcthodologÍcal
lÍmÍtatÍon thatuþroducconlyaconccþtoIconccþts,ancssayon cssays
andc\cn lcsscr þÍcccs. Mcncc thc aÌmost cxclusÍ\c crÍtÍcÍsm mcrcly oI
LxþrcssÍonÍst tcndcncÍc and þrogrammcs, chÍcüy thosc IormuÌatcd, ÍI
not IoÍstcd onthc mo\cmcnt, by Ítsowncommcntators.
¡n thÍsconncctÍon 1ukacs makc many accuratc and subtlc obscr\a-
tÍons. Mc draws attcntÍon to thc 'abstract þacÍhsm`, thcUohcmÍan con-
ccþt oI 'thc bourgcoÍs`, thc 'cscaþÍst gualÍty`, Índccd thc 'ÍdcoÍogy oI
cscaþísm´ ín LxþrcssÍonísm. AgaÍn, hc unco\crs thc mcrcly sub¡cctí\c
naturc oI thc LxþrcssÍonÍst rc\olt, as wcll as thc abstract mystÍhcatÍon
ÍmþlÍcÍtÍnÍ0attcmþtto rc\mlthc'csscncc`oI ob¡cctsbydcþÍctÍngthcm
ÍnthcLxþrcssÍonÍstmanncr. Uutc\cnonthÍs gucstÍonoIthcsub¡cctÍ\c
naturc oI thc LxþrcssÍonÍst rc\olt, hc docs not rcally do thcsc þocts
¡ustÍcc,mbcratÍngthcm-onthcc\ÍdcnccoI¡rcIacc- Ior thcÍr'þrctcn-
tÍous showÍncss`, thcÍr 'tÍnny monumcntaÌÍty`. ¯hc samc can b saÍd oI
oI thc þctty-bourgcoÍs caught uþ Ín thc whccÍs oI caþÍtalÍsm', or 'thc
Ímþotcnt þrotcst oI thc þctty-bourgcoÍsagaÍnst thc kÍcks and blows oI
hadnoothcrmcssagcto þroclaìm durÍngthcLrcatVar thanþcaccand
thccndoItyranny,thìswouldnotcntÍtlc1ukaOt dÍsmÍssthcÍrstrugglcs
as shadow-boxÍngortodcscrÍbcthcmas nomorcthan'aþscudo-crÍtÍml,
mÍsÍcadÍnglyabstract,mythÍcÍzÍngIormoIimperialist þscudo-oþþosÍtÍon'
¡tÍs tructhatafter thc VarVcrIclandothcrsoIhìskÍndtransIormcd
thcÍr abstractþacÍhsmÍntoa toy trumþct, Ín thc contcxtoI rc\olutÍon,
thc slogan oI 'non-\Íolcncc' bccamc a þalþably countcr-rc\olutÍonary
maxÍm. Uut thÍs doc not Ín\aÌÍdatc thc IundamcntaÌly rc\olutÍonary
aractcroIthatsloganduring the War itself þrÍortothcþoÍntwhcrcthc
Var mÍghtha\c dc\cloþcd ÍntoacÍ\Íl war,andÍtwas undcrstoO þrc-
cÍsclyÍnthÍswaybythcþolÍtÍcÍanswhowcrcÍntcnt on hghtÍngonto thc
bÍttcr cnd. Norco\cr, thcrc was no Ìack oI LxþrcssÍonÍsts þrcþarcd to
mc out Ín Ia\our oI '\Írtuc Ín arms´, LhrÍst`s scourgc drÍ\Íng thc
moncy-changcrs Irom thc ¯cmþlc. ¯hcsc ÍdcaÍs oI brothcrly lo\c wcrc
not as naÍ\c as all that. ¡ndccd thc asscrtÍon that LxþrcssÍonÍsm nc\cr

and that its 'apologetic critique' ultimately furthered imperialism, is no
merely one-sided and distorted: it is so warped that it provides a textboo '
example of that schematic brand of sociologism which Lukac himsel
has always opposed. But as we have remarked, none of this even touche
the actual creative works of Expressionism, which alone are of interes
to us. It belongs essentially to the Ziel-Jahrbuch6 and similar diatribes
now justifiably forgotten (even though under the leadership of Heinric '.
Mann there were at least no imperialist war cries). But there is surel
no need to labour the point that in the emotional outbursts of the a'
of the period, with their semi-archaic, semi-utopian hypostases, whic
remain today as enigmatic as they were then, there is to be found fa
more than the 'USPD ideology" to which Lukac would like to reduce
Expressionism. No doubt these emotional outbursts were eve mor
dubious than enigmatic when they had no object outside themselves.
But to describe them as the expression of 'the forlor perplexity of th
petty-bourgeois' is scarcely adequate. Their substance was diferent; i
was composed partly of archaic images, but partly to of revolutionary,
fantasies which were critical and often quite specifc. Anyone who ha '
ears to hear could hardly have missed the revolutionary element their
cries contained, even if it was undisciplined and uncontolled, an
'dissipated' a considerable amount of the 'classical heritage' - or wha
was then more accurately 'classical lumber' . Permanent Neo-classicism,
or the conviction that anything produced since Homer and Goethe is
not worth considering unless it is produce in their image or as an
abstraction from them, is no vantage-point from which to keep one's eye
on the last avant-garde movement but one, or to pass judgement on it.
Given such an attitude, what recent artistic experiment Can possibly
avoid being censured? They must all be summarily condemned as aspects
of the decay of capitalism -not just in part, which might not be unreason­
able, but wholesale, one hundred per cent. The result is that there can
be no such thing as an avant-garde within late capitalist society; antici-i
patory movements in the superstructure are disqualifed from possessing ¸
any truth. That is the logic of an approach which paint everything in!
6 Edited by Kurt Hiller, the Ziel-Jahrbucher appeared from 191520 (though they were ,
banned in 1916 because of their pacifst opinions). They wer the vehicle of Hiller's own
utopian activism which sought to establish the hegemony of 3 intellectual aristocracy.
' The USPD (Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany) was forme as a
scission fromthe SPD (Social Democratic Party) in 1916, i prote against the pursuit of
th War. From 1919 to 1920, it occupied a position between the Social-Democratic and
Communist Partie. In 1920, its Party Congress voted to merge with the latter, but in
practic most of its leaders and many of its members reverted to the former.
Bloch against Lukacs 21
k and white -one hardly likely to do justice to reality, indeed even to
wer the needs of propaganda. Almost all forms 0 OppoSItion to t e
class which are not communist from the outse are lumped
:gether with the ruling class itself This hold


o even when, asLukacs
illogically concede in the case of ExpresslOmsm, t�e OpposltlOn was
ctively well-intentioned and its adherents felt, pamte and wrote as
dversaries of the Fascism that was t come. In the age of the Popular
Front to cling to such a black-and-whit approach seems less approprIate
than �ver; it is mechanical, not dialectical. All these recriminations and
condemnations have their SOUrce in the ide that ever sinc the philo­
sophical line that descends from Hegel throug Feuerbach to Ma

came to an end, the bourgeoisie has nothing more t teac us, except 10
technology and perhaps the natural sciences; everything else is at best
of 'sociological' interest. It is this conception which convict such a
singular and unprecedented phenomenon as Expressionism of being
pseudo-revolutionary from the very beginning. It allows, �ndeed �orc�,
the Expressionists to fgure as forerunners of the NaZIS. StreIcher s
family-tree now fnds itself improbably and utterly confsingly upgraded.
Ziegler indeed fashions a crescendo out of name which are worlds
apart - separating them only by commas, and listing the in sequence
as brothers, mthe same 'carping' fellowship: 'Bachofen, Rhode, Burck­
hardt, Nietzsche, Chamberlain, Baumler, Rosenberg.' On the same
grounds, Lukac even doubt whether Cezanne is of any substance as a
painter, and talks of the great Impressionists in toto (not Just of the
Expressionists) as he speaks of the dechne of the West. In hIS essay
nothing is left of them but a 'vacuity of content ... which manifests itself
artistically in the accumulation of insubstantial, merely subjectively
signifcnt surface details'.
By contrast, the Neoclassicist emerge as true giants. Theirs alone is
the heritage. For Ziegler this include even Winckelmann's conception
of antiquity, with its noble simplicity and serene grandeur, the culture
of a bourgeoisie which had not yet disintegrated, the world of a century
ago and more. In the face of such a simplifcation we need to remind
. ourselves that the age of Neo-classiciSlll witnessed the rise not only of
the German bourgeisie but also of the Holy Alliance; that the Neo­
classical columns and the 'austere' manorial style take account of this
reaction; that Winckelmann's Antiquity itself is by no means without
feudal passivity. True enough, the laudatores temporis acta do not confne
themselves to Homer and Goethe. Lukacs holds Balzac in the highest
esteem, makes a case for Heine as a poet of national stature, and is on
i I
occasÍonso outoI touchwÍthLlassÍcÍsmthatÍn hÍscssayonMcÍnchc can
dcscrÍbc NörÍkc, who has always bccn rcgardcd by lo\crs oI carlÍcr
þoctryas onc oI thc most authcntÍc oI Lcrman lyrÍcÍsts, as a 'charmÍng
noncntÍty`. UutÍn gcncral, thcLlassÍcalÍs sccnas hcalthy, thcKomantÍc
as sÍck, and LXþrcssÍonÍsm as sÍckcst oI all, and thÍs Ís not sÍmþly by
contrast wÍth thc undÍlutcd ob¡cctÍ\c rcalÍsm whÍch charactcrÍzcd
¯hÍs Ísnot thc occasÍon Iora dctaÍlcddÍscussÍon oIanÍssuc so crucÍal
that onlythc most thoroughanalysÍs can do Ít ¡ustÍcc: Ior Ít Ín\ol\c all
thc þroblcms oI thc dÍalcctÍcal-matcrÍalÍst thcory oI rcBcctÍon (Abbild­
lehre). ¡ wÍll makc only onc þoÍnt. 1ukaO's thought takc Ior grantcd a
closcd andÍntcgratcdrcalÍty that doc ÍndccdcXcludc thc sub¡cctÍ\ÍtyoI
ÍdcalÍsm, but notthc scamlcss'totalÍty' whÍch has always thrÍ\cn bcst Ín

'f' sucha totalÍtyÍnIact constÍtutc rcalÍty, Ís oþcnto gucstÍon. ¡I Ít docs,
thcn LXþrcssÍonÍst cXþcrÍmcntswÍth dÍsruþtÍ\c and ÍntcrþolatÍ\c tcch-
nÍgucarcbutancmþtyjeu d'esprit, as arc thc morc rcccnt cXþcrÍmcnts
wÍth montagc and othcr dc\Ícc oI dÍscontÍnuÍty. Uut what u1ukacs`s
rcalÍty- acohcrcnt,ÍnhnÍtcly mcdÍato totalÍty~ Ísnotsoob¡cOtÍ\caItcr
' all:VhatÍIhÍsconccþtÍonoIrcalÍtyhasIaÍlcdtolÍbcratcÍtsclIcomþlctcly
Irom LlassÍcal systcms? Vhat ÍI authcntÍc rcalÍtyÍs also dÍscontÍnuÍty?
bÍncc 1ukaOoþcratc wÍth a closcd, ob¡cctÍ\ÍstÍc conccþIÍon oI rcalÍty,
whcn hc comcs to cXamÍnc LXþrcssÍonÍsm hc rcsolutcly rc¡ccts any
oI caþÍtalÍsm. Any artwhÍch strÍ\cto cXþloÍtthcreal hssurcmsurIacc
Íntcr-rclatÍons and to dÍsco\cr thc ncw Ín thcÍr crc\Íccs, aþþcars Ín hÍs
<_: Ín dcmolÍtÍon wÍtha condÍtÍon oI dccadcncc.
At thÍs þoÍnt, c\cn hÍs ÍngcnuÍty hnally hags. ¡t Ís undoubtcdly thc
oI latc bourgcoÍs cÍ\ÍlÍzatÍon. 1ukacs rcscnU thcÍr 'collusÍon Ín thc
ÍdcologÍOl dccay oI thcÍmþcrÍalÍst bourgcoÍsÍc, wÍthout ohcrÍngcÍthcr
OrÍtÍcÍsm or rcsÍstancc, actÍng Índccd on ocOsÍon as Íts \anguard'. Uut
Ínthchrst þlaccthcrcÍs\crylÍttlctruth ÍnthccrudcÍdcaoI 'collusÍon`,
1ukacs hÍmsclt acknowlcdgc that LXþrcssÍonÍsm 'was ÍdcologÍcally a
not ÍnsÍgnÍhcant comþoncnt oI thc antÍ-war mo\cmcnt`. bccondly, so
Iaras 'collusÍon'ÍnanactÍ\cscnscgocs,thcactuaÌ IurthcranOoIcultural
dcclÍnc, oncmustask.arcthcrcnotdÍalcctÍOllÍnksbctwccn growthand
dccay? Arc conIusÍon,ÍmmaturÍty and ÍncomþrchcnsÍbÍlÍtyalways and
Ín c\crycasc to bc catcgorÍzcd as bourgcoÍsdccadcncc:NÍght thcy not
Bloch against Lukacs 23
ually - Ín contrast wÍth thÍs sÍmþlÍstÍc and surcly unrc\olutÍonary
\w _ bc þart oI thc transÍtÍon Irom thc old world to thc ncw: Õ at
�:ast b þart oI thc strugglc lcadÍng to that transÍtÍon: ¯hÍs Ís an Íssuc
whÍch can only bc rcsol\cd by concrctc cXamÍnatìon oI thc works
thcmscl\cs, Ít cannot bc scttlo by omnÍscÍcnt parti-pris ¡udgcmcnts.
bo thc LXþrcssÍonÍsts wcrc thc '\anguard' oI dccadcncc. bhould thcy
Ínstcadha\casþÍrcdtoþlaydoctoratthcsÍck-booIcaþÍtalÍsm? bhould
thcy ha\cuÍcd m þlastcro\cr thc surIaOcoI rmlÍty, mthc sþÍrÍt, say, oI
thc`co-classÍcÍsts or thcrcþrcscntatÍ\cs oI Pco-ob¡cctì\Íty,º Ínstcad oI
þcrsÍstÍng Ín thcÍr cñorts oI dcmolÍtÍon: �Íc�lcr
c\cn rcþ�o�ch� �c
LXþrcssÍonÍsts wÍth 'sub\crsÍon oI sub\crston, wtthout rcahzmg m h:s
dctcstatÍon that two mÍnuscs þroducc a þlus. Mc Ís guÍtc Íncaþablc oI
aþþrccÍatÍng thcsÍgnÍhOanccoIthcdcmÍæoIPco-OÌassÍcÍsm. Mc ìs c\cn
lcss ablc to comþrchcnd thc strangc þhcnomcna whÍch cmcrgo ¡ust
at thc momcnt whcn thc old surIacc rcalÍty collaþscd, to saynothÍng oI
thcþroblcmsoImontagc. ¡n hÍscycsaÌlthÍsÍs¡ust'¡unk clumsÍlyglucd
togcthcr', rubbÍshIor whÍch hc OannotIorgÍvcthctascÍsts, c\cnthough
thcy wÍÌlha\cnoncoIÍtcÍthcr- mIactcntÍrclysharchÍsoþÍnÍon.
¯hcÍmþortanccoILXþrcssÍonÍsmìstobcIoundcXactly whcrcZÍQlcr
condcmnsÍt: Ít undcrmÍno thc schcmabc routÍncand aOdcmÍcÍsm to
whÍch thc '\aluc oI art` had bccn rcduccd. ¡nstcad oI ctcrnaÌ 'Iormal
analyscs' oI thc work oI art, Ít dÍrcctcd attcnbon to human bcÍngs and
thcÍrsubstancc, ÍnthcÍrgucstIorthcmostauthcntìccXþrcssÍonþossÍbÌc.
¯hcrcÍsno doubtthatthcrc wcrcIraudswhotooko\crÍUunccrtaÍnand
throughs and \aguc þrcscntÍmcnts wcrc not always, or Índco hardly
c\cr, toachÍc\calastÍngauthorÍty.Uuta¡ustanddÍsþassÍonatcc\aluatÍon
mustb baso on thc work othc rmlLXþrcssÍonÍstsand not- to makc
crìtÍcÍsm sÍmþlcr - on dÍstortÍons, lct alonc on mcrc mÍsrcOollcctÍons.
Aaþhcnomcnon, LXþrcssÍonÍsmwasunþrcccdcntcd, butÍtdÍdnotby
any mcans thÍnk oI ÍtsclI as lackÍng Ín tradÍtÍon. QuÍtc thc rc\crsc. As
thc Blue Rider þro\cs, Ít ransackcd thc þast Ior lÍkc-mÍndcd wÍtncsscs,
thought Ít could dÍsccm corrcsþondcnccs m Lruncwald, Ín þrÍmÍtÍ\c
art and c\cn m Uaroguc. ¡I anythÍng, Ít uncartho to many þarallcls
rathcrthantooIcw. ¡tIoundlÍtcraryþrcdcccssorsÍnthcStor and Stress
mo\cmcnt oI thc ̯¯Ûs, Ít dÍsco\crcd rc\cro modcls Ín thc \ÍsÍonary
´Neue Sachlichkeit or Neo-Objectivity, represented a non-political recoil from the
emotional efusions orexpressionism. Typical exponent range from Erich Kastner to
writers like Erst Junger. The accent on cool detachment also left its mark on Brecht.
works of the youthful and the age Goethe - in Wanderers Sturmled
in Harzreise im Winter, in Pandora and in the Second Part of Faust.
Moreover, it is untrue that the Expressionists wer estrange from:'
ordinary people by their overwhelming arrogance. Again, the opposite
is the case. The Blue Rider imitated the glass paintings at Murnau;9 in
fact they were the frst to open people's eyes to this moving and uncanny:
folk-art. In the same way, they focused attention on the drawings of
children and prisoners, on the disturbing works of the mentally sick and
on primitive art. They rediscovere 'Nordic decorative art', the fantastic-'
ally complex carvings to b found on pesant chairs and chests down to
the 18th century, interpreting it as the frst 'organic-psychic style' and'
defning it as a sort of secret Gothic tradition, of greater worth than the
inhumanly crystalline, aristocratic style of Egypt, and even than Neo-:
classicism. We need hardly add that 'Nordic decorative art' ua technical
term from art-history, and that neither the genre nOf the solenm fervour
with which the Expressionists welcomed uhas anything in common with
Rosenberg's fraudulent cult of the Nordic, of which it is certainly not
an 'origin'. Indeed his Nordic carving is full of Oriental infuences;:
tapesties and 'linear ornamentation' in general were a further element in '
Expressionism. There is one further point that is the most important of :
all. For all the pleasure the Expressionists took in 'barbaric art', their'
ultimate goal was humane; their themes were almost exclusively human
expressions of the incognito, the mystery of man. Quite apart from their
pacifsm, this is borne out even by their cricature and their use of·
industrial motifs; the word 'man' was as common a feature of Expres­
sionist parlance in those days as it opposite, the 'beautiful beast', is
today among the Nazis. Dwas also subject to abuse. 'Resolute humanity'
turned up all over the place; anthologie had title like Menschheits­
dimmerun (The Dawn of Mankind or Kameraden der Menschheit
(Friends ofMankind - lifeless categorie, no doubt, but a far cry from
pre-Fascist ones. An authentically revolutionary, lucid humanist
materialism has every reason t repudiate such vapid rhetoric; no-one
maintains that Expressionism should b taken as a model or regarded as
a 'precursor'. But neither uthere any justifcaton for refurbishing interest
in Neo-classicism by renewing outmoded battles with an Expressionism
long since devalued. Even if an artistic movement is not a 'precursor' of
´A village in Bavaria where Kandinsky, one of the leding members of the Blau Reiter,
had a house where he spent the summers from1908 until the outbrek of the war.
Bloch against Lukacs 2S
ing, it may for that very reason seem closer to young artists than
third-hand classicism which calis itself 'socialist realism' and uadminis­
tered as such. Superimposed on the architecture, painting and writing
othe Revolution, it is stifing them. The end-product is not a painted
Greek vase but the later Becher as a sort ofWildenbruch.lO] Even a more
authentic classicism is doubtless culture, but distilled, abstracted,
schematized. It is culture seen without temperament.II
For all that, the passions of an earlier period still stir controversy.
So perhaps Expressionis is not outmode after all; might it still have
some life left in it? Almost involuntarily, the question brings ¼ back to
the starting point of our refections. The vexatious voice to b heard
today certainly do not in themselve warrant an answer in the afrmative.
Nor do the three problems posed by Ziegler in the conclusion of his
article shed any new light. Ziegler asks, to test his own hostility t the
movement, the questions 'Antiquity: "Noble simplicity and serene
grandeur" - do we still se it in that light?' 'Formalism: enemy number
one of any literature that aspires to great heights - do we agree with
this?' 'Closeness to the people, popular character: the fundamental
criteria of any truly great art - do we accept this without reservation?'
It is quite clear that even Hone answers these questions in the negative,
or rejects them as improperly formulated, it doe not necessarily men
that one still harbours 'vestige of Expressionism' within one. Hitler -
and unfortunately, when faced by quetions s bluntly put, one cannot
avoid thinking of him - Hitler has already unreservedly answere the
frst and third questions in the afrmative, but that does not put him on
Our side.
Let us leave aside 'noble simplicity and serene grandeur', which
involves a purely historical, contemplative question, and a contemplative
attitude towards history. Let us confne ourselve to the questions of
'formalism' and 'closeness to the people', however ambiguously they
may have been formulated in the present context. There is surely no
denying that formalism was the least of the defects of Expressionist art
(which must not be confuse with Cubism). On the contrary, it sufered
far more from a neglect of form, from a plethora of expressions crudely,
A minor nationalist writer of the Wilhelmine epoch who specialize in monumental
historicl dramas.
An allusion to 2ola's defnition of Naturalist art as 'nature seen with a temperament'.
¯ The passage contained between [ ] was written into the text by Bloch when it was
republished in 1962.
wIldly or chaotIcally c¡aculatcd, Its stIgma was amorþhousncss. ¡t morc¸¸
than madcuþ Ior thIs, howc\cr, byIts closcncss to thc þcoþlc,Its usc oj
Iolklorc. ¯hatdIsþro\c thc oþInIonoIIthcldbyZIcglcr, who conccI\cs¸
oI VInckclmann´s \Icw oI AntIguIty andthc acadcmIcIsm dcrI\cd Irom¸
Itasa sort oIartIstIc puI\alcnt oI Patural 1aw. ¡tts cnough, oI coursc
that Iakcart[kitsch]is ItsclI þoþular, In thcbad scnsc. ¯hccountryman¸
In thc ÌVth ccntury cxchangcdhIs þaIntcd wardrobcIora Iactory-madc •.
dIsþlay cabInct, hts old, brIghtly-þaInto glass Ior a colourcd þrInt and
thought hImsclI at thc hcIght oI IashIon. Uut It Is unlIkcly that anyonc·
wIll bc mIslcd Into conIusIng thcsc þoIsoncd IruIts oI caþItaÍIsm wIth¸¸
gcnuInc cxþrcssIons oI thc þcoþlc, thcy canb shown to ha\c Ilowcrcd´
Ina \crydIB crcnt soIl, oncwIthwhIch thcy wIll dIsaþþcar.
Pco-classIcIsm Is, howc\cr, by no mcans such a surc antIdotc to ¸
kItsch, nor doc It contaIn an authcntIcally þoþular clcmcnt. ¡t Is Itscl[
much too 'hIghbrow´ and thc þcdcstal on whIch It stands rcndcrs It IaI
too artIhcIal. Uy contrast, as wc ha\c alrcady notcd, thc LxþrcssIonIsts
rcally dId go back to þoþular art, lo\o and rcsþcctcd Iolklorc- Indccd¸
soIarasþaIntIngwasconccrncd,wcrcthchrsttodIsco\crII ¡nþartIcular,¸
þaIntcrs Irom natIons whIch had only rcccntly acguIro thcIr Indcþcn
dcncc, Lzcch, 1at\Ian and Yugosla\ artIsts about ÌVÌö, all Iound In·
tradItIons than thc ma¡orIty oI othcr artIstIc stylcs, to say nothIng ol
acadcmIcIsm. ¡I LxþrcssIonIst artoItcn rcmaIns IncomþrchcnsIbÍc to thc ¦
obscr\cr (not always, thInk oI Lrosz, LIx or thc young Urcch!|), thIs
may IndIcatc a IaIlurc to Iulhl Its IntcntIons, but It may aÍso mcan that
thc obscr\cr þosscssc ncIthcr thc IntuItI\c grasþ tyþIcaÍ oI þcoþlc,
undcIormcdbycducatIon,nor thcoþcn-mIndcdncss whIchIsIndIsþcns-
ablc Ior thcaþþrccIatIonoI any ncw art. ¡I, asZIcgÍcr thInks, thcartIst´s
IntcntIon Is dccIsI\c, thcn LxþrcssIonIsm was a rcal brcakthrough to
þoþular art. ¡I It Is thc achIc\cmcnt that counts, thcn It ts wrong to
InsIst that c\cry sInglc þhasc oI thc þroccss b cguaÍly IntcllIgIblc.
¡Icassowasthchrstto þaInt'¡unkclumsIlygluotogcthcr',tothchorror
c\cn oI cultI\atcd þcoþlc. At a Iar lowcr lc\cl, Mcarthcld´s satIrIca
þhotograþhywas socÍosc tothc þcoþlcthatmany whowcrcIntcllcctuals
thcrcaItcrrcIuscdtoha\canythIngtodowIthmontagc. ¡ILxþrcssIonIsm
can stIll þro\okc dcbatc today, or Is at any ratc not bcyond dIscussIng,
thcn It Iollows that thcrc must ha\c bccn morc to It than thc 'Idcology
oI thc \b¡L´, whIch has now lost any sub-structurc It c\cr had. ¯hc
t The 1937 text refers to Becher, not Brecht.
Bloch against Lukacs 27
blcms oI LxþrcssIonIsm wIll contInuc t b worth þondcrIng untIl
thcy ha\c bccn suþcrscdo by bcttcr solutIons than thosc þut Iorward
Its cxþoncnts. Uut abstract mcthods oI thought whIch scck to skIm
o\crrcccntdccadcsoI our culturalhIstory,IgnorIng c\crythIngwhIchIs
þurcly þrolctarIan, arc hardly lIkcly to þro\Idc thcsc solutIons. ¯hc
hcrItagc oI LxþrcssIonIsm has not yct ccaso to cxIst, bccausc wc ha\c
notyctc\cn startcdto consIdcrIt.
Translated byRodney Livingstone
Georg Lukacs
Realism in the Balance
In its day the revolutionary bourgeoisie conducted a violent
struggle in the interests of its own clas

; it


US� of every
means at its disposal, including those of lmagmatIve hterature.
What was it that made the vestige of chivalry the object
of universal ridicule? Cervantes' Don Quixote. Don Quixote
was the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the bour­
geoisie in its war against feudalism

nd aristocracy. !he
revolutionary proletariat could do Wit at least one httle
Cervantes (laughter) to arm it with a similar weapon.
(Laughter and applause.)
Georgi Dimitrov, Speech given during an anti-Fascist
evening in the Writers' Club in Moscow.
Anyone intervening at this late stage in the debate on Expressi
nism i

Das Wort fnds himself face with certin difculties. Many VOlces hav
been raise in passiona
e defenc of Expressionism. But as soon as we
reach the point when it become imperative to speify w�om we

re to.
regard as the exemplary Expressionist wri


, or e
en to mclude 10 th
category of Expressionism, we fnd that OpInlOns diverge so sharply tha
no single name can count on general agreem

nt, O

e sometime
has the:
feeling, particularly when reading the most impas

lOned apologias, tha
perhaps there was no such thing as an ExpresslOnI
st writer.
Since our present dispute is concerne not With the evaluatIon 0 ,
individual writers but with general literary principles, it is not of para­
mount importnce for us to resolve this proble
m .
Literary hist

undoubtedly recognizes a trend known as ExpresslOnism, a trend with
its poets and its critics. In the discussion which follows I shall confne1
myself to questions of principle.
Lukacs against Bloch 29
First, a preliminary question about the nature of the central issue: is it

ally a confict between modem and classical (or even neo-classical)
literature, as has been implied by a number of writers who have concen­
their attack on my critical activities? I submit that this way of
posing the question is fundamentally wrong. It implicit assumption is
modern art is identical with the development of specific literary
trends leading from Naturalism and Impresionism via Expressionism
to Surrealism. In the article by Ernst Bloch and Hanns Eisler in the
Neue Wdtbihne, to which Peter Fischer refers,' this theory is formulated
in a particularly explicit and apodictic way. When these writers talk of
moder art, its representative fgure are taken exclusivel from the ranks
of the movements just referred to.
Let us not pass judgement at this stage. Let us rather enquire: can
this theory provide an adequate foundation for the history of literature
in our age?
At the very least, it must be pointe out that a quite diferent view is
tenable. The development of literature, particularly in capitalist society,
and particularly at capitalism's moment of crisis, is extraordinarily
complex. Nevertheless, to ofer a crude over-simplifiction, we may still
distinguish thre main current mthe literature of our age; these currents
are not of course entirely distinct but often overlap in the development
of individual writers:
I)Openly anti-realist or pseudo-realist literature which is concerned
to provide an apologia for, and a defence of, the existing system. Of this
group we shall say nothing here.
2) So-called avant-garde literature (we shall come to authentic modern
literature m due course) from Naturalism to Surrelism. What is its
general thrust? We may briefy anticipate our fndings here by saying
that its main trend is it growing distance from, and progressive dissolu­
tion of, realism.
3) The literature of the major realist of the day. For the most part
these writers do not belong to any literary set; they are swimming against
the mainstream of literary development, in fact, against the two currents
noted above. As a general pointer to the complexion of this contem­
porary form of realism, we need only mention the names of Gorky,
homas and Heinrich Mann and Romain Rolland.
In the article which leap s passionately to the defenc of the rights
E, Bloch and H Eisler: 'Die Kunst Z erben', i Di Neue Weltbihne, 1938.
of modern art against the presumptuous claims of the
classicists, these leading fgures of contemporary literature are not
mentioned. They simply do not exist in the eyes of modernist
and its chroniclers. In Ernest Bloch's interesting work Erbschaft
Zeit, a book rich both in informaton and in ideas, the name
Mann occurs only- once, unless my memory deceive me; the
refers to Mann's (and Wassermann's) 'bourgeois refnement' lsotgn"er.
BurgerlichkeitJ and with that he dismisse the matter.
Views such as these turn the entire discussion on its head. It is
time to put it back on its feet and take up cudgels on behalf of the
modern literature, against its ignorant detractors. So the terms of
debate are not classic versuS modernists ; discussion must focus
on the question: which are the progressive trends in the literature
today? It is the fate of realism that hangs in the balance.
Lukacs against Bloch 31
own position as follows: 'What if authentic reality is also discontinuity?
Since Lukacs operates with a closed, objectivistic conception of relity,
en- he comes to examine Expressionism, he resolutely sets his face
inst any attempt on the part of artists to shatter any image of the
even that of capitalism. Any art which stive to exploit the real
fssures in surface inter-relations and to discover the new in their crevice,
appears in his eyes merely as a wilful act of destruction. He thereby
equate experiments m demolition with a conditon of decadence.'
Here we have a coherent theoretical justifcaton of the development
of modem art, one which goe right to the heart of the ideological issues
at stake. Bloch is absolutely right: a fundamental theoretical discussion
of these questions 'would raise all the problems of the dialectical­
materialist theory of reflection [Abbildlehre]'. Needless to say, we cannot
embark on such a discussion here, although I personally would greatly
welcome the opportunity to do so. In the present debate we are concerned
with a much simpler question, namely, doe the 'closed integration" the
One of Ernst Bloch's criticisms of my oId essay on Expressionism : 'totality' of the cpitalist system, of bourgeois society, with it unity of
that I devoted too much attenton to the theoreticians of the economics and ideology, really form an objective whole, independent of
Perhaps he will forgive me uI repeat this 'mistake' here and this consciousness?
make his critical remarks on modern literature the focal point of Among Marxists - and in his latest book Bloch has stoutly proclaimed
analysis. For I do not accept the view that the theoretical descriptons his commitment to Marxism - there should be no dispute on this point.
artstic movements are unimportant - even when they make Marx says: 'The relations of production of every society form a whole.'
that are theoretically false. It is at such moment that they let the We must underscore the word 'every' here, since Bloch's position essen-
out of the bag and reveal the otherwise carefully conceale 'secrets' tially denie that this 'totality' applie to the capitalism of our age. So
the movement. Since, as a theoretician, Bloch is of quite a although the diference between our views seems m b immediate,
stature than Picard and Pinthus were in their day, it is not formal and non-philosophical, one which revolve instead round a dis-
for me to examine his theorie in somewhat greater depth. agreement about the socio-economic interpretation of cpitalism,
Bloch directs his attack at my view of 'totlity'. (We may leave out nevertheless, since philosophy is a mental refection of reality, important
account the extent to which he interprets my position correctly. What ; philosophical disagreements must be implicit in it.
at issue is not whether I a right or whether he has understoo It goes without saying that our quotation from Marx has to be under-
correctly, but the actual problem under discussion.) The principle stood historically - in other words, economic reality as a totality is itself
be refuted, he believes, is 'the undiluted objective realism which subject to historical change. But these change consist largely in th way
terized Classicism'. According to Bloch my thought is
which all the various aspects of the economy are expande and
throughout 'on the idea of a closed and integrated reality . . . intensifed, so that the 'totality' becomes ever more closely-knit and
such a totality in fact constitutes reality is open to question. If it is, substantial. After all, according to Marx, the decisive progresive role
Expressionist experiments with disruptive and interpolative te(hIlique
of the bourgeoisie in history is to develop the world market, thanks to
are but a empty jeu d' esprit, as are the more recent experiment which the economy of the whole world become a objectively unifed
montage and other device making for discontinuity.' tota
lity. Primitive economies create the superfcial appearance of great
Bloch regards my insistence on a unife reality as a mere unity; primitive-communist village or towns in the erly Middle Ages
from the systems of classical idealism, and he goe on to formulate are obvious examples. But m such a 'unity' the economic unit is linked
to its environment, and to human society as a whole, only by a very
threads. Under capitalism, on the other hand, the diferent strands
the economy achieve a quite unprecedente autonomy, as we can
from the examples of trade and money - an autonomy so extensive
financial crise can arise directly from the circulation of money.
result of the objective structure of this economic system, the surfac
capitalism appears to 'disintegrate' into a serie of elements all
towards independence. Obviously this must b reflected in the
sciousness of the men who live in this society, and hence too in the
sciousness of poets and thinkers.
Consequently the movement of its individual component
autonomy is an objective fact of the capitalist economic system.
theless this autonomy constitutes only one part of the overall
The underlying unity, the totality, all of whose parts are ob:iec·iv" l:
interrelated, manifests itself most strikingly in the fact of crisis.
give the following analysis of the process m which the rm,<t,t""n,
elements necessarily achieve independence: 'Since they do in fact
together, the process by means of which the complementary
become independent must inevitably appear violent and �p""" rt'v'
The phenomenon in which their unity, the unity of discrete
makes itself felt, is the phenomenon of crisis. The independence assume,
by processes which belong together and complement each other
violently destroyed. The crisis thus make manifest the unity of
which had become individually independent."
These then are the fundamental objective component of the 'total:t_ , ,
of capitalist society. Every Marxist knows that the basic e��� ,
categorie of capitalism are always refected in the minds of men,
but always back to front. Applied to our present argument this meng
that in periods when capitalism functions in a so-calle normal m,mrer
and its various processes appear autonomous, people living with:
capitalist society think and experience it as unitary, whereas in pelio,
of crisis when the autonomous elements are dra wn together into ,
they experience it as disintegration. With the general crisis of
capitalist system, the experience of disintegraton become firmly
trenched over long periods o time in broad sectors of the
which normally experience the various manifestations of capitalism in
very immediate way.
" See Capital, Vol I, p. 20, London 1976 (Penguin/NLR eition).
Lukacs against Bloch 33

What has all this to do with literature?
: Nothing at all for any theory - like those of Expressionism or Sur­
realism -
which denie that literature has any reference to objective
eality. It means a great dea� however, for a Marxist theor of literature.
ature is a particular form by means of which objective reality is
ected, then it becomes of crucial importance for it to grasp that reality
µ it truly is, and not merely to confne itself to reproducing whatever
anifests itself immediately and on the surface. If a writer strive to
represent reality as it truly is, i.e. Hhe is an authentic realist, then the
question of totality plays a decisive role, no matter how the writer actually
conceives the problem intellectually. Lenin repeatedly insisted on the
practical importance of the category of totality: 'In order to know an
object thoroughly, it is essential to discover and comprehend all of its
aspects, its relationships and its "mediations". We shall never achieve
this fully, but insistence o all-round knowledge will protect us from errors
and infexibility. " (G.L.'s italics)
The literary practice of every true realist demonstrates the importance
othe overall objectve social context and the 'insistence on all-round
knowledge' required to do it justice. The profundity of the great realist,
the extent and the endurance of his success, depends in great measure
on how clearly he perceive - as a creative writer - the true significance
of whatever phenomenon he depicts. This will not prevent him from
recognizing, as Bloch imagines, that the surface of social reality may
exhibit 'subversive tendencies', which are correspondingly reflected in
the minds of men. The motto to my oid essay on Expressionism under­
scores the fact that I was anything but unaware of this factor. That motto,
a quotation from Lenin, begins with these words: 'The inessential, the
apparent, the surface phenomenon, vanishe more frequently, is less
"solid", less "firm" than the "essence".' 4
However, what is at issue here above aU is not the mere recognition
that such a factor actually exists mthe context of the totality. It is even
more important to see it as a factor in this totality, and not magnify it
into the sole emotional and intellectual reality. So the crux of the matter
is to understand the correct dialectical unity of appearance and essence.
What matters is that the slice of life shaped and depicte by the artist
¨ Lenin, Collected Works, vol. 32, p. 94.
4 Lenin, Collected Works, vol. 38, p. 130.
and re-experienced by the reader should revel the relations betweet
appearance and essence without the need �or any external Cot
We emphasize the importance of shapmg [estalten] thIS
r elallOn
because unlike Bloch, we do not regard the practice of left-wmg
realists �s an acceptable solution to the problem. We reject their
of 'inserting' [Einmontierung] these into scraps of reality with
they have no organic connection.
By way of illustration, just compare the 'bourgeo
is refnement'
Thomas Mann with the Surrealism ofJoyce. In the mmds of the
of both writers we fnd a vivid evocation of the disintegration, the
continuitie the rupture and the 'crevices' which Bloch very
thinks typi¬l of the state of mind of many people living in the
imperialism. Bloch's mistake lie merely in �he fact
tha�he Identife
state of mind directly and unreservedly wtth reahty Itself He
the highly distorted image create in this state of mind w�t the
itself instead of objectively unravelling the essence, the origms and
med.ations of the distortion by comparing it with reality.
In this way Bloch does as a theorist exactly what the Expn'8sionisl!
and Surrealists do as artists. Let us take a look at Joyce's na,cra:ivi
method. Lest my hostile assessment put the matter in a false light, I
quote Bloch's own analysis: 'Here, in and even b

neath the

we fnd a mouth without Ego, drinking, babblmg, pourmg It out.
language mimes every aspect of this collapse, it is not a fully de'.clcped
fnished product, let alone normative, but open-ended and corlfu:ed
The sort of speech with puns and slips of the tongue that you
fnd at moments of fatigue, in pause in the conversatIOn, and In
or slovenly people - it is all here, only completely out of control.
words have bcome unemployed, they have been expelle from
context of meaning. The language move along, sometimes a wonn
in pieces, sometime fores�ortene lik

� :
other times, it hangs down mto the actlOn hke a piece of nggmg.
That is his account. Here is his fnal evaluation: 'A empty shell
the most fantastic sellout; a random collection of notes on crtlm]le,g
scraps of paper, gobbledygook, a tangle of slippery eels, fragments
nonsense and at the same time the attempt to found a scholastIc sy"te@
on chaos; . . . confdence tricks in all shape and sizes, the joke o�a
who has lost his roots; blind alleys but paths everywhere - no alms
destinations everywhere. Montage can now work wonders; in the
Lukacs against Bloch 3S
days it was only thoughts that could dwell side by side,' but now things
the same, at least in these floodplains, these fantastic jungle of
',We found it necessary to quote this lengthy passage because of the
ughly important, even crucial role given to Surrealist montage in Bloch's
oricl assessment of Expressionism. Earlie on in the book we fnd
like all apologists of Expressionism, making a distinction between
it" genuine and its merely superfcial exponents. According to him, the
ge'nuine aspirations of Expressionism live on. He writes: 'But even
tdday, there is no artist of great talent around without an Expressionist
past, or at least without its highly variegated, highly storm-lade after­
efects. The ultimate form of "Expressionism" was create by the so­
calle Surrealists; just a small group, but onc again that is where the
avant-garde is, and furthermore, Surrealism is nothing if not montage . . .
it is, an account of the chaos of reality as actually experienced, with aU its
cesuras and dismantled structure of the past.' The reader can see here
very clearly, in Bloch's advocacy of Expressionism, just what he regards
as the literary mainstreaJU of our age. It is no les clear that his exclusion
of every realist of importanc from that literature is perfectly conscious.
" I hope that Thomas Mann will pardon me for making use of him here
as a counter-illustration. Let us cll to mind his Tonio Kroger, or his
Christian Buddenbrook, or the chief characters from The Magic Moun­
tain. Let u further suppose that they had been constructed, as Bloch
requires, directly in terms of their 0 wn consciousness, and not by
contrasting that consciousness with a reality independent of them. It is
obvious that if we were confronte merely by the stream of associations
in their minds, the resulting 'disrupton of the surface' of life would be
no less complete than in Joyce. We should fnd just as many 'crevices' as
in Joyce. It would be a mistake to protest that these works were produced
before the crisis of moderity - the objective crisis in Christian Budden­
brook, for example, leads to a more profound spiritual disturbanc than
in Joyce's heroes. The Magic Mountain is contemporary with Expres­
sionism. So u Thomas Mann had contente himself with the direct
photographic record of the ideas and scraps of experience of these
characters, and with using them to construct a montage, he might easily
have produce a portrait as 'artistically progressive' as the Joyce whom
¯ Allusion to celebrated lines in Schiller's Walensteins Tad (Act II, %. 2)
"The world is narrow, broad the mind -
Thoughts dwell easily side by side
Things coUide violently in space."
Ulochadmírcs sohugcly.
(ívcn hís modcm thcmcs, why docs ¯homas Nannrcmaín s
lashíoncd´, so 'tradítíonal´ , why docs hc choosc not t

clambcr on

thc bandwagon olmodcrnísm: 1rccíscly bccausc hc Î a
a tcrm whích ín thís cascsígního prímaríly that, asa crcatIvc arttst,
knows cXactly who Lhrístían Uuddcnbrook, who¯onío 1r0gcrand
Mans Lastorp, bcttcmbríníand PaphU arc. Mcdocsnothavc mknow
ín thc abstract way thata socíal scícntístwouldknow ít¡Inthat
may casíly makc místakcs, as Ualzac, Líckcn
and ¯olstoy dtd
hím. Mc knows ít altcr thc manncr ola crcatIvc rcalIst¯ hc knows
thoughtsandlcclíngsgrowout olthclílcolsocíctya�d how
and cmotíons arc parts olthc total complcX olrælíty. A a rcal¡st
assígns thcsc parts to thcír ríghtlul placc wíthín thc total lílc co
bo whcn, lor cXamplc, ¯homas Nann rclcrs to ¯onío

r0go as
'bourgcoís who has lost hís way´, hc docs not rcst con

cnt =.�that:
shows how and why hc sull ís a bourgoís, lor all h¡s host¡líty to
bourgcoísíc,híshomclcssncss wíthínbourgcoíssocíc

lrom thclílcolthcbourgcoís. Uccauschcdooallth¡s, Nann towcrsas
crcatívc artíst and ín hís grasp ol thc naturc ol socícty, abovc all
'ultra-radícals´ whoímagíncthatthcírantí-bourgcoísmoods,thcír-
purcly acsthctíc - rc)cctíon ol thc stíüíng naturc ol pctty-bourgcoIs
cXístcncc thcír contcmpt lor plush armchaírs or a pscudo-Kcnaíssantc
cult ín .rchítccturc, havc translormcd thcm ínto íncXorablc
bourgcoís socícty.
¯hc modcm lítcrary schools oltb ímpcríalístcra, lrom Patura tsm
burrcalísm, whích havc lollowocach othcr ín such swílt su

havc onc lcaturc ín common. ¯hcyalltakc rcalíty cXactlyas ttmaníÍxts
ítscll to thc wrítcr and thc charactcrs hc crcatcs. ¯hc lorm ol
ímmcdíatc manílcstatíon changcs as socícty changcs. ¯hcsc changcs,
morcovcr arcbothsub)cctívc and ob)cctívc, dcpcndíng on mo¡
hcatím s
ín thcrc.líty olcapítalísm andalsoonthcwaysín whích class struggIc
and chango ín class structurc producc díhcrcnt rcücc

íons on
surlacc olthat rcalíty. Ït ís thcsc chango abovc all that bOng about
swílt succcssíon ol lítcrary schools togcthcr wíth thc cmbíttcro mtcr-
nccínc guarrclsthatüarcupbctwccnthcm.
. .
Uutbothcmouonallyandíntcllcctuallythcyallrcmam lrozcnm
own ímmcdíacy¡ thcy laíl to pícrcc thc surlacc t díscovcr thc undcI`
Lukacs against Bloch 37
csscncc, í.c. thc rcal lactors that rclatc thcír cXpcrícnco t thc

socíallorco thatproduccthcm. Lthccontrary,thcyalldcvclop
own artístíc stylc - morc or lcss conscíously - as a sponUncous
¯hchostílíty olall modcm schools towards thc vcry mcagrc vcstígcs
oÍthc oldcr tradítíons ol lítcraturc and lítcrary hístory at thís tímc,
0ulmínato ín a passíonatc protcst agaínst thc arrogancc ol crítícs who
would líkc to lorbíd wrítcrs, so ít ís allcgcd, to wrítc as and how thcy
,¤ísh. Ïn so doíng, thc advocato ol such movcmcnts ovcrlook thc lact
tha! authcntíc lrccdom, í.c.lrccdom lrom thcrcactíonary prc)udíco ol
thc ímpcríalíst cra (not mcrcly ín thcsphcrcolart), cannotpossíbly bc
mcconhno ol thcír own ímmoíatc cXpcrícncc. ¡or as capíUlísm
dcvclops, thc contínuous productíon and rcproductíon ol thcsc rcac-
tíonary prc)udíco ís íntcnsího and accclcratcd, not to say conscíously
promoto by thc ímpcríalíst bourgcoísíc. bo íl wc arccvcr goíng to bc
ablc to undcrstand thc way ín whích rcactíonary ídcas ínhltratc our
mínds,and ílwc arc cvcr goíng to achícvc a crítícal dístancc lrom such
prc)udíccs, thís can only bc accomplíshcd byhard work, by abandoníng
and transccndíng thc límíts olímmcdíacy, by scrutínízíng all sub)cctívc
cXpcrícnccs and mcasuríng thcm agaínst socíal rcalíty. Ïn short ít can
only bcachícvcdbyadccpcrprobíngolthcrcal world.
Artístícally, as wcll as íntcllcctually and polítícally, thc ma)or rcalísts
ol ouragchavcconsístcntlyshownthcírabílítytoundcrtakcthísarduous
task.¯hcyhavcnot shírkcdítínthcpast, nordothcytoday. ¯hccarccrs
ot Komaín Kolland and ol ¯homas and Mcínrích Nann arc rclcvant
hcrc. Líhcrcnt though thcír dcvclopmcnt has bccn ín othcr rcspccts,
thís lcaturc ís common to thcm all.
Lvcn though wc havc cmphasízo thc laílurc olthc varíous modcrn
lítcrary schoolsto progrcss bcyond thclcvclolímmcdíatccXpcrícncc, wc
shouldnot wísh ít to bc thought that wc dccry thc artístíc achícvcmcnts
olscríous wrítcrs lrom Paturalísm to burrcalísm. Vrítíng lrom thcír
own cXpcrícncc, thcy havc oltcn succccdo ín dcvclopíng a consístcnt
and íntcrcstíng modc ol cXprcssíon, a stylc ol thcír own, m lact. Uut
whcn wc lookat thcír work ín thc contcXt olsocíal rcalíty, wc scc that ít
ncvcr rísoabovcthclcvcl olímmcdíacy,cíthcríntcllcctuallyorartístíc-
Mcncc thc art thcy crcatc rcmaím abstract and onc-dímcnsíonal. (Ïn
contcXt ítís ímmatcríal whcthcr thc acsthctíc thcory cspouscd by a
gívcnschoollavours 'abstractíon´ ínartornot. LvcrsínccLXprcssíonísm
the importance attached to abstraction has been consistently on
increase, in theory as well as in practice.} At this point the reader
well believe that he detects a contradiction in our argument:
immediacy and abstraction are mutually exclusive? However, one of
greatest achievements of the dialectical method -already found in
was its discovery and demonstration that immediacy and ahstTactioT
are closely akin, and, more particularly, that thought which begins
immediacy can only lead to abstraction.
In this context, too, Marx put Hegelian philosophy bac on it
and in his analysis of economic relationships he repetedly showed,
concrete terms, just how the kinship between immediacy and abstractior
fnds expression in the refection of economic realities. We must
ourselves to one brief illustration. Marx shows that the rel.ati,lhip
between the circulation of money and its agent, mercantile
involve the obliteration of all mediations and so represents the
extreme form of abstraction in the entire proces of cpitalist nTllctiOrl"
If they are considered as they manifest themselve, i.e. in ap·arenl
independence of the overall process, the form they assume is that of
purely automatic, fetishized abstraction: 'money beget money'.
is why the vulgar economists who never advance beyond the immediate
epiphenomena of capitalism feel confrme in their beliefs by the ab:tnct,
fetishize world that surrounds them. They feel at home here like
mwater and hence give vent to passionate protests about the 'pJesurp­
tion' of a Marxist critique that require the t look at the entire
of social reproduction. Their 'profundity, here as everywhere else,
sists m perceiving the clouds of dust on the surfac and then having
presumption to assert that all this dust is really very important
mysterious', as Marx comments a propos of Adam Muller. It is
considerations such as these that I describe Expressionism in my
essay on the subject as an 'abstraction away from relity' .
It goes without saying that without abstraction there can b no art
for otherwise how could anything m art have representatve value?
like every movement, abstraction must have a direction, and it is on
that everything depends. Every major realist fashions the material �iven.
in his own experience, and in so doing make use of technique
abstraction, among others. But his goal is to penetrate the laws
objective reality and to uncover the deeper, hidden, mediated,
immediately perceptible network of relationships that go to make
society. Since these relationships do not lie on the surface, since
underlying laws only make themselve felt mvery complex ways and
Lukacs against Bloch 39
only unevenly, as trends, the labour of the realist is extraordinarily
duous, since it has both an artistic and an intellectual dimension.
Firstly, he has to discover these relationships intellectually and give them
artistic shape. Secondly, although in practic the two processe are
ivisible, he must artisticlly conceal the relationships he has just
vered through the process of abstraction - i.e. he has to transcend
the process of abstraction. This twofold labour creates a new immediacy,
one that is artistically mediated; in it, even though the surface of life is
sfciently transparent to allow the underlying essenc to shine through
(sbmething which is not true of immediate experience in real life),' it
nevertheless manifests itself as immediacy, as life as it actually appears.
Moreover, in the works of such writers we observe the whole surface of
life in all its essential determinants, and not just a subjectively perceived
moment isolated from the totality in an abstract and over-intense manner.
This, then, is the artistic dialectic of appearance and essenc. The
richer, the more diverse, complex and 'cunning' (Lenin) this dialectic
is, the more frmly it grasps hold of the Ii ving contradictions of life and
society, then the greter and the more profound the relism will be.
In contrast to this, what does it mean to talk of an abstraction away
from reality'? When the surface of life is only experienced immediately,
it remains opaque, fragmentary, chaotic and uncomprehended. Since
the objective mediations are more or less consciously ignore or passed
over, what lies on the surface is frozen and any attempt to se it from a
higher intellectual vantage-point has to b abandoned.
There is no state of inertia m reality. Intellectual and artistic activity
must move either towards reality or away from it. It might seem para­
doxical to claim that Naturalism has already provided us with an instance
of the latter. The milieu theory, a view of inherited characteristics
fetishized to the point of mythology, a mode of expression which abstractly
pinpointed the immediate exterals of life, along wt a number of other
factors, all those things th warte any real artistic breakthrough to a
living dialectic of appearance and essence. Or, more precisely, it was the
absence of such a breakthroug that led to the Naturalist style. The
two things were functions of each other.
This is why the photographically and phonographically exac imitations
of life which we fnd in Naturalism could never come alive; this is why
remaine static and devoid of inner tension. This is why the plays
novels of Naturalism seem to be almost interchangeable - for all
their apparent diversity in externals. (This would b the place to discuss
one of the major artistic tagedies of our time: the resons why Gerhart
Hauptmann taìIcd to bccomc a grctrcaIìst wrìtcr attcr such
bcgìnnìngs.ButwchavcnospacctocxpIorcthìshcrc. Wc
obscrvc ìnpassìngthatMaturaIìsm ìnhìbìtcdrathcrthan stimuIato
dcvcIopmcnt otthc author ot The Wea

ers a

d The Beav
r Coat,
that cvcn whcn hc Icñ MaturaIìsm bchmd htm hc was su|I unabIc
Thc artìstìc Iìmitatìons ot MaturaIìsm quìckIy bccamc obvìous.
thcy wcrc ncvcr subjcctcd to tundamcntaI crìtìcìsm. !nstcad, thc
tcrrcd mcthod was aIways to contront onc abstract torm wìth
apparcntIycontrary, butno Icss abstract torm. !t is sympto
cntìrc proccss that cach movcmcnt ìn thc past conhncd :u
cntìrcIytothcmovcmcntìmmcdìatcIyprcccdìngìt,thus !mpi¢ssìonisu
conccrncd ìtscItcxcIusìvcIy wìthMaturaIìsm, and s on. Hcno
thcory nor practìcc cvcr advanccd bcyond thc stagc
ot a

trontatìon. Thìs rcmaìns trucrìghtup to thcprcscntdiscusston.
Lconhard tor cxampIc, arguc thc hìstorìcaI ìncvitabìIìty ot
sìonìsm¬justthìs way. 'Oncotthctoundatìonsot£xprcssìonìsm
thc antagonìsm tcIt towards a !mprcssìonì

whìch had bccomc
bcarabIc cvcn ìmpossìbIc.' Hc dcvcIops this tdæ quttc Iog:caIIy,
taìIsto s�yanythìngaboutthc othcr toundatìons. !tIooks as u
sìonìsm wcrc uttcrIy opposo to, and ìncompatìbIc wìth, thc
trcnds that prcccdcd ìt. Attcr a , what £xprcssìonìsm cmphasìzc
ìtstocusoncsscnccs,thisìswhatIconhardrctcrst asthc
Butthcsccsscnccsarcnotthc objcctìvccsscnccotrcty,otthc
proccss. Thcy arcpurcIysubjcctìvc. ! wìII rctraìn trom quotìngthc
and now dìscrcdìtcd thcorcticìans ot £xprcssìonìsm. But £rnst
hìmscIt, whcn hc comcs to dìstìnguìshthc truc £xprcssìonìsm trom
taIsc, puts thc cmphasis on subjcctìvìty. '!n ìu orìgìnaI torm
troma orìgìnaI,ì.c.subjcctivc,pcrspcctìvc,oncwhìch wrcncho
This vcry dcbnìtìon madc ìtìncvìtabIc that csscnccs had to b
trom thcìr contcxt ìna conscìous, styIìzo and abstract way, and
csscncc takcn m ìsoIatìon. Who toIIowo through IogìcaIIy,
war on rcaIìtyand aII ìts works. ! wouId not wìsh to ìntcrvcnc hcrc
thc dcbatc about whcthcr, and to what cxtcnt, Gotttrìo Bcnn can
thought otas a typìcaI £xprcssìonìst. But ! bnd that th

scnsc ot
whìch BIoch dcscrìbcssopìcturcsqucIy and tascmatmgIy mhts accoun@
Lukacs against Bloch 41
rcssìonìsmand 5urrcaIìsm,bnds ìumostdìrcct,candìdand vìvìd
.prcssìon ìn Bcnn's book Kunst und Macht: 'Bctwccn ÌVÌÜ and ÌVZå
ì-naturaIìststyIc rcìgncd suprcmc ìn£uropc to thc cxcIusìon ot
cvcrythìng cIsc. lor thc tact ìs that thcrc was no suchthìngas
«�Iìty,atbcstthcrcwcrc onIytravcstìcsotrcaIìty. RcaIìty- thatwasa

c�pìtaIìstconccpt. . . . Mìnd [Geist] had no rcaIìty.'Wangcnhcìm, too
hìs hìghIy ccIcctìc apoIogìa tor £xprcssìonìsm, arrìvc at sìmìIar

con¢Iusìons, aIthough by a Icss anaIytìcaI, morc dcscrìptìvc routc.
cccsstuI workscouIdnotbccxpcctomanyquanuty,sìnccthcrcwas
rcaIìtycorrcspondìngto ìt [ì.c. to £xprcssìonìsm.- G.I.| . . . Many
a' £xprcssìonìst Iongcd to dìsc¤vcr a ncw worId by abandonìng tcrra
6rma, Icapìng ìntothcaìrand cIìngìng tothc cIouds.'
Wccan bnd a pcrtcctIy cIcar and unambìguous tormuIatìon otthìs
sìtuatìon and ìts ìmpIìcatìonsìnHcìnrìchVogcIcr. Hìsaccuratcasscss-
'!t [ì.c. £xprcssìonìsm - G.I.| wasthcÐancc otÐcath otbourgcoìs
ar . . . Thc £xprcssìonìsts thought thcy wcrc convcyìng thc "csscncc
ot thìngs" [Wesen], whcrcas ìn tact thcy rcvcaIcd thcir dccomposìtìon
Onc ìncscapabIcconscqucnccota attìtudcaIìcnorhostìIctorcaIìty
paucìty ot contcnt, cxtcndcd to a poìnt whcrc abscncc ot contcnt or
hostìIìty towards ìt ìs uphcId on prìncìpIc. Onccagaìn Gotttrìcd Bcnn
has put thc sìtuatìon ìn a nutshcII . 'Thc vcry conccpt otcontcnt, too,
hasbccomcprobIcmatìc. Contcnt- what's thcpoìntotìtnowadays,ìt's
aII washo up, woµ out, mcrc sham - scIt-ìnduIgcncc ot cmotìons,
rìgìdìty ot tccIìngs, cIustcrs ot dìscrcdìto cIcmcnts, Iìcs, amorphous
shapcs. . . . '
t say,thcìrrcspcctìvcanaIyscIcadBIochandBcnntocntìrcIyopposìtc
concIusìons. Ata numbcr otpoìnts ìn hìs book,BIoch cIcarIy scc thc
robIcmatic naturcotmodcmartassomcthìngarìsìngtrom thcattìtudc
hìmscItdcscrìbcs. 'Hcnccmajor wrìtcrs no Iongcr makc thcir homc
¤ thcìr own subjcct-mattcr, tor aII substanccs crumbIc at thcir touch.
Thc domìnant worId no Iongcrprcscntsthcm wìthacohcrcntìmagc to
dcpìct, or to takc as thc startìng-poìnt tor thcìr ìmagìnatìon. AII that
maìns ìs cmptìncss, shards tor thcm topìccctogcthcr.' BIoch gocon
cxpIorc thcrcvoIutìonary pcrìo otthc bourgoìsìc downto Gocthc.
otthcnovcI otcducatìon, butbythclrcnchnovcIotdìsìIIusìonmcnt,
thattodayìnthcpcrtcctonon-worId,antì-worIdorruìncd worIdot
grand bourgcoìs vacuum, "rcconcìIìatìon" ìs ncìthcr a dangcr nor
optìontor thcwrìtcr.OnIyadìaIcctìcaIapproach[ 1 ! - G.I.|ìs
hcrc.cìthcrasmatcrìaItoradìaIcctìcaImontagcorasancxpcrìmt nt
!nthchandsot|oycccvcnthcworIdotOdysscusbccamcakaIcìdos· opìt
gaIIcryotthc dìsìntcgratìngand dìsìntcgrato worId ottoday m
scopìc cross-scctìon - no morc than a cross-scctìon, bccausc
todayIacksomcthìng,namcIythcmostìmportantthìngotaII. . .
Wc havc no dcsìrc to quìbbIc wìth BIoch ovcr trì0cs, such as
purcIy ìdìosyncratìc usc ot thc word 'dìaIcctìcs', or thc mìstakcn
whìch aIIows hìm to suggcst that thc novcI otdìsìIIusìonmcnt
dìrcctIy upon Gocthc. (My carIy work, The Theor of the Novel,
partIy to bIamc tor BIoch's non-sequitur hcrc.) Wc arc conccrno
morc vìtaI ìssucs. !npartìcuIar, wìththctact thatBIoch- aIthough
cvaIuatìon ìsthc rcvcrscotours- cxprcsscsthcnotìonthat thc
mattcr and thc composìtìon ot works ot Iìtcraturc dcpcnd on
rcIatìonshìp to objcctìvcrcaIìty. 5otarsogood. But who BIoch
hcccasctoconccµhìmscItwìththc objcctìvcrcIatìonsbctwccn
and thc actìvc mcn ot our tìmc, rcIatìons whìch, as wc c scc
Jean Christophe,6 cvcnpcrmìtanovcIotcducatìontob wrìttcn.
takìng thc ìsoIatcd statc ot mìnd ota spccìbc cIass ot ìntcIIcctuals
hìs startìng-poìnt, hc construcu a sort ot homc-madc modcI ot
contcmporary worId, whìchIogìcaIIy cnoughappcarsto hìm asa
worId' - a conccptìon whìch, rcgrcttabIy cnough,turnsoutto b
rcaIìty thcrc obvìousIy cannot bc any actìon, structurc, contcnt
composìtìon ìn thc 'tradìtìonaI scnsc'. lor pcopIc who cxpcrìcncc
worIdIìkcthìsìtìsmtactpcrtcctIytructhat£xprcssìonìsmand5tirre: hstu
arc thc onIy modcsotscIt-cxprcssìonstìII avaìIabIc. Thìs phìIosophìca
justìhcatìonot£xprcssìonìsm and 5urrcaIìsmsuñcrs 'mcrcIy'
tactthatBIochtaìIstomakcrcaIìtyhìstouchstoncandìnstcadun· rìticaIIy
takcovcrthc£xprcssìonìstand 5urrcaIìstattìtudctowardsrcaIìty,
transIatcs ìtìntohìs own rìchIyìmagìnatìvc Ianguagc.
Ðcspìtcmysharpdìsagrccmcnt wìthaUotBIoch'sjudgcmcnts, !
hìstormuIatìonotccrtaìntacubothcorrcctandvaIuabIc. !npartìcuIæ,
6 The major work of Romain Rolland, a novel in 10 volume whose theme i
German relations as reflected in the life of a German musician.
Lukacs against Bloch 43
thcmost consìstcnt otaII dctcndcrs otmodcrnìsm ìn hìs dcmon-
that £xprcssìonìsm ncccssarìIy Icads to 5urrcaIìsm. !n thìs
hcaIso dcscrvcspraìsctorhavìngrccognìzcdthatmontagcìsthc
tabIcmodc otcxprcssìon m thìsphascotdcvcIopmcnt. Morcovcr


grcatcrbccauschc showsthatmontagcì�

onc conscqucncc ot thìs ìs that hc brìngs out thc antì-

yotthc cntìrc trcnd much morc starkIythan


hoth:maIongthcscIìncs. Thìsonc-dìmcnsìonaIìty
whtcb, m�tdcntaIIy, BIoch has nothìng to say- was aIrcady a
otMaturabsm. !ncontrasttothcMaturaIìst,thcartìsnc 'rchnc-


vc d:aIcct:cs otBc
mg and Conscìousncss. Thc symboIìst movc-
tscIcarIyand consctousIyonc-dìmcnsìonaItrom thcoutsct torthc
n thc scnsuous ìncarnatìon ot a symboI and ìts s�mboIìc
±canì:¡g artscs trom thc narrow, sìngIc-tracko proccss otsubjcctìvc


;ontagcrcprcscnts thcpìnnacIcotthìsmovcmcnt and torthìsrcason
ndthought. !nìtsorìgìnaItorm,asphotomontagc,
�tJS capabIcotstrtkmg cñccts, and on occasìon ìtcan cvcn bccomc a

owcrtuI poIìtìcaI wcapon. 5uch cñccts arìsc trom ìts tcchnìquc ot

�taposmg hctcrogcncous, unrcIatcd pìccc otrcaIìty tom trom thcìr
cµntcxt. Agoodphotomontagchasthcsamcsortotcñcct asagoodjokc.


nd suc

csstuIìtmay b ìn ajokc- cIaìmsto gìvc shapc to rcaIìty(cvcn
this rcaIìty ìs vìcwcd as unrcaI), toa worId otrcIatìonshìps (cvcn
whcn thcsc rcIatìonshìps arc hcId to b spccìous) or ottotaIìty (cvcn
whcnthìst t I` do
. .
0 attytsrcgar aschaos),thcnthchmIcñcctmustb onc
�f pro
tound monotony. Thc dctaìIsmaybcdazzIìngIycoIourtuIìnthcìr
crstty, butthc whoIc wìII ncvcr bcmorc than an unrcIìcvo grcy on


Thìs monotony procccds ìncxorabIy trom thc dccìsìon to abandon
any attcmpt to mìrrorobjcctìvc rcaIìty, to gìvcup thc artìstìc struggIc
toshapc thchìghIycompIcx mcdìatìons ìnaIIthcìrunìty and dìvcrsìty
andtosynthcsìzc thcm as charactcrs m a work otIìtcraturc. lor thìs
approach ccrmìu no crcatìvc composìtìon, no rìsc and taII, no growth
lrom wíthínto cmcrgc lrom thctruc naturcolthcsub¡cct-mattcr.
Vhcncvcr thcsc artístíc trcnds arc dísmísso as dccadcnt, thcrc
cry ol índígnatíon agaínst 'pcdantíc hcctoríng by cclcctíc acadrmíe
1crhapsÏ shallbcpcrmíttcd,thcrclorc,toappcaltotrícdríchPíct;sr
an cXpcrt on dccadcncc whom my opponcnts hold ín hígh
othcrmattcrstoo. 'Vhatísthcmarkolcvcrylormollítcrarydc0adcnc
hc cnguírcs. Mc rcplícs. 'Ït ís that lílc no longcr dwclls ín thc
¯hc word bccomcs sovcrcígn and cscapo lrom thc conhno ol thc
tcncc¡ thc scntcncc cncroachcson thc pagc, obscuríng íts mcaníng¡
pagcgaínsínvítalíty atthccost olthcwholc- thcwholcccascs to
wholc. Uutthatísthccguauon olcvcrydccadcnt stylc. always thc
anarchyolthc atoms, dísíntcgratíonolthc wíll.. . . Lílc,thcsamc
thc víbrancc and cXubcrancc ol lílc ís comprcsso ínto thc most
structurcs¸ whílc thc rcstísímpovcríshcd. 1aralysís, míscry, octrímctíi
or hosulíty and chap cvcrywhcrc: m cítho casc thc conscgucnco
thc morc stríkíng, thc hígho onc ríscs ín thchícrarchy olor¿�nízatíot
¯hc wholcas suchnolongcrlívo at all¡ítíscomposítc, artíhcíal,a
ol ccrcbrauon, an artclact.´' ¯hís passagc lrom Píctzschc ís
truthlul anaccountolthcartístícímplícatíons olthcsclítcrary
that olUloch or Ucnn. Í would ínvítc Mcrwarth Valdcn, who
cvcrycrítícal íntcrprctatíon olLXprcssíonísm asa vulgarízatíonand
rcgards cvcry cXamplc uso to íllustratc thc thcory and practícc
LXprcssíonísm as an ínstancc ol 'vulgar-L\rcssíonísm´ whích
dccadcno to thc thcory ol lítcrary languagc ín gcncral . 'Vhy
only thc scntcncc b comprchcnsíblc and not thc wordr . . . bíncc
pocu líkc todomínatc¸ thcygo ahcad and makcscntcnccs,ígnoríng
ríghts ol words. Uut ít ís thc wo:V that rulcs. ¯hc word shattc:s
scntcnccandthc workolartísa mosaíc. Lnly wordscanbínd. bcntcBo
arcalways)ust píckcd up out olnowhcrc.´ ¯hís
thcory ol languagc como ín lactlrom Mcrwarth Valdcn hímscll.
Ít gocs wíthout sayíng that such príncíplo arc ncvcr applío
absolutc consístcncy, cvcn by ]oycc. ¡or ÌÜ pcr ccnt chap can
cXíst ín thc mínds olthc dcrangcd, ínthc samc waythat bç ogcI¡hau
had alrcadyobscrvcd thata l Ûpcrccnt solípsísm ís onlyto b lound
a lunatíc asylum. Uutsíncc chap constítutothc íntcllcctual comcrs(on
ol modcrníst a, any cohcsívc príncíplcs ít contaíns must stcm
' The words signifcantly omitted by Lukacs after 'disintegration of the will' are' . . .
dom of the individual, in moral terms -generalized into a political theory: "equal rights
all".' F. Nietzsche, Der Fal Wager.
Lukics against Bloch 4S
hícct-m1ttO alícn to ít. Mcnccthc supcrímposo commcntarícs thc

ímultancíty, d
an soon.Uutnoncolthís can bc any morcthan
��. rogatc, ít can only íntcnsíly thc onc-dímcnsíonalíty, ol thís lorm
ytmcrµcni c olall thcsc lítcrary schools can bc cXplaíncd ín tcrms
ccon0ID¶, thcsocíal structurc and thcclass strugglo olthc agc ol
bo Kudoll Lconhard ís absolutcly ríght whcn hc claíms
gtXprcssíonísmísancccssary hístorícalphcnomcnon. Uutítísatbcst

ahalttruth whcn hcgoo ontoasscrt,cchoíngMcgcl´scclcbratodíctum,
LXpr¢ssíoBísIB was rcal¡ s ílít wasrcalít was ratíonal.´ Lvcn ín
'ratíonalíty olhístory´ was ncvcr as straíghUorward as thís
hc occasíonally contrívo to smugglc an apología lor thcactual
conccpt olrcason. ¡ora NarXíst¸ 'ratíonalíty´ (hístorícal ncco-
ungucstíonably a morc complc busíncss. tor NarXísm thc
¡µ)Iowlt dgmcBt ola hístorícal ncccssíty ncíthcr ímplío a )ustíhcatíon

actually cXís� (not cvcn duríng thc pcrí0 whcn ít cXísts), nor
ItcXprcssalatalísttcbclíclínthcncccssítyohístorícalcvcnts. Lncc
�g�mwccaníllustratc thís bcst wíth an cXamplc lrom cconomícs. ¯hcrc
bnodoubtthat prímítívc accumulatíon,thcscparatíonolthcsmall



¤Ith all Iu ínhumanítícs- ahístorícal ncccssíty. `cvcrthclcss, no
\aDst woulddrcamolglorílyíngthcLnglísh bourgcoísícolthcpcríod

thc cmbodImcnt ol thc príncíplc ol rcason m Mcgcl´s scnsc. Lvcn

would ít occurtoa NarXíst tosccthcrcbyanylatalístíc ncccssíty ín



st thc way ín whích pcoplc latalístíælly ínsístcd that thc only
µ0sstblc dcvclopmcnt lor thc Kussía ol hís day was lrom prímítívc
accumulatíon to capítalísm. ¯oday, ín vícw olthc laO thatsocíalímhas

cncstablíshcdínthcbovíct \níon, thcídæthatundcvclopcd countrícs
o�lyachícvc socíalísm vía thc routc olprímítívc accumulatíon and
capItaltsm, ís a rccípc lor countcr-rcvolutíon. bo u wc concur wíth
nhard, and agræ that thc cmcrgcncc ol LXprcssíoním was hís-

y ncccssary, thís ís not to say that wc hnd ít artístícally valíd, í.c.
thatIt¡sa ncccssaryconstítucntolthc art olthc luturc.
• °
Theory developed by Robert Delauney, who togethe with Kandinsky W one of the
ploneers of abstraction in art. In his great series of 'Window' paintings starting in 1912 he
sought to put 't ' t
T k· h
' I m O practice
a mg t e transparent interpenetrating colours of Cezanne's
���perIOd, he �used them with the forms of analyticl Cubism, and claime that the result,
ultaneous Impact of two or more colours, gave the picture a dynamic force.
For this reason we must demur when Leonhard discerns m
sionism 'the defnition of man and the consolidation of things
stepping-stone towards a new realism'. Bloch is absolutely in the
here when, unlike Leonhard, he looks to Surrealism and the dominan
of montage as the necessary and logical heir t Expressionism. OUf
old Wangenheim inevitably arrives at completely eclectic conclusio
when he trie to use the debate on Expressionism for his own O1rOO',
i.e. to salvage and preserve the formalistic tendencies of his early
tendencies which so often inhibite and even suppressed his
realism - by bringing them under the umbrella of a broad and
matie conception of realism. His aim in defending Expressionism is
rescue for socialist realism a priceless heritage of permanent value.
attempts to defend his position in this way: 'Fundamentally, the
of Expressionism, even when its efects were powerful, refected a
in tatters. The theatre of socialist realism refects uniformity amidst ·
the diversity of its forms.' Is this why Expressionism has to become
essential component of socialist realism? Wangenheim has not got
aesthetic or logical argument in reply, merely a biographical
reluctance to jettison his own earlier formalism.
Taking as his starting-point the historical assessment
clearly stated in my oId essay, Bloch goe on to make the tolLo",il
criticism of me: 'The result is that there can b no such thing as
avant-garde within late capitalist society; anticipatory movement in
superstructure are disqualifed from possessing any truth.' This
tion arise from the circumstance that Bloch regards the road that
to Surrealism and montage as the only one open to modern art. If
role of the avant-garde is disputed, the inescapable conclusion in
eyes is that any ideological anticipation of social tendencie must
called in question.
But this is quite simply untrue. Marxism has always recognized
anticipatory function of ideology. To remain within the sphere of
ture, we need only remind ourselves of what Paul Lafargue has to
about Marx's evaluation of Balzac : 'Balzac was not just the chroloic:le
of his own society, he was also the creator of prophetic fgures who
still embryonic under Louis Philippe and who only emerged fully
after his deth, under Napoleon III. ' But is this Marxian view stll
in the present? Of course it is. Such 'prophetic fgures', however, are
be found exclusively in the works of the important realists. In the
stories and plays of Maxim Gorky such fgures abound. Anyone who
been following recent events in the Soviet Union attentively and
Lukacs against Bloch 47
will have realized that in his Karamora, his Klim Samgin
ev, etc., Gorky has create a serie of typical fgure which
now revealed their real nature and who were 'prophetic'
,ip,,ioru in Mars's sense. We might point with equal justice to the
works of Heinrich Mann, novels such as De Untertan and
i Rd'
sso, Unrat.' Who could deny that a large number of the repellent,
and bestial features of the German bourgeoisie, and of a petty
eoisi ·, seduced by demagogues, were 'prophetically' portrayed
and that they only blossome completely later under Fascism?
should we overlook the character of Henri IV in this context.1O
the one hand, he is a historically authentic fgure, true to life; on the
hand he anticipates those humanist qualitie which will only emerge
in the struggle leading to the defeat of Fascism, in the fghters of
anti-Fascist Front.
us consider a counter-illustration, likewise from our own time.
The ideologicl struggle against war was one of the principal themes of
qbest expressionists. But what did they do or say to anticipate the new
iperialist war raging all around us and threatening to engulf the whole
civilize world? I hardly imagine that anyone today will deny that these
works are completely obsolete and irrelevant to the problems of the
present. On the other hand the realist writer Arnold Zweig anticipated
a:'whole series of essential features of the new war in his novels Sergeant
Grischa and Educatio" before Verdun. What he did there was to depict
the relationship between the war at the front and what went on behind
the lines, and to show how the war represented the individual and social
continuation and intensifcation of 'normal' capitalist barbarity.
There is nothing mysterious or paradoxical about any of this - it is
the very essence of all authentic realism of any importance. Since such
realism must be concerne with the creation of type (this has always
been the case, from Don Quixote down to Oblomov and the realist of OUr
Ow time), the realist must seek out the lasting feature m people, in
their relations with each other and in the situations in which they have
to act; he must focus on those elements which endure over long periods
and which constitute the objective human tendencie of society and indeed
of mankind as a whole.
uch writers form the authentic ideological avant-garde since they
depIct the vital, but not immediately obvious force at work in objective
´Translated into English 8 Man of Straw and The Blue Angel respectively.
The eponymous hero of two novels Heinrich Mann publishe in the 1930s: Di Jugend
Konigs Henr Quatre and Di Vo/lenhung des Konigs Henri Quatre.
reality. They do so with such profundity and truth that the product
their imagination receive confrmation from subsequent events -
merely in the simple sense in which a successful photograph mirrors
original, but because they express the wealth and diversity of re,,
w ;
refecting forces as yet submerged beneath the surface, which
blossom forth visibly to all at a later stage. Great realism, therefore,
not portray an i mmediately obvious aspect of reality but one which
permanent and objectively more signifcant, namely man in the
range of his relations to the real world, above all those which
mere fashion. Over and above that, it capture tendencies of de·el'prelll
that only exist incipiently and s have not yet had the opportunity
unfold their entire human and social potential. To discer and give
to such underground trends is the great historical mission of the
literary avant-garde. Whether a writer relly belongs to the ranks of
avant-garde is something that only history can reveal, for only after
passage of time will it become apparent whether he has
signifcant qualities, trends, and the social functions of individual
types, and has given them efective and lasting form. After what has
said already, I hope that no furthe argument is require to prove that
the major realists are capable of forming a genuine avant-garde.
So what really matters is not the subjectve belief, however sl'nc,, e!
that one belongs to the avant-garde and is eager to march in the forefr,nt
of literary development. Nor is it essential to have been the frst
discover some technical innovation, however dazzling. What counts
the social and human content of the avant-garde, the breadth, the
fundity and. the truth of the ideas that have been
In short, what is at issue here is not whether or not we deny
possibility of anticipatory movement in the superstructure. The
questions are: what was anticipated, in what manner and by whom?
We have already given a number of illustrations, and we could
multiply them, to show what the major realists of our time have
pated in their art, by their creation of types. So let us now tum
question round and enquire what Expressionism anticipated? The
answer we can possibly receive, even from Bloch, is: Surrealism, i.e.
another literary school whose fundamental failure to anticipate
trends in it art has emerge with crystal clarity, and nowhere
clearly than from the description of it given by its greatest adlnirers.
Modernism has not, nor has it ever had, anything to do with the cr<t!on
of 'prophetic fgures' or with the genuine anticipation of future de1elcp,
Lukacs against Bloch 49
we have been successful in clarifying the criterion by which the
rary avant-garde is to be distinguished, then it is no great problem to
swer certain concrete questions. Who in our literature belongs to the
•• a'anIH
ar,er 'Prophetic' writers of the stamp of Gorky, or writers like
the late Hermann Bahr who, like a drum-major, marched proudly at the
head of every new movement from Naturalism to Surrealism, and then
promptly dismisse each phase a year before it went out of fashion?
Granted, Hermann Bahr is a caricature, and nothing could be further
from my mind than to put him o the same footing as the sincere defenders
of Expressionism. But he is the caricature of something real, namely of a
formalist modernism, bereft of content, cut of from the mainstream of
It is an old truth of Marxism that every human activity should be
judge according to its objective meaning m the total context, and not
according to what the agent believes the importanc of his activity to be.
So, on the one hand, it is not essential to be a conscious 'moderist' at
all costs (Balzac, we recall, was a royalist); and, on the other hand, even
the most passionate determination, the most intense sense of conviction
that one has revolutionized art and created something - 'radically new',
will not sufce to turn a writer into someone who can truly anticipate
future trends, if determination and conviction are his sole qualifcations.
This ancient truth can also be expresse as a commonplace: the road
to hell is pave with good intentions. The validity of this proverb may
on occasion appear with the force oa hometruth_to anyone who takes
his own development seriously and is therefore prepared to criticize
himself objectively and without pulling any punches. I a quit willing
to start with myself. In the winter of ÌV̪Ìå. subjetively, a passionate
protest against the War, it futlity and inhumanity, its destruction of
culture and civilization. A general mood that was pessimistic to the point
of despair. The contemporary world of capitalism appeared to be the
consummation of Fichte's 'age of absolute sinfulness'. My subjective
determination was a protest of a progressive sort. The objective product,
The Theor of the Novel, was a reactionary work in every respect, full of
idealistic mysticism and false in all its assessments of the historical
process. Then ÌVZZ: a moo of excitement, full of revolutionary im­
patience. I can still hear the bullet of the Re War against the imperialists
whistling around my head, the excitement of being an outlaw mHungary
still reverberates within me. Everything in me rebelled against
notion that the frst great revolutionary wave was past and that
resolution of the Communist vanguard was insufcient to bring
the overthrow of capitalism. Thus the subjective foundation was
revolutionary impatience. The objective product was Histor and Class
Consciousness - which was reactionary because of its idealism, because of
its faulty grasp of the theory of refection and because of it denial of a •
dialectics mnature. It goes without saying that I a not alone in having
had such experiences at this time. On the contrary, it also happene to
countless others. The opinion expressed m my oId essay on Expres­
sionism which has arouse so many dissenting voices, namely the '
assertion that ideologically Expressionism was closely related to the
Independent Socialists, is base on the aforementione ancient truth.
In OUf debate on Expressionism, revolution (Expressionism) and
Noske have been put mopposing camps - in the goo old Expressionist
manner. But could Noske have managed to emerge the victor without
the Independent Socialists, without their vacillation and hesitation,
which prevented the Workers' Councils from seizing power while
tolerating the organization and arming of rectionary forces? The
Independent Socialists were, m party terms, the organize expression
of the fact that even those German workers who were radicl at the level
of their feelings, were not yet equipped ideologically for revolution. The
Spartacus League was too slow mdetaching itself from the Independent
Socialists and it did not criticize them incisively enough; both failures
are an important index of the weakness and backwardness of the subjective
side of the German revolution, the very factors that Lenin single out
right from the start mhis critique of the Spartacus League.
Of course, the whole situation was anything but straightforward. In
my' original essay, for instance, I drew a very sharp distinction between
leaders and masses within the Independent Socialists. The masses were
instinctively revolutionary. They showed that they were also objectively
revolutionary by going on strike in munitions factories, by undermining
eforts at the front and by a revolutionary enthusiasm which culminated
in the January strike. For all that, they remained confused and hesitant ;
they let themselves be ensnared by the demagogy of their leders. The
latter were in prt consciously counter-revolutionary (Kautsky, Bern­
stein and Hilferding) and worked objectively and expressly to preserve
bourgeois rule, in collaboration with the old SPO leadership. Other
leaders were subjectively sincere, but when it came to the crisis, they were
unable to ofer efective resistanc to this sabotage of the revolution.
Lukacs against Bloch 51
withstanding their sincerity and their reluctance, they slipped into
wake of the right-wing leadership until their misgivings fnally led
to a split within the Independent Socialists and so to their destruction.
relly revolutionary elements in the Independent Socialist Party
were those who, after Halle,l1 presse for the Party's dissolution and the
repudiation of its ideology.
What then of the Expressionists? They were Ideologues. They stood
between leaders and masses. For the most part their convictions were
sincerely held, though they were also mostly very immature and confused . .
They were deeply afected by the same uncertainties to which the
immature revolutionary masse were also subject. In addition they were
profoundly influence by every conceivable reactionary prejudice of the
age, and this made them more than susceptible to the widest possible
range of anti-revolutionary slogans - abstract pacifsm, ideology of non­
violence, abstract critiques of the bourgeoisie, or all sorts of crazy
anarchist notions. As ideologists, they stabilized both intellectually and
artistically what was essentially a merely transitional ideological phase.
From a revolutionary point of view, this phase was much more retrograde
mmany respects than the one in which the vacillating masses of Indepen­
dent Socialists supporters found themselves. But the revolutionary
signifcance of such phase of ideological transition lies precisely in their
fuidity, in their forward movement, in the fact that they do not yield a
crystallization. In this cse stabilization meant that the Expressionists
and those who were influence by them were prevented from making
further progress of a revolutionary kind. This negative efect, typicl of
every attempt to systematize ideological state of flux, received an
especially reactionary colouring in the case of the Expressionists: frstly,
because of the highfown pretensions to leadership, the sense of mission,
which led them to proclaim eternal trths, particularly during the revolu­
tionary yers; secondly, because of the specifcally anti-realist bias in
Expressionism, which meant that they had no hD artistic hold on
reality which might have corrected or neutralized their misconceptions.
Awe have seen, Expressionism insiste on the primacy of immediacy,
and by conferring a pseudo-profundity and pseudo-perfection on
immediate experience both in art and thought, it intensifed the dangers
which inevitably accompany all such attempts to stabilize an essentially
transitional ideology.
Thus, to the extent that Expressionism really had any ideological
At its Congres i Halle in 1920, the USPD vote by a majority to merge with the KPD.
infuence, its efect was to discourage rather than to promote the process
of revolutionary clarifcation among its followers. Here, too, there is a
parallel with the ideology of the Independent Socialists. It is no coin­
cidence that both came to grief on the same reality. It is a over-·
simplifcation for the Expressionists to claim that Expressionism was
destroyed by Noske's victory. Expressionism collapsed, on the one hand,
with the passing of the frst wave of revolution, for the failure of which
the ideology of the Independent Socialists must carry a heavy burden of
responsibility. On the other hand, it suffered a loss of prestige from the
growing clarity of the revolutionary consciousness of the masse who
were beginning to advance with increasing confdence beyond the
revolutionary catchwords from which they had started.
But Expressionism was not dethroned by the defeat of the frst wave
of revolution in Germany alone. The consolidation of the victory of the
proletariat in the Soviet Union playe an equally important role. As the
proletariat gained a frmer control of the situation, as Socialism began to
permeate more and more aspects of the Soviet economy, and as the
cultural revolution gained wider and wider acceptance among the masses
of the workers, so the art of the 'avant-garde' in the Soviet Union found
itself gradually but inexorably forced back on to the defensive by an
increasingly confdent school of realism. So in the last analysis the defeat
of Expressionism was a product of the maturity of the revolutionary
masses. The careers of Soviet poet like Mayakovsky, or of Germans
such as Beher, make it clear that this is where the true reasons for the
demise of Expressionism have to be sought and found.
Is our discussion purely literary? I think not. I do not believe that any
confict between literary trends and their theoretical justifcation would
have had such reverberations or provoke such discussion were it not
for the fact that, in its ultimate consequences, it was felt to involve a
political problem that concerns us all and infuences us all in equal
measure : the problem of the Popular Front.
Bernhard Ziegler raised the issue of popular art in a very pointed
manner. The excitement generated by this question is evident on all
side and such a vigorous interest u surely to be welcomed. Bloch, too,
is concerned to salvage the popular element mExpressionism. He says :
'It is untrue that Expressionists were estranged from ordinary people
by their overweening arrogance. Again, the opposite is the case. The
Blu Rider imitated the stained glass at Murnau, and in fact was the frst
Lukacs against Bloch 53
t open people's eyes to this moving and uncanny folk art. In the same
,ay, it focused attention on the drawings of children and prisoners, on
the disturbing works of the mentally sick, and on primitive art.' Such a
view of popular art succeeds in confusing all the issues. Popular art does
not imply an ideologically indiscriminate, 'arty' appreciation of 'primi­
tive' products by connoisseurs. Truly popular art has nothing in common
with any of that. For if it did, any swank who collects staine glass or
negro sculpture, any snob who celebrates insanity as the emancipation
of mankind from the fetters of the mechanistic mind, could claim to be
a champion of popular art.
Today, of course, it is no easy matter to form a proper conception of
popular art. The older ways of life of the people have been eroded
economically by capitalism, and this has introduced a feeling of uncer­
tainty into the world-view, the cultural aspirations, the taste and moral
judgement of the people ; it has created a situation in which people are
exposed to the perversions of demagogy. Thus it is by no means always
progressive simply to collect old folk products indiscriminately. Nor does
such a rescue operation necessarily imply an appeal to the vital instincts
of the people, which do remain progressive against all obstacles. Similarly,
the fact that a literary work or a literary trend is gretly in vogue does
not in itself guarantee that it is genuinely popular. Retrograde tradi­
tionalisms, such as regional art [Heimatkunst], and bad modem works,
such as thrillers, have achieved mass circulation without being popular
in any true sense of the word.
With all these reservations, however, it is still not unimportant to
ask how much of the real literature of our time has reached the masses,
and how deeply it has penetrated. But what 'modernist' writer of the
last few decades can even begin to compare with Gorky, with Anatole
France, Romain Rolland or Thomas Mann? That a work of such un­
compromising artistic excellence as Buddenbrooks could be printed in
millions of copies, must give all of us food for thought. The whole prob­
lem of popular art would, as old Briest in Fontane's novel used to say,
'lead us too far afeld' for us to discuss it here. We shall confne ourselves
therefore to two points, without pretending to an exhaustive treatment
of either.
In the frst place, there is the question of the cultural heritage. Wherever
the cultural heritage has a living relationship to the real life of the people
it is characterized by a dynamic, progresive movement in which the
active creative forces of popular tradition, of the sufering and joys of
the people, of revolutionary legacies, are buoye up, preserved, trans-
cende and further developed. For a writer to possess a living relationship
to the cultural heritage means being a son of the people, borne along by
the current of the people's development. In this sense Maxim Gorky is a
son of the Russian people, Romain Rolland a son of the French and
Thomas Mann a son of the German people. For all their individuality
and originality, for all their remoteness from an artiness which artifcially
collects and aestheticizes about the primitive, the tone and content of
their writings grow out of the life and history of their people, they are an
organic product of the development of their nation. That is why it is
possible for them t create art of the highest quality while at the same
time striking a chord which can and does evoke a response in the broad
masses of the people.
The attitude of the modernist to the cultural heritage stands in sharp
contrast to this. They regard the history of the people as a gret jumble
sale. If one leafs through the writings of Bloch, one will fnd him men­
tioning the topic only in expressions like 'useful legacie', 'plunder', and
s on. Bloch is much to conscious a thinker and stylist for these to be
mere slips of the pen. On the contrary, they are an index of his general
attitude towards the cultural heritage. In his eye it is a hep of lifeless
objects in which one can rummage around at will, picking out whatever
one happens to need at the moment. It is something to b take apart and
stuck together again in accordance with the exigencies of the moment.
Hanns Eisler has expresse the same attitude very clearly in an article
he and Bloch wrote together. He was - rightly - highly enthusiastic
about the Don Carlos demonstration in Berlin." But insted of pondering
what Schiller really represented, where his achievement and his limita­
tions actually lay, what he has meant for the German people in the past
and still means today, and what mountain of reactionary prejudices
would have to be cleare a way in order to forge the popular and progres­
sive aspects of Schiller into a usable weapon fothe Popular Front and for
the emancipation of the German people - instead of aU that, he merely
put forward the folio wing programme for the beneft of writers in exile :
'What must our task b outside Germany? Dis evident that it can only
be for us all to help select and prepare classical material that is suitable
for such a struggle.' Thus what Eisler proposes is to reduce the classics
to an anthology and then to reassemble whatever 'material is suitable'.
It would b impossible to conceive of a more alien, arrogant or negative
attitude towards the glorious literary past of the German people.
Eisler/Ernst Bloch: Die Kunst zu erben.
Lukacs against Bloch 55
Objectively, however, the life of the people is a continuum. A theory
like that of the modernists which sees revolutions only as rupture and
catastrophe that destroy all that is past and shatter all connection with
the great and glorious past, is akin to the ideas of euvier,13 not those of
Marx and Lenin. It forms an anarchistic pendant to the evolutionary
theorie of reformism. The latter see nothing but continuity, the former
see nothing but ruptures, fsure and catastrophes. History, however,
is the living dialectical unity of continuity and discontinuity, of evolution
and revolution.
Thus here, as everywhere, everything depends on a correct apprecia­
tion of content. Lenin put the Marxist view of the cultural heritage in
this way: 'Marxism attaine it world-historical importanc as the
ideology of the revolutionary proletariat by virtue of it refusal to reject
the most valuable achievement of the bourgeois era. Instead, it appro­
priated and assimilated all that was valuable in a tradition of human
thought and human culture stretching back over 200 years.' So every­
thing depends on recognizing clearly where to look for what is truly of
If the question is correctly formulated, in the context of the life and the
progressive tendencies of the people, then it will lead u organically to
our se.cond point: the question of realism. Modem theorie of popular
art, strongly influenced by avant-garde ideas, have pushe the sturdy
realism of folk art very much into the background. L this issue, too,
we cannot possibly discuss the entire problem in all it ramifcations, so
we shall confne our observations to one single, crucial point.
We are talking here to writers about literature. We must remind
ourselve that owing to the tragic course of German history, the popular
and realistic element in our literature is nothing like as powerful as in
England, France or Russia. That very fact should spur u to attend all
the more closely to the popular, realistic literature of the German past
and to keep it vital, productive taditions alive. If we do so, we shall see
that despite the whole 'German misere', popular, realistic literature
produce such major masterpiece as the Simplizissimus of Grimmels­
hausen." It may be left to the Eislers of this world t take the book to
'´Georges Cuvier (1769-1832). According to his theory every gelogical er terminated
i a catastrophe and every new one was brought about by an immigration and a re-creation.
He rejected theorie of evolution.
¯´ H. ). Chr. von Grimmelshausen (c.l621-76). His picaresque novel, Th Adventures
ofa Simpleton (1669) set in the Thirty Years' Wa is the major German literary work of the
17th century.
piece and estimate their montage value; for the living tradition
German literature it will continue to survive intact in all it greatness
and with all its limittions.15
Only when the masterpiece of realism past and present afe appre­
ciate as wholes, will their topical, cultural and political value fully
emerge. This value reside in their inexhaustible diversity, in contlasl
to the one-dimensionality of moderism. Cervante and Shakespeare;
Balzac and Tolstoy, Grimmelshausen and Gottfrie Keller, Gorky
Thomas and Heinric Mann - all these can appeal to readers drawn
from a broad cross-section of the people because their works permit
access from so many diferent angles. The large-scale, enduring resonance
of the great works of realism is m fact due to this accessibility, to
infnite multitude of doors through which entry is possible. The wealth
of the characterization, the profound and accurate grasp of constant and
typical manifestations of human life is what produces the great progre­
sive reverberation of these works. The process of appropriation enables
readers to clarify their own experience and understanding of life and to
broaden their own horizons. A living form of humanism prepare them
to endorse the political slogans of the Popular Front and to comprehend
its political humanism. Through the meiation of realist literature the
soul of the masses is made receptive for an understanding of the great,
progressive and democratic epochs ohuman history. This will prepare •
it for the new type of revolutionary democracy that is represente by the
'´ The plural formulation 'It may be left to the Eislers . . .' provoked Brecht to write the
following Minor Correction: 'In the debate on Expressionism in Das Wort something has
happene in the heat of battle that stands in need of a minor correction. Lukacs has been
wiping the foor, so to speak, with my friend Eisler, who, incdentally, i hardly anyone's
idea of a pale aesthete. It appears that Eisler has failed to exhibit the pious reverence towards
the cultural heritage expected from the executors of a will. Instead he just rummaged around
in it and declined to take everything into his possesion. Well, it may b that, as Ç exile,
he is not in a position to lug S much stuff around with him. However, perhaps I may b '
allowe a few comments on the formal aspects of the incident. Reference was made to
"the Eislers", who were alleged to b doing, or not doing, something or other. In my opinion,
the Lukacses ought to refrain from using such plurals when in fact there is only one Eisler
among our musicians. The millions of white, yellow and black workers who have inherited
the songs Eisler wrote for the masse will undoubtedly share my opinion here. But in
addition there are all sort of experts on music who think highly of Eisler's works, in which,
so they tell me, he magnifcently builds on and extends the cultural heritage of German
music, and they would b very confuse if the German emigre should seek to outdo the
seven cities of Greece, who quarrelled about which of the had produce a single Homer,
by allowing themselve V start boasting that they had seven Eislers.' When the essay was
revised for republication in book-form (Aufbau, Berlin I94)Lukac rewrote the sentence
to read 'It may be left to Eisler and Bloch . . .', while in vol. 4 ProbJeme des Realismus,
Luchterhand 1971, we fnd: 'It may be left to Eisler . . .'.
Lukacs against Bloch 57
popular Front. The more deeply anti-Fascist literature is embedde in
soil, the better able it will be to create contrasting type of good and
'evil, models of what should be admire and what hate -and the greater
»m b its resonance among the people
In contrast to this, it ' is but a very narrow doorway which leads to
'Joyce or the other representatives of avant-garde literature: one needs a
certain 'knack' to see just what their game is. Whereas in the case of the
major realists, easie access produces a richly complex yield m human
terms, the broad mass of the people can lear nothing from avant-garde
literature. Precisely because the latter is devoid of reality and life, it
foists on to its readers a narrow and subjectivist attitude to life (analogous
to a sectarian point of view in political terms). In realism, the wealth of
create life provides answers to the questions put by the readers them­
selves - life supplie the answers to the questions put by life itself!
The taxing struggle to understand the art of the 'avant-garde', on the
other hand, yields such subjectivist distortions and travestie that ordinary
people who try to translate these atmospheric echoe of reality back into
the language of their own experience, find the task quite beyond them.
A vital relationship to the life of the people, a progressive development
of the masses' own experiences - this is the great social mission of litera­
ture. In his early works Thomas Mann found much to criticize in' the
literature of West em Europe. It is no accident that his objections to the
problematic nature and remoteness from life of many moder works were
counter-balanced by his indication of an alternative creative idea� in
his description of the Russian literature of the nineteenth century as
'sacred' .16 What he had mmind was this very same life-creating, popular
The Popular Front means a struggle for a genuine popular culture, a
manifold relationship to every aspect of the life of one's own people as
it has developed in its own individual way in the course of history. It
means fnding the guideline and slogans which can emerge out of this
life of the people and rouse progressive force to new, politically efective
activity. To understand the historical identity of the people doe not
of course, imply an uncritical attitude towards one's own history - on
the contrary, such criticism is the necessary consequence of real insight
into one's own history. For no people, and the Germans lest of al� has
succeeded in establishing progressive democratic force m a perfect
Lukac is evidently referring to the celebrate discussion on the value of literature in
Tonio Kroger.
ÍorD 8nd WIIhouI 8ny 8cID8Ck8. LIIIICI8m mu8I Dc D88cd¸ hoWcVcI¸
8n 8CCuI8Ic 8nd QIoÍound undcI8I8ndIng oÍ Ihc Ic8lIIIc oÍ hI8IoIy,
bInCc II W88 Ihc 8gc oÍ ImQcII8lI8m WhICh CIc8Icd Ihc mo8t
oD8I8Clc8 Io QIogIc88 8nd dcmoCI8Cy In Ihc 8QhcIc8 oÍ DoIh QolIIIO
CulIuIc¸ 8 IIcnCh8nI 8n8ly8I8 oÍ Ihc dcC8dcnI m8nIÍcI8IIon8 o
QcIIod ~ QolIIIC8l¸ CulIuI8l 8nd 8III8IIC ~ I8 8n c88cnII8l QIcIcquI8IIc
8ny DIc8kIhIough Io 8 gcnuIncly QoQul8I CulIuIc. À C8mQ8Ign
Ic8lI8m¸ WhcIhcI Con8CIou8 oI noI¸ 8nd 8 Ic8ulI8nI ImQoVcII8hmcnI
I8ol8IIon oÍ lIIcI8IuIc 8nd 8tt I8 onc oÍ Ihc CIuCI8l m8nIÍc8I8IIon8
dcC8dcnCcIn Ihc Ic8lm oÍ8II.
1n Ihc CouI8c oÍouI Icm8Ik8 Wc h8Vc 8ccn Ih8I Wc 8hould noI
noI Ju8IQolIIIC8lly8nd IhcoIcIIClly¸ DuI8l8o WIIh 8llIhc In8IIumcnU
IhcdI8Qo88loÍ8II¸ h8Vcm8dc8ndConIInucIom8KcIhcm8clVc8ÍclI.
I88kIh8I Í8Cc8 u8 I8 Io lcndIhcmouI8uQQoII.¯hcy8IcIo bÍound In 8
Ic8lI8m WhIChh88UucdcQIh8nd8IgnIh08nCc.
ÝIIIcI8 In cXIlc¸ IogcIhcI WIIh Ihc 8IIugglc oÍ Ihc ÏoQul8I 1IonI In
ÍoICc8. 1I mIghI Dc IhoughI 8umCIcnI Io QoInI Io mcInIICh 8nd ³hom88
À8nn¸ Who¸ 8I8IIIng ÍIom dIhcIcnt 888umQIIon8¸ h8Vc 8Ic8dIly gIoWn
In 8I8IuIc In IcCcnI yc8I8 DoIh 88 WIIIcI8 8nd IhInkcI8. ÛuI Wc 8Ic
CcIncd hcIc WIIh 8 DIo8d IIcnd In 8nII-188CI8I lIIcI8IuIc. Ýc nco only
ComQ8Ic 1cuChIW8ngcI´8 Sons WIIh hI8 Histor ofthe Jewish Wars Io
8cc Ihc 8IIcnuou8 cÛoII8 hc I8 m8kIng Io oVcIComc Ihc 8uDJcCIIVI8I
IcndcnCIc8 WhICh dI8I8nCo hIm ÍIom Ihc m888c¸ 8nd Io 888ImIl8Ic 8nd
ÍoImul8Ic Ihc Iml QIoDlcm8 oÍ oIdIn8Iy QcoQlc. ju8I 8 8hoII WhIlc 8go
ÀlÍIo LuDlIn g8Vc 8 I8lk In Ihc Ï8II8 bLb' In WhI0h hc dcCl8Icd hI8
CommIImcnI Io Ihc hI8IoIIC8l 8nd QolIIICl IclcV8nCc oÍlIIcI8IuIc 8nd In
WhICh hc 88W8 Ic8lI8m oÍIhckInd QI8CtI8cd DyLoIky88 cXcmQl8Iy~ 8n
cVcnI oÍno lIIIlc ImQoII8nCc ÍoI Ihc ÍuIuIc CouI8c oÍouI lIIcI8IuIc. 1n
Ihc IhIIU numDcIoÍDas Wort, ÛIcChI QuDlI8ho 8 onc-8CI Ql8ylcI (The
Informer)l' InWhIChhcIuIn8Io Wh8II8ÍoI hIm8noVc� hIghly dIÛcIcn-
'' SDS - Der Schutzvergand deutscher Schriftsteller (Assoiation for the Protection c the
Rights of German Authors) where Doblin gave an important. lecture Di deutsche Literatur
(im Ausland seit 1933) in January 1938.
'´ A scene fromFurcht und Elend des dritten Reichs, trans. by Eric Bentley as The Private
(f the Master Race. Brecht's reaction to Lukacs's praise has been recorde i his
Arbeitsj(ural (vol. I, p. 22): 'Lukacs has welcome The Infrmer as i I were a sinner
returning to the bosom of the Salvation Army. At last something take from life itself!
He has overlooked the montage of 27 scene an the fact that it i really no mor than a
ctalogue of gestures, such as the gesture of falling silent, of looking over one's shoulder, of
terror, etc.; in short, the gesture oflife under a dictatorship'.
Lukacs against Bloch S9
8nd 8uDIlc Íotm oÍIc8lI888 8Wc8QonIn Ihc 8IIugglc 8g8In8I Ihc
mMI!y oÍ 188CI8m. Ûy dcQICIIng Ihc Í8Ic oÍ8CIu8l hum8n DcIng8¸
QIoVIdc 8 VIVId Im8gc oÍIhc hoIIoI8 oÍIhc 188CI�IcIgn oÍ I�IIoI In
Ìc 8hoW8 hoW 188CI8m dc8IIoy8 Ihc cnIlIc Íound8II0n8 oÍ
hum8n CommunIIy¸ hoW II dc8IIoy8 Ihc IIu8I DcIWccD hu8D8nd8¸
8nd ChIldIcn¸ 8nd hoW In II8 Inhum8nIIy II 8CIu8lly undcImInc8
8nnIhIl8Ic8 Ihc Í8mIly¸ Ihc Vcty In8IIIuIIon II Cl8Im8 Io QIoIcCI.
gWIIh 1cuChIW8ngcI¸ LuDlIn 8nd ÛIcChI onc Could n8mc 8 Wholc
8cIIc8 oÍWIIIcI8~ Ihc mo8I ImQoII8nI 8nd Ihc mo8I I81cnIo Wc h8Vc ~
who h8Vc 8doQIo88ImIl8I8II8Icgy¸oI8Ic DcgInnIng Iodo8o.

ÛuI IhI8 doc noImc8n Ih8I Ihc 8IIugglc Io oVcIComc Ihc 8nII-Ic8lI8I
It8dIIIon8 oÍ Ihc cI8 oÍ ImQcII8lI8m I8 oVcI. luI QIc8cnI dcD8Ic 8hoW8¸
IhcConII8Iy¸ Ih8I Ihc8c II8dIIIon88Ic8IIll dccQly IooIo In ImQoII8nI
aBd loy8l 8uQQoIIcI8 oÍ Ihc ÏoQul8I 1IonI Who8c QolIIIC8l VIcW8 8Ic
unquc8Uon8DlyQIogIc88IVc.¹hI8 I8Why8uCh8ÍotIhIIghI DuIComI8dcly
dI8Cu88Ion W88 oÍ 8uCh VII8l ImQoII8nCc. 1oI II I8 noI Ju8I Ihc m888c8
Who lc8In IhIou§ IhcII oWn cXQcIIcnCc In Ihc Cl888-8IIugglc¦ Idcolo-
gI8I8, WIIIcI88nd CIIIIC8¸ h8Vc Io lcM Ioo. 1I Would b 8gI8Vc cIIoI Io
oVcIlook Ih8IgIoWIng IIcnd IoW8Id8 Ic8lI8 WhICh h88 cmcIgcd ÍIom
Ihc cXQcIIcnCc8 oÍ hghIcI8 In Ihc ÏoQul8I 1IonI 8nd WhICh h88 cVcn
8Û cCIcd WIIIcI8 Who Í8VouIcd 8 VcIy dIÛcIcnI 8QQIo8O DcÍoIc IhcII
³o m8kc IhI8 VcIy QoInI¸ Io IcVc8l 8omc oÍIhc InIIm8Ic¸ V8IIo 8nd
0omQlcX Dond8 WhICh lInk Ihc ÏoQul8I 1IonI¸ QoQul8I lIIcI8IuIc 8nd
8uIhcnIIC Ic8lI8m¸ I8 Ihc I88k 1h8Vc8cIouI Io8CComQlI8hInIhc8cQ8gc8.
Translated by Rodney Livingstone
Presentation I I
¯hc gcnct8l lIIct8ty C8non8 oÍLcotg Ïuk8C88tc Dy noW tcl8IIVcly
knoWnIn IhcÎnglI8h-8Qc8kIng Wotld. ¯t8n8l8uon8 oÍhI8mo8IImQotI8:1t
Ihcotc!IC8l c888y8 oÍ mc IhItIIc h8Vc 8Ull, hoWcVct¸ m Dc QublI8hcq,
1I W88 dutIng IhI8 dcC8dc Ih8I Ïuk8Q¸ h8VIng 8D8ndono
tc8Qon8IDIlIIIc In Ihcmung8tI8n LommunI8I Ï8tIy¸ Iutn0d Io 8c8Ih¢IK
WtIIIng8 8nd gt8du8lly 8CquItcd 8 Comm8ndIng Qo8IUon 88
WIIhInIhct8nk8oÍ IhcLctm8nlIIct8tylcÍI.mI8dcDuIInIhI8tolt otCuttcd
In Ihc ¯hItd ÏctIod Qh88c oÍIhc LomInIctn¸ 88 8 ConItIDuIot Io
kurve, Ihc otg8n oÍ Ihc Bund Proletarisch-Revolutionirer Sc.riistellr'
(ÛÏbb] ot À88oCI8IIon oÍÏtolcI8tI8n bcVoluIIon8tyÝtIIct8,
Ihc ÞÏL In l8Ic ÏVZö. Ïuk8O ht8I dI8IInguI8ho hIm8clÍIn Li"ksAun
Dy motd8nI8II8Ck8 onnoVcl8Dy ÝIllI Ûtcdcl¸ 8 Wotkct-WtIIct Who
Dccn 8 Iutnct In Ihc cngIncctIng Indu8Ity¸ 8nd ÎD8I lIIW8lI¸ 8
888oCI8Ic 8nd Coll8Dot8Iot oÍÛtcChI, Íot Wh8I hc 8llcgo W88 Ihc
8IIIuI:on oÍ Joutn8lI8IIC `tcQotI8gc´ Íot Cl888IC8l `Ctc8IIon oChæaCIc ´
In IhcIt hCIIon.' ÛtcChI hIm8clJ IogcIhct WIIh Ihc boVIcI WtIIct
y8koV¸ W88 cXQtc88ly lInko Io Ihc ncg8IIVc Itcnd cXcmQlIho Dy
WtIIct8¸ 8nd hI8 ConCcQIIon oÍ 8n oDJcCIIVI8I `8nII-8tI8IoIclI8n´ Ihc8Itc
tcQudI8Icd. ÀÍIct Ihc ¡82 8cI2utc oÍQoWct In Lctm8ny, 8nd Ihc 8W:Icl
oÍ Ihc ¯hItd 1nIctn8IIon8l Io ÏoQul8t 1tonI QolICIc 8g8In8I Í88CI8m¸
Ïuk8C8´8 lIIct8ty VIcW8 DcC8mc InCtc88Ingly InÜucnII8l In Ihc omCI8l
otg8n8 oÍIhc Lctm8n LommunI8I cmIgt8IIon¸ WhcI< Ihcy Could Dc u8cd
88 8n 8c8IhcIIC CounIctQoInI Io QolIIICl 8I!8Ck8 on `lcÍII8m´ WIIhIn
InIcllIgcnI8I8 8nd Ihc Wotkct8´ moVcmcnI.° 1n cXIlc¸ Ïuk8C8´8 ncXI
' See 'Willi Bredels Romane' in Linkskurve, Novembe 1931, and 'Reportage oder
Gestaltung? Kritische Bemerkungen anlisslich eine Romans von Onwalt' i Linkskurve,
July-August 1932, followed by a reply by Ottwalt and a concluding rejoinder by Lukac in
subsequent issues. Ottwalt co-scripted the flm Kubl Wampe wit Brecht in the same year.
2 Since the Second World War, it has often been alleged that Lukacs's criticl views can
be seen essentially as a cultural justifcation or derivative of the Popular Front. While there
is no doubt that they were to b politically instrumentalized as such, it is emphatically not
Presentation Î 61
W88 Ihc lcg8Cy oÍ cXQtc88IonI8m In Lctm8n lIIct8Iutc, WhIO hc

otou8ly Dcl8Doutcd In Ihcjoutn8l Interational Literatur Inj8nu8ty
In8nc888ycnIIIlc'Grosse und Verfall des Expressionismus'. ÛtcChI¸
m8ny oIhct Lctm8n WtIIct8 oÍht8 gcnct8Uon¸ h8d oÍCout8c 8I8tIcd
C8tcct 88 8 Q8t8-cXQtc8IonI8I hIm8cl͸ In hI8 Ql8y8 oÍ Ihc c8tly
JwcBIIc8. Ïuk8C h8d Ihu8 8888Ilcd¸ In tcVct8c otdct¸ DoIh Ihc IWo m8In
· pB88c8 oÍhI8 oWn 8tII8IIc dcVcloQmcnI. ¯Wo yc8t8 l8Ict¸ Ïuk8C8 QuD-
hI8 tIChc8I 8nd mo8I 8cmIn8l c888y oÍ Ihc QctIod¸ Erzi hlen oder
Beschreiben? 1n IhI8 IcXI, hc 8cI ouI Ihc m8In C8IcgotIc 8nd QtInCIQlc8
çIhc doCItIncoÍlIIct8tytc8lI8 Ih8I hc W88Io m8In¼In Íot Ihc tc8I oÍ
lIÍc¦ Ihc tcIIct8Icd 8nIIIhc8I8 DcIwccn n8Iut8lI8 8nd tc8lI8m, Ihc

tcjc0IIon oÍDoIh cXIctn8l tcQotI8gc 8nd InIctn8l Q8yChologI8m, Ihc dI8-
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mlIIct8ty Ctc8IIon Wctc In8I8IcnIly QIllotIcd Íot `Íotm8¡I

m´ Dy Ïu�8C8.
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cpoCh¸ 8nd8ÍclloW À8tXI8I¸cVIdcnIlyC8mcIo Íccl 8nInCtc88IngQtc

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[Whctc Ïuk8C8 h8d moVcd In ÏVJJ) 8nd 8cCo

d0d Dy ¡

88ct 888
lIkc Þutcll8¸ 8CquIto motc 8nd motc omCI8l 8uIhotJ!y W:Ihm Ihc
8mDtcnCcoIhc LomInIctn. ÛcnJ8mIn¸ tcCotdInghI8 ConVct88IIon8 WIIh
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et at 8tc gIVIng ÛtcChI 8 good dc8l oÍItouDlc´ ` ¡omIn8lly¸ ÛtcChI W88
the case that they represented an ex post [acto adaptation of hi convictions �Lukacs's part.
O the contrary having abandone politicl for literary work in 1929 preCisely because of
his opposition t�the sectarian policie of the Third Pe
riod, he antici

ate Pop

lar Front
orientations in his new feld by at least three yers. ThiS was paradOXically pOSSible at the
, height of the KPD's rabid campaigns against 'social-fascism', because of the protection in
1931-2 of Heinz Neumann and Willi Munzenberg, who sought to use the cultural apparatus
of the party more flexibly than its mainline politicl strategy


ted, and

vere Lukacs's
literary fanks i Linkskurve. (For the complex history of thiS conjuncture m the BPRS, see
Helga Gallas, Marxistische Literatur-theorie, NeuwiedjBerlin 1971, esp. pp. 60, 68-, 2�O).
After the Nazi seizure of power Lukacs's attack on expressionism still predate the adoption
of the Popular Front tum by
some months. The advent of the n

policy i mid-1934,
which fnally synchronize Lukacs's evolution with that of the CO

t mo

tactical trimmings of his pronouncements. The substnce 0\ hiS aethetiC POSitIOns had
been arrived at by an original and independent route much erher.
. .
´See below 'Conversations with Brecht', p. 95. It should be remembered, tn assessmg
this episode, tiat LuJccs had been an ofcial and senior Com

unist militant i the I
national for nearly two decades, while Brecht's convergenc Wit the KPD W relatively
recent and had not led to formal party membership.
himself one of the three co-editors of the emigre front journal Das
published in Moscow between 1936 and 1939; his two colleague
Willi Bredel and Leon Feuchtwanger. In fact, his name was used
prestige reasons on the mast-head, and he had no say in it policy
his Own exile m Svendborg. During 1938 however, besides giving
to his feelings in violent objurgations in his private diaries, he
series of trenchant and sardonic counter-attacks against Lukacs, design«
as public interventions mDas Wort - where a major debate was
while still raging over the issue of expressionism, whose merits had
defende by, among others, Ernst Bloch and Hanns Eisler. The
most important of these texts written by Brecht, entitled re,m"ctivei
Die Essays von Georg Lukacs (I), Dbe den formalistischen Charakter
Realismustheorie (II), Bermerkungen zu eine AuJatz (III), and
stumlichkeit und Realismus (IV), are translate below. None of
were ever published in Das Wort, or anywhere else, mBrecht's 1I1<Hlme;
Whether Brecht submitted the to Das Wort mMoscow and they
rejected, or whether his own characteristic tactical prudenc di,su;deQ
him from ever sending them, still remains unclear. Benjamin, t
he read some of the texts, reports that: 'He aske my advice whether
publish them. As, at the same time, he told me that Lukacs's po;ition'
"over there" is at the moment very strong, I . told him I could ofer
advice. "There are questions of power involved. You ought to get
opinion of someone from over there. You've got friends there h",.n'"
you?" - Brecht: "Actually, no, I haven't. Neither have the
themselves - like the dead."'4 At the height of the Gret Terror, Brecht
may well have himself decided against any relese of these articles.
the event, they frst came to light in 1967, with the posthumous
cation of Suhrkamp Verlag's edition of his Schrifsen zur Kunst
Literatur in West Germany.
Brecht's polemic against Lukacs, while avoiding overly frequent invo:
cations of his name after the frst text, was in no way defensive in tone.:
On the contrary, it was caustic and aggressive, mustering a wide
of arguments designed to demolish the whole tenor of Lukacs's a .. 'th,tic.
To start with, Brecht fastened on the manifest contradiction between
Lukacs's view of the great European realist of the 19th centur as .
essentially bourgeois writers, and his claim that their literary ad,;eve_
roents should serve as a guide to proletarian or socialist writers in
20th century: for if the novels of Balzac or Tolstoy were determina.e
¯ See below, pp. 97~8.
Presentation I 63
ducts of a particular phase of class history, now superseded, how
uld any Marxist argue that the principles of their fction could be
created in a subsequent phase of history, dominated by the struggle of
other and antagonistic class? The social reality of cpitalism had
dergone radical modifctions in the 20th century, and necessarily no
ger produced historical forms of individuality of the Balzacian or
Tolstoyan type - hence to refurbish such fgures in new conditions
would actually be a signal fight from realism. The positon of women in
the contemporary USA, for example, let alone the USSR, structurally
precluded the peculiar patter of conficting passions typical of Balzac.
Conversely, where Lukac charged 'modernist' writng with formalism
beause of its use of such fragmented techniques as interior monologue
or montage, it was actually Lukacs himself who had fallen into a deluded
and timeless formalism, by attempting to deduc norms for prose purely
from literary traditions, without regard for the historical reality that
encompasses and transforms all literature in it own processe of change.
True realism, of which Brecht considered himself to b a staunch
champion and practitioner, was not merely an aesthetic optic: it was a
political and philosophical vision of the world and the material struggles
that divided it. At the same time, Brecht pointed out the extremely
narrow range of literature in terms of which Lukacs's theory was con­
structed, even within the aesthetic feld itself - its overwhelming pre­
occupation with the novel, to the exclusion of poetry or drama. The
omitted genres were, of course, those in which Brecht himself excelled.
More generally, many of the most radical innovations within German
culture after 1918 had been frst develope in the theatte. Brecht stressed
the indispensable nee for experimentaton in the arts, and the necessary
freedom of the artist to b allowed to fail, or only partially to succeed,
as the price of the invention of new aesthetic device many transitional
epoch of history. Interior monologue, montage, or mixture of genres
. within a single work were all permissible and fruitfl, so long as they
were disciplined by a watchful truthfulness to social reality. Fertility
of technique was not the mark of a 'mehanical' improverishment of art�
but a sign of energy and liberty. The fer that technical novelties as
such tended to render works of art alie or incomprehensible to the
masses, moreover, was a fundamental error. Tartly reminding Lukacs
that working-class readers might often fnd notable longueurs in the
leisurely narrative of Balzac or Tolstoy, Brecht invoked his own
experience as a playwright as evidence that proletarian audience and
participants welcomed experimental audacity on the stage, and were
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¨ Below,p. 97.
Presentation Î 6S
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6 His uncritical cult of the Chinese philosophers Mo Ti (se his Buck der Wendungen)
and Confucius (to whomhe dedicated a projected play), as repositories of Oriental wisdom,
are example. The virulent campaigns recently orchestrated against Confucius
in Chin

an ironic light on Brecht's preiletion for the latter. Neeless to say, nelther attitude
towards Confucius ha anything in common with historical materialism.
' See the important correspondence between Adoro and Benjamin, printe below,
pp. 110-141.
Yorx, rcspccttvc!y. Ìrom cach o!thcsc captta!s, thcorcttca! chaIcng: q
wcrcmadctothctwo mcn, whtchcngagcd thcwho!cdtrcctton o!

worx. In bothcascs, thc tdco!ogtca! tntcrpc!!atton was notcxcmpt
tnstttuttona! prcssurcs, but was ncvo rcductb!c to thc !attcr.³
organtzattona! co-ordtnatc o! thc Lommuntst movcmcnt crcatcd
common spacc bctwccn Luxács and Urccht, as thc morc tmpa!pab!c
ambtcncco!thcInstttutco!5octa!Kcscarch!tnxmUcn]amtnto^0om o,
but u!ttmatc!y Adorno's crtttctsms o!Ucn]amtn and Luxács's o!
acgutrcd thctt !orcc bccausc o! thctr dcgrcc o! cogcncy and pr0xt:ntj
o!conccmto thc worx at whtch thcy wcrcdtrcctcd. ¡tts nottccab!c
thc 'Wcstcrn' dcbatc rcproduccd thc samc dua! prob!cmattc as
')astcrn` countcrpatt: a dtsputc ovcr both thc art o!thc htstortca!
o!thc ¡ºth ccntury, and thc prcscnt atms and condtttons o!ac>thcttc
practtcctnthc ¿Üth ccntury. Lonsonant wtthUrccht'sdcstrct br0adcn
Narxtst !ttcraty thcoty bcyond thc novc!, thc prtmc ob]cct
Adorno-Ucn]amtn cxchangc was thc poctry o!Uaudc!atrc. Atthc
ttmc, whcrcasthc c!ashbctwccn Luxácsand Urcchtovcr cot1tctnporary
tssuc tnvo!vcd opposm conccpttons o!whatsocta!tstworxso!art
Ucn]amtnand Adorno ovcr modcm cu!tura! practtcchaddthcrcnt
mctcrs: tt was conccrncd wtth thc rc!attons bctwccn 'avant-gardc' and
'commcrcta!' art undcr thc domtnton o! captta!. Ähc conttnutty
tntractabt!tty o! thts prob!cm has madc tt a ccntra! !ocus o! acsthcttc
controvcrsy on thc !c!t cvcr stncc, whcrc thc contradtctton bctwccn
'htgh' and '!ow' gcnrc- thconcsub]ccttvc!yprogrcsstvcand obÍcctt\c!v
c!tttst, thc othcr ob]ccttvc!y popu!ar and sub]ccttvc!y rcgrcsstvc -
ncvcr bcm durab!y ovcrcomc, dcspttc a comp!cx, crtpp!m dta!ccttc
bctwccn thc two. Agatnst thts htstory, Urccht's art rctrospccttvc!y
body o! art producm a!tcr thc Kusstan Kcvo!utton to b uncompro-
mtstng!y advanccd tn !orm, yct tntranstgcnt!ypopu!artn tntcntton. Ähc
most tmportant o!Urccht's c!atms tn hts po!cmtc wtth Iuxács was hts
asscrtton that htsownp!ays !ounda vtta! rcsonancc wtthtnthcLcrman
worxtng-c!ass ttsc!!. Ähccxtcnto!thc va!tdttyo!thtsc!atm nccds somc
scruttny. Urccht's btggcst succcsscs tn thc Wctmar pcrtod - abovc a!!,
" The coincidence of date is striking. Breht's remarks VBenjamin about the implications
ofLukacs's criticisms, cited above, were made in July 1938. Benjamin receive the fateful
comments fromAdorno on his Baudelaire study on his retur to Paris a few months later,
in November. However, it should always b remembere that, although potential sanctions;
lay in the background of their interventions, neither Adoro nor Lukac were themselve
at aU secure in their own contraste asylums.
Presentation I 67
The Threepenny Opera - cn]oycda!argcbourgcotsaudtcncc,tnordtnary
]ts grcatcst p!ayswcrcthcn wrtttcndurtng cxt!cand warwtthoutany
contact wtth a Lcrman audtcncc o! any xind (Mother Courage: ¡ºJº¡
Gali/eo Galilei: ¡ºJº,Puntila: ¡º4¡,The Caucasian Chalk Circle: ¡º44-5).
Whcn thcy wcrc þna!!y stagm tn )ast Lcrmany a!tcr thc War, thctr
audtcnccs wcrc ccrtatn!y tn thc matn pto!ctartan, but stncc a!tcrnattvc
cntcrtatnmcnts (to usc a Urcchttan tctm) wcrc not wtdc!y avat!ab!c tn
thc ¡¡K, thcspontanctty and rca!ttyo! worxtng-c!assrcsponscto thc
Uct!tnct )nscmb!c rcmatn dtmcu!t to csttmatc. Uut that thc ovcra!!
structurc o!Urccht'sdramaturgy wasa!wayspotcntta!!y!uctd andcom-
prchcnstb!c to thc spcctators !or whom tt was dcstgncd, cannot bc
doubtcd. Ähc magnttudc o!thts achtcvcmcnt ts suggcstcd by tts vcry
tso!atton. A!tcr thc 5ccond Wor!d War, dcspttc a p!cthota o! socta!tst
wrttcrs, no comparab!c worx was produccd anywhcrctn )uropc¡ wht!c
tnthcWcst, thcasccnt o!Uccxctt (crtttca!!yconscctatcd byAdomo)as
ancw avataro!'htgh' att, was actua!!ytoprovoxcUrccht to p!anap!ay
dc!tbcratc!y tntcndcd as an anttdotc to Godot. Ähc !ragt!tty o!Urccht's
synthcsts,a!rcadycvtdcnccdtnthtscptsodcshort!ybc!orchtsdcath, has
on!y bccn conhrmcd by acsthcttc dcvc!opmcnu stncc. Ähc co!!apsc o!
thc ctncma o!)can-Luc Lodard, tn many ways thc most brt!!tant and
ambtttous rcvo!uuonaty arttst o!thc !ast dccadc, whcn tt attcmptcd a
po!tttca! turnand asccsts notun!txcthatcñcctm byUrccht's thcatrc tn
thcthtrttcs, tsthc mostrcccntand c!ogucnttcsttmonytothc tmp!acab!c
anttnomtcs o! cu!tura! tnnovatton tn thc tmpcrta!tst wor!d. Urccht's
cxamp!c marxs a !ronttcr that has not bccn passcd, or cvcn rcachcd
agatn, byhtssucccssots.
Bertolt Brecht
Against Georg Lukacs
[The Essays of Georg Lukacs]
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8b8ndon 8ItICI C8u88lIIy 8nd 8WIICh Io 8I8II8IICl Cu88lIIy, by 8b8n-
Brecht against Lukacs 69
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l8tg0 gtouQ8. ¯h0y 0V0n ¬ In Ih0It oWn W8y ¬ 8doQI bChtUdIng0t´8
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8ub8CtIb0 Io hI8 QtoI08I8.
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W08k0n0d: Ï8 Ih0 Conn0CIIon b0IW00n IhIng8 no longO 8o VI8Ibl0:
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m0n 88 b0Íot0. ¯hI8 I8 Ih0 Q8Ih Ih8I lII0t8Iut0 mu8I I8k0 In ouIt8g0 Wh0n
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t8Ih0t Ih8n 8Ituggl0, 8 W8y oÍ 08C8Q0 t8Ih0t Ih8n 8n 8dV8nC0.
' Alfre Doblin (1878-1957): German novelist and exponent both of Expressionism and
Neue Sathlithkeit (Neo-bjectivity). His major work was Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929),
written under the infuence of Joyce and Dos Passos.
On the Formalistic Character of the Theory of
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IIon oÍ Qocm8. Lnc oÍIhc noVcÎ8 I8 hI8IoIIC8Ì 8nd IcQuIIc cXIct18IVc
Ic8c8ICh m Ihc hcÌd oÍ Äom8n hI8IoIy. 1I I8 88IIIICÎ. ÎoW Ihc noVcÎ
Ihc Cho8cn 8QhcIc oÍ ouI IhcoII8I8. ÛuI 1 a noI bcIng m8ÎICIou8 IÍ 1
88yIh8I 1 a un8bÎcIogcIIhc 8m8ÎÎc8I IIQ ÍIom IhO ÍoI my WoIkon
IhI8 noVcÎ . The Business Afirs o Herr Julius Caesar. ³hc QIoCcduIc¸

I8kcn oVcI by )VIh CcnIuIy noVcÎI8I8 ÍIom Ihc dI8m8¸ oÍ m888Ing 8ÎÎ

8nncI oÍ QcI8on8Î ConhICI8 In Îong¸ cXQcn8IVc dI8WIng-Ioom 8Ccnc,
Î oÍno u8cIo mc. 1oIÎ8Igc 8cCIIon8 1 u8cIhcdI8Iy ÍoIm. 1Ih88QIoVcd
ncCc888Iy ÍoI mc Io Ch8ngc Ihc QoInI oÍ VIcW ÍoI oIhcI 8cCIIon8. ³hc
monI8gc oÍ Ihc QoInI8 oÍ VIcW oÍIhc IWo hCIIIIou8 8uIhoI8 InCoIQoI8Ic8
my QoInI oÍ VIcW. 1 8uQQo8c Ih8I IhI8 8oII oÍ IhIng oughI noI Io h8Vc
QIoV= ncCc888Iy. bomchoW IIdoc8 noI hI Ihc InIcnd= Q8IIcIn. ÛuI1hI8
IcChnIQuc h88 QIoV= Io bc ncCc888Iy ÍoI 8 hIm gI88Q oÍIc8ÎIIy, 8nd Î
h8dQuIcÎyIc8ÎI8IICmoIIVcIn 8doQIIng II. Ày QÎ8y, on IhcoIhcI h8nd,
ts8 CyCÎc oÍ8Ccnc8 WhICh dc8Î8 WIIh ÎIÍc undcI Ihc Î82I8. bo Í8I 1 h8Vc
WIIIIcn Z¯ 8cQ8I8Ic 8Ccnc8. bomc oÍ IhO hI IoughÎy InIo Ihc `Ic8ÎI8IIC´
Q8IIcO`, uonc8huI8onccyc. LIhcI8don´I¬ 8b8uIdÎy cnough, bcC8u8c
Ihcy 8Ic VcIy 8hoII. ³hc WhoÎc WoIk doc8n´I hI InIo II 8I 8ÎÎ. 1 Con8IdcI
II Io bc 8 Ic8ÎI8IIC QÎ8y. 1 Îc8InI moIc ÍoI II ÍIom Ihc Q8InIIng8 oÍIhc
Qc888nI ÛIcughcÎ Ih8n ÍIom IIc8II8c on Ic8ÎI8m.
1 8C8ICcÎyd8IcIo 8Qc8k 8bouIIhc8cCond noVcθ on WhICh1 h8Vc bccn
WoIkIng ÍoI 8 Îong IImc, 8o ComQÎIC8Icd 8Ic Ihc QIobÎcm8 InVoÎV= 8nd
8o QIImIIIVc I8 Ihc VoC8buÎ8Iy WhICh Ihc 8c8IhcIIC oÍ Ic8ÎI8m ¬ m II8
Brecht against Lukacs 71
8I8Ic ¬ oÛcI8 mc. ³hc ÍoIm8Ì dIÜCuÎIIc8 8Ic cnoImou8¡ 1 h8Vc
gj18I8nI!y Io Con8IIuCI modcÌ8. Pnyonc Who 88W mc 8I WoIk WouÎd
1 W88 onÌy InIcIc8Icd m Quc8IIon8 oÍÍoIm. 1 m8kc Ihc8c modcÎ8
808c 1 WI8hIoIcQIc8cnIIc8ÎIIy. P8 Í8I 88 my ÎyIICQocIIygoc8¸ IhcIc
1 I8kc 8 ImÎI8IIC QoInI oÍ VIcW. ÛuI 1 ÍccÎ Ih8I onc WouÎd h8Vc Io
gjccæ WIIh cXIIcmc C8uIIon uonc WI8hcd Io WIIIc 8bouI II. Ln Ihc
h8nd¸ IhcIc WouÎd b 8gIc8I dc8Î Io b Îc8InI 8bouI Ic8ÎI8 In Ihc
8nd dI8m8.
WhIÎc 1 a ÎookIng IhIough 8 8I8Ck oÍ hI8IoIIC8Î Iomc (Ihcy 8Ic
�IJlIcn In ÍouI Î8ngu8gc8, In 8ddIIIon Io II8n8Î8IIon8 ÍIom IWo 8nCIcnI
¸]gngIi8gc8] 8nd 8IIcmQIIng¸ ÍuÌÎ oÍ8CcQIICI8m¸ Io VcIIÍy8 Q8IIICuÎ8I Í8CI,
¸tIIb0mgIhc88ndÍIom my cycIhcWhoÎcIImc¸8oIo8Qc8k¸ 1 h8Vc V8guc
i¡otions oÍ CoÎouI8 8I Ihc b8Ck oÍ my mInd, ImQIc88Ion8 oÍ Q8IIICuÎ8I
· bCbª.. > oÍIhcyc8I¡ 1hc8IInhcCIIon8 WIIhouI WoId8, 8Ugc8IuIc WIIh-
mc8nIng¸IhInkoÍdc8II8bÎcgIouQIng8oÍunn8m= hguIc8¸ 8nds on.
Im8gc 8Ic cXIIcmcÎy undchncd¸ In no W8y cXCIIIng¸ I8IhcI 8uQcI-
BCI8θ oI 8o II 8ccm8 Io mc. ÛuI Ihcy 8Ic IhcIc. ³hc `ÍoIm8ÎI8I´ m mc I8
8I WoIk. P8 Ihc 8IgnIhC8nCc oÍ LÎodIu8´8 1uncI8Î-ÛcnchI P88oCI8IIon8
8ÎoWÎy d8Wn8 on mc8nd 1 cXQcIIcnCc8 CcII8InQÎc88uIcIn Ihc dI8CoVcIy¸
1IhInk: '1Í onc CouÎd onÎy WIIIc 8 VcIy Îong, II8n8Q8IcnI¸ 8uIumn8Î,
cIy8I8Î-CÌc8I Ch8QIcI WIIh 8n IIIcguÎ8I CuIVc¸ 8 kInd oÍI= W8Vc-ÍoIm
IunnIngIhIough II! ³hcLIIy QuI8 II8dcmoCI8ILICcIoInIo IhcCon8uÎ8Ic¡
hc b8n8 Ihc 8Imcd dcmoCI8IIC 8IIccI CÌub8¡ Ihcy IuIn InIo Qc8CcÍuÎ
1uncI8Î-ÛcnchI P88oCI8IIon8¡ Ihc Îc8Vc 8Ic goÎdO In Ihc 8uIumn.
Pn uncmQÎoy= m8n´8 ÍuncI8ÎCo8I8Icn doÎÎ8I8¡ you Q8y88ub8CIIQIIon¡
IÍ you 8Ic Ioo Îong IndyIng, III88 b8d b8Ig8In. ÛuI Wch8Vc Ihc W8Vc-
ÍoIm¡ 8omcIImc Wc8Qon8 8uddcnÎy 8QQc8I In Ihc8c P88oCI8IIon8¡
LICcIo I8dIIVcnÍIom Ihc CIIy¡hch88 Îo88c8¸hI8VIÎÎ8 I8 buInI doWn¸ II
Co8I8 mIÎÎIon8¡ hoW m8ny:ÏcIu8 Îook II uQ¬ no¬ II´8noI IcÎcV8nI hcIc.
WhcIc WcIc Ihc 8IIccI CÎub8 on V ÎoVcmbcI V¡ ÛL* `LcnIÌcmcn¸ 1
C8nnoIgIVc8nygu8I8nIcc8´ (L8c88I|.
1 8m 8I8nc8IÎy8I8gcoÍmyWoIk.
bInCc Ihc 8III8I I8 Con8I8nIÎy oCCuQIcd WIIh ÍoIm8Ì m8IIcI8¸ 8InO hc
Con8I8nIÎy ÍoIm8, onc mu8I dchnc Wh8I onc mc8n8 byformalism C8Ic-
ÍuÎÎy8nd QI8CIIC8ÎÎy¸ oIhcIWI8c onc ConVcy8 noIhIng Io Ihc 8III8I. 1Íonc
W8nI8 Io C8ÎÎ cVcIyIhIng Ih8I m8kc8 WoIk8 oÍ 8II unIc8ÎI8IICformalism,
Ihcn - IÍIhcIc I8 Io bc 8ny muIu8Î undcI8I8ndIng~ onc mu8I noI Con-
8IIuCI Ihc ConCcQI oÍÍoIm8ÎI8m mQuIcÎy 8c8IhcIIC IcIm8. 1oIm8ÎI8m on
Ihc onc 8Idc¬ ConIcnII8m on Ihc oIhcI. ³h8I I8 8uIcÎyIoo QIImIIIVc 8nd
mcI8Qhy8IC8Î. 1ookcd 8I QuIcÎy In IcIm8 oÍ 8c8IhcIIC8¸ Ihc ConCcQI
grcscnts no sgccta! dtþcu!ttcs. Ior tnstancc t!somconc makc a
mcntwhtchts untruc - or trrc!cvant - mcrc!y bccausc tt rhymcs,
hc ts a !orma!tst. Uut wc havc tnnumcrab!c works o!anunrca!tsttc
whtchdtd notbccomc so bccauscthcywcrc bascd on an cxccsstvc
Wc can rcmatn cnttrc!y comgrchcnstb!c and yct gtvc thc co¡¡cc
!urthcr, morc groducttvc, morc gracttca! mcantng. Wc havc on!y to
astdc !rom !ttcraturc !or a momcnt and dcsccnd tnto 'cvcryday
What ts !orma!tsm thcrcr Ict us takc thc cxgrcsston. Formally h
right. Áhatmcansthatactua!!y hctsnotrtght, buthctsrtght ac0omng
to thc !orm o!thtngs and on!y accordtngto thts!orm. Or: Formall
task usolved mcansthatactua!!ytttsnotso!vcd.Or.I did it to preserve
form. Áhat mcans that what I dtd ts not vcry tmgortant¡ I do what
want to do, but I grcscrvc outward !orms and tn thts way I can bcst
what I want. Whcn I rcad that thcautarky o!thc Áhtrd Kctch ts
o paper, thcn I know that thts tsa casc o!go!tttca! !orma!tsm. Î1ttonaI
5octa!tsm ts socta!tsm tn !orm - anothcr casc o! go!tttca! Iormah s:n.
Wc arc not dca!tng wtth an cxccsstvcscnsco!!orm.
I!wcdchncthcconccgt tnthtsway, tt bccomcbothcotnprc!1ct¡stb!t
and tmgortant. Wc arc thcn tn a gosttton, t! wc rcturn to !ttcraturc
(wtthout thts ttmc abandontng cvcryday!t!c a!togcthcr), to chm atct:tz¢
and unmask as !orma!tsttc cvcn works whtch do not c!cvatc
!orm ovcr socta! contcnt and yct do not corrcsgond to rca!tty. Wc
cvcn unmask works whtch arc rca!tsttc tn!orm. Áhcn arc agrcat
o! thcm.
Uy gtvtng thcconccgto!!orma!tsm thts mcantng, wcacqutrca
sttck !or dca!tng wtth such ghcnomcna as thc avant-garde. Ior a
vanguard can!cadthcwaya!onga rctrcatortntoanabyss.Itcanmarc!)
so !ar ahcad that thc matn army cannot!o!!ow tt, bccausc tt ts !ost !rom
stght and so on. Áhus tts unrca!tsttc charactcrcan bccomc cvtdcnt. I! tt
sg!tts oh !rom thc matn body, wc can dctcrmtnc why and by what
mcanstt can rcunttc wtIh tt. Naturalism and accrtatn tygc o!anarchistic
montage can bc con!rontcd wtth thctr socta! cñccts, by dcmonstrattng
that thcy mcrc!y rcücct thc symgtoms o!thc sur!acc o!thtngs and not
thc �ccgcr causa!comg!cxcso!soctcty. Who!c tracts o!!ttcraturc whtch
sccp, ]udgtng by thctr !orm, to be radtca!, can bc shown to be
rc)ormtst, mcrc!y !orma!chorts whtch sugg!y so!uItons on paper.
,5uch a dchnttton o!!orma!tsm a!so hc!gs thc wrtttng o!novc!s, !yrtc
poctryand drama, and- !ast butnot!cast- ttdocs awayonccand !or a!!
wtthaccrtatn!orma!tsttcsty!co!crtttctsm whtchaggcarstobctntcrcstcd
Brecht against Lukacs 73
Iy In thc !orma! whtch ts dcdtcatcd to garttcu!ar !orms o! wrtttng,
M '

to onc gcrtod, and attcmgts to so!vc grob!cms 0 htcrary
c)catton, cvcn

whcn tt 'but!ds tn' occastona! g!ancc at thc htstortca!
past,tngurc!y!ttcrary tcrms.
. .
In)oycc`s grcat sattrtca! novc!, Ulysses, thcrc :s - bcs¡dc thc usc o!
vartous sty!cs o! wrtttng and othcr unusua! !caturc - thc so-ca!!cd

tcrtormono!oguc. A gctty-bourgcots woman !tc m bo tn thc morn-
��g and mcdttatcs. Hcr thoughu arc rcgroduccd dtsconncctcd!y, crtss-
rosstng üowtng tnto cach othcr. Áhts chagtcr cou!d hard!y havc bccn c ,
h wrtttcn but !or Ircud. Áhcattackswhtchtt drcw ugonttsaut or wcrc
thcsamcas Ircud tnhtsdaysuñcrcd. Áhcyratncd down.gornograghy,
orbtd g!casurc tn h!th, ovcrcsttmatton o! cvcnts bc!ow thc navc!, m
. .
d h tmmora!tty and so on. Astontshtng!y, somc Narxtsts assocìatc t cm-
sc!vc wtththts nonscnsc, addtngtnthctr rcvu!ston thc cgtthcI o!gctty-
bourgcots. As a tcchntca! mctho thc tntcrtor mono!oguc was cqua!!y
rc]cctcd,ttwassatdtobeJormalistic. Ihavcncvcrun�crstoodthcrcas
Áhc !act that Áo!stoywou!dhavcdoncttdthcrcnt!y:snorcasontorc¡cct
)oycc'smcthod.Áhc crtttctsmswcrcsosugcrhcta!!y!
rmu!atcd that
gatncd thc tmgrcsston that u]oycc had on!y scI h:s mono!oguc m a
scsston wtth a gsycho-ana!yst, cvcrythtng wou!d havc bccn a!! rght.
Îowthctntcrtor mono!oguc ts a mcthod whtch ts vcry dtmcu!tto usc,
and tt ts vcry usc!u! tostrcssthts !act. Wtthout vcry grcctsc mcasurcs
rca!tty, that ts to say thc toIa!tty o!thought or assoc:auon, as :t sug

hcta!!y aggcarstodo. It bccomcs anothcrcasc o!onl formally, o!wh:ch
wcshou!dtakchccd- a!a!sthcattonoI rca!tty . Áhtstsnotamcrc!orma!
grob!cmthat cou!d be so!vcd bythc s!ogan'Uack to Áo!stoy`. In gurc!y
grtzcdvcryhtgh!y. I amthtnktngo!Áucho!sky.²
Ior many gcog!cto rcca!!cxgrcsstontsm ts t bc rc

o! !tbcrtartan scnttmcnts. I mysc!!was a!so at that ttmc agamst sc!!-



y Versuche.)
Iwassccgttca! o!thoscgatn!u!, dtsturbtng acc:d

nts :�
whtch so
was !ound t bc 'bcstdc htmsc!!'. What docs th:s gosItIon !cc! hkc. It
wasvcrysooncvtdcntthatsuchgcog!chad mcrc!y!rccdthcmsc!vc!rom
grammar, not !rom cagtta!tsm. Hasck won thc h:ghcst honours !or
Schweik. UutI bc!tcvcthatacts o!!tbcrattonshou!da!so a!ways bc takcn
scrtous!y. Áodaymanygcog!c arcstt!!rc!uctanttosowho!csa!cassau!ts
2 Kur Tucholsky (18901938): radical publicist and novelist of the Weimar period, and
editor of Die Weltbikne.
on expressionism because they are afraid that acts of liberation are
suppressed for their own sake - self-liberation from constricting
old regulations which have become fetters; that the aim of such attacks
is to preserve methods of description which suited land-owners even after
land-owners themselves have been swept aside. To take an example
from politics; if you want to counter putsches, you must tech revolution
not evolution.
Literature, to be understood, must he considered in its development
by which Ido not mean self-development. Experimental phase can the�
be noted, in which an often almost unbearable narrowing of perspective
occurs, one-sided or rather few-sided product emerge, and the applic­
ability of results becomes problematic. There are experiments which
come to nothing and experiments which bear late fruit or paltry fruits.
One sees artists who sink under the burden of their materials - con­
scientious people who see the magnitude of the task, do not shirk it,
but afC inadequate for it. They do not always perceive their own errors' .
' sometImes others see the errors at the same time as the problems. Some
of them become wholly absorbed in specifc questions - but not all of
these are busy trying to square the circle. The world has reason to be
impatient with these people and it makes abundant use of this right. But
it also has reason to show patience towards them.
In art there is the fact of failure, and the fact of partial success. Our


icians must understand this. Works of art can fail so easily;
It IS s dIfcult for them to succee. One man will fall silent because of
lack of feeling; another, because his emotion choke him. A third frees
himself not from the burden that weighs on him, but only from a feel­
ing of unfreedom. A fourth breaks his tools because they have to long
been used to exploit him. The world is not obliged to be sentimental.
Defeats should be acknowledged; but one should not conclude from
them that there should be no more struggles.
For me, expressionism u not merely an 'embarrassing business" not
merely a deviation. Why? Because I do not by any means consider it to
be merely a 'phenomenon' and stick a label on it. Relist who are willing
to lear and look for the practical side of things could ler a great deal
from it. For them, there was a lode t be exploited in Kaiser, Sternberg,
Toller and Goering.3 Frankly I myself lear more easily where prob­
lems similar to my own are tackled. Not to beat about the bush I learn
with more difculty (less) from Tolstoy and Balzac. They had t�master
´ Ge

rg Kaiser, Leo Sterberg, Erst Toller and Reinhard Goering were all expressionist
playwrights and author of the immediate post-World War One period.
Brecht against Lukacs 75
other problems. Besides - if I may be allowed to use the expression -
much of them has become part of my fesh and blood. Naturally I
mire these people and the way m which they dealt with their tasks.
One can lear from them too. But it u advisable not to approach them
singly, but alongside other authors with other tasks, such as Swif and
Voltaire. The di versi ty of aims then become clear, and we can more
easily make the necessary abstractions and approach them from the
standpoint of our own problems.
The questions confronting our politically engage literature hav

the effect of making one particular problem very actual - the Jump
from one kind of style to another within the same work of art. This
happened ina very practical way. Political and philosophical considerations
faile to shape the whole structure, the message was mechanically
ftted into the plot. The 'editorial
was usually 'inartistically
_ so patently that the inartistic nature of the plot in which it was em­
bedded, was overlooked. (Plots were in any case regarde as more .
artistic than eitorials.) There was a complete rift. In practice there
were two possible solutions. The editorial could be dissolved in the
plot or the plot in the editorial, lending the latter artistic form. But the
plot could be shaped artistically and the editorial to (it then naturally
lost its editorial quality), while keeping the jump from one idiom to
another and giving it an artistic form. Such a soluton seeme an inno­
vation. But if one wishes, one can mention earlier models whose artistic
quality is beyond dispute, such as the interruption of the action by
choruse in the Attic theatre. The Chinese theatre contains similar forms.
The issue of how many allusions one nees in descriptions, owhat is
too plastic and what not plastic enough, can be dealt with practiclly
from case to case. In certain works we can manage with fewer allusions
than our ancestors. So far as psychology is concerned, the questions as
to whether the results of newly establishe sciences should be employed,
is not a matter of faith. It is in individual case that one has to test
whether the delineation of a character is improved by incorporating
scientifc insight or not, and whether the particular way m which they
are utlized is good or not. Literature cannot be forbidden to employ
skills newly acquired by contemporary man, suc as the capacit for
simultaneous registration, bold abstraction, or swift combination. |a
scientifc approach is to be involve, it is the tireles energy osci

that is needed to investigate in each individual case how the artistic
adoption of these skiIls has worked out. Artists like to take short cuts, to
conjure things out of the air, to work their way through large sections
of a continuous process more or less consciously. Criticism, at
Marxist criticism, must procee methodically and concretely in
case, in short scientifcally. Loose talk is of no help here, whatever ' ·
vocabulary. In no circumstance can the necessary guideline
practical defnition of realism be derive from literary works alone.
like Tolstoy - but without his weknesses! Be like Balzac - only
date!) Realism is an issue not only for literature: it is a major politi,l
philosophical and practical issue and must b handled and explaine
such - as a matter of general human interest.
[Remarks on an Essay]
One must not expect too much from pople who use the word
too fluently as signifying something other than content, or as cOl"n" ct,d
with content, whatever, or who are suspicious of'technique' as sorethi,tg
'mechanical', One must not pay to much attention to the fact that
quote the classics (of Marxism) and that the word 'form' occurs
too; the classics did not teach the technique of writing novels.
word 'mechanical' need frighten no one, as long as it refers to technique:;
there is a kind of mechanic that has performe great services for
kind and still does so - namely technology. The 'right thinking'
among us, whom Stalin in another context distinguishe from ere";·"p
people, have a habit of spell-binding our minds with certain words
in an extremely arbitrary sense.
Those who administer our cultural heritage decre that no en,uring
fgure can b created without 'reciprocal human relationships in
struggle', without 'the testing of human beings in real action', without
'close interaction between men in struggle'. But where in Hasek are the
'complicated' ( !) methods with which old authors set their plot in
motion. Yet his Schweik is certainly a fgure who is hard to forget. I do
not know whether it will 'endure'; nor do I know whether a fgure created
by Tolstoy or Balzac will endure; I know no more than the next man.
To be frank, I do not set such an excessively high value on the concept
of endurance. How can we foresee whether future generations will wish
to preserve the memory of these fgures? (Balzac and Tolstoy will scrcely
be in a position to oblige them to do so, however ingenious the methods
with which they set their plots mmotion.) I suspect it will depend on
whether it will be a socially relevant statement if someone says : 'Thae
Brecht against Lukacs 77
'that' will refer to a contemporary) 'is a Pere Goriot character.'
'. p,, h,ps such characters will not survive at all? Perhaps they arose ma
of contorted relationships of a type which will by then no longer
Ll1aractcrs and Halzac
I have no reason to advocate the montage technique used by Dos Passos,
against wind or tide. When I wr
te a no
el I myself tie to creat


thing in the nature of 'close mteractlOllS between human bemgs m
struggle'. (Whatever elements of the mo�tage techniq

e I used, lay
elsewhere in this novel). But I should not hke to allow thIS techmque to
be condemne purely in favour of the creation of durable characters.
First of all Dos Passos himself has given an excellent portrayal of 'close
interactio-s between human beings m struggle', even u the struggle
he depicts are not the kind Tolstoy created, or his complexities those
Balzac's plots. Secondly, the novel certainly doe not stand or fall by Its
'characters' let alone with characters of the type that existe mthe 19th
century. W-must not conjure up a kind of Valhalla of the endu

ing fgures
ofliterature, a kind of Madame Tussaud's panopticon, flle WIth nothmg
but durable characters from Antigone t Nana and from Aeneas to
Nekhlyudov (who is he, by the way?).' I see nothing disrespectful in
laughing at such an idea. We know something about the bases on whIch
the cult of the individual, as practise in class society, rested. They are
historical bases. We are far from wishing to do away with the individual.
But we nevertheless notice with a certain pensiveness how this (historical,
. particular, passing) cult has prevented a man like A

dre �ide from
discovering any individuals among Soviet youth.5 Readmg Glde, I was
on the point of discaring Nekhlyudov (whoeve he may be) as an
enduring fgnre, if - as certainly seeme possible - this was the only
way those fgures among Soviet youth, whom I have seen myself, could
endure. To come back to our basic question: it is absolutely false, that
is to say, it leads nowhere, it is not worth the writer's while,

o simphfy
his problems so much that the immense, complicated, actual ltfe-proce

of human beings in the age of the fnal struggle between the bourgeOIS
and the proletarian class, is reduced to a 'plot', setting, or background
for the creation of great individuals. Individuals should not occupy
much more space in books and above all not a diferent kind of space,
¯ Nekhlyudov: liberal aristocrat who is the central fgure of Tolstoy's novel Resurrection.
¯ Reference to Gide's Retour de l' URSS, which had been translated into German the
previous year (1937).
Ih8n In Ic8ÌIIy. ³o I8Ìk In QuIcÌy QI8CIIC8Ì IcIm8¡ ÍoI u8¸ :t v:tIu8I8
cmcIgc ÍIom 8 dcQICIIon oÍ Ihc QIoCc88c oÍ hum8n Co-cXI8IcnCc
Ihcy C8n bc `bIg´ oI `8m8ÌÌ´. ÌI I8 8b8oÌuIcÌy Í8Ì8c Io 88y Ih8I onc
I8kc 8 gIc8I hguIc 8nd 8ÌÌoW II Io Ic8Qond In m8nIÍoÌd W8y8, m8kIng
IcÌ8IIon8hIQ8 WI!h oIhcIhguIc 88 8IgnIhC8nI 8nd Ì88IIþ 88 Qo88IbÌc.
³hc dI8m8 (ÍoICc oÍCoÌÌI8Ion|, !hcQ888Ion(dcgIccoÍhc8I|¸ !hc
oÍ Ihc Ch8I8CIcI8 ¬ nonc oÍ IhI8 C8n b8cQ8I8Icd ÍIom 8oCI8Ì Íut:CIIoI18, ,
8nd QoIII8ycd oI QIoQ8g8I= 8Q8II ÍIom II. ³ho8c CÌo8c I¡ IcI8CIIon8
bcIWccn hum8n bcIng8 In 8IIuggÌc 8Ic Ihc ComQcIIIIVc 8IIuggÌc
dcVcÌoQIng C8QII8ÌI8m, WhICh QIoduCcd IndIVIdu8Ì8 In 8 QuIIc Q8I`II6uÌ8I·
W8y. boCI8ÌI8I cmuÌ8IIon QIoduCc8 IndIVIdu8Ì8 In 8 dIÛ cIcnI W8y
8h8Qc dIÛcIcnI IndIVIdu8Ì8. ³hcn IhcIc I8 Ihc ÍuIIhcI Quc8IIon W�1cIÌ1cI
II I8 88 IndIVIdu8IIng8 QIoCc88 88 Ihc ComQcIIIIVc 8IIuggÌc oÍv8þ8JI8m.
Ìn 8 CcII8In 8cn8c, Wc hc8I ÍIom ouI CIIIIC8 Ihc Í8IcÍuÌ 8Ìog8n,
8ddIc88= Io IndIVIdu8Ì8. `ÏnIICh youI8cÌVc´.
Û8Ì28C I8 Ihc QocI oÍ mon8IIo8IIIc8. ³hc muÌIIQÌcX Ch8I8CIcI oÍ hI8
hcIoc8 (Ihc bIc8dIh oÍIhcÍI 8unÌII 8Idc, IhcdcQ!h oÍIhcII 8h8doWy8Idc|
Ic!ÌcCI8 Ihc dI8ÌcCIIC oÍ Ihc QIogIc88 oÍQIoduCIIon 88 Ihc QIogIc88 o¡
mI8cIy. `ÝI!h hIm bu8Inc88 bcC8mc QocIIC8Ì´ (³8Inc| buI. `Û8Ì28C W88
hI8I oÍ 8ÌÌ 8 bu8Inc88m8n¸ Indc= 8 bu8Inc88m8n m dcbI . . . hc Iook Io
8QcCuÌ8IIon . . . 8u8Qcndcd Q8ymcnR 8nd WIoIcnoVcÌ8Io Q8yhI8 dcbI8.´
bo In hI8 C88c QocIIy In II8 IuO bcC8mc 8 bu8Inc8. Ìn Ihc QIImcV8Ì
ÍoIc8I oÍ c8IÌy C8QII8ÌI8m IndIVIdu8Ì8 ÍoughI 8g8In8I IndIVIdu8Ì8¸ 8nd
8g8In8IgIouQ8oÍIndIVIdu8Ì8¡ b88IC8ÌÌyIhcyÍoughI8g8In8I `Ihc WhoÌcoÍ
8oCIcIy´. ³hI8 W88 QIcCI8cÌy Wh8I dcIcImIncd IhcII IndIVIdu8ÌIIy. ÎoW
Wc 8Ic 8dVI8= Io go on CIc8IIng IndIVIdu8Ì8¸ Io IcCIc8Ic Ihcm, oI I8IhcI
Io CIc8IcncW onc8, Who WIÌÌ n8IuI8ÌÌy bc dIÛcIcnI buI m8dc InIhc88mc
W8y. bo: `Û8Ì28C´8 Q888Ion ÍoI CoÌÌcCIIng IhIng8 boIdcI= o mono
m8nI8.´ Ýchnd IhI8 ÍcII8hI8m oÍob)cCI8 InhI8noVcÌ8, Ioo¸ onhundIcd8
8nd Ihou88nd8 oÍQ8gc8. PdmIIIcdÌy Wc 8Ic 8uQQo8= Io 8VoId 8uCh 8
IhIng. 1uk8C8 W8g8 hI8 hngcI 8I ³IcIy8koV on !hI8 8CCounI. ÛuI IhI8
ÍcII8hI8m I8 Wh8I m8kc8 Û8Ì28C´8 Ch8I8CIcI8 IndIVIdu8Ì8. ÌI I8 IIdICuÌou8
Io 8cc In Ihcm 8 8ImQÌc cXCh8ngc oÍ Ihc 8oCI8Ì Q888Ion8 8nd ÍunCIIon8
WhICh Con8IIIuIcIhc IndIVIdu8Ì. 1oc Ihc QIoduCIIonoÍCon8umcIgood8
ÍoI8CoÌÌcCIIVcIod8yCon8IIuCI IndIVIdu8Ì8mIhc88mcW8y88`CoÌÌcCIIng´ :
Î8IuI8ÌÌyoncC8n8n8WcI`yc8´hcIc Ioo. ³hÍ8 QIoCc88 oÍQIoduCIIondoc8
I8kc QÌ8Cc 8nd IhcIc 8Ic IndIVIdu8Ì8. ÛuI Ihcy 8Ic 8uCh VcIy dIÛcIcnI
IndIVIdu8Ì8 Ih8I Û8Ì28C WouÌd noI h8Vc IcCognI2cd Ihcm 88 8uCh (8nd
LIdc Iod8ydoc8 noI do 8o|. ³hcyÌ8Ck Ihc cÌcmcnI oÍmon8IIo8IIy¸ Ihc
CombIn8IIon In onc QcI8on oÍIhc ÌoÍIy 8nd Ihc b88c, oÍCIImIn8ÌIIy 8nd
Brecht against Lukacs 79
88nCIIIy,8nd8o on.
cm8IIIc8 oHIhcCIc8IuIc8 oÍhI8 Í8nI88y88Î8QoÌcon dId hI8 m8I8h8Ì8
8nd bIoIhcI8¡ hc ÍoÌÌoW8 Qo88c88Ion8 (ÍcII8hI8m oÍ ob)cCI8] IhIough
gcncI8IIon8 oÍÍ8mÍÌÍc8 8nd IhcII II8n8ÍcIcnCc ÍIom oncIo IhcoIhcI. Îc
dc8Ì8WI!h noIhIngbuI Ihc`oIg8nIC´¦hI8Í8mIÌIc88IcoIg8nI8m8InWhICh
Ihc IndIVIdu8Ì8 `gIoW´.bhouÌd Wc IhcIcÍoIc bcIcCon8IIuCUng8uCh CcÌÌ8,
oI Ihc Í8CIoIy oI !hc 8oVIcI ¬ gIVO !h8I, WIIh Ihc 8boÌIUon oÍ QIIV8Ic
oWncI8hIQ oÍIhc mc8n8oÍQIoduCIIon¸ Ihc ÍM1IÌy I8 gcncI8ÌÌy 8uQQo8cd
Io h8Vc Cc88cd Io 8h8Qc IndIVIdu8Ì8: ÛuI Ihc8c ncW In8IIIuIIon8 WhICh
undoubIcdÌy 8h8Qc IndIVIdu8Ì8 Iod8y 8Ic QIcCI8cÌy ¬ ComQ8Icd Io
Ihc Í8mIÌy ~ Ihc QIoduCI8 oÍ monI8gc, QuIIc ÌIIcI8ÌÌy `888cmbÌcd´. ÎoI
cX8mQÌcInConIcmQoI8Iy ÎcW3oIk, noIIo 8QmkoÍÀo8CoW¸Wom8nI8
Ìc88`ÍoImcd´ bym8nIh8n mÛ8Ì28C´818II8¡8hcI8Ìc88dcQcndcnIonhIm.
boÍ8I IhI8 I8 QuIIc 8ImQÌc. LcII8In 8IIuggÌc8 `Io8 ÍcVcI-QIICh´ IhcIcÍoIc
Cc88c¦ oIhcI 8IIuggÌc WhICh I8kc IhcII QÌ8Cc (n8IuI8ÌÌy oIhcI8 do I8kc
IhcII QÌ8Cc| 8Ic Ju8I 88 hcICc buI QcIh8Q8 Ìc88 IndIVIdu8ÌI8IIC. ÎoI Ih8I
Ihcy h8Vc no IndIVIdu8Ì Ch8I8CIcII8IIC8¸ ÍoI Ihcy 8Ic ÍoughI ouI by
IndIVIdu8Ì8. ÛuI 8ÌÌIc8QÌ8y8n Immcn8cQ8IIIn Ihcm,8uCh88IhcyCouÌd
noIInÛ8Ì28C´8 IImc.
Popularity and Realism
ÝhocVcI Ìook8 ÍoI 8Ìog8n8 Io8QQÌy IoConIcmQoI8Iy LcIm8n ÌIIcI8IuIc¸
mu8I bc8I In mInd Ih8I 8nyIhIng Ih8I 88QIIc Io bc C8ÌÌcd ÌIIcI8IuIc I8
QIInIcd cXCÌu8IVcÌy 8bIo8d 8nd C8n 8Ìmo8I cXCÌu8IVcÌy b Ic8d onÌy
8bIo8d. ³hc IcImpopular 88 8QQÌIcdIo ÌIIcI8IuIc Ihu8 8CQuIIc 8CuIIou8
ConnoI8IIon. ³hc WIIIcI In IhI8 C88c I8 8uQQo8cd Io WIIIc ÍoI 8 QcoQÌc
8mong Whom hc doc noI ÌIVc. 3cI IÍ o�c Con8IdcI8 Ihc m8IIcI moIc
CÌo8cÌy¸ Ihc g8Q bcIWccn Ihc WIIIcI 8nd Ihc QcoQÌc I8 noI 88gIc8I 88 onc
mIghI IhInk. ³od8y II I8 noI QuIIc 88 gIc8I 88 u 8ccm8, 8nd ÍoImcIÌy II
W88 noI 88 8m8ÌÌ 88 II 8ccmcd. ³hc QIcV8IÌIng 8cIhcIIC¸ Ihc QIICc oÍ
book8 8nd Ihc QoÌIO h8Vc 8ÌW8y8 cn8uIcd Ih8I IhcIc I88 Con8IdcI8bÌc
dI8I8nCc bcIWccn WIIIcI 8nd QcoQÌc. ÎcVcIIhcÌc88 II WouÌd b WIong¸
!h8I I8 Io 88yunIc8ÌI8IIC¸ Io VIcW Ihc WIdcnIngoÍIhI8dI8I8nCc88 8QuIc(y
`cXIcIn8Ì´ onc. ÌndoubIcdÌy 8QcCI8Ì cÛoII8 h8Vc t bc m8dc Iod8y Ì
oIdcI Io b 8bÌc Io WIIIc In 8 QoQuÌ8I 8IyÌc. Ln Ihc oIhcI h8nd, II h88
bcComc m8IcI¡ c88IcI 8nd moIc uIgcnI. ³hc QcoQÌc h8Vc 8QÌII 8W8y
morc c!car!y !rom thctr uppcr !aycrs¡ thctr opprcssors and cxp!ottcrs
havc stcppo out and ]otncd a b!oody batt!c wtIh thcm o!vast dt:nctI-
stons. Ithasbccomc castcrtotaxcstdcs. Anopcnbatt!chasso to
broxcn out among thc'pub!tc`.
Ähc dcmand !or a rca!tsttc sty!c o!wrtttng cana!sono !ongcr bcso
cast!ydtsmtsscdtoday. Ithasacgutrcdaccrtatn tncvttabt!tty.Áhcru!tn¿
c!assc usc !tcs o!tcncr than bc!orc- and btggcroncs. Áo tc!! thc truth
ìs c!car!y an cvcr morc urgcnt tasx. 5uhcrtnghas tncrcascd and wtth
thc numbcro!suñcrcrs. Invtcw o!thctmmcnscsuñcrtngo!thcmasscs,
conccm wtth !ttt!c dtmcu!ttc or wtth dtmcu!ttc o! !ttt!c groups has

comcto bc !c!t as rtdtcu!ous, contcmpttb!c.
Áhcrc ts on!y onc a!!y agatnst growtng barbartsm- thcpcop!c, whq
suñcr s grcat!y!rom it. It is on!y!rom thm thatonccancxpcct any-
thtng. Ähcrc!orctttsobvtousthatoncmust turntothcpcop!c,andnow
morc ncccssary than cvcr to spcax thctr !anguagc. Áhus thc tcrms
popular art and realism bccomc natura! a!!tcs. ¡t ts tn thc tntcrcst o!thc
pcop!c, o!thc broad worxtng masscs, to rccctvc a !atth!u! tmagc o!!t!c
!rom !ttcraturc, and !atth!uI tmagcs o!!t!c arc actua!!y o!scrvtcc on!y
comprchcnstb!c and prohtab!c to thcm - m othcr words, popu!ar.
Pcvcrthc!css thcsc conccpu must hrst bc thorough!y c!canscd bc!orc
propostttons arc constructcd tn whtch thcy arc cmp!oyo and mcrgcd.
Itwou!d bc amtstaxcto thtnxthatthcscconccpuarc comp!ctc!ytrans-
parcnt, wtthouthtstory, uncompromtso or uncgutvoca!. ('Wc a!! xnow
what thcy mcan - don`t !ct`s sp!tt hatrs.`) Áhc conccpt o! popularity
ttsc!!ts not parttcu!ar!y popu!ar. It ts not rca!tsttc to bc!tcvc that tt ts.
Ähcrc tsawho!cscrtco!abstract nouns tn'tty`whtchmustbc vtcwcd
wtth cautton. Áhtnx o!utilty, sovereignty, sanctity; and wc xnow that
thc conccpt o!nationality hasa guttc parttcu!ar, sacramcnta!, pompous
and susptctous connotatton, whtch wc darc not ovcr!oox. Wc must not
tgnorc this connotatton, ¡ust bccausc wc s urgcnt!y nccd thc conccpt
It ts prcctsc!y tn thc so-ca!!cd pocttca! !orIns that 'thc pcop!c` arc
rcprcscntcd m a supcrsttttous !ashton or, bcttcr, tn a !ashton that cn-
couragc supcrsttttton. Áhcy cndow thc pcop!c wtth unchangtng
charactcrtsttcs, ha!!owcd tradtttons, art !orms, habt!s and customs,
rc!tgtostty, hcrcdttary cncmtcs, tnvtnctb!c powcr and so on. A rcmarx-
ab!c untty appcars bctwccn tormcntcrs and tormcntcd, cxp!ottcrs and
cxp!ottcd, dccctvcrs and dccctvcd¡ tt ts by no mcans a gucstton o! thc
massc o!'!ttt!c` worxtng pcop!c mopposttton to thosc abovc thcm.
Brecht against Lukacs 81
Ähc htstory o!thc many dcccpttons whtch havc bccn practtso wtth
thìs conccpto!thcpcop!c is a !ong and comp!tcatcd onc- a htstoty o!
c!ass strugg!cs. Wc do not tntcnd to go into tthcrc- wc on!y wtsh to
xccp thc!act o!thcdcccpttontnstght,whcnwcsaythatwcnco popu!ar
atI and mcan thcrcby art !or thc broad masscs, !or thc many who arc
opprcsscd by thc !cw, 'thc pcop!c thcmsc!vcs`, thc mass o! produccrs
who was !or so !ong thc ob)cct o!po!tttc and must now boomc thc
sub]ccto!po!tttcs. Lctus rcca!! that thcpcop!cwcrc!or !ong hc!d bacx
!u!!y gaggo by convcnttons, and that thc conccptpopular was gtvcn an
ahtstortca!, stattc, undcvc!opmcnta! stamp. Wc arc not conccrno wtth
thcconccpttnthis!orm - orrathcr,wchavctocombattt.
Õur conccpto!whatìspopu!arrc!crs toa pcop!c who not on!y p!ay a
!u!!patttn htstortca! dcvc!opmcnt but acItvc!y usurptt, !orcctts pacc,
dctcrmtnc tts dtrcctton. Wc havc a pcop!c m mtnd who maxc htstory,
changc thc wor!d and thcmsc!vcs. Wc havc tn mtnd a hghttng pcop!c
andthcrc!orc an aggrcsstvcconccpto!what tspopular.
Íopu!armcans: tntc!!tgtb!ctothcbroæ masscs, adopttngandcnrtch-
corrccttng tt ] rcprcscnttng thc mostprogrcsstvc scctton o!thc pcop!c
so that tt can assumc !cadcrshtp, and thcrc!orc tntc!!tgtb!c to othcr
sccttons o!thc pcop!c as wc!! ] rc!attng to tradtuons and dcvc!optng
thcm ] communìcattng totÞat porIton o! thc pcop!c whtch strtvc
!cadcrshtpthc achtcvcmcntso!thcsccttonthatatprcscntru!csthcnatton.
Powwc comcto thc conccpto!realism. Áhts conccpI, too, must hrst
bc c!canscd bc!orc usc, !or tt ts an o!d conccpI, much uscd by many
pcop!cand!or manycnds. Áhtstsncccssarybccauscthcpcop!ccanon!y
taxc ovcr thctr cu!tura! hcrttagc by an acI o! cxproprtatton. Lttcrary
worxs cannot bc taxcn ovcr !txc !actortcs¡ !ttcrary !orms o!cxprcsston
cannot bc taxm ovcr !txc patcnts. )vcn thc rca!tsttc modc o! wrtttng,
o! whtch !ttcraturc provtdcs many vcry dtñcrcnt cxamp!cs, bcars thc
stamp o!thc way tt was cmp!oycd, whcn and by whtch c!ass, down to
tts sma!!ct dctat!s. Wt!h thc pcop!c strugg!tng and changtng rca!tty
bc!orcourcycs,wc mustnotc!tngto 'trtcd` ru!co!narrat
tvc, vcn
!ttcrary modc!s, ctcrna! acsthctic !aws. Wc must not dcr:vc rca!:sm as
such !rom parttcu!ar cxtsttng worxs, but wc sha!! usccvcry mcans, o!d
and ncw, trtcd and untrtcd, dcrtvcd !rom art and dcrtvcd !rom othcr
sourccs, to rcndcr rca!tty tomcntna!orm thcy canmastcr. Wcsha!�taxc
cpoch as rca!tsttc - say that o!Ua!zac or Áo!stoy - and thcrcby crcct
merely formal, literary criteria for realism. We shall not speak of a
realistic manner of writing only when, for example, we can smell, taste
and feel everything, when there is 'atmosphere' and when plots are so
contrived that they lead to psychological analysis of character. Our
concept of realism must be wide and political, sovereign over all
Realistic means: discovering the causal complexes of society junmask­
ing the prevailing view of things as the view of those who are in power j
writing from the standpoint of the class whic ofers the broadest
solutions for the pressing difculties ir which human society is caught
up j emphasizing the element of development / making possible the
concrete, and making possible abstraction from it.
These are vast precepts and they can be extended. Moreover we shall
allow the artist to employ his fantasy, hi originality, his humour, his
invention, in following them. We shall not stick to to detailed literary
models; we shall not bind the artist to too rigidly defne mode of
We shall establish that the so-called sensuous mode of writing - where
one can smell, taste and feel everything -is not automaticaily to b identi­
fed with a realistic mode of writing; we shall acknowleg that there are
works which are sensuously written and which are not realistic, and
realistic works which are not written ma sensuous style. We shall have
to examine carefully the question whether we really develop a plot best
when our ultimate objective is to reveal the spiritual life of the characters.
Our readers will perhaps fnd that they have not been given the key to
the meaning othe events if, led astray by various artistic devices, they
experience only the spiritual agitation of the heroes. By adopting the
forms of Balzac and Tolstoy without testing them thoroughly, we might
weary our readers -the people -as much as these writers often do them­
selves. Realism is not a mere question ofform. Were we to copy the style
of these realists, we would no longer be realists.
For time /lows on, and if it did not, it would be a bad prospect for
those who do not sit at golden tables. Methods become exhausted;
stimuli no longer work. New problems appear and demand new methods.
Reality changes; in order to represent it, modes of representation must
also change. Nothing come from nothing; the new comes from the old,
but that is why it is new.
The oppressors do not work in the same way in every epoch. They
cannot be defned in the same fashion at all times. There are so many
means for them to avoid being spotted. They cll their military roads
Brecht against Lukacs 83
their tanks are painted so that they look like MacDuf's
oods. The.r agents show blisters on their hands, as if they were workers.
�o: to turn the hunter into the quarry is something that demands
invention. What was popular yesterday is not today, for the people
today are not what they were yesterday.
. . . .
Anyone who is not a victim of formahsuc prejudICe knows
that the
truth can be suppressed in many ways and must b expressed M many
ways. One can arouse a sense of outrage
at inhuma

ditions by ma
methods -by direct description (emotIOnal or obJec
tIve), by narratve
and parable, by jokes, by over- and
s. In the theatre,
reality can be represente both in objective and m lmagmatl

e forms.
The actors may not use make-up - or hardly any - a

d claUD to be
'absolutely natural' and yet the whole thing can be a swmdle; and they
can wear masks of a gotesque kind and present the truth. It IS hardly
open to debate that the means must b questione abo

t the en�they
serve. The people understand this. Piscator's great theatncal expenmen

in which conventional forms were constantly destroyed, found their
greatest support in the most advance cad
re of the
working class; so
have my own. The workers judge everythmg accordmg to the truth of
its content; they welcomed every innovation which helped the repres

tation of truth, othe rel mechanism of society; they rejected everythl
that seemed theatrical, technical equipment that merely worke for

own sake - that is to say, that did not yet fulfl, or no longer fulflled, ItS
purpose. The workers' argument were

literary or st�te
m terms
of theatrical aesthetics. One never heard it said that one can t mIX theatre
and flm. If the flm was not inserted properly in the play, then the most
that was said waS: 'We don't need that flm. It's distracting.' Workers'
choirs spoke verse-parts with complicated rhythms (' If it was in rhyme
it would go down like water and nothing would b left'), and sang
difcult (unfamiliar) compositions by Eisler ('That's strong stu�').6 But
we had to change certain lines whose sense was not clear or whic were
wrong. In the case of marching-songs, which were rhymed so that they
could be learnt more quickly, and had a SImpler r�ythm so

hat they
sank in better certain refnement were introduced (uregularltleS, com­
plications). ihen they said: 'There's a little twist there - �at's fun.'
Anything that was wor out, trivial, or so commonplace that It no longer
6 Referenc to Brecht'S work Di Mussnhm (1930), intende

a vindicato of !arty
discipline and Comintem policy i China. The pia
w� sha

�y CTltlCIZe by th� KPD ItSe1�,
for its exaltton o expeient sacrifce. Lukacs dIsmisse It m 1932 for reducmg strategic
and tacticl problems of class struggle to ethical issue.
m8dconcIhInk¸ Ihcy dId noIÌIkc 8I 8ÌÌ (`7ou gcI noIhIng ouIoÍIl|. ÏÍ
oncnccdcd 8n8c8IhcIIC¸ oncCouÌdhnd IIhcIc. 1 8h8ÌÌncVcI ÍoIgcI hoW
8WoIkcIÌookcd 8I mc WhcnÏ IcQÌIcd Io h!8 8uggc8IIonIh8I 1 8houÌd 8dd
8omcIhIng Io 8 ChoIu8 8DouI Ihc boVIcI ÌnIon (`1Ih88 Io go In~ oIhcI-
WI8c Wh8I´8 Ihc QoInI:´|¸ Ih8I II WouÌd dc8IIoy Ihc 8III8IIC ÍoIm. Îc QuI
hI8 hc8d on onc 8Idc 8nd 8mIÌcd. A WhoÌc 8Ic8 oÍ 8c8IhcIIC8 CoÌÌ8Q8cd
bcC8u8c oÍ IhI8 QoÌIIc 8mIÌc. ³hc WoIkcI8 WcIc noI 8ÍI8Id Io Ic8Ch u8
8nd Ihcy WcIc Ihcm8cÌVc8 noI 8ÍI8Id Io ÌmIn.
1 8m 8Qc8kIng ÍIom cXQcIIcnCc Whcn1 88yIh8I

oncnccd noIb8ÍI8Id
Io QIoduCc d8IIng¸ unu8u8Ì IhIng8 ÍoI Ihc QIoÌcI8II8I 8o Ìong 88 Ihcy
dc8Ì WIIh I!8 Ic8Ì 8IIu8IIon. ³hcIc WIÌÌ 8ÌW8y8 bc QcoQÌc oÍCuÌIuIc, Con-
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oÍ Ihc Ic8Ì 8oCI8Ì ÍoICc 8I WoIk undcI 8n ImmcdI8IcÌy VI8IbÌc 8uIÍ8Cc.
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8nd Ihc 8QQ8IcnIÌy unIc8Ì mIÌIcu oÍ Ihc Threepenry Opera. ³hcy WcIc
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CI8mQcd|. ³hcy dId IhIng8 on 8 gI8nd 8C8Ìc¦ Ihc cnIIcQIcncuI8 WcIc
Brecht against Lukacs 8S
mc8n. ³hcy Íound 8omc IhIng8 8uQcIÜuou8 WhICh Ihc 8III8U dcCÌ8Icd
Iobc ncCc888Iy¡ buI IhcnIhcy WcIc gcncIou88nd noI8g8In8I cXCc88¡

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kncW Ih8I m8ny mcIhod8 WcIc ncCc888Iy Io 8II8In IhcII go8Ì.
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gcncIou8Ìy 8nd C8IcÍuÌÌy¸ 8nd noI dI8Wn mcIcÌy ÍIom cXI8IIng
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ÍoIm onÌy.
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Ì8IIIy I8 ConCcIncd¸ IhcIc I8 onc cXUcmcÌy ÍoIm8ÌI8IIC QIoCcduIc oÍ
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gu8I8nIccd mcIcÌy IÍ II :8 WIIIIcn cX8CIÌy ÌIkc oIhcI WoIk8 WhICh WcIc
undcI8Iood In Ihc:I IImc. ³hc8c oIhcI WoIk8 WhICh WcIc undcI8Iood
mIhcII IImc WcIc 8Ì8o noI 8ÌW8y8 WIIIIcn ÌIkc Ihc WoIk8 bcÍoIc Ihcm.
bIcQ8 h8d bccn I8kcn Io m8kc Ihcm1nIcÌÌIgIbÌc. 1n Ihc 88mc W8y¸ Wc
mu8I do 8omcIhIng ÍoI Ihc InIcÌÌIg:bIÌIIy oÍncW WoIk8 Iod8y. ³hcIc I8
noIonÌy8uCh8IhIng88being popular, IhcIcI88Ì8oIhcQIoCc88oÍbecoming
1Í Wc WI8h Io h8Vc 8 ÌIVIng 8nd Comb8IIVc ÌIIcI8IuIc¸ WhICh I8 ÍuÌÌy
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Wc mu8I kccQ 8IcQ WIIh Ihc I8QId dcVcÌoQmcnI oÍ Ic8ÌIIy. ³hc gIc8I
WoIkIng m888c8 8Ic 8ÌIc8dy on Ihc moVc. ³hc Indu8IIy 8nd bIuI8ÌIIy oÍ
IhcII cncmIc8 I8 QIooÍoÍII.
Translated by Stuart Hood
Walter Benjamin
Conversations with Brecht
4 .ul. Yesterday, a long conversation in Brecht's sickroom about my

ssay 'The Author as Producer'. Brecht thought the theory I develop
m the essay - that the attainment of technical progress in literature
eventually change the function of art forms (hence also of the intellectual
means of production) and is therefore a criterion for judging the revo­

ry function of literary works - applies to artists of only one type
the writers of the upper bourgeoisie, among whom he counts himselr
'�or suc
h a writer,' he said, 'there, relly exists a point of solidarity
lth the mterests of the p
letariat: it is the point at which he can develop
hIS 0
eans 0rproductIOn. Because he identife with the proletariat
at thIS POInt, he IS prole�rianized - completely so - at this same point,
I.C. as
a prod

cer. �n�hIS c

mplete proletarianization at this one point
estabhshe his sohdarIty Wlth the proletariat all along the line.' He
thought my critique of proletarian writers of Becher's type too abstract
and tried to improve upon it by analysing a poem of Becher's whici
appeare ma recent issue of one of the proletarian literary reviews under
th-title 'Ich sage ganz ofen' ('I say quite openly'). Brecht compared
thiS poem, frst, with his own didactic poem about Carola Neher, the
actress and secondly with Rimbaud's Bateau Ivre. `1 taught Caroia
Neher all kinds of things, you know,' he said, 'not just acting - for
example, she learned from me how to wash herself. Before that she used
to wash just so as not to be dirty. But that was no way to do things. So
1 taught her how to wash her face. She became so perfet at it that 1
wante to fhn her doing it, but it never came to that because 1 didn't
feel like doing any flming just then and she didn't feel like doing it in
front of anyb

dy else. That didactic poem was a model. Anyone who
learne from It was supposed to put. himself m place of the "I" of the
poem. When Becher says "I", he considers himself - as president of
Benjamin with Brecht 87
the Union of German Proletarian-Revolutionary Writers - to be exem­
plary. The only trouble is that nobody �eels like following his e

He gets nothing across except that he IS rather please Wit himself.
1n this connection Brecht said he had been meaning for a long time to
write a series of such model poems for different trade - the engineer,
the writer. Then he compare Becher's poem wit Rimbaud's. He thinks
that Marx and Engels themselves, had they read 1Bateau Ivre, would
have sense in it the great historicl movement of which it is the expres­
sion. They would have clerly recognized that what it describe is not
an eccentric poet going for a walk but the flight, the escape of a man who
cannot ber to live any longer inside the barriers of a class which - with
the Crimean War, with the Mexican adventure - was then beginning to
open up even the more exotic continents to it mercantile interests.
Brecht thinks it is impossible to tur Rimbaud's attitude - the attitude
of the footloose vagabond who put himself at the mercy of chance and
turns his back upon society - into a model repreentation of a proletarian
6 July; Brecht, in the course of yesterday's conversations: '1 often
imagine being interrogated by a tribunal. "Now tell us, Mr Brecht, are
you really mearnest ?" 1 would have to admit that no, I'm not completely
in earest. 1 think too much about artistic problems, you know, about
what is goo for the theatre, to b completely in earnest. But having
said "no" to that important question, I would add something stll more
important: namely, that my attitude is permissible.' I must admit he said
this after the conversation had been going on for some little time. He
had starte by expressing doubt, not as to whether his atttude was
permissible, but whether it was effective. His frst remark was in answer
to something 1 had said about Gerhart Hauptmann. `1 sometimes ask
myself,' he said, 'whether writers like Hauptmann aren't, after all, the
only ones who really get anywhere: I mean the substance writers [Substanz­
Dichter].' By this he means those writers who relly are completely in
earnest. To explain this thought he proceeds from the hypothesis that
Confucius might once have written a tragedy, or Lenin a novel. That,
he thinks, would be felt as improper, unworthy behaviour. 'Suppose
you read a very good historical novel and later you discover that it is
by Lenin. You would change your opinion of both, to the detriment of
both. Likewise, it would be wrong for Confucius to have written a
tragedy, say one of Euripides's tragedies; it would be felt as unworthy.
Yet his parable are not.' All this leads, in short, to a differentiation
between two literary types: the visionary artist, who is in earnest,
the cool-headed thinking man, who is not completely in earnest.
this point I raised the question of Kafka. To which of the two groups
doe he belong? I know that the question cannot be answered. And it is
precisely its unanswerability which Brecht regards as an indication
the fact that Kafka, whom he considers to b a great writer, is, like Kleist

or Buchner, a failure. Kafka's starting point is relly the parable:
WhiCh IS governed by reason and which, therefore, so far as its actual
wording is concered, cannot be entirely in earnest. But then this parable
has, all the same, to be given form. It grows into a novel. And Hyou look
closely, you see that it contained the germ of a novel from the start. It
was never altogether transparent. I should add that Brecht is convinced
that Kafka would not have found his own speial form without
Dostoyevsky's Grand Inquisitor or that other episode in The Brother!
Karamazov where the holy starets begins to stink. In Kafka, then the
parabolic element is in confict with the visionary element. But kafka
as a visionary, says Brecht, saw what waS coming without seeing what is.
He emphasizes once more (as earlier at Le Lavandou, but in terms which
are clearer to me) the prophetic aspect of Kafka's work. Kafka had one
problem and
one only, he says, and that was the problem of organization.
He was
terrIfed by the thought of the empire of ants: the thought of
men bemg

henated from
themselves by the forms of their life in society.
And he antIcIpate certaIn forms of this alienation, e.g. the methods of
the GPu. But he never found a solution and neve awoke from his night­

are. �recht says of Kafka's precision that it is the precision of an
ImpreCIse man, a dreamer.
12 Jul. Yesterday, after playing chess, Brecht said: 'You know, when
Korsch comes, we really oUght to work out a new game with him. A
game in which the moves do not always stay the same; where the function
f a piece changes after it has stood on the same square for a while:
It should either become stronger or weaker. A it is the game doesn't
develop, it stays the same for too long.'
23 July. Yesterday a visit from Karin Michaelis, who has just retured
from her trip to Russia and is full of enthusiasm. Brecht remembers
how he was taken round Moscow by Tretyakov. Tretyakov showe him
the city and was proud of everything, no matter what it was. 'That isn't
a bad thing,' says Brecht, 'it shows that the place belongs to him. One
isn't proud of other people's property.' After a while he added: 'Yes,
but In the end I got a bit tired of it. I couldn't admire everything, nor
Benjamin with Brecht 89
did I want to. The point is, they were his soldiers, his lorries. But not,
alas, mine.'
24 Jul. On a beam which supports the ceiling of Brecht's study are
painted the words: 'Truth is concrete.' On a window-sill stan� a s

wooden donkey which can nod its head. Brecht has hung a httle sIgn
round its neck on which he has written: 'Eve Î must understand it.'
5 August. Three weeks ago I gave B. my essay on Kafka. I'm sur

read it, but he never allude to it of his own accord, and on two occaSIOns
when I steere the

nversation round to it, he replied evasively. In the
end I took the manuscript away again without saying a word. Last night
he suddenly began speaking of this essay. The rather abrupt transition
took the form of a remark to the efect that I, too, could not b com­
pletely acquitted of a diaristic style of writing a la Nietzsche. My Kafka
essay, for instance. It treate Kafka purely from the phenomenal pomt
of view - the work as something that had grown separately, by itself - the
man, too: it detached the work from all connections, even with its a
In the end everything I wrote always came down to the questIOn of ¸
essence. Now what would be the correct way of tackling the problem of
Kafka? The correct way would be to ask: what does he do? how doe he
behave? And, at the start, to consider the general rather than the parti­
cular. It would then transpire that Kafka lived in Prague, in an unhealthy
milieu of journalists, of self-important literati ; in that world, literature
was the principal reality, if not the only one. Kafka's strengths and weak­
nesses were bound up with this way of seeing the world - his artistic
value but also his feebleness in many respects. He was a Jew-boy - one
just as well coin the term ' Aryan boy' - a sorry, dism�l creat

a mere bubble on the glittering quagmire of Prague cultural hfe, nothmg
more. Yet there were also some very interesting side to him. One
could bring these out. One might imagine a conversation between Lao
Tzu and his disciple Kafka. Lao Tzu says: 'And so, Disciple Kafka,
you have conceived a horror of the organizations, property relations
and economic forms within which you live?' - 'Yes.' - 'You can't fnd
your way about them any more?' - 'No.' - 'A share certifcate flls you
with dread ?' - 'Yes.' - 'And so now you're looking for a leader you can
hold on to, Disciple Kafka.' 'Of course such an attitude won't do,' says
Brecht. 'I don't accept Kafka, you know.' He went on to speak about a
Chinese philosopher's parable of 'the tribulations of usefulness' .
In a
wood there are many diferent kinds of tree-trunk. From the thIckest
they make ship's timbers; from those which are less thick but still quite sturdy, they make boxes and cofn-lids; the thinnest of all are made into whipping-rods; but of the stunted ones they make nothing at all: these escape the tribulations of usefulness. 'You've got to look around in Kafka's writings as you might in such a wood. Then you'll fnd a whole lot of very useful things. The image are good, of courSe. But the rest is pure mystifcation. It's nonsense. You have to ignore it. Depth doesn't get you a

at all. Depth is a separate dimension, it's just depth _ and
there s nothmg whatsoever to be seen in it.' To conclude the dis­ cus

lOn I told B. that penetratng into depth is my way of travelling t the antIpodes. In my esay on Kraus I actually got there. I know that the one on Kaf�a doesn't come of to the same degree: I can't dismiss the charge that It has lande me in a diaristic style of notation. It is true that the study of the frontier area defne by Kraus and, manother way, by Kafka preoccupies me a great deal. In Kafka's case I haven't yet I said comple

ed my exploration of this area. I am aware that it contai�a Io�
of rubbIsh and waste, a lot of pure mystifcation. But I can't help thinking th

t the Important thIng about Kafka is something else, and some of thl

I touched upon in my essay. B.'s approach should, I said, be checked agaInst mterpretations of specifc works. I suggested The Next V:ll d ' d' I

age, a


e y
saw that

his suggestion worried B. He resolutely rejecte EIsler S VIew that thIS very short story is 'worthless', but neither

ould he get an


neater to defning its value. 'One ought to study Jt more clOSely, he saId. Then the conversation broke of as it Was te ' I k d ' l
n o c oc an tIme to Isten to the news from Vienna.
31 August. The night before last a long and heated debate about m Kafka. Its foundation: the charge that it promotes Jewish fascism. I� Incr




eads the darkness surrounding Kafka instead of dis­ persmg l

. Yet It IS nec

ssary to clarify Kafka, that is to say
to formulate the practicable suggestions which Can be extracted from his stories. It IS to be Supposed that such suggestions can be extracted from them if
only beca

se of their t
ne of superior calm. But these suggestions sho�ld be sought m the dIrectIOn of the great general evils which assail humanity today. Brecht looks for the refexion of these evils in Kafka's work H confnes hhnself,
in the main, to The Trial. What it conveys abov�al� else, he thmks, IS
Q dread of the unending and irresistible growth of
at CIttes. He claIms to know the nightmare of this ide from his own mtlmate experience. Such cities are an expression of the boundles maze of indirect relationships, complex mutual dependencies and compart-
Benjamin with Brecht 91
entations into which human beings are forced by modem forms of
�ing. And these in tum fnd expression in the longing for
a 'leader'.
The petty bourgeois see the leader as the only man whom, m a world
where everyone can pass the buck to someone else, �e can m

ke resp

sible for all his ills. Brecht calls The Trial a prophetic book. By lookmg
at the Gestapo you can see what the Cheka may becom

.' Kafka's

look is that of a man caught under the wheels. Odradek IS charactenstlc
of this outlook: Brecht interprets the caretaker as persomfymg the
worries of a father of a family. The petty bourgeois is bound to get it
in the neck. His situation is Kafka's own. B

t whereas the type of pet

bourgeois current today - that is, the faSCIst - has deIde to set �IS
indomitable iron will against this situation, Kafka hardly oppose It;
he is wise. Where the fascist brings heroism into play, Kafka responds
with questions. He asks for safeguards for his situation. But the nature .'\
of his situation is such that the safeguards he demands must be unreason- ~
able. It is a Kafkaesque irony that the man who appears to be convinced
of nothing so much as of the frailty of all s

feguar±siould have ben
an insurance agent. Incidentally, his unhmlted peSS
Sm IS �ree from
any tragic sense of destiny. For not only is his e

petatlOn of

founded on nothing but empiricism (although It must be saId that thIS
foundation is unshakable), but also, with incorrigible naivety, he seeks
the- criterion of fnal success in the most insignifcant and tivial under­
taking - a visit from a travelling salesman, an inquiry at a government
ofce. From time to time our conversaton centre on the st
ry The
Next Village. Brecht says it is a counterpart to the story of Achl�le and
the tortoise.
One never gets to the next village if one breaks the Journey
down into its smallest parts, not counting the incidental occ�rr

Then a whole life is too short for the journey. But the fallacy he M the

word 'one'. For if the journe is broken down into it part
then the

traveller is too. And if the unity of life is destroyed, then so I Its short­
ness. Let life be as short as it may. That does not matter, for
the one
who arrives in the next village is not the one who set out on the Journey,
but another. - I for my part ofer the following interpretation: the tr�e
measure of life is memory. Looking back, it traverse the whole of hfe
like lightning. As fast as one can turn back a few pages, it has travelled
from the next village t the plac where the taveller

ook th

to set out. Those for whom life has become transformed mto wntmg-hke
the grandfather in the stry - can only read the writing backwards.
That is the only way in which they confront themsel;es, and only thus ¨
by feeing from the present - can they understand hfe.
27 September. Drag,r. In a conversation a few evenings ago
spoke of the curious indecision which at the moment prevents him
making any defnite plans. As he is the frst to point out, the main reason
for this indecision is that his situation is so much more privileged than .;
that of most other refugees. Therefore, since in general he scarcely' ;
admits that exile can be a proper basis for plans and projects, he refuses
all the more radically to admit it as such in his own particular case. His
plans reach out to the period beyond exile. There, he is faced with two
possibilities. On the one hand there are some prose project waiting to
be done: the shorter one of the Ui - a satire on Hitler in the style of the
Renaissance biographers - and the long one of the Tui novel. This is to
be an encyclopedic survey of the follie of the Tellectual-Ins (intellec­
tuals); it seems that it will be set, in part at least, in China. A small-scale
model of this work is already completed. But beside these prose works
he is also preoccupied with other plans, dating back to very old studies
and ideas. Whereas he was able, at a pinch, to set down in his notes and
introductions to the Versuche the thoughts which occurre to him
concering epic theatre, other thoughts, although originating in the
s"ame interests, have become combined with the study of Leninism and
also of the scientifc tendencies of the empiricists, an have therefore
outgrown that rather limited framework. For several years past they have
been subsumed, now under one key concept, now under another, so
that non-Aristotelian logic, behaviourist theory, the new encyclopedia
and the critique of ideas have, in turn, stood at the centre of his pre­
occupations. At present these various pursuit are converging upon the
idea of a philosophical didactic poem. But he has doubts about the
matter. He wonders, in the frst instance, whether, in view of his output
to date and especially of its satirical elements, particularly the Threepenny
Novel, the public would accept such a work. This doubt is made up of
two distinct strands of thought. Whilst becoming more closely con­
cerned with the problems and methods of the proletarian class struggle,
he has increasingly doubted the satirical, and especially the ironic,
attitude as such. But to confuse these doubts, which are mostly of a
practical nature, with other, more profound one would be to misunder­
stand them. The doubts at a deeper level concern the artistic and playful
element in art, and above all those elements which, partially and occasion­
ally, make art refractory to reason. Brecht's heroic eforts to legitimize
art vis-a-vis reason have again and again referre him to the parable in
which artistic mastery is proved by the fact that, in the end, all the artistic
elements of a work cancel each other out. It is precisely his eforts
Benjamin with Brecht 93
ecte with this parable, which are at present becoming visible in a

al form in his conception of the didactic poem. In the course
�f the
r versation I tried to explain to Brecht t?at such a poem wo� not
t eek approval from a bourgeois pubhc but from a prolet�nan one,
o s
bl would fnd its criteria les in Brecht's earher, partly
presuma y,
d th m ontent
' . .
t d work than in the dogmatlc an eoretl c
bourgeOis-onen e
d ' I
f the didactic poem itself. 'If this didactic poem succee s m en Ist:ug
;he authority of Marxism on it behalf,'
I ;old him, 'then your ear 1er
work is not likely to weaken that authonty.
4 October. Yesterday Brecht left for London. Whether �t � th�t ��
â eculiar temptations in thlS respect, or w et er re
e:e:�l� more this way inclined than before, at all events hIS
IS now g
( hich he himself calls 'baiting') is now muc more
aggreSSIveness w
I d d I t Uby a
ronounced in conversation than it use to be. n ee , am s �u
a b I engendered by this aggressiveness. In particular, he
specI voca u ary
) I L �r I was
is fond of using the term Wirstchen (little sausage . n
readin Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. To start w,th he blamed
for m bein unwell. As confrmation he told how,
of readl�g
ged iliness [which had doubtless been latent for a
10 his yout , a pro on
d Ch
t him
I t' ) had begun when a schoolfellow had playe opm 0
d he had not had the strength to protest. Brecht thinks
on t e plano an
d â c eople's
tatCho in and Dostoyevskyhavea particularly a versee e on p
health. I� other ways, toO, he misse no opportum�y of needhng me
ding matter and as he himself was readmg Schweyk at the
a out my rea
d ts of the two
time he insisted on making comparative v ue JU gemen
auth�rs. It became evident that Dostoyev�ky simply could not measu�e
H . k d Brecht included him WIthout further ado among t e
up to ase , an
de L t sk
Wiirstchen; only a little more and he would have exten t�

the description he keep on hand, these days, for any wor w IC ac s,
or is said by him to lack, an enlightening character. He calls such a
work a Klump (lump, or clot).
June. I was in a labyrinth of stairs. This labyrinth waS no; :���eli

I climbed' other stairways led downwards. On a a g
rOOH;U over.
f any lands
realized that I had arrived at a summit. A
WI e view 0 m
k L f
o ened u before me. I saw other men standmg on other pea s'
�e 0
p p
dd I
z by dizziness and fell. The d,zzmess
these men was su en y sel
h d h below
spread; others were now falling from other peaks mto t e ept s .
When I too became dizzy, I woke up.
On ¿¿June I arrived at Brecht's.
Brecht speaks of the elegance and nonchalance of Virgil's and �aUl" S basic attitude) which, he says, forms the backdrop to Virgil's m"J"" IC, gestus. He calls both Virgil and Dante 'promeneurs'. Emphasizing classic rank of the Infero, he says: 'You can read it out of doors.' He speaks of his deep-rooted hatred of priests, a hatred he inherited
from his grandmother, He hints that those who have appropriate the
theoretical doctrines of Marx and taken over their management will
always form a clerical camarilla. Marxism lends itself all too easily to
'interpretation', Today it is a hundre years old and what do we fnd?
(At this point the conversation was interrupted.) ' "The State must wither
away!' Who says that? The State: (Here he Can only mean the Soviet
Union.) He assumes a cunning, furtive expression, stnds in front of the
chair in which ì am sitting - he is impersonating 'the State' _ and says,
with a sly, sidelong glance at an imaginary interlocutor: 'I know I ought
to wither away.'
A conversation about new Soviet novels. We no longer read them.
The talk then turns to poetry and to the translations of poems from
various language in the USSR wit which Da Wort is flooded. He says
the poets Over there are having a hard time. 'If Stalin's name doesn't
occur in a poem, it's interpreted as intentional. '
29 June. Brecht talks about epic theatre, and mentions plays acted by
children in which faults of performance, which produce alienation
effects, impart epic characteristics to the production. Something similar
may OCCur in third-rate provincial theatre. I mentioned the Geneva
production of 1 Cid, where the sight of the crown wor crookely on
the king's head gave me the frst inkling of the ideas I eventually developed
in the Trauerspiet book nine years later. Brecht in tum quoted the
mOment at which the ide of epic theatre frst came into his head. It
happened at a rehearsal for the Munich production of Edward J The
battle in the play is suppose t occupy the stge for three-quarters of an
hour. Brecht couldn't stage-manage the soldiers, and neither could Asya
[Lacisj, his production assistant. Finally he turne in despair to Karl
Valentin, at that time one of his closest friends, who was attending the
rehearsal, and asked him: 'Well, what is it? What's the matter with these
soldiers? What's wrong with them?' Valentin: 'They're pale, they're
scared, that's what !' The remark settled the issue, Brecht adding: 'They're tired: Whereupon the soldiers' faces were thickly made up with chalk,
That was the day the style of the production was determined,
Benjamin with Brecht 9S
1 I sitivism' came up. I adopted a Later the old

ubJect of ogl��

conversation threatene to take
somewhat mtranslgent attitude a
'de b Brecht admitting for the frst
a disagreeable turn, ThiS was avol
f ' I \his he did with the delightful time that his arguments wer
e s

er Cla
erfcial grasp.' Later, when we

'A deep nee ra es ,or a su
formu a,
had taken place In my room , lk' t his house (the conversatIOn
, .
were wa mg 0
h h t ken up an extreme poslon 'It's a good thing w�en someon

;h: ;ay he arrive at a half-way then goe into a perIod of reactlOn
h h d happene to him: he had house.' That, he explamed, was w at a
become mellow,
body to take a small present - In the evening:
I should like t

his might
tricky, It could a pair of glove - to Asya. Brec t t
e Jahon's! way of repaying happen that someone thought th

thing is when whole S
of Asya for her esp

onage servIC
b t the instructions they contam are directives2 are withdrawn en oc, u
still supposed to remain in force,'
in Russia Brecht's comments 1 Jul. Whenev

r I refer to


the other
ay whether Ottwald are highly sceptical. When I mqUire
m ' 'If he's still got time,
, . , "
gaol the answer ca e. was still domg time m
G I S m expressed the opinion that he'll be doing it: Yesterday ret te
Tretyakov was no longer alive
tion on Baudelaire last mght : 4 Jul, Brecht in the co

rse of a

� against the non-social.' 'I'm not against the asocial, you now,
. ,
k' s Kurella et at are giving Brecht a 21 Jul, The publictIOns

f L\ ac ,
that one ought not to oppose good deal of touble
He thmks,


the question on the political them at the theoretical level. I

,X socialist economy doesn't need level. He doe not pull hiS punc
The "peace-loving nature of
h 't ' oppose to war. war, and that IS w y 1 IS
f this and nothing else. There R · Ie" is an expressIOn 0
. .
the USSlan peop
tr Rearmament has tnevlta y I conomy m one coun y, can't ba socia 1St e
k 10 back to stage of historical develop­ set the Russian proletarIat bac a (
t ken _ among others, the 'ch h I ng since been over a
ment whl ave 0
d onal rule Only blockhea s h
Russia is now un er pers . monarc IC stage.
h r conversation which was soon h' f ' ThiS was a s 0 can deny t iS, 0 course.
h ' th' context Brecht emphasized that interrupted, - I should add t at m IS
bl that of the proposed intermediary, cannot be deciphere with 'The name, presuma y
J h
absolute certainty; perhaps Hans He
ny a n.
" Uncertain reading of the manuscript.
as a result of the dissolution of the First International, Marx and
lost active contact wit the working-class movement and thereafter only
gave advice - of a private nature, not intended for publication - to
individual leaders. Nor was it an accident - although regrettable - that
at the end of his life Engels turned to the natural science.
Bela Kun, he said, was his greatest admirer m Russia. Brecht and
Heine were the only German poet Kun studied [sic]. (Occasionally
Brecht hints at the existence of a certain person on the Central Committee
who supports him.)
2S July. Yesterday morning Brecht came over to my place to read me
his Stalin poem, which is entitled 'The Peasant to his Ox'. At frst I did
not get its point, and when a moment later the thought oStalin passed
through my head, I did not dare entertain it. This was more or less the
efect Brecht intended, and he explaine what he meant in the conver­
sation which followed. In this conversation he emphasized, among other
things, the positive aspect of the poem. It was indeed a poem in honour
of Stalin, who in his opinion had achieved great things. But Stalin is not
yet dead. Besides, a different, more enthusiastic manner of honouring
Stalin is not incumbent upon Brecht, who is sitting m exile and waiting
for the Red Army to march in. He is following developments in Russia
and also the writings of Trotsky. These prove that there exists a sus­
picion - a justifable one - demanding a sceptical appraisal of Russian
affairs. Such scepticism is in the spirit of the Marxist classics. Should the
suspicion prove correct one day, then it will become necessary to fght
the regime, and publicl. But, 'unfortunately or Go bpraised, which­
ever you prefer', the suspicion is at present not yet a certainty. There is
no justifcation for constructing upon it a policy such as Trotsky's.
'And then there's no doubt that certain criminal clique really are at
work in Russia itself. One can see it, from time to time, by the hann they
do.' Finally Brecht pointed out that we Germans have been especially
affected by the setbacks we have sufered in our own country. 'We have
had to pay for the stand we took, we're covere with scars. It's only
natural that we should be especialIy sensitive.'
Towards evening Brecht found me in the garden reading Capital.
Brecht: ' ìthink it's very good that you're studying Marx just now, at a
time when one comes across him less and less, especially among people
like us.' I replied that I prefer studying the most talked-about authors
when they were out of fashion. We went on to discuss Russian literary
policy. I said, referring to Lukacs, Gabot and Kurella: 'You can't put
Benjamin with Brecht 97
on an act with people like this.' Brecht: 'You might put on an A�t but
certainly not a whole play. They are, to put It bluntly, enemIes of
duction. Production make them uncomfortable. You never know
�:ere you are with production; producton is the unforseeabl�. You
never know what's going to come out. And they themsel
ves don t want
t produce. They want to play the ap
aratchik and exerCIse c�ntol over
other people. Every one of their crItiCIsms contams a threat. We then
got on to Goethe's novels, I don't remember hoy; Brecht knoW only
the Elective Afnities. He said that what he admire about It was the
author's youthful elegance. When I told him Goethe wrote thl�novel
at the age of sixty, he waS very much surprised. The book
he sald, had
nothing philistine about it. That was a tremendous achleve�ent. ne
knew a thing or two about philistinism; all German drama, mcludI�g
the most significant works, was stampe with i�. I remarke tat E�e

Afnities had been very badly receive when It came out. Brecht. I m
pleased to hear it. - The Germans are a lousy nation rein &hezssvolk].
It isn't true that one must not draw conclusi�ns from �Itler about
Germans in general. In me, too, everything that Î German I bad. The
intolerable thing about uS Germans is our narrow-mmded mdependence.
N where else were there Imperial Free Cities, like that lousy Augsburg.
L;ons was never a free city; the independent cities of the RenaIssance
were city states. -Lukacs is a German by choice, and he's run completely
out of steam. '
Speaking of The Finest Legends of Woynok the Brigand by Anna
Segers Brecht praised the book because it shows that Seghers IS no
longer �riting to order. 'Seghers can't produce to o��er" whereas
without an order, I wouldn't even know how to start wrltmg .
He also
praised the stories for having a rebellious, solitary fgure as theIr central
26July. Brecht, last night: 'There can't be any do�bt about
it any longer:
the struggle against ideology has become a new Ideology.
29 July. Brecht read to me some polemical texts he ha written as part
of his controversy with Lukacs, studie for an essay WhIch
I to be pub­
lished in Das Wort. He asked my advice whether t pubhsh theç'
at the same time, he told me that Lukacs's position 'o�er t�ere IS at
the moment very strong, I told him I could ofer no
advlce. There are
questions of power involved. You ought to get the o�mlOn o
f somebod�
from over there. You've got friends there, haven t you? - Brec�t .
'Actually, no, I haven't. Neither have the Muscovite themselves - ltke
the dead.'
3 August. On 29 July in the evening, while we were in the garden,
conversation came round to the quetion whether a part of the Gh,/dren',
Songs cycle should be included in the new volume of poems. I was
in favour, because I thought that the contrast between the political
the private poems made the experience of exile particularly explicit,
this contrast would be diminished by the inclusion of a disparate sequence.
In saying this, I probably implied that the suggestion once again refected
the destructive aspect of Brecht's character, which challenges everything
almost before it has been achieved. Brecht: 'I know; they'll say of
that I was manic. When the present is passe on to the future, the
capacity to understand my mania will bpasse on with it. The times
we live m will make a backdrop to my mania. But what I should
like would be for people to say about me: he was a moderate manic.' - .
His discovery of moderation, Brecht said, should fnd expression in this,
volume of verse: the recognition that life goe on despite Hitler, that
there will always be children. He was thinking of the 'epoch without
history' of which he speak mhis poem addressed to artists. A few days
later he told me he thought the coming of such an epoch more likely
than victory over fascism. But then, with a vehemence he rarely shows;
he added yet another argument in favour of including the Children's
Songs in the Poems from Exile: 'We must neglect nothing in our struggle
against that lot. What they're planning is nothing small, make no mistake
about it. They're planning for thirty thousand years ahead. Colossal
things. Colossal crimes. They stop at nothing. They're out to destroy
everything. Every living cell shrinks under their blows. That » why
we too must think of everything. They cripple the baby in the mother's
womb. We must on no account leave out the children.' While he was
speaking like this I felt a power being exercise over me which was
equal in strength to the power of fascism, a power that sprang from
depths ofhistory no less deep than the power of the fascists. It was a very
curious feeling, and new to me. Then Brecht's thoughts took another
turn, which further intensifed this feeling I had. 'They're planning
devastations on a mind-chilling scale. That's why they can't reach
agreement with the Church, which is also geared to thousands of years.
And they've proletarianize me too. It isn't just that they've taken my
house, my fsh-pond and my car from me; they've also robbed me of
my stage and my audience. From my own vantage-point I can't admit
that Shakespeare's talent was categorically greater than mine. But
Benjamin with Brecht 99
kespeare couldn't have written just for his d

sk drawer, any more
n I can. Besides, he had his characters before hIS

yes. The people he
depicted were running around in the streets. He Just observ�their
behaviour and picked out a few traits; there were many others, Just as
portant, that he left out.'
Early August. 'In Russia there is dictators�ip
over the
proletariat. We
should avoid dissociating ourselve from thiS dictatorship �or a l
ng as
it still Goes useful work for the proletariat - i.e. so long as It contrIbutes
towards a reconciliation between the proletariat and the peasantry,
giving prime recognition to proletarian interests.' A few
days later
Brecht spoke of a 'workers' monarchy', and I compare thiS creature
with certain grotesque sports of nature dredged up from the depths of the
sea in the form of horned fsh or other monsters.
Zó August. A Brechtian maxim: 'Don't start from the good old things
but the bad new ones.'
Translated by Anya Bostock
Presentation III
The largely posthumous publication of his later writings has
Walter Benjamin perhaps the most infuential Marxist critic in the'
German-speaking world, after the Second World War. The major works
of his mature period have recently become available in English for the
frst time, with the translation of a collection of his essays in Illuminations'
(Cape-Fontana), the record of his relationship to the greatest German
writer of his day in Understanding Brecht (NLB), and now the completed
portions of what would clearly have been his masterpiece, Charles
Baudelaire - A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism (NLB). The
widespread acclaim that Benjamin has received both in his Own country
and a|
oad, has, however, with some exceptions not been accompanied
by Cfltlcal appraisal of any great acuity. The Left has been in general
concerned to defend his legacy from mystical appropriation of it the
Right to establish its distance from any orthodox canon of histo
materialisµ' It may thus �e a surprise that prob

bly the best critique of

nJamm s development In hIS last phase remams that of his younger
friend and col�egue Adorno, addressed to him in a number of private
letters at the tIme. The correspondence between the two represents, in
fact, o

e of the most important aesthetic exchanges of the thirtie any­
where In Europe. Four of the most signifcant of these letters are printed
below - three from Adorno, with one reply from Benjamin. They
concern, respectively: Í. Benjamin's draft outline for his Arcades
project, written in ÍVóJ (entitle 'Paris - The Capital of the Nineteenth
Century', now in Charle Baudelaire, pp. ÍJJ¬!Ü|, ¿. his famous essay
'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanicl Reproduction', published in
ÍVóo (included in Illuminations, pp. ¿ÍV¬Jó|¦ó. and 4. his original study
of Baudelaire, composed m ÍVóö (designated 'The Paris of the Second
Empire in Baudelaire', in Charles Baudelaire, pp. V~ÍÜo|.
Adorno frst met Benjamin in Frankfurt in ÍV¿ó, and their acquain-
Presentation III 101
tance deepened during the subsequent years. In ÍV¿ö, Benjamin seems
t have starte work on his Arcades project, which he frst discussed at
length with Adorno the following year at Konigstein. It was also in
ÍV¿V that Benjamin forme his close friendship with Brecht. After the
Nazi seizure of power in Germany in ÍVóó,Benjamin went into exile in
Paris, while Adorno was attached to Oxford, returning periodically to
Germany, where his institutional record was relatively unmarked. It
was from the Black Forest that Adorno wrote his· frst substantial
criticism of Benjamin's new work in August ÍVóJ. By that time, Ben­
jamin was already receiving a regular stipend from the Institute of
Social Research, then headed by Horkheimer m New York, which
became his main source of support for the rest of the decade. The
following year, Adorno receive and commente on the manuscript of
Benjamin's essay on the technical reproducibility of art, which was
subsequently published in the journal of the Institute, the Zeitschriji for
Sozia/orschung, in early ÍVóo. At the tur of the year m ÍVó!¬ö¸ the two
men saw each other again at San Remo, where they had a serie of pro­
longe discussions before Adorno's fnal departure to the United States,
where he rejoined the Institute for Social Research in February ÍVóö.
Later that year, Benjamin sent the three fnishe chapters of his planned
work on Baudelaire to New York, for publication in the ZeitschriJt for
Sozia/orschung. Adorno's dissentient response to the text, answering
for the Institute as a whole, prevented its inclusion in th ZeitschrtJ. To
meet Adorno's criticisms, Benjamin rewrote a part of it, which was
published in the Institute's journal as 'On Some Motifs in
in ÍVóV (now included in Charles Baudelaire, pp. ÍÜ!¬Jºj. The only
important text subsequently written by Benjamin was his 'Theses on
the Philosophy of History', completed a few months before his death in
September ÍVºÜ ¬ whose infuence on the later intellectual development
of the Frankfurt School in general, and Adorno in particular, was to be
After the Second World War, Adorno was responsible for editing the
frst two-volume edition of Benjamin's Schrifen, and for co-editing the
two published volumes of his Briefe, in the ffties. A decade later, the
relationship between Adorno and Benjamin became the object of con­
siderable polemic on the West German Left, after the growth of the
student movement and the revival of German Marxism. In assessing the
correspondence printed below, however, it is necessary to avoid the
illusions of political retrospection, and to situate the actual exchange
between the two men historically. Benjamin had been trained in Wilhel-
mine Berlin before the First World War, where he was infuence by
neo-Kantian philosopher Rickert; erly drawn towards Judaic m)'sticis
he gravitated for a time towards Zionism; in the twentie he di,cove,�ol
Marxism, travelled to Russia (1926-27), and came close to the KPD
primary focus of interest was always literature. Adorno was eleven
younger, a product of Weimar Germany, and had no religious back.
ground; his formation was primarily in music, which he studie unde�
Schonberg in Vienna; his philosophical training was untouched
Wilhelmine Lebensphilosophie; on the other hand, his political associa_
tions were very tenuous, even his collaboration with the Institute for
Social Research only becoming permanent on the eve of the Second
World War. At the time of his frst letter to Benjamin printed below, he
was 32. Culturally, the two men shared certain dominant axes of refer.,
enee, both temporal and spatial - Proust, Valery and Kafka, among
others. Benjamin, however, always maintained a close interest in sur­
realism, whose European centre was Paris, that was foreign to Adorno
while Adorno, who had spent many years in Viennat possessed a muci
deeper appreciation of psychoanalysis and of the signifcance of Freud
than Benjamin. If contact with Brecht tended to infect Benjamin towards
a more direct Marxism than he normally displayedt communiction
with Benjamin tended in tum to infect Adorno towards a more revolu­
tionary materialism than he otherwise revealed - in partt no doubt,
precisely to counteract the infuenc of Brecht. The complexity of this
triangular relationship confers on the correspondence of 1935-9 much
of its fascination.
Thust contrary to what might have been expected, Adorno's openin¡
letter to Benjamin, discussing his draft essay 'Paris - Capital of the
Nineteenth Century', focuse it criticism essentially on the psycholo­
gistic subjectivism and ahistorical romanticism which he believed he
could see beneath the dense and lapidary brilliance of Benjamin's text.
With remarkable insight, Adorno pointed out that Benjamin's use of
Marx's category of commodity fetishism unwarrantably subjectivized it,
by converting it from an objective structure of exchange-value into a
delusion of individual consciousness. Its erroneous description as a
subjective 'dream' was accompanied, moreover, by the misguided
crrective of a 'collective' unconscious as the repository of archaic
'myths'. As Adorno commented, this addition compounded rather than
tempered Benjamin'S initial mistake, since the idea of a collective un­
conscious inhabited by myths was precisely the ideological notion with
which Jung - whose reactionary proclivities were easily visible - had
Presentation III 103
tied to desexualize and erase the scientifc concepts of Freud. Failure to
understand the true import of psychoanalysis, he incidentally noted,
might be relate to the dangerous overtone of
Benjamin's depr�ciation
of Art Nouveau, which Adorno defended for Its fundamental Impulse
towards erotic emancipation. At the same time, implicit valorization of _
myth could lead both to romantic nostalgia for a
primal unity w�th /
nature as the realm of lost social innocence, or to Its obverse, utopIan
visions of classlessness that were more 'classless' (in the bad sense) than
utopian. The result of the undue confdence accorde to myth was thus
necessarily an uncritical nonchalance with history. Adorno, shrewdly
underlining the frequency with which the archetypal phrase 'the frst
time' and 'the last time' occured in the expose, proceeded to raise a whole
series of concrete historical objections to the actual imprecision of
Benjamin's apparent conCreteness of reference. In particular; he stressed
the obvious fact that commodity production as such preceded the age of
Baudelaire by many centuries, and that it was necessary to distinguish
carefully within the development of capitalism between the phase of
manufactures and the phase of factory industry proper. In the Second
Empire, he suggested, the role of the Parisian arcade as bazaars
exotica could b linked to the overseas adventure of the Bonapartlst
regime; while the working-class could not be said to have ceased forever
to be politically passive after the 1830's. Adorno's numerous smaller
criticisms of detail were in the same sense: for example, bricks had
preceded iron as an artifcial building material, and snobbery should
not be confused as a social phenomenon with dandyism. His general
recommendation to Benjamin, in conclusion, was to radicalize his
method towards greater historical accuracy and material evidence, and
more rigorous economic analysis of the objective bases underlying the
cultural confgurations with which he was concerned.
Benjamin subsequently decided to make a separate book on Baude­
laire out of the original wider Arcades project. This was to b divided
three parts: a study of Baudelaire as an allegorist, a study of the ".
social world of Paris in which he wrote, and a study of the commodity as )
a poetic object which would synthesize the meaning of poet and capital
alike ' It was the second section of this triptych that he completed In
1938 and sent to New York. In many ways, it seemed to comply with
the urgings of Adorno towards greater historical precision and materialist
objectivity; all trace of Jungian influence had disappeared, as had any
² See Benjamin's Brie/e, II, p, 774.
oneiric version of commodity fetishism, while a great welth of""",u"JU"
documentation from the epoch othe Second Empire was now superb
assembled and presented by Benjamin. Adorno's response
manuscript, however, was more astringently critical than to the on.i.""
expose. The grounds for his reserve were necessarily now sOlmewh
different. In effect, he taxed Benjamin with so restricting the scope of
investigation that the accumulation of period detail risked be,cornir .. ,'
an occult positivism. Deprived of any explicit Marxist theorization, the
relationship between the Paris of the Second Empire and the work of
Baudelaire remained arbitrary and opaque. At best, or worst, soecilc
contents of Baudelaire's poetry were directly reduced to economic
peripeteia of the time, where a global account of the social structure as a
whole could alone meiate a genuinely Marxist deipherment of his
literary achievement. Benjamin's 'ascetic' renunciation of theory for an
artless catalogue of facts did a disservice both to his own gifts and to
historical materialism. Benjamin, in his reply, legitimately protested that
the section of his Baudelaire submitte to the Institute should not be
judge in isolation. Theoretical interpretation of the poet and the city
were expressly reserved for the third section that was to conclude the
work: hence their intentional absence from the historical treatment of
the Parisian themes themselves. Yet it is clear that Adorno was not
mistaken in detecting a deeper aversion in Benjamin to systematic
theoretical exposition as such, an innate reluctanc to decant the mys­
terious elixir of the world into any translucent vessel of ordered discourse:
Beneath, or across, Benjamin's inclination to economic empiricis lay,
he commented, traCes of religious superstition: a theologicl reverence
for names strangely unite with a positivist acquisition of facts, by the
common impulse of obsessive 'enumeration' rather than analytic ex­
planation,2 Adorno's diagnosis of the intellectual blockage that was
likely to result from the coadjutant strains of eoteric mysticism and
exoteric materialism was a feat of great critical penetration.
At the same time, however, the practical handling by Adorno of the
theoretical divergence between the two men plainly lacked wisdom, In
both letters to Benjamin about his Arcades manuscripts, there is a dis­
turbing note of willed insistenc on certain oAdorno's own ideas (the
notion of 'dialectical image', the theme of 'hell', or the quotations from
ª Nor were all romantic hints of Lebensphilosophi entirely banished in Adorno's view as
a lin


itation from �immel indicted. Benjamin later reacte �igorously i defe�ce
o�thls erly mfluence on hIm: 'You look askance at Simmel: might it not b time to respect
hIm as one of the ancestors of cultural belshevism (Kulturbo/shevismus)?' Briele II, p. 808.
Presentation III lOS
Jean Paul) at the expense of complete respect for the

utonomy of
Benjamin's concerns, incompatIble wlth the proper dIscretIOn of a critic.
Much more seriously, the refusal of the Institute of Social Research to
publish the Baudelaire texts, for which Adorno was ine

itablY in large
measure responsible, was a heavy and heedless blow t mile o? Ben­
jamin, The correet course for the Z

chri was,
surely, ;»pubhsh the
manuscript and then proceed to a critical diSCUSSIOn of It 1Î the Journal.
It can only be regretted that a public debate, rather than informal
exchanges by correspondence, was not allowed to appear in its pages.
Benjamin's own response to Adorno's criticism, which had obviously
shaken him was precisely to plead for the necessity of free discussion in
print of his �ork -a plea which his personal condi�ions of acute isolation
and distress in Paris rendered all the more pOlgnant. In the event,
Benjamin was denied this chance, and re-wrote a section of the Baudelaire
study closer to the wishes of the Institute, which publi¸he his

draft 'On Some Motifs in Baudelaire' a few months later, It IS stnkmg
that in this text there was a notable loss of the strengt of the original
'Paris of the Second E:pire in Baudelaire' - its intense absorption and
mastery of cross-connected historical materials - without compensating
gains in theoretical perception. In the' new version, Dilthey was dis­
missed; Jung and Klages - the two fgure singled out for attack by
Adorno in his frst letter - were now, with a somewhat ostentatious zeal,
consigned to the camp of fascism; while Freud was centrally introduced
through extensive adoption of his notion of 'shock' from Beylf the
Pleasure Principle. Unfortunately, this was to select one of the least
successful of Freud's later metapsychologicl works, and Benjamin's
use of it resulted only in a thinner and weaker variant of the original
manuscript. Thus, while Adorno'S own criticisms of Benjamin's work
were profound and powerful as independent contrib

tions to a
between the two, Benjamin's obligation to rework hiS own w

Itmg to
approximate it to Adorno's preoccupations produced the OpPOSIte of an
improvement. Moreover, the circumstances of this imposition were
aggravated by the fact that the Institute in New York was by 1938-9
under severe pressure from the rabidly counter-revolutionary chmate of
American academic culture at the time, and had started to make a series of
tactical adaptations to it. The original Baudelaire manuscript opens with
a political discussion of Marx's assessment of professional revolutionary
conspirators in the 1 84Os, contains constant allusions throughout to
¯ For Adoro's enthusiastic response to the new version, see his letter of 29 February
194, in Uber Walter Benjamin, pp. 157-61.
the proletarian struggle on the barricades of 19th-century F
C OSes Wit a movmg evocation ofBlanqui. It is unlikely to ban .c<ide

hat all such passages disappeared from the essay eventually
Ì the Zmschrij fr Sozia/orschung. If Benjamin in Paris w
credulous believer in the thaumaturgical virtue of 'caIl' th

S a
th .
' mg mgs
elr na

es ,
IS c?lleague in New York certainly did not sufer
any t
ustmg ìlterahsm: they were becoming too adept practitioners
the diplomatic art of euphemism and periphrasis that knowin I
not call things by their name.
g y


ection had already been evident in the Institute's treatlnen!
of BenJam

n O
rlier essay, 'The Work of Art in the Age of MecloaIlica]
�eproductlOn , If on a lesser scale. The version printed in the Zeits<hr.i
½ 1936 was typically altered by such substitutions as 'tot I' t
doct ' ' £ 'F
. , , a l anan
rIne or aseIsm , constructive forces of mankind' Co '
. ,
d '
r Com-
mUlllsm , a
� �
warfare' for 'imperialist warfare'; while its
ee, which dIrectly Invoked Marx) was omitted altogether These
deletIOns, however, were the work of Horkheimer in New York
at this t
'11 '
. orno

ge was Stl umnvolved in the administration of the Institut
and receIved

typescript of the essay privately in London, some tw�
years before his departure for the United States.
A�orno's own refections on it to Benjamin were free from any editorial

ng, and thu


sent perhaps the best example of his critical


e at grIpS WIth the ideas of his senior. Riposting against

In s atta

k on aesthetic 'aura' as a vestige of bourgeois culture

? h

s celebratIon of the progressive function of technical reproduci­
bIh�y In art as the pathway to a new appropriation of it by the masses _
realIzed above all in the cinema, Adorno replied with a defence of avant­
garde art and a counter-attack against over-confdence in commerial­
popular a

t. On

ther hand, he argued, the 'technicization' of art was
no l
ess eVIdent In VIennese atonal music than in Hollywood comedies
' the I

ner formal development of avant-garde art itself had led to th
magIcal exhibition of its mechanisms of 'productl'on' d

' '

, regar e y
enJamm as the great merit of industrial cinema. On the other hand the

edly popular art exalted b

far from being necess�rily

on aural
was In|act typically mImetic and mfantilist: the American flm
md ustry, m part

cular, w

s a vehicle of bourgeois ideology even in its
apparently most progreSSIVe' expressions. Chaplin, cult director of the
Left, mere�y nurtured

n inverted brutalism; jazz, ostensibly advanced
and collectIve as a mUSIcal form in fact reste on m
. .
. . '
esmertc repetItIOn.
e Idea developed by BenJamm that the 'distraction' of a movie-goer
Presentation III 107
or the 'expertise' of a sports fan could in any way be taken as prototypes
of aesthetic liberation was fagrant romanticism. Economically, this
conception implied that communist society would not have abolished the
work-fatigue that generates the need for distraction, rather than eman­
cipating imaginative energy and sensibility for a new intensity of concen­
tration, as Marx had always envisaged it would. Politiclly, it forgot
Lenin's critique of spontaneism, which Adorno interpreted as preluding
any merely optimistic attributon to the working class of an immediate
capacity to master the progressive potential or latent meaning of new
forms of art, without the assimilation of theoretical knowledge. The real
crux of modem aesthetic debate, he concluded, necessarily lay in the
problem of the relationship between workers and intellectuals within
the revolutionary movement.
The force of many of these arguments remains pertinent today. It is
clear that Benjamin, following Brecht, tended to hypostasize techniques
in abstraction from relations of production, and to idealize diversions in
ignorance of the social determinants of their reproduction. His theory of
the positive signifcance of distracton was base on a specious generali­
zation from architecture, ´ whose forms are always directly use as
practical objects and henc necessarily command a distinct type of atten­
tion from those of drama, cinema, poetry or painting. Against this
rhetoric, Adorno's insistence on traditional norms of aesthetic concen­
tration retains all its validity (just as his brusque dismissal of Chaplin's
confused miserabilism can only be ratifed today). On the other hand,
Adorno's own analysis of jazz - which he himself counterposed to
Benjamin'S discussion of flm - was notoriously myopic and rearguard:
focused exclusively on the swing phase of the thirties, it failed completely
to perceive the dynamics of jazz as an aesthetic fon, with a past and
future stretching far beyond the anodyne rifs to whiffi he confned it.
Where Benjamin manifestly overestimated the progressive destiny of the
commercial-popular art of his time, Adorno no less clearly over-estimated
that of the avant-garde art of the period. In fact, signs of imminent
conservatism can be seen on both sides of the exchange. Benjamin was
already lamenting the advent of sound in the cinema, while Adorno was
later unable to muster any enthusiasm for the emergence of electronic
music. Both, too, reveal a considerable distance from the actual range of
work in the media they discuss, which results in a pervasive vagueness
about the precise nature of the 'technique' to whose sovereign power they
. See Ilumintio, pp. 241-2.
both hasten to pay tribute, Adorno tended to equate this simply with
formal laws of any art, while Benjamin identifed it essentially
mechanical reproduction. But since technical reproducibility a such
existed at least since the invention of printing during the Klmalssan"e,',
Benjamin was for the most part obliged in practice to confne the
arbitrarily to the cinema, on the grounds that it alone exemplife
duction not only in distribution but in production itself, in order
maintain his claim that the principle was a revolutionary innovation
contemporary art.6 In general, the absolute necessity for a di,, ent;m
historical analysis of separate aesthetic forms, and their respective
nical elements, was overlooke by both men, who share a certain
proneness to casual conflations. The subsequent development of the
main media with which they were concerne has not only been
and asymmetrical; it has also demonstrated an extremely complex and
variegated set of dialectical relationships between 'high' and 'low"
'avant-garde' and 'popular' strands, that was never envisaged by either'.
The cinematic expertise in Hollywoodiana which Benjamin prophesied
was to be realized by a sophisticate elite of the intelligentsia, which was
to use it to transform avant-garde flms: for all their erratic merits, it may
be doubted whether Benjamin would have savoured the Cahiers du
Cinema with much zest. Conversely, the immanent development of the
jazz abhorred by Adorno eventually led it towards the atonality he had
once championed in 'serious' music. Painting, in another operation
altogether, was to incorporate comic-strip and advertising motifs, between
parody and solemnity, Perhaps the only form to approximate to a fertile
aesthetic distraction has been rock, because of its use-relationship to
dance. Literature, on the other hand, perhaps the most class-divided of
all art forms because of its racination in language, has prove more
resistant than any other t the intertwining of popular and vanguard
Neither the complaisance of a perpetually obsolete moderism nor the
¨ Actually, of course, technical reproducibility of art-works long predate eve the
Renaissance: its real inauguration occurre if anything in the Roman epoch, with the
perfection ofcasting and copying technique i sculpture whose introuction diffuseclassi­
cal forms and image on an enormous scle throughout the Mediterranean world. I general,
Benjamin seems to have been strangely unaware ofthe innovations ofAntiquity. Adorno,
reproaching him with believing that iron was the frst artifcial building material, pointed
out the priority of brick. Both seem to have forgotten the Roman inventon of the frst forms
ofconcrete. Both sculptural reproducton and architectural concrete date from the 2nd-1st
centurie Be. whe Roman hegemony W establishe in the Hellenistic world.
6 See Il umintion, p. 24, for the privilege Benjamin accorde the cinema.
Presentation III 109
rillness of a beleaguered traditionalism can account for these �is-
rdant histories. No aesthetic feld has been exempt from the rendIng

essure of the two recurrent poles of all culture still subject to capital,
pr ,
autistically advance or collusively popular. Adorno s
aSIC lctum In
this respect stiII holds true: 'Both are tom halves of an mtegral freeom,
to which however they do not add up.' The shifting cultural landscape
fthe seventies inevitably lay far beyond the horizons of the theon�ts
of the thirties. But despite some sectoral breakthroughs m speIfc dIS­
ciplines, the themes of the Adorno-Benjamin exchange have yet tobe
truly surpassed by any general progress of Marxist aesthetIc theory SInce
that time. The correspondence printed below, a dialogue between two
idiosyncratic masters of German prose, remains a document of the
utmost intellectual and literary interest today.
Theodor Adorno
Letters to Walter Benjamin
Hornberg, Black Forest, 2 August 1935
Dear Herr Benjamin:
Today let me try to say something to you at long last about your draft
essay, which I have studied very thoroughly and discusse with Felizitasl
again; she fully shares the views I express here
It seems to me to bin
keeping with the importance of the subject - which, Û you know, I rate
extremely highly - if I speak with complete candour and procee with­
out preliminaries to the questions which I believe are equally central
for both of us. But I shall preface my critical discussion by saying that
even though your method of work means that a sketch and a 'line of
thought' cannot convey an adequate representation, your draft seems to
me full of the most important ideas. Of these I should like to emphasize
only the magnifcent passage about living as a leaving of traces, the
conclusive sentences about the collector, and the liberation of things
from the curse of being useful. The outline of the chapter on Baudelaire
as an interpretation of the poet and the introduction of the category of
nouveaute on p. 172 also seem to me entirely convincing.2 You will
therefore guess what in any case you would hardly have expecte to be
otherwise: that I am still concerned with the complex which may be
designate by the rubrics - prehistory of the 19th century, dialectical
image, and confguration of myth and modernism. If! refrain from making
a distinction between the 'material' and the 'epistemological' questions,
this will still bin keeping, if not with the external organization of your
' Felizitas was Gretel Adoro, the writer's wife.
ª All page references are to the English translation, Charles Bauelaire _ A Lyri Poet in tke Era of Higk Capitalis (NLB, 1973).
Adorno to Benjamin 111
d aft at all events with its philosophical core, whose movement is to
�ak·the antithesis between the two disappear (as in both the more
recent traditional sketches of the dialectic).
Let me take as my point of departure the motto on p. 159,
epoque reve la suivante [Every epoch dreams
its successor]. ThIs see

to me an important key in that all those motifs of th? theory of the dIa­
lectical image which underlie my criticism, crystalhze arou

d It
a an
undialectical sentence whose elimination could lead to a clarIfcatIon of
the theory itself. For the sentence implie three things:
a concepti
of the dialectical image as a content of consciousness, albeIt a collectIve
one; its direct - I would almost say: developmental - relatedness �the
future as Utopia; and a notion of the 'epoch' a proper, and self-

subject of this content of consciousness. It seems e

tremely Signifcant
to me that this version of the dialectical image, which can b calle an
immanent one not only threatens the original force of the concept,
which was th-ological in nature, introducing a simplifcation whi�h
attacks not s much its subjective nuance as its basic truth; it also falls
to preserve that social movement within the contradiction, for the sake
of which you sacrifce theology.
If you transpose the dialectical image into consciousness �a 'd
you not only take the magic out of the concept and render It
but you also deprive it of that objective liberating power whIch co

legitimize it in materialistic terms. The fetish charac�er of the

is not a fact of consciousness; rather, it is dialectical, m the emment sense
that it produces consciousness. This means, however, that consciousness
or unconsciousness cannot simply depict it Û a dream, but responds to
it in equal measure with desire and fear. But it is precisely t�is dia�ectic

power of the fetish character that is lost in the repl�ca re


(szt vema
verbo) of your present immanent version of the dialetIcal Image .
return to the language of the glorious frst draft of your Arcades proJect :
if the dialectical image is nothing but the way in which the fetish character
is perceived in a collective consciousness, the Saint Simonian conception
of the commodity world may indeed reveal itself a Utopia, but not as
its reverse - namely a dialectical image of the 19th century Û Hell.
But only the latter c�uld put the idea of a Golden Age into the right
perspective, and precisely this dual sense could tum .ut to be hIghly
appropriate for an interpretation of Offenb�c�- that l

) the dual sense
of Underworld and Arcadia; both are exphclt categone of Offenbach
and could be pursued down into details of his instrumentat1o

. Thus
the abandonment of the category of Hell in your draft, and particularly
the elimination of the brilliant passage about the gambler (for wu,cu 'ne
passage about speculation and games of chance is no substitute),
to me to be not only a loss of lustre but also of dialectical consisten
Now I am the last to be unaware of the relevance of the immanence
consciousness for the 19th century. But the concept of the aIaleCtIC'I
image cannot be derived from it; rather, the immanence of consciousne
itself is, as Intirieur, the dialectical image for the 19th century as _u ,,
tion. There I shall also have to leave the stake of the second chapter
my Kierkegaard book in the new game . Accordingly, the dialectical
image should not be transferred into consciousness as a dream, but in " ,
its dialectical construction the dream should be externalize and the.
immanence of consciousness itself be understood as a constellation of
reality - the astronomical phase, as it were, in which Hell wanders
through mankind. It seems to me that only the map of such a jourey
through the stars could offer a clear view of history as prehistory.
Let me try to formulate the same objection again from the diametrically
opposite standpoint. In keeping with a immanent version of the dialec-
tical image (with which, to use a positive term, I would contrast your
earlier conception of a model) you construe the relationship between the
oldest and the newest, which was already central to your frst draft, as
one of Utopian reference to a 'classless society'. Thus the archaic becomes
a complementary addition to the new, instead of being
the 'newest'
itself; it is de-dialecticized. However, at the same time, and equally
undialecticaIly, the image of c1asslesness is put back into mythology
instead of becoming truly transparent as a phantasmagoria of Hell. ·
Therefore the category in which the archaic coalesces into the modern
seems to me far less a Golden Age than a catastrophe. I once noted that
the recent past always presents itself as though it has been destroyed by
catastrophes, Hie et nunc I would say that it thereby present itself as
prehistory. And at this point I know I am in agreement with the boldest
passage in your book on tragedy [Der Ursprun des deutschen Trauerspiels].'
If the disenchantment of the dialectical image .s a 'dream' psycho­
logizes it, by the same token it falls under the spell of bourgeois psychology.
For who is the subject of the dream? In the 19th century it was surely
only the individual; but in the individual's dream no direct depiction of
´ Adoro's referenc is t his frst major work, Kierkegaard: Konstruktiondes Aesthetischen,
Tiibingen 1933. Written i 1929-30, it was a critique of Kierkegaar's subjective interiority
and spiritualist immediacy.
¯ Benjamin had published Der Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels i 1928. For an
English edition, see The Origin o/German Tragi.Drama, NLB 1977.
Adorno to Benjamin Il3
Other the fetish character or its monuments may be found. Hence the

collective consciousness is invoked, but I fear that In Its present

cannot be distinguished from Jung's conception. It is open to

n both sides' from the vantage point of the social process, In that It
0 ,

hypostasizes archaic images where dialectical images are l

fact generat

by the commodity character, not in an archaic collectl

e ego, but In
alienated bourgeois individuals; and from the vantage pomt of psycho­
logy in that, as Horkheimer puts it, a mass ego exists only in eart�­
quake and catastrophes, while otherwise objec�ive surplus value p

precisely through individual subjects and agamst them. The notIOn of
collective consciousness was invente only to divert attentlOn from true
objectivity and its correlate, alienate subjectivity, It is up to u

polarize and dissolve this 'consciousnes' dialecticlly between society
and singularities, and not to galvanize it as an imagistic correìate of t�e
commodity character. It should be a clear and sufcient warnmg that 10
a dreaming collective no diference remain between classes.
Lastly, morever, the mythic-archaic category othe 'Golden Age' -
and this is what seems socially deisive to me - has had fateful conse­
quence for the commoity category itself. I�th

crucial 'ambi

ity' of
the Golden Age is suppressed (a concept whICh IS Itself greatly m need
of a theory and should by no means b left unexamined), that is, its
relationship to Hell, the commodity as the substance of the age becomes
Hell pure and simple, yet negated in a way which would actually make
the immediacy of the primal state apper as truth. Thus dIsenchantment
of the dialectical image leads directly to purely mythical thinking, and
here Klage appears as a danger,' as Jung did earlier. Nowhere doe your
draft contain more remeies than at this point. Here would bthe central
place for the doctrine of the collector who liberates things from the curse
of being useful. If I understand you correctly, this is also where Hauss­
mann belongs; his class consciousness, precisely by a perfection of the
commodity characte in a Hegelian self-consciousness, inaugur

te the
explosion of its phantasmagoria. To understand �he commodl
ty as a
dialectical image is also to see the latter as a motif of the dechne and
'supersession' of the commodity, rather than as its mere


older stage. The commodity is, on the one hand, an alIenated object 10
which use-value perishes, and on the other, an alie survivor tha�ou�­
live its own immediacy, We receive the promise of immortahty In
´Ludwig Klages (1872-1956,was a conservative and neo-romantc cultural philosopher
and historian.
commodities and not for people. To develop the relationship oe[we
'n' ,
the Arcades project and the book on the Baroque, which you have n�n"'", '
established, the fetish is a faithless fnal image, comparable only to
death's-head. It seems to me that this is where the basic epistemologic
character of Kafka lies, particularly in Odradek, as a commodity that
has survived to no purpose.6 In this fairy tale by Kafka surrealism
come to an end, as baroque drama did in Hamlet. But within >uc:cg
this means that the mere concept of use-value by no means sufces for
critique of the commodity character, but only leads back to a stage prio;
to the division of labour. This has always been my real reservatio
toward Brecht;7 his 'collective' and his unmediated concept of functio
have �lways been suspect to

e, as themselve a 'regression'. Perhaps
you wIll see from these refectlOns, whose substanc concerns precisely
those categories in your draft whic may conform to those of Brecht
that my opposition to them is not an insular attempt to rescue autono�
mous art or anything like that, but addresse itself solemnly to those
motifs of our philosophical friendship which I regard as basic. If I were
to close the circle of my critique with one bold grip, it would be bound
to grasp the extremes. A restoration of theology, or better yet, a radicali_
of the dialectic into the glowing centre of theology, would at the
same time have to mean the utmost intensifcation of the social-dialectical
indeed e�onomic, m�tifs. These, above all, must b viewed historically�
The specifc commodity character of the 19th century, in other words
the industrial production of commodities, would have to be workeo
out much more clearly and materially. After al� commoditie and aliena­
tion have existed since the beginning of capitalism - i.e. the age of
manufactures, which is also that of baroque art; while the 'unity' of the
modern age has since then lain precisely in the commodity character.
But the complete 'prehistory' and ontology of the 19th century could be
estabhshed only by an exact defnition of the industrial form of the
commodity as one clearly distingnished historically from the olde form.
All r

ferences to
the commodity �orm 'as such' give that prehistory a
certam metaphorIcal character, whIch cannot be tole�te in this serious
case. I would surmise that the greatest interpretative results will be
ac�ieved her

if you unheitatingly follow your own procedure, the
bhnd processmg of material. If, by Contrast, my critique move in a
certain theoreticl sphere of abstraction, that surely is a difculty, but I
6 See The Cares ofa Famil Man.

c»t is referred to 8 'Berta' i the original, for reasons of censorship, sinc Adorno
was wntmg from Germany.
Adorno to Benjamin 115
know that you will not regard it as a mere problem of 'outlook' and
thereby dismiss my reservations.
However, permit me to add a few specifc remarks of a more concrete
character, which will naturally b meaningful only against this theoreti­
cal background. As a ttle I should like to propose Paris, Capital ofthe
Nineteenth Century, not The Capital- unless the Arcades title is revived
along with Hell. The division into chapters according to men doe not
strike me as quite felicitous; it make for a certain force systemization
which leave me a little uneasy. Were there not once sections according
to materials, like 'plush" 'dust', etc? The relationship between Fourier
and the arcade is not very satisfactory either. Here I could imagine as a
suitable patter a constellation of the various urban and commodity
materials, an arrangement later to be deciphered as both dialectical
image and its theory.
In the motto on p. 157 the word portique very nicely supplies the motf
of 'antiquity' ; in connection with the newest as the oldest, perhaps a
morphology of the Empire should b given elementary treatment here
(such as melancholy receives in the Baroque book). On p. 158, at any
rate, the conception of the State in the Empire as an end in itself should
b clearly shown to have been a mere ideology, which your subsequent
remarks indicte that you had m mind. You have left the concept of
construction completely unilluminated; as both alienation and mastery
of material it u already eminently dialecticl and should, in my opinion,
forthwith b expounde dialectically (with a cler diferentiation from
the present concept of construction; the term engineer, which is very
characteristic of the 19th century, probably provide a starting-point! )
Incidentally, the introduction and exposition of the concept of the collec­
tive unconscious, on which I have already made some basic remarks,
are not quite clear here. Regarding p. 158, I should like to ask whether
cast iron really was the frst artifcial building material (bricks !) ; in
general, I sometimes do not feel quite comfortable with the notion of
'frst' in the text. Perhaps this formulation could b added: every epoch
dreams that it has been destoyed by catastrophes. P. 159: The phrase
'the new and the old are intermingled' is highly dubious to me, given
my critique of the dialectical image as regression. There u no reversion
to the old, rather, the newest, as semblance and phantasmagoria, is itself
the old. Here I may perhaps remind you, without being obtrusive, of
Some formulations, including certain remarks on ambiguity, in the
Interieur section of my work on Kierkegaard. By way of supplementing
these: dialectical image are as models not social products, but objective
constellations in which 'the social' situation represents itself.
quently, no ideological or social 'accomplishment' can ever b expected
of a dialectical image. My objection to your merely negative account
reifcation -the critique of the element of 'Klages' in your draft -is based
primarily on the passage about machine on p. 159. An over-valuation
machine technology and machines as such has always been peculiar to
bourgeois theorie of retrospection; the relations of production are
conceale by an abstract reference to the means of production.
The very important Hegelian concept of the second nature, which has
since been taken up by Georg Lukacs' and others, belongs on p. 16lf.
Presumably the 'Diable uParis' could lead to Hell. Lp. 162, I would
very much doubt that the worker appeared as a stage-extra etc, 'for the
last time' outside his class. Incidentally, the ide of an early history of
the feuilleton, about which s much is contained in your essay on Kraus,
is most fascinating; this would b the place for Heine, too. In this
connection an old journalistic term occurs to me: Schablonstil [cliche
style], whose origin ought to be investigated. The term Lebensgefhl
[attitude to life], used in cultural or intellectual history, is highly objecc
tionable. It seems to me that your uncritical acceptance of the frst
appearance of technology is connected with your over-valuation of the
archaic as such. I noted down this formulation: myth is not the classless .
longing of a true society, but the objective character of the alienated
commodity itself. P. 163: Your conception of the history of painting in
the 19th century as a fight from photography (to which there is an
exact correspondenc in the fight of music from 'banality') is formidable
but undialectical, for the share of the force of production not incor­
porate in commodity fonn in our store of paintings cannot be grasped
concretely in this way but only in the negative of its trace (Mane is
probably the source of this dialectic). This seems to be related to the
mythologizing or archaizing tendency of your draft. Belonging to the past,
the stock of paintings becomes, so to speak, fxed starry images in the
philosophy ·of history, drained of their quota of productive force. The
subjective side of the dialectic vanishe under an undialectically mythical
glance, the glance of Medusa.
The Golden Age on p. 164 is perhaps the true transition to Hell. - I
cannot see the relationship of the World Fairs to the workers; it sounds
like conjecture and surely should be asserte only with extreme caution.
Of course, a great defnition and theory of phantasmagoria belong on
° Referred to simply 8 'Georg' in the original.
Adorno-to Benjamin 117
. 165f. The next page was a mene tekef [warning] to me. Felizitas and I
�emember the overwhelming impression which the Saturn
once made on us j the quotation has not survive a more sober mspectlOn
of it. The Saturn ring should not become a cast-iron balcony, but the
balcony should become the real Saturn ring. Here I a happy not to
ofer you any abstract objections but to confront you WIth your own
success: the incomparable moon chapter in your Kindheit whose philo­
sophical content belongs here.' At this point I remembere what you
once said about your Arcades study: that it could be wrested away only
from the realm of madness. That it has removed itself from this realm
rather than subjugating it is proved by the interpretation of

he Saturn
quotation which bounced of it. This is the centre of my real obJectIOns . . .
this is where I have to speak s brutally because of the enormous seriOus­
ness of the matter. As was probably your intention, the fetish conception
of the commodity must be documente with the appropriate passages
from the man who discovered it.
The concept of the organic, which also appears on p. 166 and points to
a static anthropology, etc, is probably not tenable either, or only in the
sense that it merely existed as such prior to the fetish and thus is itself
historical like the idea of ' landscape'. The dialectical commodity motif
ofOdradek probably belongs on p. 166. The workers movement appears
here somewhat like a deus ex machina again. To be sure, as with some
other analogous forms, the abbreviated style of your draft m

y be to
blame' this is a reservation that applie to many of my reservations. ,
A p·opos the passage about fashion, which seems to me very important,
but in its construction should probably be detached from the concept
of the organic and brought into relationship with the living, i.e. not to
a superior 'nature' : the idea of te changeanJ occurred to me - the shot
fabric which seems to have had expressive signifcance for the 19th
century and presumably was tied to industrial proc

sses. Perhaps you
will pursue this some day; Frau Hessel, whose [fashIOn] reports M the
Frankfurter Zeitung we always read with great interest,
will su


some information on it. The passage where I have partIcular mlsglvmgs
about the overly abstract use of the commodity category is to b found
on p. 166; I doubt if it appeared as such 'for the frst time' in the
century. (Incidentally, the same objection applies also to the In
and the sociology of interiority in my Kierkegaard, and every critiCism
´Benjamin wrote his Berliner Kindheit um Neunzehnhundert in the thirties; it was pub­
lished posthumously in Frankfurt in 1950.
that I make of your draft also goes for my own earlier study.) I
that the commod,ty category could b greatly concretized by the
fcally modern categories of world trade and imperialism. Relate to
IS the arcade as a bazaar, also antique shops as world-trade market
the temporal. Th�Signifcance
of 'compresse distnce' lie perhaps
the proble�s çf wInmng over aImless social strat and imperial cOloqllesl.
I am only gIVIng you suggestions; of course, you will bable t unearth
mcompa�ably more conclusive evidence from your material and
the �pec�fc shape of the world of things in the 19th century, Derhar.
vlewlOg It from Its seamy side - its refuse, remnants, debris.
The passage about the ofce, too, probably lacks historical eX" ctltu,e .•.: •
To me the ofce seems les a direct opposite of the home [interieur]
a relic of older for�s of rooms, probably baroque one (cf. globes,
maps on the walls, raIlIngs, and other kinds of material). Regarding the
the,ry of Art Nouveau on p. 168: if I agree with you that it meant a
deCISIve shattermg of the interior, for me this exclude _the ide th t
' bT ll h
a It
ro 1 1zes
a t e reserve force of interiority'. Rather, it seems to save
�nd act�ahze them through 'externalization'. (The theory of symbolism
In partIcular belongs here, but above aU Mallarme's interiors which
have �xactly the opposite signifcanc of Kierkegaard's.) In pla�e of in­
tenor�ty Art Nouveau ¡ut sex. It had recourse to sex precisely because
only In sex could a prtvate person encounter himself not as inward but
as corporeal. This is true of all Art Nouveau from Ibsen to Maeterlinck
and d'AnnunzlO. Its origin is Wagner and not the chamber music of
Brahms. Co�crete seems uncharacteristic of Art Nouveau; it presum­
�bly belongs Ì the strange vacuum around 1910. Incidentally, I think it
IS p�obable that the real Art Nouveau coincided with the great economic
crISIS around 190. Concrete belongs to the pre-war boom. P. 168: Let
me also draw your attention to the very remarkable interpretation of
[Ibsen's] The M

ster Builer in Wedekind's posthumous works. I am
not acqual�te Wl�any psych,analytic literature about awakening, but
I shall look m
to thl�. However, IS not the dream-interpreting, awakening
psycho�nalySls whIch expressly and polemically dissociate itself from
(documentation in Freud's lectures!O) itself part of Art
Nouveau, WIth which it coincide in time? This is probably a question
of the frs;orde�and one tbat may bvery far-reaching. Aa corrective
to my baSIC crttlq�e I should like �o add the following here: if I reject
the use of the notion of the collectIve consciousness, it is naturally not
The reference is to Freud's Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalsi of�191617.
Adoro to Benjamin 119
in order to leave'the 'bourgeois individuaf intact as the rel substratu.
The interior should b made transparent as a social function and its
self-containedness should be reveale as an illusion - not vis-a-vis a
hypostasize collectve consciousness, but vis-a-vis the rel s�c
ial pro­
cess itself. The 'individual' is a dialectical instrument of transltlon that
must not b mythicize away, but c only b superseded. Once more I
should like to emphasize most strongly the passage about the 'liberation
of things from the bondage of being useful' as a brilliant turning-point
for the dialectical salvation of the commodity. L p. 169 I should be
pleased if the theory of the collector and of the interior as a casing were
elaborated as fully as possible.
On p. 170 I should like to call your attention t Maupassant's LNuit,
which seems to me the dialectical capstone to Poe's Man ofth Crowd as
cornerstone. I fnd the passage about the crowd as a veil wonderful.
P. 171 is the place for the critique of the dialectical image. You un­
doubtedly know better than I do that the theory given here doe not
yet do justice to the enormous demands of the subject. I should only like
to say that ambignity is not the translation of the dialectic into an image,
but the 'trace' of that image which itself must frst b dialecticize by
theory. I seem to remember that there is a serviceable statement concern­
ing this in the Interior chapter of my Kierkegaard book. Re p. 172,
perhaps the last stanza of the great 'Femme Damn"es' from[Baudelaire's]
Pieces condamnees. In my view, the concept of false consciousness must
b treate with the greatest caution and should mno case b use any
longer without reference to it Hegelian(!) origin. 'Snob' was originally
not an aesthetic concept but a social one; it was given currency by
Thackeray. A very clear distinction should b made between snob and
dandy; the history of the snob should be investigated, and Proust
furnishes you the most splendid material for this. Your thesis on p. 172
about I' art pour I' art and the total work of art seems untenable to me in
its present form. The total work of art and aestheticism in the precise
sense of the word are not identical, but diametrically oppose attempts
to escape from the commodity character. Thus Baudelaire's relationship
to Wagner is as dialectical as his association with a prostitute.
I am not at all satisfe with the theory of speculation on p. 174. For
one thing, the theory of games of chance which was so magnifcently
included in the draft of the Arcades study is missing; another thing that
is lacking is a real economic theory of the speculator. Speculation is the
negative expression of the irrationality of capitalistic reason. Perhaps it
would be possible to cope with this passage, too, by means of 'extra-
: 1

polation to extremes
, An explicit theory of perspective would
indicated on p. 176; I believe there was something on that in the or,";,,;".
draft. The stereoscope, whic was invente between 1810 and 1820
relevant here. The fne dialecticl conception of the Haussmann
could perhaps be brought out more precisely in your study than it is
the draft, where one has to interpret it frst.
I must ask you once more to excuse the carping fonn of these
ments; but I believe l owe you at lest a fewspecifc example of my
In true friendship, Yours
London, 18 March 1936
Derr Herr Benjamin:
If today I prepare to convey to you some note on your '
study ['The Work of Art in the Ag of Mechanicl Reprod uction'], I
certainly have no intention of ofering you criticism or even an adequate
response. The terrible pressure of work on me - the big book on logic,U
the completion of my contribution to the monograph on Berg,12 which
IS ready except for two analyses, and the study on jazz13 - makes any
such endeavour hopeless. This is especially true of a work in the face of
which I am very seriously aware of the inadequacy of written communi­
cation, for there is not a sentence which I would not wish to discuss with
you in derail. I cling to the hope that this will b possible very soon, but
on the other hand I do not want to wait so long before giving you some
kind of response, however insufcient it may be.
Let me therefore confne myself to one main theme. My ardent interet
and my complete approval attach to that aspect of your study which
appers to me to carry out your original intention - the dialecticl con­
struction of the relationship between myth and history - within the
intellectual feld of the materialistic dialectic: namely, the dialectical self­
dissolution of myth, which is here viewed as the disenchantment of art.
²² This w� the philosophicl work, a critique of phenomenology, on which Adoro was
engage while at Oxford. It was eventually published in Stuttgart in 1956 as Zur Metakdtik
der Erkenntnistheorie. Studien fber Husser! und die phiinomenologischen Antinomien.
12 Include in W�l1i Reich (ed), Alban Berg, Vienna 1937.
"¨ Published as '
ber Jazz' in the Zeitschrit fr Sozia/orschung 5

1936 and later in­

luded in Ado
mo's volume Moments Musicaux, Frankfurt 1964. ro:Ado�o's views on
Jazz, 6 also hIS essay 'Perennial Fashion -Jazz', Prs, London 1967.
Adorno to Benjamin 121
You know that the subject of the 'liquidation of art' has for many years
underlain my aesthetic studies and that my emphatic espousal of the
primacy of technology, especially in music, must be understood stric�ly
this sense and in that of your second techmque. It doe not surprIse
me if we fnd common ground here; it doe not surprise me, because in
your book on the Baroque you accomplishe the diferentiation of the
allegory from the symbol (in the new terminology, the 'aural' symbol)
and in your Einbahnstrasse14 you diferentiated the work of art from
magical documentation. It is a splendid confrmation - I hope it does
not sound immodest if I say: for both of us - that in an essay on Schon­
berg which appeared in a Festschrif two years ago15 and with which you
are not familiar, I proposed formulations about technology and dialecti�s
as well as the alteration of relationships to technology, which are ½
perfect accord with your own.
It is this accord which for me constitute the criterion for the differences
that I must now state, with no other aim than to serve our 'general line' ,
which is now so clearly discernible. In doing so, perhaps I can start out
by following our old method o immanent criticism. In your earlier
writings, of which your present essay is a continuation, you diferentIated
the ide of the work of art as a structure from the symbol of theology and
from the taboo of magic. I now fnd it disquieting - and here I see a
sublimated remnant of certain Brechtian motifs -that you now casually
transfer the concept of magical aura to the 'autonomous work of art' and
fatly assign to the latter a counter-revolutionary function. I need not
assure you that I am fully aware of the magical element in the bourgeois
work of art (particularly since I constantly attempt to expose the bour­
geois philosophy of idealism, which is associated with the co�cept of
aesthetic autonomy, as mythicl in the fullest sense). However, It seems
to me that the centre of the autonomous work of art does not itself belong
on the side of myth - excuse my topic parlance - but is inherently dia­
lectical; within itself it juxtaposes the magical and the mark of freedom.
If I remember correctly, you once said something similar in connectIon
with Mallarme, and I cannot express to you my feeling about your entire
essay more clearly than by telling you that I consrantly found myself
wishing for a study of Mallarme as a counterpoint to your essay, a study
which, in my estimation, you owe us as an important contributi)n to
our knowledge. Dialectical though your essay may be, it is not so In the
'¯ Benjamin's volume of aphorisms Einbahnstrasse was publishe in Berlin in 1928.
and then later include i Adoro's collection Impromptus, Frankfurt 1968.
²´This essay, 'Der dialektische Komponist', was originally published in Vienna in 1934.
case of the autonomous work of art itself; it disregards an el,m..,tar
experience which becomes more evident to me every day in my
musical experience - that precisely the uttermost consistency in
pursuit of the technical laws of autonomous art changes this art
instead of rendering it into a taboo or fetish, brings it close to the state
freedom, of something that can b consciously produced and made,
know of
nµ bet

er materialistic programme than that statement hy ,
Mallarme m whIch he defne works of literature as something not
inspired but made out of words; and the gretest fgure of reaction,
such as Valery and Borchardt (the latter with his essay about villasl6
which, despite an unspeakable comment about workers, could be taken
over in a materialistic sense in its entirety), have this explosive power in
their innermost cells. If you defend the kitsch flm against the 'quality'
flm, no one can b more in agreement with you than I am; but l' art pour
lart u just as much in need of a defence, and the united front which
exists against it and which to my knowledge extends from Brecht to the
Youth Movement, would be encouragement enoug to undertake a rescue.
[In your essay on Th Elctiv Afnities J17 you speak of play and
appearance as the element of art; but I do not se why play should be
dialectical, and appearance - the appearance which you have managed
to preserve in Ottilie who, together with. Mignon and Helena,18 now
does not come of so well - should not. And at this point, to bsure, the

turs po�itical quickly enough. For if you render rightly tech­
flCIZatiOn and ahenatlOn dialecticl, but not in equal measure the world
of objectifed subjectivity, the political effect is to credit the proletariat
(as the d

ema's sUbject) directly with an achievement which, according
to Lemn, It can realize only throug a theory introduce by intellectuals
as dialecticl subjects, who themselves belong to the sphere of works of
art which you have consigned to Hell.
Understand me correctly. I would no want to claim the autonomy
of the work of art as a prerogative, and I agre with you that the aural
element of the work of art is declining - not only because of its technical
reproducibility, incidentally, but above all because of the fullment of
" Rudolf�orc�a
rdt (1877
as a prominent litterateur in Germany, whose esay
on Tuscan Villas ¡5
10cluded 10 the eite volume of his writings, Prosa III, Stuttgart 1960,
pp. 38-70.
• ²' Benjamin's essay Coetkes Wahlverwantschajien was publishe in Hofmannsthal's
Journal Neue Deutsche Beitrage in 1924-5.
²" Characters in Goethe;s Elective Afnities, Wi/hem Meister's Apprenticeship, and
Paust II, respectively.
Adorno to Benjamin 123
it own 'autonomous' formal laws (this is the subject of the
theOry o
usical reprouction which Kolisch and I have been plannIng or years .
But the autonomy of the work of art, and therefore Its

aterlal form,
not identical with the magicl element in it. The relfcatlon of a
I rk oa is not J·ust loss any more than the reifcation of the CInema
· f · f h
is aU loss. It would be bourgeois reaction to negate the rei caton
o t e
nema in the name of the ego, and it would border on anarchlsm to
��voke the reifcation of a great work of a in the spirit of immeiate
use-values. 'Les extremes me touchent' [GideJ, just as they touch
you -
only uthe dialectic of the lowest has the same
alue as the dIalectIc
the highest, rather than the latter simply decaymg. Both bear the Stig­
mata of capitalism, both contain elements of change (tut never, of course,
the middle-term between Schonberg and te AmerIcan flm). Both are
torn halves of an integral freedom, to which however they do not add
p It would be romantic to sacrifce one to the other, either as the
�o�rgeois romanticism of the conserv

tion o �rsonality and a�l that
or as the anarchistic romantiClsm of blInd confdenc tn t�e
spo�taneous power of the proletariat in the historicl process -a proletarIat
which is itself a prod uet obourgeois society.
To a certain extent I must accuse your essay of this second ro
You have swept art out of the corners of its taboos - but It l as
though you feared a consequent inrush of barbarism (who could share
your fear more than I?) and protected yourself by
aising wha

you fer
to a kind of inverse taboo. The laughter of the audIence at

cmema - I
discnssed this with Max, and he has probably told you about It alreadY-Is
anything but good and revolutionary; instead, it is full of the worst
bourgeois sadism. I very much doubt the expe�tise of the newspaper
boys who discuss sports; and despite its shock-hke seduct

on I do not
fnd your theory of distraction convl�cmg - If only fo
the SImple reason
that in a communist society work wIll be orgaflze tn such a wa
y that
people will no longer b so tired and so stultifed
that they

ee dIstrac­
tion. On the other hand, certain concept of capitalIst practice, like t�at
of the test, seem to me almost ontologiclly congealed and

in function _ whereas if anything does have an aural character, it IS surely
the flm which possesse it to an extreme and highly suspe

t degree .
select only one more small item: the idea that a reactlOnary IS turned lllto
a member of the avant-garde by expert knowledge of Chaplin's flms
strikes me as out-and-out romanticization. For I cannot count Kracauer's19
'´ Siegfried Kracauer, long a friend of Ado

the author of Prom CaJigari to Hitler,
Princeton 1947, an attack U German expreslOnlSt cmema.
favourite director, even after Moder Times, as an avant-garde
(the reason will be perfectly clear from my article on jazz), nor do
believe that any of the decent elements in this work will attract attemtiOll:
One need only have heard the laughter of the audienc at the flm to
what is actually happening.
Your dig at Werfel gave me great pleasure. But if you take Mickey
Mouse instead, things are far more complicated, and the serious question
arises as to whether the reproduction of every person really constitute
that a priori of the flm which you claim it to be, or whether instead,
this reproduction belongs precisely to that 'naIve realism' whose bour­
geois nature we so thoroughly agreed upon in Paris. After all, it is hardly
an accident if that modern art which you counterpose to technical art
as aural, is of such inherently dubious quality as Vlaminck' and Rilke.
The lower sphere, to be sure, can score an esy victory over this sort of
art; but if instead there were the name of, let ¼ say, Kafka and Schon�
berg, the problem would be pose very differently. Certainly SchOnberg's
music is not aural.
Accordingly, what I would postulate is more dialectics. On the one
hand, dialectical penetration of the 'autonomous' work of art which -is
transcende by its own technology into a planned work; on the other,
an even stronger dialecticization of utilitarian art in its negativity, which
you certainly do not fail to note but which you designate by relatively
abstract ctegories like 'flm capital', without tracking it down to its
ultimate lair as immanent irrationality. When I spent a day in the studios
of Neubabelsberg two years ago, what impresse me most was how little
montage and all the advanced techniques that you emphasize are actually
used; rather, reality is everywhere constructed with an infantile mimetisni
and then 'photographed'. You under-estimate the technicality of auto­
nomous art and over-estimate that of dependent art; this, in plain terms,
would be my main objection. But this objection could only be given
effect as a dialectic between extreme which you tear apart. In my estima­
tion, this would involve nothing less than the complete liquidation of the
Brechtian motifs which have already undergone
an extensive trans­
formation in your study - above all, the liquidation of any appeal to
the immediacy of interconnecte aesthetic efects, however fashioned,
and to the actual consciousness of actual workers who have absolutely
no advantage over the bourgeois except their interest in the revolution,
but otherwise bear all the marks of mutilation of the typical bourgeois
Changed to Derain i the publishe version of Benjamin's esay.
Adoro to Benjamin 125
character. This prescribes our function for us
c�ear1y enou

h - w�ich I
certainly do not mean in the sense of an activist conceptIon of mtel­
]ectuals'. But it cannot mean either that we may only escape the old
tabOOS by entering into new ones - 'tests', so to speak. The gol of t�e
revolution is the abolition of fear. Therefore we need
no �e

of It,
nor nee we ontologize our fear. It is not bourgeois Id

ahsm If,
m f

knowledge and without mental prohibitions, we maint

m ou

with the proletariat instead of making of our own necessity a virtue of the
proletariat, as we are always tempte to do - the proletariat which itself
experience the same necessity and needs

s for knowled

e as much as
we need the proletariat to make the revolutlOn. I a convmced that the
further development of the aesthetic debate which you hav

so mag­
nifcently inaugurated, depends essentially o

a true accountmg of the
relationship of the intellectuals to the workmg-class.
Excuse the haste of these notes. AU this could be seriously settle only
on the basis of the details in which the Good Lord - possibly not magical
after all _ dwells.* Only the shortage of time leads me to use the large
categories which you have taught me strictly to avoid. In order at lest
to indicate to you the concrete passage to which I refer, I have left my
spontaneous pencilled annotations on the ma

uscnpt, though sO
me of
the may b too spontaneous t be commUnIcated. I beg your mdul­
gence for this as well as for the sketchy nature of my letter.
I am going to Germany on Sunday. It is possible that I shall b

ble to
complete my jazz study there, something that I unfortunately d

d not
have time to do mLondon. In that case I would send It to you WIthOUt
a covering letter and ask you to send it on to Max immediately after
reading it (it probably will amount to no more than 25 prmte pag

This is not certain because I do not know whether I shall fnd the time
or, especially, wh�ther the nature of this study will permit me to send
it from Germany without considerable danger. Max has probably told
you that the idea of the clown is its focal point .
I w
uld bvery pleased
if it appeare together with your stud

. Its s

bJect IS a very m?dest one,
but it probably converges with yours m Its decIsive pomts, and wtllatt

to express positively some of the things th

t I h

ve fo,
ulate negatively
today. It arrives at a complete verdic on Jazz, m particular by
it 'progressive' elements (semblance of montage, collect1v

primacy of reproduction over production) as fa,ade of somet�mg that
is in truth quite reactionary. I believe that I have succeede m really
¯ A reference to the programmatic dictum of the art historian Aby Warburg: Der Liee
Gott steck! im Detail (The Good Lord dwells in detail).
decoding jaz and defning its social function. Max was quit t k
my study, and I could well imagine that you will b
a e
that Our theoretical disagreement is not really a d
e, ��
n eed I
�ather, that it is my

ask to hold your arm steady �:��tthe
:�:een us

unk Into exotic waters. Please understand my cri
ti"cisms on Y In t IS SpIrit.
I cannot conclude, however, without telling you that !

bout the disintegration of the proletariat as 'm:�
n21 are among the profoundest and most powerful
of polItical theory that I have encountere sinc I d S
rea tate
Your old friend ,
Teddie Wiesengrund*
ld al�o �ke
to express my special agreement with your theory
a �ls
t t Into the essay as nicely as the 'bombast' and the rrors t lUto your Baroq ue book.
Dear Walter:
ta���ness t thi� letter leveìs a menacing charge against me and all
per aps t IS accusatIOn already contains a rain f d I
For It IS almost self-evident that a full month's d !
g 0 e ence.
your Baudelaire cann
t be due to negligence.
e ay In my response to
e ;easons a
re entIrely

bjective in nature. They involve the attitude
a 0 us to t e manUSCrIpt, and, considerin
question of the Arc d t d I
g my specIal Interest In
my attitude in particu�a:
: �ar
n f:���b
l� say w

the B d !
orwar to t e amval of a

; �r ¸«.¬t�e greatest eagerness and literally devoure it. I
a mlratlOn .or the fact that you were abl
���;�POinted tim� and it Gthis admiration which 'a�:s
and th: :t
of what has come between my passionate expectation
Your idea of providing in the Baudelaire a model for the Arcad t d :�
�om�hing I took very seriously, and I approached the satan�� :c�n�
as aust approached the phantasmagoria of the Brocken
' Th'
' W passage does not appear in any of the publishe versions of Be ' .
lesengrund was Adoro's paternal name.
DJamtn s essay.
Adoro to Benjamin 127
when he thought that many a riddle would now be solved. May I be
excused for having had to give myself Mephistophele' reply that many
', ar
lOUle poses itself anew? Can you understand that reading your treatise,
one of whose chapters is entitle The Flaneur and another Modernism,
produoed a certain disappointment in me?
The basic reason for this disappointment is that those part of the
study with which I am familiar do not constitute a model for the Arcades
project so much as a prelude to it. Motifs are assembled but not elabo­
rated. In your covering letter to Max [Horkheimerl you represente this
as your express intention, and I am aware of the ascetic discipline which
you impose on yourself to omit everywhere the conclusive theoretical
answers to questions, and even make the questions themselve apparent
only to initiates. But I wonder whether such an asceticism can be sus­
tained in the face of such a subject and in a context which makes such
powerful inner demands
As a faithful reader of your writings I know
very well that in your work there u no lack of precedent for your pro­
cedure. I remember, for example, your essays on Proust and on Sur­
realism which appeared in Die literarische Welt. But cn this method be
applie to the complex of the Arcades? Panorama and 'traces', faneur
and arcades, modernism and the unchanging, without a theoretical inter­
pretation - is this a
material' which can patiently await interpretation
without being consume by it own aura? Rather, if the pragmatic
. content of these topics is isolated, doe it not conspir� in almost demonic
fashion against the possibility of it own interpretation? In one of our
unforgettable conversations in Konigstein, you said that each ide in
the Arcades had t be wreste away from a relm in which madness
reigns. I wonder whether such ideas need to b as immure behind
impenetrable layers of material as your ascetic discipline demands. In
your present study the arcade are introduce with a reference to the
narrowness of the pavements which impede the faneur on the streets.22
This pragmatic introduction, it seems to me, prejudices the objectivity
of phantasmagoria - something that I so stubborly insisted upon even
. at the time of our Hornberg correspondence - as much as doe the dis-
position of the frst chapter to reduce phantasmagoria t types of
behaviour of the literary boheme. You nee not fear that I shall suggest
that in your study phantasmagoria should survive unmediate or that
the study itself should assume a phantasmagoric character. But the
liquidation of phantasmagoria can only b accomplished with true
�* See Charles Baudelaire, p. 36.
profundity if they are treated as an objective hi" torico-:hilo" o!
category and not as a 'vision' of social characters. It is precisely at
point that your conception differs from all other approaches to the
century. But the redemption of your postulate cannot b postponed
ever, or 'prepared' by a more harmless presentation of the matters
question. This is my objection. If in the third part, to use the old tOmlt_
!ation, prehistory in the 19th century take the place of the prehiist,r
the 19th century - most clearly in Peguy's statement about
Hugo" - this is only another way of stating the same point.
But it seems to me that my objection by no means concerns only
questionable procedure of 'abstention' in a subject which is wmsported
by ascetic refusal of interpretation towards a realm to which as"eticism.
is opposed: the realm where history and magic oscillate. Rather, I see
close connection between the points at which your essay falls behind
own a priori, and its relationship to dialectical materialism - and here
particular I speak not only for myself but equally for Max, with whom
have had an exhaustive discussion of this question. Let me express
myself in as simple and Hegelian a manner as possible. Unless I am very .
much mistaken, your dialectic lacks one thing: mediation. Throughout
your text there is a tendency to relate the pragmatic content of Baude,
laire's work directly to adjacent feature in the social history of his
time, preferably economic features. I have in mind the passage about the
duty on wine, certain statements about the barricades,2 or the above­
mentione passage about the arcade,2 which I fnd particularly prob­
lematic, for this is where the transition from a general theoreticl
discussion of physiologies to the 'concrete' representation of the janeur
is especially precarious.
I feel this artifciality wherever you put things in metaphorical rather
than categorical terms. A case in point is the passag about the trans­
formation of the city into an intirieur for the jneur ;
there one of the
most powerful ides in your study seems to me to be presente as a
mere as-if. There is a very close connection between suc materialistic
excursions, in which one never quite loses the apprehension that one
feels for a swimmer who, covered with goose pimples, plunge into cold
water, and the appeal to concrete modes of behaviour like that of the
janeur, or the subsequent passage about the relationship between seeing
Charles Baudelire, p. 84.
"Charles Baudelaire, p. 17f, pp. 15�16.
' Charles Bauelaire, p. 36.
" Charles Ba»elaire, p. 37.
Adorno to Benjamin 129
hearing in the city, which not entirely by accident use a quotation
from Simmel. 27 I am not entirely happy with all this. You nee not
fear that I shall take this opportunity to mount my hobby-horse. I shall
content myself with serving it, in passing, a lump of sugar, and for the
rest I shall try to give you the theoretical grounds for my aversion to that
particular type of concreteness and it behaviouristic overtone. The
reason is that I regard it as methodologically unfortunate to give con­
spicuous individual feature from the realm of the superstructure a
'materialistic' tur by relating them immediately and perhap even
causally to corresponding feature of the infrastructure. Materialist
determination of cultural traits is only possible if it is mediated through
the total social process.
Even though Baudelaire's wine poems may have been motivated by
the wine duty and the town gates, the recurrence of these motifs m his
work can only be explained by the overall social and economic tendency
of the age - that is, in keeping with your formulation of the problem
senSu strictissimo, by analysis of the commodity form m Baudelaire's
epoch. No one is more familiar with the difcultie this involve than I
am; the phantasmagoria chapter in my Wagner8 certainly has not
settled these problems as yet. Your Arcades study in its defnitive form
will not be able to shirk the same obligation. The direct inferenc from
the duty on wine to L' Are du Vin impute to phenomena precisely that
kind of spontaneity, palpability and density which they have lost in
capitalism. In this sort of immediate - I would almost say again, anthro­
pological - materialism, there is a profoundly romantic element, and the
more crassly and roughly you confront the Baudelairean world of forms
with the necessitie of life, the more clearly I detect it. The 'mediation'
which I miss and fnd obscured by materialistic-historiographic invoca­
tion, is nothing other than the theory which your study omit. The
omission of the theory afects your empirical evidence itself. On the one
hand, it lends it a deceptively epic character, and on the other it deprives
the phenomena, which are experience only subjectively, otheir real
historico-philosophical weight. To express it another way: the theologicl
motif of calling things by their names tends to turn into a wide-eyed
presentation of mere facts. If one wished to put it very drastically, one
could say that your study is located at the crossroads of magic and
positivism. That spot is bewitched. Only theory could break the spell -
27 Charles Baudelaire, pp. 37-8.
ª° See Adorno's stdy, Versuch ie Wagner, Frankfurt 1952, p. 90f.
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8 kInd oÍ QI0~C0n8oI8hIQ 8CCoIdIng Io m8I0II8lI8I C8I0goIIc {WhICh by
no m08n8 CoInCId0 WIIh Ih0 N8IXI8I C8I0goII08|, 0V0n Ihough II m8y b0
m0I0ly In Ih0 Íotm oÍ Ih0 8boV0-m0nIIon0d Qo8IQon0m0nI. Ï 8Q08k noI
only ÍoI my80l͸ Who 8m noI qu8lIh0d, buI 0qu8lly ÍoI 1oIkh0Im0I 8nd
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only b0 b0n0hCI8l Io `youI´ QIoduCIIon IÍ you 0l8boI8I0d youI Id088
WIIhouI 8uCh Con8Id0I8IIon8 (In b8n )0mo you I8I80d CounI0I~obJ0CIIon8
"´ Charles Baudelaire, pp. 19-20.

Charles Baudelaire, p. 79--0.
Adorno to Benjamin 131
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" 'Es geht bei geimpfter Trommel Klang' - the opening line of 'Der Soldat' by Hans
Christian Andersen, translate by Adelbert von Chamisso and set to music by Robert
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Les six tunes d' Herschel, l' anneau du vieux Saturne,
1pile, arrondissant une aurore nocturne
Sur son font boreal,
Hvoit tout; et pour lui ton vol, que rim ne lasse,
De ce monde sans borne uchaque instant dip/ace
L' horizon ideal.
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Und kann ich Form Dir uod Gestalt nicht geben So reisst auch keine Form
Dich in di Gruft [Pnd cVcnIÍ1C8nnoI gIVc you ÍoIm 8nd 8h8Qc,no ÍoIm
WIÌÌ IhIu8I you InIo Ihc gI8Vc].
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bc 8InkIngdoWn t u8 m8dII22ÌcoÍÌIghI. ÎO m8ny8IIUI Ì8mQ88hIm-
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Ihough II I8 8ummcI oI Ihc moon I8 8hInIng. Àc8nWhIÌc, Ihc nIghI doc8
noI WcIcÌy 8doIn II8clÍWIIh Ihc CÌo8k ÍuÌÌ oÍ 8I8I8 WhICh Ihc 8nCIcnI8
dcQICIcd II 88 Wc8IIng 8nd WhICh Ï 8h8ÌÌ moIcI88IcÍuÌÌyC8Ìl II8 religious
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8Iud8 Ihc ÌoWcI Q8II oÍ II8 CÌo8k, WhcIc IhcIc 8Ic no gÌIIIcIIng 8I8I8¸
´² Charles Bauelaire, pp. 39.
Adoro to Benjamin 133
WIIh8uChÌIIIÌc8nIm8Ì8,8ndoÍIcnIhcChIÌdIcnI8kcIhOoÛ.´ ³hcÍoÌÌoW-
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W88noI 8CQu8InIcd.
Tout enlier 3ouI8
Walter Benj amin
Paris, 9 December
Dear Teddie:
It will not have surprised you to notice that it took me some time to
draft my reply to your letter of 10 November. Even though the
delay in your letter made me suspect what it would say, it stll came as a
jolt to me. Also, I wanted to await the arrival of the galleys which you
had promised me, and they did not come until 6 December. The time
thus gained gave me a chance to weigh your critique as prudently as I
could. I a far from considering it unfruitful, let alone incomprehensible.
I will try to react to it mbasic terms.
I shall b guided by a sentence on the frst page of your letter. You
write: 'Panorama and traces, faneur and arcades, modernism and the
unchanging, without a theoretical interpretation - is this a "substance"
which can patiently await interpretation?'. The understandable impa­
tience with which you searched the manuscript for a defnite signalement
[characterization] has, in my opinion, le you astray in some important
respects. In particular you were bound to arrive at what was to you a
disappointing view of the third section, onc it had escape your atten­
tion that nowhere is modernism cited as the unchanging; actually, this
important key concept is not used at all in the complete portion of
my study.
Since the sentence quoted above offers, as it were, a compendium of
your criticisms, I should like to go over it word by word. First you
mention the panorama. In my text I refer to it in passing. In point of
fact, in the context of Baudelaire's work the panoramic view is not
appropriate. Since that passage is not destined to have correspondences
in either the frst or the third part, it would perhaps b best to omit it.
The second item you mention is the 'trace'. In my covering letter I
Benjamin to Adoro 135
wrote that the philosophical foundations of the book cannot be perceived
from the vantage point of the second part. If a concept like the trace
was to be given a convincing interpretation, it had to be introduced
with complete naturalness at the empirical level. This could have been
done still more convincingly. Actually, my frst act after my return was
to fnd a very important passage mPoe bearing on my construction of
the detective story out of the obliteration or fxation of the traces of the
individual in the big-city crowd. But the treatment of trace in the
second part must remain on this level, precisely morder late to receive
in the decisive contexts its sudden illumination. This illumination is
intended. The concept of the trace fnds its philosophical determination
in opposition to the concept of aura.
The next item in the sentence which I shall examine is the fneur.
Even though I a well aware of the profound inner concern on which
both your material and your personal objections are based, your erro­
neous estimate here make me feel as if the ground were giving way under
my feet. Thank Go there G a branch that I can cling to which seems
to be frm. It is your reference elsewhere to the fruitful tension between
your theory about the consumption of exchange value and my theory
about empathy with the soul of the commodity. I too believe that this is
a theory in the strictest sense of the word, and my discussion of the
faneur culminates in it. This is the place, and to be sure the only one in
this section, where the theory come into it own in unobstructed form.
It breaks like a single ray of light into an artifcially darkened chamber.
But this ray, broken down prismatically, sufces to give an ide of the
nature of the light whose focus lie in the third part of the book. That is
why this theory of the janeur, the improvability of which at certain
points I shall discuss below, is an adequate realization of the representa­
tion of the janeur which I have had in mind for many years.
I go on to the next term, arcades. I fel so much the less inclined to
say anything about it, as the bottomless bonhomie of its use cannot have
escape you. Why question this term? Unless I a very much mistaken,
the arcade is really not destined to enter the context of the Baudelaire
in any but this playful form. It occurs like the picture of a rocky spring
on a drinking cup. That is why the invaluable passage from Jean Paul
to which you referred me does not belong in the Baudelaire. Finally,
in regard to modernism: as my text makes clear, this is Baudelaire's own
term. The section with this title could not go beyond the limits imposed
upon the word by Baudelaire's usage. But you will remember from San
Remo that these limits are by no means defnitive. The philosophical
reconnaissance of modernism is assigned to the third part, where it
initiated with the concept of Art Nouveau and concluded with
dialectics of the new and the unchanging.
Remembering our conversations in San Remo, I should like to pro.
ceed to the passage in your letter where you refer to them yourself.
If I
refused there, in the name of my own productive interests, to adopt an
esoteric intellectual development for myself and, disregarding
interests of dialectical materialism, . . . to get down to business,
this -'
involved, in the fnal analysis, not . . . mere loyalty to dialectical material�
ism, but solidarity with the experience which all of us have shared in
the past 15 years. Here too, then, it is a matter of very personal orod,oc_ ""
tive interests of mine; I cannot deny that they may occasionally tend
do violence to my original interests. Between them lies an antagonism "
of which I would not even in my dreams wish to be relieved. The
coming of this antagonism constitutes the problem of my study,
the problem is one of construction. I believe that speculation can start
its necessarily bold flight with some prospect of success only if, m'tead
of putting on the waxen wings of the esoteric, it seeks it source
strength in construction alone. It is because of the needs of constru�
tion that the second part of my book consists primarily of philological
material. What is involved there is less an 'ascetic discipline' than a
methodological precaution. Incidentally, this philological part was the
only one that could be completed independently - a circumstance which
I had to bear in mind.
When you speak of a 'wide-eye presentation of mere facts', yoli
characterize the true philologicl attitude. This attitude was necessary
not only for its results, but had to be built into the construction for its
own sake. It is true that the indifference between magic and positivism,
as you so aptly formulate it, should be liquidated. In other words, the
philological interpretation of the author ought to be preserve and
surpassed in the Hegelian manner by dialectical materialists. Philology
is the examination of a text which proceeds by details and so magically
fxates the reader on it. That which Faust took home in black and
white,l and Grimm's devotion to little things, are closely related. They
have in common that magical element whose exorcism is reserved for
philosophy, here for the fnal part.
Astonishment, so you write in your Kierkegaard, indicate 'the pro-
' In the Studierzimmer scene of Goethe's Faust, Part I, the student says: 'Was man
schwarz auf weiss besitzt, kann man getrost nach Hause tragen.' (What one possesse. in
black and white one can safely take home.)
Benjamin to Adorno 137
foundest insight into the relationship between dialectics, myth, and
image'. It might be tempting for me to invoke this passage. But instead
. I propose to emend it (as I am planning to do on another occasion
with a subsequent defnition of the dialectical image). I believe it should
say that astonishment is an outstanding object of such an insight. The
appearance of closed facticity which attache to a philologicl investi­
gation and place the investigator under its spell, fade to the extent
that th object is construe in an historicl perspective. The base lines
of this construction converge in our own historical experience. Thus
the object constitutes itself as a monad. In the monad everything that
used to lie in mythical rigidity as a textual reference comes alive. There­
fore it seems a misjudgment of the matter to me if you fnd in my study
a 'direct inference from the wine duty to L'Ame du Vin'. Rather, the
juncture was established legitimately in the philological context - just
as it would have been done in the interpretation of a classical writer.
It give to the poem the specifc gravity which it assume when it is
properly read - something that has so far not been practised widely in
the case of Baudelaire. Only when this poe has thus come into its own
can the work be touched, or perhaps even shaken, by interpretation.
For the poem in question, an interpretation would focus not on matters
of taxation but on the signifcance of intoxication for Baudelaire.
If you think of other writings of mine, you will fnd that a critique of the
attitude of the philologist is an old concern of mine, and it is basically
identical with my critique of myth. Yet in each case it is this critique
that provoke the philological efort itself. To use the language of
Electiv Afnities, it presse for the exhibition of the material content
in which the truth content can be historically revealed. I can understand
that this aspect of the matter was less to the fore in your mind. But so,
therefore, were a number of important interpretations. I am thinking
not only of interpretations of poems -Hune passante -or of prose pieces ­
The Man ofthe C;owd - but above all of the unlocking of the concept of
modernity, which it was my particular concer to keep within philological
Let me note in passing that the Peguy quotation to which you object
as an evocation of prehistory in the 19th century had its proper place
in preparing the insight that the interpretation of Baudelaire should not
bbased on any chthonian elements. (In my draf of the Arcades project
I had still attempte that sort of thing). For that reason I believe that
neither the catacomb not the cloac belonged in this interpretation. On
the other hand, Charpentier's opera is very promising; I will follow up
your suggestion when there is an opportunity. The fgure of the
picker is infernal in origin. It will reappear in the third part, set
against the chthonian fgure of Hugo's beggar.
Permit me to add some frank words. It would be rather prejudicial
the Baudelaire if no part of this study, the product of a creatve
not easily comparable with any of my earlier literary works, apleared
in your periodical. For one thing, the printed form give an author,
detachment from his work - something that is of incomparable value.,
Then too in such form the text could become the subject of discus� , ,
sion, and no matter how inadequate the people available to me here
may be, such a discussion could compensate me somewhat for the iso­
lation in which I am working. To my mind, the focal point of such a
publication would be the theory of the jneur, which I regard as an
integral part of the Baudelaire study. I am certainly not speaking of an
unaltered text. The critique of the concept of the masses, as the m(d'Tn
metropolis throws it into relief, should he given a more central position
than it occupie in the present version. This critique, which I initiate in
my passages on Hugo, should be elaborated by means of an interpretac
tion of jmportant literary documents. As a model I have m mind the
section about the man in the crowd. The euphemistic interpretation
the masses - the physiognomic view of them - should be illustrated by
an analysis of the E. T. A. Hofmann story that is mentioned in my
study. For Hugo a more detailed clarifcation needs to be developed. The
decisive point is the theoretical progress registered in these successive
views of the masses; the climax of it is indicated in the text, but this is
not brought out sufciently. Hugo rather than Baudelaire lies at its end.
Hugo anticipated more than any other writer the present experiences
the masses. The demagogue in him is a component of his genius.
You see that certain points of your critique appear convincing to me.
But. I am afraid that an outright correction in the spirit indicated
would be very questionable. The missing theoretical transparency
which you rightly refer is by no means a necessar consequence of
philologicl procedure prevailing in this section. I a more inclined
see it as the result of the fact that this procedure has not been deignated
as such. This defciency may b trace m part to the daring attempt
write the second part of the book before the frst. Only in this way could
the appearance have arisen that phantasmagoria are describe
than integrated into the construction. The above-mentione em.en,ac
Benjamin to Adorno 139
tions will beneft the second part only when it becomes frmly anchored
in the overall context. Accordingly, my frst step will be to re-examine
the overall construction.
As regards the sadness I referred to above, there were, apart from my
presentiment, sufcient reasons for it. For one thing

it is t
he sit
of the Jews in Germany, from which none of us can dIsaSSOCIate hImself.
Adde t this is the serious illnes of my sister, who was found to be
sufering from hereditary arteriosclerosis at the age of 37. She is almost
immobile and thus also almost incapable of gainful employment. (At
present she probably still has modest funds). The proguosis
at her �ge
is almost hopeless. Apart from all this, it is not always possIble to hve
here without oppressive anxiety. It is understandable that I a making
every efort to expedite my naturalization. Unfortunately the necessary
steps cost not only a great deal of time but some money as well. Thus at
present my horizon is somewhat blocke in this direction too.
The enclosed fragment of a letter to Max dated 17 Novembe 1938,
and the accompanying message from [Hans] Brill' concern a matter
which may wreck my naturalization. You can thus appreciate its impor­
tance. May I ask you to take this matter mhand and request Max to give
Brill permission immediately, preferably by telegram, to use the pseudo­
nym Hans Fellner rather than my real name for my review in the next
issue of your joural.
This brings me to your new workS and thus the sunnier portion of this
letter. The subject matter of your study concerns me in two respects,
both of which you have indicated. First, in those parts which relate
certain characteristics of the contemporary acoustic perception of jazz
to the optical characteristics of flm, which I have described. Ex improviso
I cannot decide whether the diferent distribution of the areas of light and
shadow in our repective essays is due to theoreticl divergencies.
Possibly it is only a case of apparent diference between our points of
view; it may really be a matter of viewing diferent object from apparently
diferent but equally acceptable angles. For it is not to be assumed that
acoustic and optic perceptions are equally capable of being revolutionized.
This may explain the fact that the prospect of a variant hearing which
concludes your essay is not quite clear to a person, like me, for whom
Mahler is not a fully illuminate experience.
"Brill was the secretary of the Paris ofce of the Institute fo
Social Resea

´ Benjamin is referring to Adoro's essay 'Uber den Fetlschc
harakter In der MUSlk
und die Regresion de Horens', publishe in the Zeitschriftfor Sozla!orschung 7, 1938, and
later included in his volume Dissonanzen, Gottingen 1963.
In my essay ['The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduc�
tion'] I tried to articulate positive moments as clearly as you managed
to articulate negative ones. Consequently, I see strengths in your study
at points where mine was weak. Your analysis of the psychological types
produced by industry and your representation of their mode of produc�
tion are most felicitous. If 1 had devote more attention to this aspect
of the matter, my study would have gaine in historical plasticity. I see
more and more clearly that the launching of the sound flm must be
regarde as an operation of the cinema industry designe to break the
revolutionary primacy of the silent flm, which generated reactions that
were hard to control and hence politically dangerous. An analysis of the
sound flm would constitute a critique of contemporary art which
would provide a dialectical mediation between your views and mine.
What I like most about the conclusion of your essay is the reservation
about the ide of progress which is indicated there. For the time being
you motivate this reservation only csually and by reference to the history
of the term. I should like to get at its roots and it origins. But I am well
aware of the difculties.
Finally I come to your question about the relationship between the
views developed in your essay and those presented in my section on the'
jineur. Empathy with the commodity presents itself to self-observation
or inner experience as empathy with inorganic matter; next to Baudel­
aire, my chief witness here is Flaubert with his Tentation [de Saint­
Antoine]. Basically, however, empathy with the commodity is probably
empathy with exchange value itself. Actually, one could hardly imagine
'consumption' of exchange value as anything else but empathy with it,.
You write: 'The consumer really worships the money which he has spent
on a ticket for a Toscanini concert.' Empathy with their exchange value
turns even cannons into articles of consumption more pleasing than
butter. If mpopular parlance it is said of someone that 'he is loaded; he
has fve million marks', the 'racial community'4 itself likewise feels
that it is 'loaded' with a few billion; it empathizes with those billions.
If I formulate it thus, I may get at the canon that underlie this mode of
behaviour. I am thinking of that which underlies games of chance. A
gambler directly empathize with the sums which he bets against the
bank or an opponent Game of chance, in tl1e form of stock-exchange
speculation, paved the way for empathy with exchange value much as
´ 'Racial cmmunity' = Volksgemeinschaf, a specifclly Nazi term to which Benjamin
alludes here.
Benjamin to Adoro 141
World Fairs did. (The latter were the training schools in which the
masses, forced away from consumption, lerned to empathize with
exchange value.)
One particularly important quetion I should like to reserve for a sub­
seq uent letter, or possibly for a conversation What is the meaning of
the fact that music and lyric poetry become comic? I can hardly imagine
that this is a completely negative phenomenon. Or do you see any
positive elements in the 'decline of sacred reconciliation'? I confess that
I do not quite follow this. Perhaps you will have an opportunity to return
to this question.
In any case I ask you to let me hear from you soon. Please ask Felizitas
to send me, when she gets a chance, the fairy tales of [Wilhelm] Hauf,
which I treasure because of Sonderland's illustrations. I shall write to
her in the near future, but I would also like to hear from her.
As ever, cordially yours,
Translated by Harry Zohn
Presentation IV
After the end of the Second World War, the German emigration gradually
reassembled in Central Europe. Benjamin was dead, a victim of fascism.
Bloch and Brecht, after some hesitation, chose to go back to Leipzig
and Berlin in East Germany. Adorno, also after some delay, returned to
Frankfurt in West Germany. Lukics moved immediately back to
Budapest. With the onset of the Cold War, Europe divided into two
mobilized camps. In Hungary, Lukacs's writings - for all their ostensible
compliance with Stalinist etiquette - were soon (1949) violently assailed
for 'revisionism', and his hooks ceased to appear. I East Germany,
Bloch was published and honoured, while Brecht was grante every
material privilege for the creation of his own thetre. Although their
freedom of expression was circumscribed, neither was felt to represent
a threat in the same way as Lukacs. In Wet Germany, Horkheimer
recreate the Frankfurt Institute of Social Research with the benevolent
approval of the Adenauer regime. Adoro became its deputy director.
The end of Stalin's rule m 1953 unleshed a general political crisis in
Easter Europ. The frst country to experience its impact was the DDR.
In July 1953, there was a workers' rising, with a wave of strike and
street clashes against the apparatus of East German state - suppressed
with the aid of Soviet troops. Brecht, bewildered and unnerved, reacted
to this revolt of the masses with a mixture of truculent bluf and senti­
mental pathos in his private diaries.1 He was to play no role in the
" Summary condemnation of the actual insurgency o the working-class ¼ combined
with ouvrierist exalttion of its in-dwelling virtue in the Diar. The demonstrations of
17 June, with 'their aimlessness and miserable helplessness' revele the working-clas to
b 'once again the captive of the class enemy, the recrudescent capitalis of the fascist
epoch (sic)' - yet even in this 'most depraved condition', it still exhibite the strength of
'the rising cas ' that ¼ 'alone capable of ending capitalism' : Arbeitsjournal l, (1942-
1955), Frankfurt 1973, p. 100.
Presentation IV 143
process of destalinization, dying shortly after the 20th Party Congress
of the CPSU in 1956. Lukacs, on the other hand, took an active part in
cultural and politicl debate in Easter Europe during the Thaw.
Lecturing widely in Berlin, Warsaw, Budapest and Vienna in 1955, he
restated his central aesthetic ideas, until recently harrie and censored,
and aggressively counter-attacked the Zhdanovite canon of 'revolutionary
romanticism'. The written result of this activity was a book, The
Meaning o[Contemporary Realism, completed shortly after the 20th Party
Congress. When the Hungarian Revolt erupted m October 1956,
Lukac - while lucidly assessing the probable chance of success of an
essentially spontaneous social explosion - did not hesitate to cst his lot
with the cause of the insurgent workers and students. Participating in
the Nagy government, in which he presciently warned against withdrawal
from the Warsaw Pact, he was seized by Russian troops during the
Soviet intervention, and confine in Rumania. Released in March 1957,
he completed his preface to the book he had been writing, and sent it
abroad. The Meaning o[ Contemporary Realism was published in West
Germany in 1958. When it appeared, Hungary was held fast in the grip
of repression, and Lukacs was silence in his own country, subject to
attacks of increasing vehemence.2 It was this book that Adorno was to
review, in the major essay on Lukacs printed below.
Adorno had become, in the same year, Director of the Institute of
Social Research in Frankfurt. No two situations could have bee- more
contrasted. Adorno, at the summit of his career, was free to write wherever
he chose in the Federal Republic. In the event, his essay was published
in Die Monat, a journal create by the US Army in West Germany and
fnance by the Central Intelligence Agency. Adorno's strictures on
Lukacs's mental 'chains' thus had their own irony: when he was writing,
it was Lukacs who was literally resisting police culture, while Adorno
was unwittingly yielding to it. These circumstance should be remembered
when reading Adorno's appraisal of Lukacs j they are not an insulation
against it. The substance of the critical positions represented by the two
antagonists remains to be assessed today in its own right.
The theoretical premisses of The Meaning o[ Contemporary Realis
were essentially those which Lukics had defende from the late 1920s
ªHis department at the University of Budapest was closed, while in 196 a volume of
essays was publishe in East Berlin which renewe the attacks of 1949 and develope some
further one - although, û the editor remarke apologetically, these 'could of course only
be a selection of the large number of critical commentarie and utterances to have been
levelled against Lukacs's theorie in recent years by Marxist scholars in Hungary, the
Soviet Union, the DDR and elsewhere.'
onW8Id8. ¯h0 dI8IIn0IIV0 0mQh8808 oÍ Ih0 book W0I0¸ hoW0V0I¸ 8h8Q0d
by Ih0 Q0IIod In WhI0h II W88 WIIII0n ¬ b0IW00n bI8lIn´8 d08Ih 8nd Ih0

¯W0nII0Ih LongI088 oÍ Ih0 L1b1 ¬ 8nd by Ih0 QolIII08l Q0I8Q00IIV08
Ih0n ÍoImIng In Ih0 L88I0In blo0. Luk808´8 8ll0gI8n00 Io Ih0 Qo!I0y oÎ
`Q0800Íul 0o0XI8I0n00´, WIIh II8 I0lI8n00 on `QIogI088IV0´ 0uII0nI8 In
bouIg0oI8 QolIII08 8nd 0ulIuI0¸ 8nd Io 8 Q8III8l 8nd IIghII8I 0IIIIqu0

bI8!InI8m¸° W0t0 I0gI8I0I0d In hI8 lII0I8Iy 0IIII0I8m In Ih0 ÍoIm oÍ 8 IWo-
Íold 0IIII08l InI0IV0nIIon¸ 8g8In8I Ih0 I080IIon8Iy I0nd0n0y Ih8I h0 b0lI0V0d
Io domIn8I0 Ih0 !II0I8luI0 oÍ Ih0 Ý08I¸ 8nd Ih0 `VolunI8II8I´ 0X008808
Ih8I h0 dI800In0d In Ih8I oÍ Ih0 L88I. 10 oQ0n0d WIIh 8 8IIngIng Qol0mI0
8g8In8I Ih0 m8¡oI lII0I8Iy I0QI080nI8IIV08 oÍ LuIoQ08n mod0InI8m.,
¯h080 8uIhoI8¸ h0 m8InI8In0d¸ W0I0 unII0d In Ih0II 8mlI8IIon Io �
QhIlo8oQhI08l `onIologI8m´ Who80 808Ih0II0 0Û00I8 W0I0 8ub]00IIVI8m
8nd ÍoIm8lI8m¸ WIlh 8 0oII08QondIng 8II0nu8IIon oÍ hI8IoII08l I08lIIy~
InIo `b80kgIound´¸ a8 WIIh Nu8Il¸ IÍ noI VIIIu8! noIhIngn088, 88 In Ih0
WoIk oÍ b8mu0l Û00k0II. Ïnd00d Ih0 hn08I ¬ b008u80 mo8I lu0Id 8nd
0IIII08l ¬ Ih0oII8I oÍ mod0InI8m¸ V8lI0I Û0nJ8mIn¸ h8d oblIqu0!y
QI0dI0I0d 8n Immol8IIon oÍ 8II m 0on80qu0n00 oÍ II8 08n00ll8IIon ol
hI8IoIy." 1oW0V0I¸ d008d0n00 W88 noI Ih0 In0808Q8bl0 loI oÍ Ih0 mId�
00nIuIy Ý08I0In 8III8I. ÀgaIn8I Ih0 III8IIon8l 8Iy!I8m8 8nd 8ll0goIIc o�
Ih0 II8dIIIon 0QIIomIZ0d In Þ8Ík8 8Iood 8noIh0I II8d!IIon¸ only 8uQ0I-
h0I8lly l088 `mod0In´¸ Who80 0X0mQl8I W88 ¯hom88 N8nn. ¯h0 WoIk8 oÍ
Ih!8 8lI0In8IIV0 II8dIIIon I0QI080nI0d¸ In 0h00I, 8 I0n0W8l oÍ Ih0 0l888I08l
I08lI8I noV0l oÍ Ih0 QI0VIou8 00nIuIy¸ In 8 ÍoIm 8QµIoQII8I0 Io Ih0 0Qo0h
oÍ 8o0I8lI8I I0VoluIIon¡ 8nd Ih0 `Q0I8Q00IIV0´ Ih8I guId0d Ih!8 Q8I8doXI08l
80hI0V0m0nI ¬ Ih0 8u00088Íul QI80II00 oÍ 8 0l888I08! bouIg0oI8 ÍoIm In
Ih0 Q0IIod oÍ 08QII8lI8I d00!In0 ¬ W88 Ih0 8dmI88Ion oÍ 8 `I088on8bl0
qu08IIon´. Ih0 `non-I0J00IIon´ oÍ 8o0I8lI8m 88 8n hI8IoII0 Qo88IbIlIIy.
Luk808 In8I8I0d Ih8I IhI8 `0IIII08! I08lI8m´ W88 Ih0 8ol0 m08n8 Io 8IlI8II0
0X00!l0n00 In Ih0 0onI0mQoI8Iy Ý08I. Ïn hI8 oWn W8y, ÛI00hI h8d I8llI0d
Io II In hI8 !8I0I Ql8y8¸ ÍoI 8ll hI8 QIoÍ088Ion8 Io Ih0 0onII8Iy, Io b00om0
`Ih0 gI08108I I08lI8II0 Ql8yWIIghI oÍ Ih0 8g0.´° Luk808 W88 8l8o 0on00In0d
Io d0Í0nd Ih0 IIH08 oÍ I08lI8m In Ih0 Qo8I~08QII8lI8I 8o0I0II08 oÍ Ih0 L88I.
Ïn 0onII88I WIIh II8 `0l888ICl´ 8nd `0IIII08l´ 8Ib!Ing8¸ `8o0I8lI8I I08lI8m´
W88 gIound0d In 8 `0on0I0I0 8o0I8lI8I Q0I8Q00IIV0´ 8nd WIIII0n `ÍIom Ih0
´ For Lukacs's political evolution fromthe 20 to the 6s, se the authoritative essay by
Michael Lowy, 'Lukacs and Stalinism', in Wester Marxism - A Critical Reader. London
NLB, 1977.
¯ The Meaning ofContemporary Realism, London 1962, pp. 41-3.
´ The Meaning ofContemporary Realism, pp. 87-9.
Presentation IV I4S
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88 8 lII0I8Iy mod0 Would In0VII8b!y b0 8h8Q0d by Ih0 Id0ologICl 8nd
m8I0II8l 8II08808 oÍ Ih0 Q0IIod oÍ II8n8IIIon. ¯hu8¸ Ih0 m8In 0mQh88I8 oÍ
Luk808´8 8Igum0nI Í0!l on Ih0 lWo d0ÍoIm8IIon8 Io WhI0h `8o0I8lI8I
I08lI8m´ h8d 8hoWn II80lÍ QIon0. on Ih0 on0 h8nd¸ 8 `n8IuI8lI8I´ II8n8-
0IIQIIon oÍ Ih0 80Iu8l 8I8I0 oÍ 8o0I0Iy¡ on Ih0 oIh0I¸ 8 0omQ0n88IoIy
`Iom8nII0I8m´¸ 8ggI8V8Ic by QolIII08l 0IIoI8¸ Ih8I o00lud0d Ih0 Iml
0onII8dI0IIon8 oÍ 8o0I8lI8I d0V0loQm0nI. ÎoI Ih0 duI8IIon oÍ Ih0 II8n-
8IIIon8l Q0IIod¸ Luk808 0on0lud0d¸ `0IIII08l I08lI8m´ Would I0m8In 8
l0gIIIm8I0 8nd V8lu8bl0 0l0m0nI In Ih0 0ulIuI0 oÍ Ih0 WoIk0I8´ 8I8Ic.
ÏI I8 n000888Iy Io I008!l Ih0 du8! 0h8I80I0I oÍ Luk808´8 InI0IV0nIIon
noW, IÍ only Io dI8W 8II0nIIon Io Ih0 QolIII08l 0h8I80I0I oÍ ÀdoIno´8
888088m0nI oÍ II. 1I8 oQ0nIng IhIu8I ¬ 8g8In8I Ih0 8Qolog0II0 8II8In In Ih0
book ¬ I8 noI 088Ily 0ounI0I0d. ÏI8 Ion0 8nd m8nn0I¸ by IuIn8 h00IoIIng
8nd 8Ü8bl0¸ b08Q08k Ih0 88m0 buI08u0I8II0 QI08umQIIon Ih8I ÛI00hI
h8d QIoI08I0d 8I¸ y08I8 b0ÍoI0. 10 W88 8l8o quII0 tIghI Io In8I8I on Ih0
8o0I8l~d8IWInI8I 8mnIII08 8nd QhIlI8IIn0¸ 0onÍoImI8I und0IIon08 oÍ
Luk808´8 noIIon oÍ `d008d0n00´¸ 8nd Io QuI Ih0 0mIn0nIly hI8IoII08l
qu08IIon. Wh0I0 W88 Ih0 ImQlI0d 8lI0In8IIV0 ¬ h08lIhy¸ VIgoIou8 8nd
noIm8!¬Io bÍound In Ih0 QI080nI: LIh0 oIh0I h8nd¸ ÀdoIno´8 I00ouI80
Io I0nd0nIIou8 I0Im8 8u0h 88 `Ih0 Q0oQl0´8 0ommunIIy´ ( Volksgemein­
schaf) ÍoI Ih0 L88I0In 0ounIII08¸ In 8 I0XI QublI8h0d In Ih0 Ý08I 8I
Ih0 h0IghI oÍ Ih0 Lold Ý8I¸ dI8Ql8y0d 8 800mIngly 08l0ul8I0d nQ!00I
oÍ Íund8m0nI8l QolIII08l dI80IImIn8IIon8¸ WhI0h 08n on!y h8V0 8QQ08I0d
Io 0ndoI80 Ih0 lIb0I8! Id0ology oÍ `IoI8lII8II8nI8m´ 8o QI0V8l0nI 8I Ih0
IIm0. 1I8 0VId0nI dI8I88I0 ÍoI Luk808´8 808Ih0II0 Qo8IIIon8 m8y h0lQ Io
0XQl8In IhI8 QIo00duI0¸ buI II 08nnoI Íully 0X0u80 II.
ÀdoIno´8 QIIn0IQl0 808Ih0II0 0h8Ig0 W88 Ih8I Luk8O V8IIou8ly mI8-
8QQI0h0nd0d¸ und0I08IIm8I0d oI IgnoI0d Ih0 0on8IIIuIIV0 formality oÍ
Ih0 WoIk oÍ 8II. 1I8 obduI8I0 d0Í0n00 oÍ `I0Ü00IIon´ ¬ Ih0oIy 8nd oÍ
I08lI8m ~Ih0 `ImII8IIon oÍ 0mQIII08l I08!IIy´ ~ l0d hIm Io I08d Ih0 `Im8g08´
oÍ mod0InI8m 88 gIo88ly dI8IoII0d II8n80IIQI8¸ un0on80Ion8bl0 II8V08II08
oÍ obJ00IIV0 I08lIIy. ÀI Ih0 88m0 IIm0¸ Luk808 d0nI0d Ih0 `8uIonomou8´
hI8IoII08l d0V0loQm0nI oÍ 808Ih0II0 I00hnIqu0 8nd mI80on00IV0d II8 Io!0
In 8III8II0 QIodu0IIon. ¯hu8¸ h0 W88 blInd boIh Io Ih0 unI08lI8II0 0l0m0nI8
In hI8 oWn 0ho80n m88I0I8 ¬ Û8l280¸ ÍoI 0X8mQl0 ~ 8nd Io Ih0 I08l n8IuI0
oÍ Ih0 `Im8g08´ oI `0880n008´ Ih8I mod0InI8m dI8IIl8 ÍIom 0XQ0II0n00.
ÎoI ÀdoIno¸ Ih0 QIodu0IIon oÍ Ih0 WoIk oÍ 8II 0nI8Il8 Ih0 8QQIoQII8IIon
oÍ Ih0 obJ00IIV0 WoIld by Ih0 8ubJ00I¸ In 800oId8n00 WIlh Ih0 `l8W8´ oÍ
808Ih0II0 ÍoIm. ¯h0 `Im8g0´ 8o QIodu00d Ih0n 8I8nd8 In 0onII8dI0IIon
tothcrcaI, andasacrítíqucotít- 'artísthcncgatívcknowIcdgcotthc
actuaI worId.' Jhc outstandíng mcrít ot thc works ot Bcckctt, Katka
and 5chönbcrg, ín Adorno's vícw, was prccíscIy thcír íntransígcnt
rctusaI otanytonn otrcconcíIíatíon. As hc wrotc on anothcroccasíon,
'asucccsstuIwork. . . ísnot onc whíchrcoIvcsob}cctívccontradíctíons
ín a spuríous harmony, butonc whích cxprcsscs thc ídca otharmony
ncgatívcIy by cmbodyíngthccontradíctíons, purcand uncompromíso,
Adorno was ríght to poínt to thc cpístcmoIogícaI apor�a ot rcaIíst
acsthctícthcory,to rcamnnthcrcIatívcautonomyotthcIítcrary'scrícs'
and to strcss thc productívc tunctíon otIítcrary torm. Jhcsc íssuc arc
ccntraI to any cxamínatíon otLukacs's acsthctícs, and wcrc raísowíth
spccíaItorccby The Meaning o[Contemporary Realism. ItísaIIthcmorc
untortunatc, thcrctorc, that thcsc thcmc wcrc not dcvcIopcd much
bcyondthc poínt otcmphasísor asscrtíon. Jhctundam�ntaI catcgorícs
otAdorno's acsthctícs rcmaín opaquc. 'autonomous art', thc 'Iaws' and
'Iogíc' ot artístíc torm, 'csscnccs' that arc not congcncríc wíth thc
acIcarIy dcIímítcd mcaníng. OíaIcctícaI tropcsandcpígrams thatdonot
so much cxpIaín modcrníst art as rc-crcatc íts moods and tcmpcrs
scrvcd hcrc tor thc kínd otconccptuaI cIaríty that Lukacs, tor aII hís
crrorsand cvasíons, ríghtIytooktobcthctaskotthcorctícaIcxposítíon.
Inthcsamcway, whíIchccanpassdcvastatíngjudgmcnt onthcíncom-
pctcncc otLukacs's rcadíngs otíndívíduaI tcxts (thc Iyríc by Bcnn, or
Mann'sMagic Mountain), Adorno'sowncountcr-argumcntsarcscarccIy
morcspccíñcínthcíruscottcxtuaIíIIustratíon. JodwcIIonthcscsharcd
dcñcícncícs otthcory and concrctc anaIysís ís, ín thc ñrst pIacc, to bc
rcmíndo ot thc nccd tor cquíty ín asscssíng thís cxchangc bctwccn
Lukac and Adorno. It ís possíbIc, howcvcr, that thcy arc ín tact thc
cchoíng symptoms ot a tundamcntaI thcorctícaI communíty, ín whích
both mcn partícípatc cquaIIy.
In 1962, twoycars attcr thccrítíqucotLukacs,aGcrmantransIatíon
ot5artrc's What is Literature? appcarcd. Adorno took thc occasíon to
wrítc an cxtcndo cssay on 'Commítmcnt'. PubIíshcd ín Di Neue
Rundschau, thc cssay was csscntíaIIy tocusso on thc work ot Brccht,
attcr somc acutc íntroductory rcmarks on 5artrc. Jhc two cssays, on
Lukacs and on Brccht, arc ín an obvíous scnsc compIcmcntary. Jhc
brst was dcsígncd to combatthcpoIítícaIIyandacsthctícaIIy íIIcgítímatc
6 Pisms, London 1967, p. 32.
Presentation IV 147
íntrusíon ínto thc practícc otIítcraturc ítscIt; ín bothcascs, thc 'auto-
nomous' productíons ot modcrnísm arc amrmcd as a poIítícaIIy vaIíd
aItcrnatívc.JhcIogícaI and cmpírícaIstrcsscsotthcñrst arc stíII morc
cIcarIy markcd ín thc sccond, as thc crítíquc ot 5aruc makcs pIaín.
Adorno'sstrícturcs on 5artrc's 'Iítcraturc otídcas' havc anundcníabIc
torcc, but thcír vaIídíty ís uItímatcIy condítíonaI on thc quid pro quo
It ís truc that a protcsscdIy rcvoIunonary art must, ín cIcmcntary con-
sístcncy, submít ítscItat somc poíntto thc crítcríonotpoIítícaI corrcct-
ncss.Butthcsamcmustthcnb trucotanyprotcsscdIyMarxístcrítícísm.
Adorno's dísmíssaI ot 5artrc's Iítcrary attcmpt to íncítc índívíduaI
subjccu to trcc and actívcchoícc was bascd on thc prcmíss that Iatc
ordcr purgcd otcontradíctíon and thcrctorc otthcobjcctívc possíbíIíty
otchoícc. Joday, rcspcctíng Adorno's own ínjunctíon, tcw wíII taíI to
judgcthatthcpoIítíæIassumptíonsot'CrítícaI Jhcory'havcwcathcrcd
rathcr Icss wcII than thosc ot 5artrc's 'Iíbcrtarían cxístcntíaIísm'. It
was structuraIIy csscntíaI to Adorno's thought, turníshíng thc onIy
poínt otIcvcragc ín a putatívcIy totaIítarían socíaI ordcr (andtoundíng
ot hís acsthctícs can ovcrIook thís scmí-míracuIous pcrsístcncc otthc
abIc than a thcory ín whích thc productíon ot 'autonomous' works ot
art ís IíttIc Icss than magícaI.
caveat. Buthcrc, íntcrcstíngIycnough, híspoIítícaIídíombccomcmorc
nuanccd andconcrctc, ín kccpíng pcrhaps wíth thcavowcdIy Marxíst
ottcnvcrypcnctratíng. Much otwhat Adornohasto sayaboutBrccht's
pIays ís íncontrovcrtíbIc. Jhc 'trívíaIízatíon' ot tascísm cñccto by
Arturo Ui, thc wíItuIIy crudc 'anaIyscs' otpIays Iíkc Saint Joan and
Mother Courage, thc constant rccoursc to archaísm otdíñ`crcnt kínds -
thcscarcs manyínstanccotadcñnítcpopuIíststraínínBrccht'swork.
Jhc Threepenny Novel whích Adorno doc not mcntíon hcrc, ís vcry
stríkíngín thísrcspcct.
ConñncdmaínIyto thcsphcrcotcírcuIatíonand
' See Minima Moraiia, London NLB, 1974, pp. 15-18.
otcapítaIístrcIatíonsotcorruption. MoonctactorcanadcquatcIyaccount
torthísacsthctícdíspIaccmcnttowardspopuIísm. AthcorctícaIsIíppagc
íntoakíndotIctt-utíIítaríanísmísatamíIíartaíIíngotBrccht's wrítíngs.
Hís poIítícaI wcakncssc aIso took thcír toII - The Measures Taken,
dímcuItícs ot a spccíhcaIIy acsthctíc charactcr may havc bccn partIy
rcsponsíbIc tor somc ot thc contradíctíons otthc Brcchtían thcatrc.
McvcrthcIcss, Adorno was wrong to suggcst thatthcsc contradíctíons
wcrcínhcrcnt ínBrccht's artístíc projcct. JhcñIm Kuhl Wampe, madc
by 5Iatan Oudow, Lrnst OttwaId and hímscIt ín 1931, dcmonstratcs
that thcy wcrc not - a dcmonstratíon corroboratcd a contrario by thc
mísrcprcscntatíons to whích Adorno was drawn ín makíng a gcncraI
casc agaínst hím. Hís rcmarks on Saint Joan conñnc thcmscIvcs to a
'contcnt anaIysís' as brusquc asany to bctound ín Lukacs's wrítíngs.
HcdocsnotconsídcrthcpIayínrcIatíontoBrccht's 'cpíc'dramaturgy-
tcrms,toítsunusuaItormaIcharactcrístícs. The Good Woman ofSzechuan
ís mcntíoncd onIyas 'a varíatíon . . . ín rcvcrsc' onSaint Joan; and yct
hcrcísaworkthat'joItssígníhcatíon'ínthcapprovo Adorníanmanncr.
how thc 'good' 5hcn Jc can onIy rcmaín so wíth thc aíd ot hcr'cvíI'
aItcr cgo, 5híu Ja. Mo rcsoIutíon ot thís contradíctíon u cnactcd.or
prcscríbcd bythc pIay, whích thuscnds ín crísís, posíngaqucstíonthat
ítdocsnotanswcr. It wasdísíngcnuous,thcrctorc,to assímíIatc Brccht's
thcatrícaI practícc to 'dídactícísm' tout court. Hís constant cñ`ort (ít ís
anothcrqucstíon how tar orhowconsístcntIyhcsuccccdcd) was notto
5haw, butto provídcstructurcdpossíbíIítícstorrcñcctíonon thcnaturc
otcapítaIíst(and socíaIíst) rcIatíons andthcpIaccotthcspcctatorwíthín
to Brccht, csscntíaIIy bccausc thc rcIatíonshíp bctwccn poIítícs and
acsthctícsas hcconccívcdítwasquítcdístíncttrom thcconccptíonhcId
íncommon bythcm. AIIthrcc wcrcagrccdthatart couId andshouId bc
a mcans ot undcrstandíng hístorícaI rcaIíty. But Lukac and Adomo
"Among more damaging examples, not cite by Adoro but vindicating his remarks on
the dangers of Brecht's diction, may be note his anthem to Lysenkoism 'The Cultivation
of the Millet', written in 1951.
Presentation IV 149
tospccíhctormsotart. Inso doíng, thcy wcrcIcdtocIaboratc Marxíst
vcrsíons otprc-cxístíng ídcoIogícs otart. For Lukacs, as tor ArístotIc
'thc ímítatíon otan actíon', 'actíon' was to bc íntcrprctcd ín thc Iíght
othístorícaI matcríaIísm, but 'ímítatíon' rcmaíncd thcunchaIIcngcabIc
purposc ot aII vaIíd art. Adorno's cssays wcrc not so much a Marxíst
dctcncc otmodcrnísm as thc cxprcsíon ot a dístínctívcIy modcrníst
Marxísm. hís posítíons wcrc, mutatis mutandis, thosc ot modcrníst
ídcoIogy ítscIt. Jhc compIcmcntary ovcrsíghts otthc two crítícs wcrc
condítíoncd by thcír undcrIyíng acsthctíc-ídcoIogíæI commítmcnts.
Lukacs ínvcíghcd agaínst thc írratíonaIíst cIcmcnt m modcrnísm, but
was whoIIy ínscnsítívc to íts posítívc dísruptívc momcnt; Adorno was
justIy contcmptuous otthc 'optímísm' prcscríbcd by 5ovíct orthodoxy,
but was unabIc or unwíIIíng to acknowIcdgc thc cquaIIy rcactíonary
'pcssímísm' ot Wcstcrn IíbcraI orthodoxy. 5ardonícaIIy notíng that a
'journaIístícaIIy míndcd Wcstcrncr' couIdpraísc The Caucasian Chalk
Circle asa 'hymn tomothcrhood',hctorgotthatthcsamcstcrcotypícaI
ñgurcsarc ncvcrdonc cxtoIIíng KatkaasthcanaIystot'totaIítaríanísm'
andBcckcttas thconIyundcIudopoct ot'thchumancondítíon'.
Brccht's choíccwcrcthcproductotadíñcrcntconccptíonotthcroIc
otpoIítícs ín acsthctícs. 'KcaIísm', as hc dchno ít, was a poIítícaI and
ídcoIogícaI end whosc tormaI means wcrc varíabIc, accordíng to thc
díctatcottímcandpIacc. Hísuscotthctcn¬'rcaIísm' nomorcsígníñcd
an acsthctícaIIcgíancctoBaIzac thanhís'aIícnatíoncñccts' bcspokcthc
actívítíc ota 'modcrníst'. JhctcchníqucsotcIassícaInarratívc,popuIar
song and cxprcssíoníst thcatrc wcrc among thc cIcmcnts ot an artístíc
ínstrumcntaríum, to bcdrawnuponín whatcvcrcombínauonsthcgívcn
círcumstanccs sccmcd to suggcst. Jhc rcsuIt was an acsthctíc whích,
íµconccptíon at Icast, was much morc aIívc to thcshítung vaIcncícs ot
torm than cíthcr Lukacs's studícs ot thc uadítíonaI Iítcrary past or
Adorno's cIaíms tor thc hígh avant-gardc. Adorno was undoubtcdIy
otBrccht cannot b dísmísscd by any socíaIíst. ít rcmaíns ot grcatcr
íntcIIcctuaI powcr than any otthc numcrous convcntíonaI homagcs to
hím. But to qucstíon, as hc díd, thc vcry possíbíIíty ot a succcsstuI
poIítícaI art was to conhnc Marxíst acsthctíc to morc or Icss contcm-
Iímíts otthc two mcn arc suggcstcd by thcír hnaI díscomhturc at thc
pubIícs tor whíchthcy wrotc. Brccht'sdísorícntatíon bctorcthyrcvohot
a proIctaríat that bcIícd (rcaIízcd) hís poIítícs was to havc its proisc
counterpart, ffteen years later, in Adorno's disarray at the rebellion
an intelligentsia that confounded (appropriated) his philosophy, in the
great student demonstrations of the sixtie. The quest for a revolutionary
art has revived in the West. with a new intensity since then.
Theodor Adorno
Reconciliation under Duress
The nimbus which still surrounds the name of Georg Lukacs today,
even outside the Soviet bloc, is something he owes to the writings of his
youth -the volume of essays Soul and Form, The Theory ofthe Novel and
the studies collected in History and Class Consciousness, in which he
became the frst dialectical materialist to apply the category of reifcation
systematically to philosophy. Inspired originally by people like Simmel
and Kassner, his ideas were then further develope by the South­
Wester school.' He soon began to reject psychological subjectivism in
favour of an objectivistic philosophy of history, which became highly
infuential. The Theory ofthe Novel in particular had a brilliance and
profundity of conception which was quite extraordinary at the time, so
much so that it set a standard for philosophicl aesthetic which has been
retained ever since. As early as the beginning of the twenties his objecti­
vism started to adjust itself, albeit not without some initial resistance,
to the ofcial communist doctrine. He acquiesce in the communist
custom and disavowe his earlier writings. He took the crudest criticisms
from the Party hierarchy to heart, twisting Hegelian motifs and turing
them against himself; and for decades on end he laboured in a serie of
books and essays to adapt his obviously unimpaire talent to the un­
relieve sterility of Soviet claptrap, which in the meantime had degraded
the philosophy it proclaimed to the level of a mere instument in the
service of its rule. Only for the sake of the early writings, which were
disparaged by his Party and which he had himself abjured, has anyone
outside the Easter bloc taken any notice at all of the works he .has
published over the last thirty years, among them a thick volume on the
young Hegel. This remains true today, even though his former talent
can still b discerned in one or two of his studie on German realist
' I.e. the neo-Kantians in Heidelberg such as Windelband, Rickert, Emil Lask, but also
Max Weber.
literature in the 19th century, in particular those on Keller and Raabe.
It was doubtless his book The Destruction ofReason which reveale
clearly the destruction of Lukacs's own. In a highly undialecti
manner, the ofcially license dialectician sweeps all the irrationalist
strands of modern philosophy into the camp of reaction and Fascism. He
blithely ignores the fact that, unlike academic idealism, these schools
were struggling against the very same reifcation in both thought and
life of which Lukacs too was a dedicte opponent. Nietzsche and
Freud are simpl
labelled Fascists, and he could even bring himself to
refer to Nietzsc
e, in the condescending tones of a provincial Wilhel­
minian school inspector, as a man 'of above-average abilities', Under the
mantle of an ostensibly radical critique of society he surreptitiously
reintroduce the most threadbare cliches of the very conformism which
that social criticism had once attacked.
As for the book under consideration, The Meaning ofContemporary
Realism,' published in the West by Claassen Verlag in 1958, we can
detect in it traces of a change of attitude on the part of the 75-year-old
writer. These presumably have to do witl\ the confict he became involved:
in through his active role in the Nagy govermnent. Not only doe he talk
about the crime of the Stalin era, but he even speaks up on behalf of
'a general commitment to the freedom to write', a formulation that would
earlier have been unthinkable. Lukac posthumously discovers some
merit in Brecht, his adversary of many years' standing, and praises as a'
work of genius his Ballad ofthe Dead Soldier, a poe which must strike
the East German rulers as a cultural-Bolshevist atrocity. Like Brecht,
he would like to widen the concept of socialist realism, which has been
used for decades to stife any spontneous impulse, any product incom­
prehensible or suspect to the apparatchiks, so as to make room for
works that rise above the level of despicable trash. He venture a timid
opposition in gestures which show him to be paralysed from the outset
by the consciousness of his own impotence. His timidity is no mere
tactic. Lukacs's personal integrity is above all suspicion. But the con­
ceptual structure to which he has sacrifced his intellect is so retricted
that it suffocates anything which might have breathe more freely; the
sacrijzio delfintelletto doe not let the intellect of scot-free. This casts
a melancholy light on Lukacs's unconceled nostalgia for his own early
writings. The notion of 'the immanent meaning oflife' from The Theory
"The English edition was publishe by Merlin Pres, London 1962. Page-numbers
henceforward refeto the latter. Translations have sometime been moifed, however.
Adorno on Lukacs I53
ofthe Novel recurs here, but it is reduce to the dictum that life in a
society building up socialism is in fact full of meaning - a dogma just
good enough to provide a plausible philosophicl justifcation of the rosy
positive attitude expected of art in the peoples' republics. The book is
like a parfait or a sundae - halfway between a so-called thaw on the one
hand and a renewed freeze on the other.
Operating reductively, imperiously distributing labels such as critical
or socialist relism, Lukacs still behave like a Cultural Commissar, for
all his dynamic assurances to the contrary. Hegel's criticism of Kantian
formalism in aesthetics is reduce to the simplifed assertion that in
modern art the emphasis on style, form and- technique is grossly exag­
gerate (see esp. p. 19) - even though Lukac must b perfectly well
aware that these are the feature that distingnish art as knowlege from
science, and that works of art which ignored their own form, would destroy
themselves as art. What looks like formalism to him, really means the
structuring of the elements of a work in accordance with laws appro­
priate to them, and is relevant to that 'immanent meaning' for which
Lukacs yearns, as oppose to a meaning arbitrarily superimpose from
outside, something he objectively defends while asserting its impossibility.
Instead of recognizing the objective function of formal elements in
determining the aesthetic content of modern art, he wilfully misinterprets
them as arbitrary ingredients adde by an over-infated subjectivism.
The objetivity he misse in modem art and which he expects from the
subject-matter when place in 'perspective', is in fact achieved by the
procedures and technique which dissolve the subject-matter and
reorganize it in a way which doe create a perspective - but these are the
very procedure and technique he wishe to sweep away. He remains
indifferent to the philosophical question of whether the concrete mening
of a work of art is in fact identical with the mere 'refection of objective
reality' (p. 101), a vulgar-materialist shibboleth to which he doggedly
At all events, his own text disregards all the norms of the responsible
criticism which his own early writings had helped to establish. No
bearded Privy Councillor could pontifcate about art in a manner more
alien to it. He speaks with the voice of the dogmatic professor who
knows he cannot be interrupted, who does not shrink from any digression,
however lengthy, and who has evidently dispense with those reactions
which he castigates as aestheticist, formalistic and decadent, but which
alone permit any real relationship with art. Even though the Hegelian
concept of 'the concrete' still stands at a premiwn with him - especially
when he is concered to restrict literature to the imitation of empiricl
reality - his own arguments remain largely abstract. His text hardly eVer
submits to the discipline imposed bya spcifc work of art and the
lems implicit in it. Instead he issues decrees. The peantry of his general
manner is matched by his slovenliness in matters of detil. Lukac does
not recoil from seedy truisms such as 'lecturing and writing are very
diferent activities' ; repeatedly uses the expression 'top-grade perform­
ance' [Spitzenleistung], whose origins lie m the world of commerce and
record-breaking (p. 1 1); he calls the obliteration of the distinction
between abstract and concrete potentiality 'appalling' [verheerend] and
recalls how 'from Giatto on a new secularity triumphs more and more
over the allegorizing of an earlier period'. (p. 40). We who figure as
decadents in Lukac's vocabulary may -seriously overvalue form and
style, but at least it has preserve us hitherto from formulations such as
'from Giotto on', as well as from the temptation to praise Kafka because
he is a 'marvellous observer' (p. 45). Nor will modernists have had very
much to say about 'the series of extraordinarily numerous emotions
which together combine to structure the inner life of man'. Confronted
with such top-grade performances, which follow each other as rapidly
as at the Olympic Game, one might well wonder whether a man who
can write like this, in such obvious ignorance of the craft of the literature
which he treats in such a cavalier manner, has any right at all to an opinion
on literary matters. But in the stylistic amalgam of peantry and irres­
ponsibility to be found in Lukacs, who was once able t write well, one
sense a certain malice aforethought, a truculent determination to write
badly, evidently in the belief that this sacrifce on his part will demon­
strate by some magic tick that anyone who does otherwise and who takes
pains with his work is a good-for-nothing. Indiference to style, we may
remark in passing, is almost always symptomatic of the dogmatic sclerosis
of content. The false modesty implicit in a style which believes itself
to be dispassionate, as long as it abstains from self-reflection, only succeeds
in conceling the fact that it has purifed the dialectical process of its
objective, as well as its subjective, value. Dialectic are paid lip-service,
but for such a thinker all has been decide in advance. The writing
becomes undialectical.
The core of his theory remains dogmatic. The whole of modern
literature is dismissed except where it can be classife as either critical
or socialist realism, and the odium of decadence is heaped on it without
a qualm, even thoug such abuse brings with it all the horrors opersecu­
tion and extermination, and not only m Russia. The term 'decadence'
Adorno on Lukacs Îóó
belongs to the vocabulary of conservatism. It use by Lukacs, as well
as his superiors, is designe to claim for the community the authority of
a doctrine with which it u in fact incompatible. The ide of decadence
can scarcely be entertained in the absence of its positive counterpart :
the image of nature mall its vigour and abundance. The categorie of
nature are smuggled illicitly into the mediations of society, the very
practice against which the tenor of Marx's and Engels' critique of ideo­
logy was directed. Not even the echoes of Feuerbach's doctrine of
healthy sensuouS existence were infuential enough to procure entry
for the terminology of Social Darwinism into their texts. As late as
1857-58, i.e. during the period when Capital waS underway, we fnd the
following statement in the rough draft of the Grundrisse: ' Amuch, then,
as the whole of this movement appears as a social process, and as much
as the individual moments of this movement arise from the conscious
will and particular purpose of individuals, so much doe the totality
of the process appear as an objective interrelation, which arise spon­
taneously from nature; arising, it u true, from the mutual influence of
conscious individuals on one another, but neither locate in their con­
sciousness, nor subsume under them as a whole. Their own collisions
with one another produce an alin social power standing above them,
produce their mutual interaction as a process and power independent of
them . . . . The social relation of individuals to one another as a power
over the individuals which has become autonomous, whether conceived
as a natural force, as chance or in whatever other form, is a necessary
result of the fact that the point of departure is not the free social
individual. '3
Such criticism does not even call a halt at that highly sensitive realm
in which the appearance of the organic ofers the most stubborn resistance
to the social, and in which all indignation about decadence has its home:
the sphere of sexuality. Somewhat earlier, in a review of C. F. Daumer's
The Religion o/the New Age, Marx had pilloried the following passage:
'Nature and womanhood are the truly Divine in contrast to humanity
and manhood . . . The devotion of the human to the natural, of man to
woman, js the authentic, the only true humility and selfessness; it is
the most exalted, indeed the only virtue and piety that exists.' To which
Marx appends the following commentary: 'We see here how the super­
fciality and ignorance of this speculative spokesman of religiosity are
transformed into a pronounced form of cowardice. Herr Daumer fees
¯ Karl Marx, Grundrisse, Hannondsworth 1973, pp. 1967, trans. by Martin Nicolaus.
trom thctragcdícsothístory whíchthrcatcnto comctoocIosctohímtor
comtort and sccks rctugc ín so-caIIcd naturc, í.c. thc crctínous rustíc
ídyII,and hcprcachcs thc cuItotwomanhood ín ordcrtocIoak híscwn
WhcrcvcrpcopIc ínvcígh agaínstdccadcncc, thís ñíghtísrc-cnactcd.
Lukacs ís torccd ínto ítby a sítuatíon ín whích socíaI ínjustícc pcrsísts
cvcn though omcíaIIy ít has bccn aboIíshcd. KcsponsíbíIíty ís shíttcd
or aItcrnatívcIy, on to a dccadcncc whích ís conccívcd as íts opposítc.
Lukacshasotcourscmadcthcattcmptt conjurcawaythccontradíctíon
bctwccn Marxíst thcory and omcíaI Marxísm by twístíng thc ídcas ot
síck and hcaIthy art back ínto socíaI conccpts. 'Jhc rcIatíons bctwccn
mcn changc ín thccourscothístory, and thc íntcIIcctuaI and cmotíonaI
vaIucs pIaccd on thosc rcIatíons changc accordíngIy. But to rcaIízc thís
ís not to cmbracc rcIatívísm. At any spccíhc tímc onc human rcIatíon-
shíp may bc progrcssívc and anothcr rcactíonary. Wc can thcrctorc
makcuscotthcconccptotsocíaIhcaIth andcstabIíshítasthctoundatíon
otaII rcaIIy grcat art, tor what ís socíaIIy hcaIthy bccomcs an íntcgraI
part otthc hístorícaI conscíousncss otmankínd'.5
probIcms, thc tcrms 'síck' and 'hcaIthy' arc bcst avoídcd aItogcthcr.
Jhcy havc no conncctíon wíth thc dímcnsíon rcprcscntcd by progrcssj
rcactíon¡ thcy arc símpIy draggcd ín tor thc sakc otthcír dcmagogíc
appcaI. lurthcrmorc, thc díchotomy othcaIthyjsíck ís as undíaIcctícaI
tromabourgcoísconscíousncssthathastaíIcdto kccppaccwíthítsown
IwíIInotdcígnto dwcIIonthcpoíntthat,ínínvokíngthcconccptsot
dccadcnccand modcrnísm- thctwosígnítythcsamcthíngínhíscycs-
Lukacs yokcs togcthcr thíngs and pcopIc whohavcabsoIutcIy nothíng
íncommon- not just Proust, Katka,)oycc and Bcckctt, butaIso Bcnn,
J íìngcrandpcrhapscvcnHcídcggcr¡andínthcrcaImot thcory,Bcnjamín
and myscIt. JhctacíIctactícsopopuIarnowadays otsuggcstíngthatan
otíncompatíbIc parts, ís aII toorcadíIy avaíIabIc to sottcn up attackand
cvadc hostíIc argumcnt wíth thc gcsturc 'that docsn't appIy to mc'. At
thc rísk thcrctorc otbcíng Icd to ovcr-símpIíty by my own opposítíon
¯ Karl Marx: Review of C. F. Daumer's The Religion of the Ne Age, in {he Neue
Rheinische Zeitung, Hamburg 1850.
¨ Ger Lukacs: HealthyArt, or Sick in C.L. 7W70. Ceburtstag, Berlin 1955, p. 243.
Adorno on Lukacs 157
argumcntand not díñcrcntíatcbctwccn thc objccts othísattack much
morc than hc docs hímscIt, cxccpt whcrc hc travcstícs thcm to cxccss.
Hís cñorts to boIstcr upthcnaívc 5ovíct vcrdíctonmodcrn art,í.c.
on anyIítcraturc whích shocks thc naívcIy rcaIístíc norm

I mínd, �y
provídíngítwítha phíIosophícaIgoodconscíc�cc,


ncd outw:th
avcry Iímítcd rangc ottooIs, aII otthcm HcgcIían M ongì�. Inthchrst
pIacc, ín ordcr to prcss homc hís poínt thatmodcrmst Iitcraturc is a
dcvíatíontromrcaIíty,hcdragsínthcdístínctíonbctwccn'abstract' and
'rcaI' potcntíaIíty:'Jhcsctwocatcgorícs, thcíramnítícs


opposítíon arc rootcd ín Iítc ítscIt. Vícwcd abstractIy, i.c .


potcntíaIítyísaIwaysríchcrthanactuaIIítc. Co�


opcnto thchuman mínd, otwhích onIyancgIigibIymmutcpcrccntagc
can cvcr bc rcaIízcd. Modcrn subjcctívísm, dísccrníng ín thís apparcnt
pIcnítudc thc authcntíc abundancc otthc human soíI, contcmpIatcs ít
wíth a mcIanchoIy tíngcd wíth admíratíon and sympathy. Howcvcr,
whcn rcaIíty dccIíncs to rcaIízcsuchpossíbíIítícs, thcsctccIíngsbccomc
transtormcdíntoanoIcss mcIanchoIy contcmpt' (p. 2!-2). Jhís poínt
cannot símpIy bc shruggcd oñ, dcspítc thc pcrccntagc. Whcn Brccht,
to takc an cxampIc, dcvíscd a kínd ot chíIdísh shorthand to try and
crystaIIízcout thccsscncc otlascísm ín tcrms otasortotga


hc madc hís 'rcsístíbIc' díctator, Arturo lí, thc hcad ot an :magmary

organízatíons. Jhís unrcaIístíc dcvícc provcd to bc a mixcd b�cs

Bythínkíngotlascísmasan cntcrpríscbcIongíngtoabandotcnmmaIs
who havc no rcaI pIacc ín thc socíaI systcm and who can thcrctqc bc
'rcsístcd' at wíII, you stríp ítotíts horror and dímí

ísh íts


hcancc. Jhís ínvaIídatcs thc carícaturc and makcs it sccm idictic cvcn
bíIíty ¼ thc coursc otthc pIay ítscIt. 5atírc whích taíIs to stay on thc
IcvcI otíts subjcct Iacks spícc.
basíccxpcrícnccotrcaIítyandthcmembra disecta otthcsubjcct-mattcr
trom whích hc tashíons hís work. InBrccht'scasc, thís can onIy mcan
thcactuaIbondsconncctíngpoIítícsandthccconomya wcIIasthcnccd
tor thcínítíaIsítuatíon to htthctacts. ItdocsnotappIytowhathappcns
tothcsctactsín thccourscotthcwork. Proustprovídcsthcmoststríkíng
íIIustratíon otthcunítyotpragmatíc hdcIíty and- ín�ukacsíantc
unrcaIístíc manncr tor ínhísworkwcñndthcmostìntìmatctusìcn ot
an cxtrcmcIy 'rcaI.stíc' obscrvatíon ot dctaíI wíth an acsthctíc torm
bascdon thcpríncípIcotínvoIuntaryrccoIIcctíon. Itanyotthcíntímacy
otthís synthcsís ís Iost, ít'concrctc potcntíaIíty' ís íntcrprctcd ín tcrms
ítobscrvcs, whíIc any cIcmcntotartantíthctícaI tothc subjcct-mattcr
pcrmíttcd onIy as a 'pcrspcctívc', í.c. ín thc scnsc that a mcaníng ís

aIIowcd tobccomc vísíbIc wíthout rcachíngthcccntrcotthcwork, thc
ín thc íntcrcsts ota tradítíonaIísm whosc acsthctíc backwardncss pro-
whích, ít sustaíncd, wouId cnabIc hím to pín thc whoIc ot modcrníst
Iítcraturc on to thc archaíccxístcntíaI notíons otHcídcggcr. Otcoursc,
Lukacs hímscIttoIIows thc tashíon and ínsísts that thc qucstíon 'What
ísManî' hasto bc put(p. !º), and that wcmustnotbcdctcrrcd bythc
prospcct otwhcrcítmíghtIcad. Howcvcr,hc docsat Icastmodítyítby
rcvcrtíng to ArístotIc's tamíIíar dcñnítíon ot man as a socíaI anímaI.
From thís hc dcduccs thc scarccIy contcntíous proposítíon that 'thc
human sígníñcancc, thc spccíñc índívíduaI and typícaI quaIíty' ot thc
charactcrs ín grcat Iítcraturc, 'thcír scnsuous, artístíc rcaIíty, cannot bc
scparatcd trom thc contcxt ín whích thcy wcrc crcatcd' (Ibíd.). 'Quítc
opposcd to thís', hc gocs on, ís 'thc ontoIogícaI vícw govcrníng thc
ímagcotman ínthcworkotIcadíngmodcrnístwrítcrs. Joputítbrícñy.
ín thcír cycs "man"mcansthcíndívíduaIwhohasaIways cxístcd, who
íscsscntíaIIysoIítary, asocíaI and- ontoIogícaIIy- íncapabIcotcntcríng
ínto rcIatíonshíps wíth othcrhumanbcíngs.' (Ibíd.). Jhís ís supportcd
by rctcrcnccto asomcwhat tooIísh uttcrancc byJhomasWoItc, whích
cIcarIy has no rcIcvancc to Iítcrary works, to thccñcctthat soIítaríncss
ís thc íncscapabIc tact ot man's cxístcncc. But as somconc who cIaíms
that ín an índívíduaIístícsocícty IoncIíncss ís socíaIIy mcdíatcd and so
posscsscs a sígníhcant hístorícaI contcnt.
AII such catcgorícs asdccadcncc, tormaIísm and acsthctícísmcan bc
traccd back to BaudcIaírc, and BaudcIaírc shows no íntcrcst ín an un-
fenheit], but rathcr ín thc csscncc otmodcrníty. 'Lsscncc' ítscItín thís
poctry ís no abstract thíng ín ítscIt, ít ís a socíaI phcnomcnon. Jhc
objcctívcIy domínant ídca ín BaudcIaírc's work ís that thc ncw, thc
products othístorícaI progrcss, arc what has to bc conjurcd up ín hís
vcrsc. Jo usc Bcnjamín's cxprcssíon, wc ñnd not an archaíc, but a
'díaIcctícaI' ímagcín hís work. Hcnccthc Tableaux Parisiens. Lvcn ín
Adorno on Lukacs 159
|oycc's casc wc do not ñnd thc tímcIcss ímagc ot man whích Lukacs
wouId Iíkcto toíston to hím,butmanasthcproductothístory. For aII
hís IríshtoIkIorc,|oycc docs notínvokcamythoIogybcyond thcworId
hcdcpícts, butínstcadstrívcstomythoIogízcít,í.c. tocrcatcítscsscncc,
whcthcr bcnígn or maIchccnt, byappIyingthctcchníquc otstyIízatíon
so dcspíscd by thcLukacsottoday. OncísaImosttcmptcdtomcasurc
thcachícvcmcnts otmodcrníst wrítíng by ínquíríng whcthcrhístorícaI
momcnts arc gívcn substancc as such wíthín thcír works, or whcthcr
thcy arc díIutcd ínto somc sort ottímcIcssncss.
Lukacs wouId doubtIcss dcprccatc as ídcaIístíc thc usc ottcrms Iíkc
'ímagc' and 'csscncc' ín acsthctícs. But thcír appIícatíon ín thc rcaIm
or otprímítívc ímagcs, cspccíaIIy rcturbishcd vcrsíons ot thc PIatoníc
hís ínabíIíty to maíntaín thís dístínctíon, a taíIurc whích Icads hím to
transtcr to thcrcaIm otartcatcgorícswhíchrctcrtothcrcIatíonshípot
thcm. Art cxísts ín thc rcaI worId andhas a tunctíon m ít, and thc two
arc conncctcd by a Iargc numbcr otmcdíatíng Iínks. McvcrthcIcss, as
art ít rcmaíns thc antíthcsís ot that whích ís thc casc. PhíIosophy has
acknowIcdgcd thís sítuatíon by dchníng art as 'acsthctíc appcarancc'.
Lvcn Lukacs wíII ñnd ít ímpossíbIc t gct away trom thc tactthatthc
contcntotworksotartís notrcaIín thcsamcscnscas socíaIrcaIíty. It
thísdístínctíon ís Iost,thcnaIIattcmptstoprovídcarcaItoundatíontor
acsthctícs must bc doomcd to taíIurc. But artístíc appcarancc, thc tact
that art has sct ítscItapart ín quaIítatívc tcrms trom thc ímmcdíatc
actuaIítyín whíchítmagícaIIycamcíntobcíng, ísncíthcrítsídcoIogícaI
FaII nor docs ít makc art an arbítrary systcm otsígns, as ítít mcrcIy
rcp:oduccd thc worId wíthout cIaímíng toposscss thc samc ímmcdíatc
rcaIíty. Any vícw as rcductívc as thís wouId bc a shccr mockcry ot
Morctothcpoínt ís thcasscrtíon thatthcdíñcrcnccbctwccn artand
cmpírícaI rcaIíty touchcs on thc tormcr's ínncrmost

bcíng. It ís nc
ídcaIístíccrímctor arttoprovídccsscnccs, 'ímagcs';thctact thatmany
artístshavcíncIíncdtowardsan ídcaIístphíIosophy says nothíngabout
thccontcntotthcírworks. Jhctruthotthcmattcrísthatcxccptwhcrc
artgocs agaínstítsownnaturcand símpIy dupIícatcs cxístcncc, ítstask
vís-a-vís that whích mcrcIy cxísts, ís to bc íts csscncc and ímagc. Jhís
Ionc constítutcs thc acsthctíc; art docs not bccomc knowIcdgc wíth
rctcrct¡cc to mcrc ímmcdíatc rcaIíty, í.c. by doíng justícc to a rcaIíty
cIassíhcatory ordcr. Art and rcaIíty can onIy convcrgc ítart crystaIIízcs


InartknowIcdgc ís acsthctícaIIy mcdíatcd through and through. Lvcn
aIIcgcd cascsotsoIípsísm,whích sígnítytorLukacsthcrcgrcssíontoan
otthc ob|cct, as thcy wouId ín bad thcorícs otknowIcdgc, but ínstcad
aím at a díaIcctícaI rcconcíIíatíon ot subjcct and objcct. In thc torm of
anímagc thcob|cctís absorbcd íntothc subjcct ínstcad ottoIIowíngthc
bíddíng ot thc aIícnatcd worId and pcrsístíng obduratcIy ín a statc ot
rcíhcatíon. Jhc contradíctíon bctwccn thc objcct rcconcíIo ín thc
subjcct, í.c. spontancousIy absorbcd ínto thc sub|cct, and thc actuaI
unrcconcíIcd ob}cct ín thc outsidc worId, contcrs on thc work otart a
vantagc-poínt trom whích ítcancrítícízc actuaIíty. Artís thcncgatívc
knowIcdgc ot thc actuaI worId. In anaIogy to a currcnt phíIosophícaI
phrasc wc míght spcak otthc 'acsthctíc dístancc' trom cxístcncc: onIy
otart bccomcbothwork otartand vaIídconscíousncss.A thcory otart
whíchígnorcs thís ís at onccphíIístíncand ídcoIogícaI.
Lukacs contcnts hímscItwíth 5chopcnhaucr's apcr�u that thc prín-
cípIc otsoIípsísm ís 'onIy rcaIIy víabIcwíth compIctc consístcncy ínthc
mostabstract tormotphíIosophy' and 'cvcn thcrc onIy wíthamcasurc
ot sophístry' (p. 2!). But hís argumcnt ís scIt-dctcatíng: ít soIípsísm

by 'brackctíng out', to usc thc phcnomcnoIogícaI tcrm, thcn wc nccd
havc no tcar ot ít as a styIístíc príncípIc. Ob|cctívcIy, thcn, ín thcír
works, thcmodcrnístshavcmovcdbcyond thcposítíonLukacsascríbcs
to thcm. Proust dccomposcs thc unítyotthc subjcctívc mínd by dínt ot
íts own íntrospcctíon. thc míndcndsbytranstormíng ítscItíntoastagc
on whích objcctívc rcaIítícs arc madc vísíbIc. Hís índívíduaIístíc work
bccomcs thc opposítc otthat tor whích Lukacs dcrídcs ít: ít bccomcs
antí-índívíduaIístíc.Jhcmonologue interieur, thcworIdIcssncssot modcrn
ot a trcc-hoatíng subjcctívíty - ít ís truth, bccausc ín thc unívcrsaI
atomístíc statc ot thc worId, aIícnatíon ruIcs ovcr mcn, turní

ng thcm
íntomcrcshadowsotthcmscIvcs- apoíntwcmayundoubtcdIyconccdc
to Lukacs. Jhc trcc-hoatíng subjcctís appcarancc, howcvcr, ínasmuch
as, objcctívcIy, thc socíaI totaIíty has prcccdcncc ovcr thc índívíduaI, a
totaIíty whích ís crcatcd and rcproduccs ítscItthrough aIícnatíon and
through thc contradíctíons otsocícty. Jhc grcat works ot modcrníst
Adorno on Lukacs 161
ínhístraíItyíntocontcxt,and bygraspíngthattotaIítyínhím otwhích
thc índívíduaI ís but a momcnt and ot whích hc must nccds rcmaín
ígnorant. Lukacs cvídcntIybcIícvcsthatwhcnthcHabsburgmonarchy
ín Katka and MusíI, or OubIínín|oycc makc thcmscIvcs tcIta a sort
thcprogrammcbutncvcrthcIcssrcmaínsotsccondaryímportancc. But
ín arguíng thus tor thc sakcothísthcsís, hccIcarIyrcduccssomcthíng
vcry substantíaI,agrowíngcpícpIcnítudcwíthaIIítsncgatívcpotcntíaI,
tothc status otamcrcacccssory.Jhcconccpt otatmosphcrc ís ínany
cvcnt híghIy ínappropríatc as appIícd to Katka. !t gocs back to an
Imprcssíonísmwhích Katkasupcrscdcsbyhísobjcctívístconccmwíth
hístorícaIcsscncc.LvcnínBcckctt -andpcrhapsínhímabovcaII-whcrc
sccmíngIy aIIconcrctchístorícaI componcntshavcbccncIímínatcd,and
onIy prímítívc sítuatíons and torms ot bchavíour arc toIcratcd, thc
unhístorícaI taçadc ís thc provocatívc opposítc ot thc absoIutc Bcíng
ídoIízcd by rcactíonary phíIosophícs. Jhc prímítívísm wíth whích hís
works bcgín so abruptIy rcprcscnts thc hnaI phasc ot a rcgrcssíon,
cspccíaIIy obvíous ín Fin de Partie, ín whích, as trom thc tar-dístant
rcaIm otthc scIt-cvídcnt, atcrrcstríaIcatastrophc ís prcsupposcd. Hís
prímítívcmcn arc thc Iast mcn. Oncthcmc wcdíscovcrín hísworksís
somcthíngwhíchHorkhcímcrandI havcaIrcadydíscusscdínDialectic
of Enlightenment: thctactthatasocíctywhoIIyínthcgrípotthcCuIturc
!ndustry díspIays aII thc rcactíons ot an amphíbían. Jhc substantívc
contcnt o!a work otart can survívc ín thc prccísc, wordIcss poIcmíc
whíchdcpíctsthcdawn otanonscnsícaI worId,andítcan vaníshagaín

soon as u ísposítívcIyasscrtcd, as soonascxístcnccíscIaímcd tor ít,
a tatc símíIar to thc onc that bctaIIs thc dídactícantíthcsís bctwccn a
ríghtandawrongmodcotIítctobctoundínJoIstoyattcrAnna Karenina.
Lukacs'stavourítcoId ídca otan 'ímmancntmcaníng' poínts towards
scts out to dcstroy. Conccptíons Iíkc Bcckctt's, howcvcr, havc an ob-
jcctívc, poIcmícaI thrust. Lukacs twísts thcm ínto 'thc straíghttorward
portrayaI otthcpathoIogícaI, otthcpcrvcrsc, otídíocy, aII otwhích arc
sccnastypcsotthc"condítíonhumaínc'' (p. 32)-andínthíshctoIIows
trcatmcnt. Abovc aII, Lukacs's contusíon ot Bcckctt wíth thc cuIt ot
Bcíng and cvcn wíth thc íntcríor vcrsíon ot vítaIísm to bc tound ín
MonthcrIant(íbíd.)cxposcshís ínabíIítyto sccwhatís ín tront othím.

by thc usc ottcchníqucs- somcthíng whích Lukacs hímscIthopcs tor
trom thc morc than suspcctconccpt ot'pcrspcctívc'.OncwouId Iíkcto
ask what wouId bc Ictt ot Grcck drama, whích Lukacs, Iíkc HcgcI, has
duIycanonízcd, ítthc crítcríon otíts vaIuc wcrc thc story whích couId
bcpíckcdupínthcstrcct. JhcsamchoIdsgoodtorthctradítíonaInovcI
and cvcntorwrítcrs such as lIaubcrtwho comc ínto Lukacs'scatcgory
Joday, whcn cmpírícaI vcracíty has sunk to thc IcvcI otsupcrhcíaI
rcportagc, thc rcIcvancc ot tcchníquc has íncrcascd cnormousIy. By
índívíduaI agaínst whích Lukacs so passíonatcIy ínvcíghs. Hc taíIs to
toIIow thc ínsíght contaíncd ín hís Iast chaptcrto íts IogícaI concIusíon.
thcpurcIy arbítrarycannotbcovcrcomc símpIybya dctcrmínatíon to
Iook at thíngs ín what purports to bc a morc objcctívc manncr. Lukacs
ought surcIy to bc tamíIíar wíth thc kcy ímportancc ot thc tcchnícaI
torccotproductíonínhístory. Mo doubtthíswasmorcconccrncdwíth
matcríaI than wíth cuIturaI productíon. But can hc rcaIIy cIosc hís cycs
to thc tact that thc tcchníqucs otart aIso dcvcIop ín accordancc wíth
socícty changcs, compIctcIy díñ`crcnt acsthctíc crítcría automatícaIIy
tor thc canonícaI rcstoratíon ot oIdcr, outdatcd torms³ Oocs hc not
a ímmutabIc doctrínc whích díñcrs trom thconchcríghtIyrcpudíatcs
Lukacs pIaccs hímscItín thcgrcat phíIosophícaI tradítíon that con-
ccívcsotartasknowIcdgcwhíchhasassumcd concrctcshapc,rathcrthan
as somcthíng írratíonaI to bc contrastcd wíth scícncc. Jhís ís pcrtcctIy
Icgítímatc, but hc stíII hnds hímscItcnsnarcd ín thc samc cuIt otím-
mcdíacy ot whích hc myopícaIIy accuscs modcrníst Iítcraturc: thc
taIIacy otmcrc asscrtíon. Art docs not provídc knowIcdgc otrcaIíty by
rcíIcctíng ít photographícaIIy or 'trom a partícuIar pcrspcctívc' but by
rcvcaIíng whatcvcr ís vcíIcd by thc cmpírícaItorm assumcd by rcaIíty,
and thís ís possíbIc onIy by vírtuc ot art's own autonomous status.
Lvcn thc suggcstíon that thc worId ís unknowabIc, whích Lukacs so
índctatígabIy castígatcs ín wrítcrs Iíkc LIíot or |oycc, can bccomc a
Adoro on Lukacs 163
thcovcrwhcImíngandunassímíIabIcworIdotthíngs, onthconchand,
and a human cxpcrícnccímpotcntIy strívíngtogaína hrm hoId on ít,
ít to barc ídcntíty, just as ítworks ot art díd nothíng but appIy thcír
pcrspcctívc ín such away as to antícípatc somc otthcínsíghts that thc
socíaI scícnccs subscqucntIy conhrm. Jhc csscntíaI dístínctíon bctwccn
whcn thcy arc compIctcIy tuscd wíth thc subjcctívc íntcntíon. Lvcn
thcIcsstaíIstomakcítcIcarthat,ítthc dístínctíonístohoIdgood,rcaIíst
wrítíng must ncccssaríIy achícvc that synthcsís wíth thc sub}cctívc
íntcntíons whích hc wouId Iíkc to scc cxpcIIcd trom KcaIísm. In tact
Onthconchand,ít turnsoutthatthcpríncípIcsottorm whíchLukacs
anathcmatízcs as unrcaIístíc and ídcaIístíc, havc an objcctívc acsthctíc
tunctíon;onthcothcr, ítbccomcsnoIcssobvíousthatthcnovcIsotthc
carIy !ºth ccntury c.g. thosc ot Oíckcns and BaIzac, whích hc hoIds
ín such híghcstccm, and whíchhcdocsnotscrupIcto hoId up as para-
dígms otthcnovcIíst's art, arcbyno mcans as rcaIístíc as aII that. It ís
agaínst thc markctabIc romantíc Iítcraturc so tashíonabIc ín thcír day.
Joday, howcvcr, wc notonIysccromantíc and archaíc, prc-bourgcoís
cIcmcnts ín both novcIísts, but cvcn worsc, BaIzac's cntírc Comedie
Humaine standsrcvcaIcdasanímagínatívcrcconstructíonotthcaIícnatcd
worId, í.c.ota rcaIíty no Iongcr cxpcrícnccd bythc índívíduaI subjcct.
5ccnínthísIíght,thcdíñcrcncc bctwccn ít andthcmodcrníst víctíms
otLukacs'scIass-justíccísnotvcrygrcat; ítísjustthatBaIzac,íntunc
wíthhíswhoIcconccptíonottorm, thoughtothís monoIogucsín tcrms
otthcpIcnítudc otrcaIIítc,whíIcthcgrcatnovcIístsotthc?0thccntury
cncapsuIatc thcír worIdIy pIcnítudc wíthín thc monoIoguc.
Jhís shattcrs Lukacs's approach to íts toundatíons. Hís conccpt ot
'pcrspcctívc' sínks íncxorabIy to thc IcvcI otwhathcstrívcsínvaín to
dístínguísh íttrom ínthcIastchaptcrothísbook, namcIyancIcmcntot
tcndcntíousncss or, to usc hís own word, 'agítatíon', ímposcd trom
wíthout. HíswhoIcposítíonísparadoxícaI. Hccannotcscapcthcawarc-
ncss that, acsthctícaIIy, socíaI truth thrívcs onIy ín works ot art auto-
nomousIy crcatcd. But ín thc concrctc works ot modcrn tímcs thís
by thc prcvaiIingcommunistdoctrinc and which hc ncithcr couId,
can, toIcratc. His hopc was that obsoIctc and unsatistactory acsthct
tcchniqucsmightbcIcgitimatcditthcycouId achicvcadiñcrcntstanding
inadiñcrcntsociaI systcm,i.c.thatthcymightbcjustihcd tromoutsidc,
stition. !t isnotgood cnoughtorLukac simpIytodismissthctact that
thc vcry products otsociaIist rcaIism that havc cIaimcd to rcprcscntan
advanccd statc otconsciousncss, in tact do no morc than scrvc up thc
crumbIing and insipid rcsiducs ot bourgcois art-torms. Jhis is a tact
whichstandsinnccdotan objcctivccxpIanation.5ociaIistrcaIismdidnot
simpIyhavc its origins,ascommunistthcoIogians wouId Iikc to bcIicvq,
backwardncss otconsciousncss and otthc sociaI torccs otproduction.
JhconIyuscthcymakc otthcthcsisotthc quaIitativc rupturcbctwccn
sociaIism and thc bourgcoisic is to taIsity that backwardncss, which it
has Iong bccn torbiddcn to mcntion, and twist itinto somcthing morc
which, toIIowing Hcidcggcr's thcory otman's cxistcntiaI torsakcnncss
[GeworfenheitJ trom Being and Time, hc intcrprcts as a standpoint o(
unrcñcctivcIoncIincss.Lukacscriticizcsthisstancc(p. S!),showinghow
thc Iitcrary workcmcrgcstromthcpocticsubjcct in aII its advcntitious-
ncss, much as HcgcI had shown in rigorous argumcnthow phiIosophy
cmcrgcs trom thc scnsory ccrtaintics ot thc individuaI.' But as that
immcdiacy turns out to bc mcdiatcd in itscIt, thc work otart contains
within itscIt aII thc cIcmcnts which Lukacs hnds Iacking in that im-
mcdiacy, whiIc, on thc othcr hand, thcpoctic subjcct hndsitncccssary
to start trom what is ncarcst to itscIt tor thc sakc ot that anticipatcd
his dcnunciation ot individuaIism to incIudc Oostoycvsky. His story
Lettersfrom the Underworld is'oncotthcñrstdcscriptionsotthcdccadcnt
individuaI' (p.62). But bythisjunctionotdccadcnccand IoncIincssthc
proccss otatomizationwhich hasits sourcc inthcprincipIcotbourgcois
socicty itscIt is convcrtcd into nothing morc than a manitcstation ot
dccIinc. Ovcr and abovc this, thc word 'dccadcnt' has connotations o!
thc bioIogicaI dccay otindividuaIs. it is a parody ot thc tact that this
6 Th PhenMntn% g ofMlnd, trans. Billie. Se espeially th end of th section on
Th Unhappy Consciousnes (in Chapte IV): Sel-Consciousness passing into Reason, which
re-enacts the moves made earlier at the end ofChaps. I and II.
Adorno on Lukacs 165
IoncIincss musthavc roots rcachingbacktar bcyond bourgcois socicty,
tor grcgarious animaIs Iikcwisc torm what Borchardt caIIcd a 'IoncIy
community' , thc zoon politikon had to bc dcvcIopo at a Iatcr stagc.
What is an historicaI prcmisc ot aII modcrn art, which can onIy bc
transccndcd whcrc it is tuIIy acknowIcdgcd tor what it is, appcars in
LukacsasanavoidabIccrrororcvcnasabourgcoisdcIusion. Howcvcr,
assoonashccomcsto gripswith thc mostrcccntKussianIitcraturc, hc
discovcrs thatthcstructuraIchangchchadpositcd,hasnotintacttakcn
IoncIincss.Jhcpositionotthcmodcrnistshcccnsurcs- orthcir'trans-
ccndcntaIsituation',touschiscarIicrtcrminoIogy- isnotanontoIogicaI
IoncIincss, but onc which is historicaIIy conditioncd. Jhc ontoIogists
ottodayarcaII too conccrncd with bonds which ostcnsibIyattach Man
authoritics otaII shapcs and sizcs. !n this thcy wouId not hit it oñso
badIy withLukacsasonc might cxpcct. Wc mayrcadiIyagrccwithhim
thatitisiIIusoryto thinkotIoncIincssasana priori torm;IoncIincssisa
sociaIproduct,andíttransccndsitscIt assoonasitrchcctsonitscIt assuch.
But this is thc point at which thc diaIcctic ot acsthctics rcbounds
against him. !tis not opcn to thcindividuaItotransccnd a coIIcctivcIy
dctcrmincd IoncIincss through his own dccision and dctcrmination.
Lchocs ot this can bc hcard distinctIy cnough whcn Lukacs scttIcs
accountswiththc tcndcntíous contcntotthc standardízcd 5ovictnovcI.
IngcncraI itisdimcuItto rid oncscItotthc imprcssion onc gainswhcn
rcading thc book, cspcciaIIy thc impassioncd pagcs on Katka (vidc pp.
1ºt.), thathc rcacts to thcwritcrs hc anathcmatizcs as dccadcnt much
Iikc thc Icgcndary cab-horsc which stops in its tracks on hcaring thc
suddcn sound otmiIitary music, bctorc itgocs on puIIing its cart. Jo
cnabIc himscIt to rcsist thcir bIandishmcnts thc morc casiIy, Lukacs
joins in thc chorus otccnsors who, cvcr sincc Kicrkcgaard (whom hc
himscIt cIassiñcs aIongsidc thc avant-gardc), itnot as tar back as thc
turorc ovcr Fricdrich 5chIcgcI' and thc carIy Komantics, havc aIways
waxcd indignant ovcrartthatis mcrcIy intcrcsting.³ WcwouIdnccd to
changcthcnaturcotthisdiscussion. Jhctact thatan insightcrawork
otartcan bc said to bc intcrcsting docs not automaticaIIy mcan itcan
bc rcduccd toscnsationaIismorthccuIturaImarkct,cvcnthough thcsc
7 Focused on his 'obscene' novel Lucinde.
"The 'interesting' develope û a concept during the Romantic perio where it tended
to b a defning feature of modem Å and criticism, û oppose to classical beauty from
which the public derived, in Kant's phrase, 'a distintereste pleasure'.
undoubtcdIyhcIpcd togívcthcconccptitscurrcncy. It ísccrtaínIy
scaIottruth, but íthasbccomcits índispcnsabIcprccondítíon,ítís what
mea interest, what conccrns thc subjcct, as opposcd towhatthc ovcr-
whcImíng torcc otthcpowcrs-that-bc, i.c. commodítícs, wouIdIikc to
tob us oñ wíth.
LukacscouIdnotpossibIypraíscwhatattracts hím t Katkaand¸ct
put hím on hís Indcx, wcrc ít not tor thc tactthat, Iíkcthc sccpticsof
IatcschoIastícism, hc sccrctIy hasadoctrincottwokinds ottruth rcady
tohand:'AIIthisargucsthcsupcríoríty,hístoricaIIyspcakíng, otsociaIíst
rcaIism (I cannot sumcicntIy cmphasízc that this supcriority docs not
contcr automatic succcss on cach índíviduaI work otsociaIíst rcaIism).
Jhcrcason torthís supcríoríty is thcinsights which socíaIíst idcoIogy,
sociaIíst pcrspcctívc, makc avaiIabIc to thc writcr. thcy cnabIc him to
gívcamorccomprchcnsivcand dccpcraccoun: otmanasasocíaI bcíng
than any traditionaI idcoIogy' (p. I I 5). In othcr words,artistic quaIíty
and thc artistíc supcríoríty otsociaIist rcaIism arc two díñcrcntthíngs.
Lítcraturc that is vaIíd ín itscItísscparatcd trom Iítcraturc thatís vaIíd
in 5ovíct tcrms, whíchíssupposcd to bc 'corrcct' by vírtuc otasortot
'actotgracc' onthcpartotthcWorId 5pírít.
5uch a doubIc standard iII bccomc a thínkcr who makcs such an
ímpassioncd pIcíndctcncc otthc unity otrcason. Butíthcmaintains
that IoncIíncss ís incscapabIc - and hc scarccIy attcmpts to dcny that
such a tatc has bccn markcd out tor man by thc ncgativíty otsocicty,
by íts univcrsaI rcihcatíon - and itat thc samc timc hís HcgcIianísm
makcshimawarcotitsobjcctivcunrcaIíty, thcnitisscarccIypossíbIcto
rcsíst thc íntcrcncc that, takcn to its IogicaI concIusion, IoncIíncss wíII
turn ínto íts oppositc. thc soIítary conscíousncss potcntíaIIy dcstroys
and uansccnds itscItby rcvcaIíng ítscItin works ot artas thc hiddcn
truth common to aII mcn. Jhis ís cxactIy what wc ñnd ín thcauthcntic
works ot modcrn Iitcraturc. Jhcy objcctíty thcmscIvcs by ímmcrsing
whícharcacsthcticaIIyrootcdínthcirownsociaIcontcnt. ItísthisaIonc
which gívcs thc works ot)oycc, Bcckctt and modcrn composcrs thcír
powcr. Jhc voicc otthc agc cchocs through thcir monoIogucs. thís ís
why thcy cxcítc us so much morc than works that símpIy dcpict thc
worId ín narratívc torm. Jhc tact that thcir transítion to objcctívity
rcmaíns contcmpIatívc and taíIs to bccomc praxis is groundcd in thc
saIIy, dcspitc aII assuranccs to thc contrary. Morcovcr, Lukacs's own
Adorno on Lukacs 167
thc pragmatíc approach whích cnabIcs him to summariIy dísmíss thc
rcsponsibIc and progrcssívc works ot modcrn artistswith thc rctraín
Lukacs quotcsapprovingIytrom my work on thcagcingotmodcrn
music, which, paradoxícaIIy, runs paraIIcI to thc work ot 5cdImayr,°
in ordcr to pIay oñmy rcñcctíonsagaínst modcrn art and agaínstmy
own intcntions. I do not bcgrudgc him this. 'OnIythosc thoughts arc
trucwhichtaiI to undcrstandthcmscIvcs',10 and no authorcanIaycIaim
to propríctory rights ovcr thcm. McvcrthcIcss, ít wiII nccd a bcttcr
argumcntthan Lukacs's to takc thcscrights away trom mc. Jhc bcIíct
that art cannot survívc whcn bascd on a notíon ot purc cxprcssíon
idcnticaI wíth Angst was onc I committcd myscItto ín The Philosophy
ofModer Music, and cvcn though I do not sharc Lukacs's omcíaI
optímism, I think that historícaIIy thcrc míght bc Icss justihcatíon tor
thatAngst nowadaysandthatthc'dccadcntíntcIIigcntsia'shouIdpcrhaps
havc Icss nccd to tccI atraíd. But thc ostcnsivc gcsturc ot cxprcssíon,
thc 'Jhís' ín its puríty; cannot bc transccndcd cithcr by adoptíng an
undynamic, rcíhcd styIc, which was thc chargc I IcvcIIcd at thc agcíng
or authcntíc in a HcgcIian scnsc, and which taiIs to constitutc íts own
tormpríortoaIIrcñcction. LogícaIIy,thcagcíngotmodcrnmusicshouId
notdrívc composcrsback to obsoIctc torms but shouId Icad thcm to an
ínsistcntscIt-crítícísm. lromthcoutsct,howcvcr,thcunrcIicvcdrcprc-
scntationotAngst hadaturthcrdímcnsion.itwasawayotusíngspccch,
thcpowcrimpIicitíncaIIíng thingsbythcírtrucnamc,ínordcrtostand
onc's ground. It was thcrctorcthc vcry opposítc otaII thc assocíations
cvokcd by thc dcrogatory word 'dccadcnt'. Lukcs docs indccd gívc
portrays distortíon wíthout crítícaI dctachmcnt, and sincc ít dcviscs
styIistic tcchníqucs whích cmphasízc thc ncccssíty otdistortíon in any
distortion to rcaIity itscIt, ít dísmísscs as immatcríaI, as ontoIogicaIIy
irrcIcvant,aIIcountcr-torccsandtrcndsactuaIIyatworkínrcaIity.'(p.7 5t.)
´Hans Sedlmayr: Ver/ust der Mitte, (trans. as Art in Crisis) a polemical tract U modem
art which enjoyed a great vogue in the 19S0s in Germany because ofit despairing view of
modern culture. Written froma right-wing, crypto-Fascist point of view, and positing the
recovery of religious faith as a way out of the crisis, it was a signifcant document of the
Cold War years.
See Theoor Adoro, Minima Moralia, NLB, London 1974.
Jhc omcíaI optìmìsm ímpIícd ín thc notíon ot countcr-torccs and
trcnds compcIs Lukacs to do away wíth thc HcgcIían proposítíon that
thc ncgatíon ot thc ncgatíon - thc 'dístortíon otthc dístortíon' is thc
posítívc. Jhís proposítíon aIonc ís capabIc ot Iayíng barc thc truth
contaíncd ín thc othcrwísc dcspcratcIy írratíonaIíst notíon otthc 'com-
pIcxand ambíguous' naturcotart, thc truth namcIythatthccxprcssíon
otsuñcríngand thc pIcasurc takcníndíssonancc, scorncd byLukacsas
'scnsatíonaIísm, a dcIíght ín novcIty tor novcIty's sakc' (p. !0"), arc
íncxtrícabIy íntcrwovcn ín authcntíc works ot art m thc modcm agc.
Jhís phcnomcnon shouId bc Iínkcd to thc probIcm ot thc díaIcctícaI
tcnsíonbctwccnrcaIítyandthcrcaImotart,whíchLukacscvadcs. 5íncc
thc workotartncvcrtocuscs dírcctIyon rcaIíty, ítncvcrmakcs thcsort
ot statcmcnt tound cIscwhcrc ín thc rcaIm otknowIcdgc to thc cñcct
that thís or that ís thccasc. Instcadítasscrts:Ycs,that ísthcwaythíngs
arc. Its Iogíc, thcn, ís notthat otsubjcctand prcdícatc, butotíntcrnaI
harmony. OnIy by mcans otthc Iattcr, by mcans o!thc rcIatíonshíp ít
crcatcs bctwccn íts componcnt parts, docs ít adopt a stancc. It ís antí-
thctícaIIy opposcd tothccmpírícaI rcaIíty whíchítcncapsuIatcs, as wcII
asbcíngcncapsuIatcd byít, bccausc, unIíkcmcntaIproccdurcsdírcctIy
conccrncd wíth rcaIíty, ít docs not dcñnc any portíon otthat rcaIíty
unambíguousIy. It uttcrs no proposítíons [Urteil); ít onIy bccomcs a
proposítíon whcntakcnas awhoIc. JhccIcmcntotuntruth ínhcrcnt,
ín HcgcI's vícw, ín cvcry partícuIar proposítíon bccausc nothíng ís
ís cIímínatcd by art ín that thc work ot art synthcsízcs thc cIcmcnts
ídca, so tashíonabIc nowadays, ot 'statíng somcthíng' ís írrcIcvant to
art. Asasynthcsís whích uttcrs no proposítíons, art may torgothcríght
to makc dcñnítc pronounccmcnts on poínts otdctaíI¡ but ítmorc than
compcnsatcs torthís by íts grcatcrjustícc towards cvcrythíng normaIIy
cxcíscd trom thc proposítíon. A work ot art onIy bccomcs knowIcdgc
whcn takcn a a totaIíty, í.c. throughaIIíts mcdíatíons, not throughíts
índívíduaI íntcntíons. Jhc Iattcr shouId not bc cxtractcd trom ít, nor
shouId ítbcjudgcd ínthcIíghtotthcm. McvcrthcIcss,LukacsrcguIarIy
novcIísu who appIythcsamc mcthod ín practícc. Lvcnthoughhcvcry
wcII pcrccívcs thc dctccts ot thcír standardízcd products, hís own
phíIosophy otart cannot protcct hím trom short-círcuítíng thc crcatívc
proccss, tromthc cñccts otwhích, thc cñccts otan ímbccíIíty ímposcd
trom abovc, hc thcnrccoíIs.
Adorno on Lukacs 169
as a uníquc casc otno ímportancc, Lukacs convuIsívcIy shuts hís cycs
to ít. OnthcoccasíonswhcnhcdocsIookatspccíhcworks,hcmarksín
ro thc ímmcdíatc dctaíI and ovcrIooks thc ovcraII mcaníng. Hc com-
pIaíns, tor cxampIc, about an admíttcdIy sIíght pocm otBcnn's, whích
L, daßwírunscrcLrurahncnwarcn.
LínKIi:mpchcn 5chIcímíncíncmwarmcnMoor.
vomWíndgctormtcsund nachuntcnschwcr.
5choncínLíbcIIcnkopt, cínMöwcnñ¡IgcI
WhatLukacshndsín thís pocm ís 'thcopposítíonotman a anímaI,
tíonotHcídcggcr, KIagcs and Roscnbcrg. Hcsumsítupa 'agIoríhca-
tíon otthc abnormaI, an undísguíscd antí-humaníst statcmcnt' (p. 32),
aIthough, cvcn ítthc pocm wcrc to bc ídcntíhcd símpIy wíth íts ovcrt
contcnt, ítíscIcar that íts ñnaIIínc toIIows 5chopcnhaucrín íts Iamcnt
thatthchíghcrstagcotíndívíduatíonbríngsnothíngbutsuñcríng, and
Bcnn's nostaIgía tor prímordíaI tímcs mcrcIy rchccts thc íntoIcrabIc
burdcnotthcprcscnt. JhcmoraIísmthatcoIoursaIIotLukacs'scrítícaI
conccpu ís typícaI othís wccpíngs and waíIíngsabout subjcctívíst 'Iack
otrcaIíty' [Weltlosigkeit), justas ítthcmodcrnístshadIítcraIIyput ínto
a thcmcthodoIogícaIanníhíIatíonotthc worId. Itís ín suchtcrms that
hcpíIIorícMusíI . 'LIrích, thchcroothísgrcatnovcI, whcnaskcdwhat
hc wouId do ítunívcrsaI powcr wcrc conñdcd ínto hís hands, rcpIícs.
"I wouId bc compcIIcd to aboIísh rcaIíty.' Mo proIongcd anaIysís ís
nccdcd to cstabIísh thc tact that thc aboIítíon otoutward rcaIíty ís thc
countcrpart ota subjcctívc cxístcncc "wíthout quaIítícs'' (p. 25). Yct
thc scntcncc Lukacs objccts to obvíousIy poínts ín íts ncgatívíty to
dcspaír, to an uncontroIIabIc Weltschmerz and to Iovc. Lukac sup-
prcsscs thís and opcratcs ínstcad wíth a truIy 'ímmcdíatc', whoIIy un-
[Oh, that we were our primordial ancestors. Small lump of plasm i a sultry swamp.
Life and death, conception and parturition - all emerging from tho juice soundlessly.
A piece of seawee or a dune of sand, forme by the wind and bound to the earth.
Eve a dragon-fy's head or the wing of a gull would b too remote and mean to much
suff ering.]
First published in Die Aktion in 1913.
crítícaIconccptotnormaIíty, compIcmcntíngítwíththcídcaotpatho-
IogícaI dísturbancc that naturaIIy accompanícs ít. OnIy a statc otmínd
that has bccn compIctcIy purgcd otcvcry vcstígc otpsychoanaIysíscan
taíIto scc thc conncctíon bctwccn thís vícw otnormaIíty and atormol
socíaI rcprcssíon whích has outIawcd onc-sídcd ímpuIscs. Any tormot
socíaI crítícísm whích docs not bIush to goon taIkíngabout thcnormaI
and thcpcrvcrtcd, ís ítscItstíII undcrthcspcIIotthcvcryídcasítcIaíms
to havc supcrscdcd. Jhc stcntorían voícc ot manIy convíctíon whích
Lukacs cmpIoys to asscrt ín good HcgcIían tashíon thc prímacy otthc
substantíaI unívcrsaI ovcr thc spccíous, untcnabIc 'bad cxístcncc' ot
mcrc índívíduaIs,rccaIIs that otthc pubIícprosccutors who caII torthc
cxtcrmínatíon otthosc unht to Iívc or who dcvíatctromthc norm.
Hís abíIíty to apprccíatcIyríc poctry mayaIso bc doubtcd. Jhc Iínc
'L daß wírunscrclrurahncnwarcn' ['OhthatwcwcrcourprímordíaI
anccstors'| has a mcaníng compIctcIy at varíancc wíth that ota IítcraI
dcsírc. Jhcvcryword 'Lrurahncn'canonIybcuttcrcdwíthagrín.Jhc
styIc - whích íncídcntaIIy ís tradítíonaI rathcr than modcrn - convcys
thc scnsc ota poctíc persona whích ís comícaIIy ínauthcntíc, Bcnn ís
pIayíng a sort otmcIanchoIygamc. Jhc rcpuIsívc naturc otthc statcto
whích thc poct prctcnds hc wíshcs to rcturn, but to whích no rcturn ís
possíbIc, rcíntorccs hís protcst agaínst a suñcríng whích has hístorícaI
causcs.AII thís, as wcII as thc montagc-Iíkc 'aIícnatíon cñcct' arísíng
trom Bcnn's usc ot scícntíhc words and motíts, has to bc tcIt and cx-
pcrícnccd. Hís cxaggcratíon undcrmíncs thc vcry rcgrcssíon whích
Lukacs unrcscrvcdIy ímputcs to hím. Any rcadcr who mísscs aII thcsc
connotatíons rcscmbIcs that sccond-ratc wrítcr who díIígcntIy and
astutcIy sct about ímítatíngJhomas Mann's styIc, and otwhom Mann
not Iackíng ín nuanccs, but thcy míssthc corc otthc work otart ítscIt,
whích onIy bccomcs a work ot art by vírtuc ot thosc nuanccs. 5uch
anaIyscs arc symptomatíc ot thc proccss ot stuItíhcatíon whích ovcr-
whcIms cvcn thc most íntcIIígcnt as soon as thcy submítto rcguIatíons
Iíkcthosc govcrníng socíaIístrcaIísm.
LarIícr, ín an attcmpttoconvíctmodcrn poctryotlascísm, ]ukacs
tríumphantIy uncarths a bad pocm by KíIkc ín whích hc rampagcd
around turíousIy Iíkc an cIcphant ín thc Vícnncsc workshops.'² It ísan
The Viennese workshops wer etablished in 1903 as an offshoot of Ar Nouveu.
Under the infuence of Gustav Klimt they attempted to reform the style of domestic life by
applying the decorative techniques of the movement to ordinary objects. From 1908 they
organized public exhibitions of their work and it was at one of thes that Osa Kokoschka
frst attracted public attention.
Adorno on Lukacs 171
opcn qucstíon whcthcrthc rctrogradcmovcmcntdísccrníbIcínLukacs,
otthc rcgrcssíon whích thrcatcns to ovcrshadow thcLuropcan míndas
oncs whích arc aIrcady startíng to toIIow thc cxampIc otthc tormcr.
tíons, í.c.otthcm�ntaIcapacítícsotthcorctícaIman, butwhíchhasaIso
causcd híssubstantívcbcíngto shrívcIíntoastatcotcxístcnccínwhích
thcoryísatprcscntdccmcd Icss vítaIthan apractíccwhosc soIctask ís
to wardoñthcímpcndíngcatastrophc.
whom hc pIays oñagaínst)oycc wíth a tuIsomc ñattcry whích wouId
havc nauscatcd thc grcat chronícIcr ot dccay. Jhc controvcrsy about
tímctríggcrcd oñ by Bcrgson ís trcatcd Iíkc thc Gordían Knot. 5íncc
Lukacs ís agood objcctívíst ín aII thíngs, objcctívc tímc aIways has to
wín out, whíIc subjcctívc tímc ís mcrcIy adístortíon ínspírcd bydcca-
tímc was not thc subjcctívíst spírít otsubvcrsívcncss, as thc stuItíhcd
but thc shccr ínabíIíty to cndurc thc mcaníngIcss passagc otaIícnatcd,
rcíhcd tímc- somcthíng whíchthccarIyLukacs had oncc dcscríbcd so
stríkíngIy ín hís account ot lIaubcrt's Education Sentimentale. But ín
The Magic Mountain Jhomas Mann too paíd hís tríbutc to Bcrgson's
conccptottemps duree. Jorcscuchímtor Lukacs'sownthcoryotcrítícaI
rcaIísm, a numbcr otthc charactcrs ín thc book arc gívcn good marks
bccausc 'cvcn subjcctívcIy, thcír cxpcrícncc ot tímc ís normaI and
ob|cctívc'. Hc thcn wrítcs, and ! quotc vcrbatím. 'Indccd, Zícmsscn ís
dímIy awarc that thc modcrn cxpcrícncc ot tímc ís símpIy a rcsuIt ot
thcabnormaIIítc otthcsanatoríum,hcrmctícaIIyscaIcdoñtrom cvcry-
day Iítc' (p. SI). Jhc írony whích surrounds thc whoIc charactcr ot
Zícmsscn hascIudcdouracsthctícísm,socíaIístrcIísm has bIuntcd hís
míndcd omccr, a sort otsucccssor to Gocthc's VaIcntín,'' a man who
spokcsman otanauthcntícIítc, much as JoIstoy had trícd and taíIcd to
achícvc wíth Lcvín. In truth, Jhomas Mann has dcpíctcd thc rcIatíon-
`¯ Valentin was Gretchen's brothe i Faust I; it is he who die 'als Soldat und brav',
words echoed later in Th Magic Mountain.
shíp bctwccn thctwoconccpts ottímcwíthout rcIIcctíon butwíth thc
kccncst scnsíbíIíty; hc has rcprcscntcd that rcIatíonshíp as bcíng as
tortuous and ambívaIcntasís nccdcd to rcßccthís own posítíon and hís
díaIcctícaI attítudc towards cvcrythíng bourgcoís: ríght and wrong arc
cquaIIy dívídcd bctwccn thc rcíhcd conscíousncss ottímccharactcrístíc
ot thc PhíIístínc who vaínIy trícs to hcc trom thc sanatoríum ínto hís
protcssíon, and thc phantasmagorícaI tímc otthosc who rcmaín ín thc
sanatoríum, that aIIcgory ot Bohcmíanísm and sub|cctívísm. Jhomas
Mann wíscIy rctraíncd tromrcconcíIíngthctwo conccpts ottímcaswcII
as trom dccIaríng hís prctcrcncctorcíthcr.
hís tavourítc tcxt ís cxpIaíncd by hís parti pris tor contcnt and tor thc
mcssagc otaworkotIítcraturc, whích hccontuscs wíth íts naturc asan
artístíc objcct. Lvcn though hc rctuscs to conccrn hímscItwíth styIístíc
tactors, Iíkcthctar tromsubtIy dísguíscd uscotírony, to saynothíngot
morc obvíous rhctorícaI dcvíccs, hc taíIs to dcrívc any rcward tor thís
rcnuncíatíon ín thc shapc ot a truth contcnt purgcd ot aII subjcctívc
appcaranccs. !nstcadhc satíshcshímscItwíththcdrcgs,namcIywíththc
subjcct-mattcr, whích otcoursc ís an csscntíaI prcIímínary to thc dís-
any rcgrcssíon ín thc novcI, hc stíII goc on rccítíngthc varíous artícIcs
otthc catcchísm, such as socíaIíst rcaIísm, thc ídcoIogícaIIy sanctíoncd
rcñcctíon thcory [Abbildtheorie] ot knowIcdgc, and thc dogma ot thc
automatíc progrcss ot mankínd, í.c. a progrcss índcpcndcnt ot that
spontancíty whích has ín thc mcantímc bccn stíñcd - cvcn though, ín
vícw otthc naturc otthc írrcvocabIcpast, such a'bcIíctín thc uItímatc
ratíonaIíty,mcaníngtuIncssotthc worIdand man's abíIítyto pcnctratc
ítssccrcts' (p. 13) ísaskíng rathcraIot. Jhís bcIícttorccs hím to adopt
somcthíng vcry ncar to thosc pucríIc ídcas about art whích rcpcI hím
whcn hc cncountcrs thcm ín Iítcrary burcaucrats Icss wcII-vcrscd than
hc. Hís cñorts to brcak out arc ín vaín. Jhc cxtcnt to whích hís own
acsthctíc pcrccptíons havc bccn damagcd may bc sccn, tor cxampIc,
art otthís quaIíty canonIy occurín 'cxccptíonaI' cascs (p. 10). Hc taIks
asítthcdístínctíonbctwccnthc cxccptíon andthcruIchad anyvaIídíty
ín art, outsídcacadcmícs andconscrvatorícs,a íthc had torgottcnthat
cvcryacsthctícworkísaníndívíduaIproductandsoaIwaysan cxccptíon
anythíng whích ñtsínwíth gcncraI rcguIatíons dísquaIíhcs ítscIttrom a
Adoro on Lukacs 173
vocabuIaryas 'top-gradcpcrtormanccs'.
Jhc Iatc lranz Borkcnau oncc saíd, attcr hc had brokcn wíth thc
Communíst Party, thathc couId no Iongcrput up wíththcpractíccot
HcgcIían Iogíc ín thc spírít ot mcctíngs ot thc town councíI. 5uch
contamínatíons,whíchdatcback to HcgcIhímscIt, bínd Lukacstothat
cuIturaI IcvcI whích hc wouId Iíkc to raísc to hís own. Jhc HcgcIían
crítíquc ot thc 'unhappy conscíousncss', thc ímpuIsc, so powcrtuI ín
spccuIatívc phíIosophy, to rísc abovc thc mcrcIy supcrhcíaI cthos ot
partyomcíaIs whohavcnotcvcnrcachcdthcIcvcIotsub|cctívíty.Jhcír
bourgcoísícínthc !ºthccntury,ísIcntaspuríousdígnítybythcattcmpt
toíntcrprctítas an adaptatíontorcaIítytrccd trom thcshackIcotmcrc
índívíduaIíty.ButatrucdíaIcctícaIIcapís notoncwhíchIcapsoutotthc
díaIcctíc ítscItandtranstormsthcunhappyconscíousncsssímpIybythc
socíaIandtcchnícaItactorsgovcrníngartístícproductíon.Bascd on such
toundatíons thc wouId-bc Iottícr standpoínt must ncccssaríIy rcmaín
wouIdhardIydísscnt. Jhcdcspcratcattcmptataprotundítyíntcndcdto
countcr thc ímbccíIíty ot thc boy-mccts-tractor Iítcraturc, docs not
chíIdísh. 'Jhc morc gcncraI thc sígníhcancc otthc thcmc ota workot
art, and thcdccpcr wrítcrs probc íntodíñcrcntaspccts otthcIaws and
tcndcncícs govcrníng rcaIíty, thc morc compIctcIy wíII thís rcaIíty bc
transtormcd ínto a purcIy or prcdomínantIy socíaIíst socícty, and thc
cIoscr wíII grow thc tícs bctwccn crítícaI rcaIísm and socíaIíst rcaIísm.
In thc proccss thc ncgatívc (but: non-rcjcctíng) pcrspcctívc otcrítícaI
rcaIísm w:II graduaIIy bc transtormcd ínto a posítívc (amrmatívc), a
socíaIíst pcrspcctívc' (p. ! !1). Jhc jcsuítícaI dístínctíon bctwccn thc
ncgatívc 'but non-rcjcctíng' and thc posítívc (amrmatívc) pcrspcctívc
shítts thc probIcms ot Iítcrary quaIíty ínto that samc sphcrc ot prc-
ordaíncdconvíctíonswhíchLukac wants mosttocscapctrom.
Jhat hcdocswíshto cscapc ísnot,otcoursc, ínanydoubt.Wc can
onIy do hís bookjustíccítwc bcar ín mínd that ín countrícs whcrc thc
dccísívc tacts cannot bc caIIcdby thcír propcr namcs, thc marks otthc
Jcrrorhavcbccnbrandcdoncvcrythíng whíchís uttcrcd ínthcírpIacc.
andíncompIctc thoughts acquírcatorccínapartícuIarcontcxt to whích
thcír IítcraI contcnt docs not cntítIc thcm. It ís wíth consídcratíons ol
thíssortínmínd thatwchavctorcadthcwhoIcotChaptcr3,dcspítcthc
otstatcmcnts whích wouId cnabIc us to cxtrícatc ourscIvcs trom thc
Líkc thís onc. 'Jhc mcrc appropríatíon otMarxísm (to say nothíngot
amcrcsympathytorthcsocíaIístmovcmcntor cvcnPartymcmbcrshíp)
ís nototítscItsumcícnt. A wrítcr may acquírcusctuIcxpcrícncc ínthís
way and bccomc awarc otccrtaín íntcIIcctuaI or moraI probIcms Jhís
mayprovcto bcotgrcatvaIuctorhíspcrsonaIíty and canhcIpto trans-
torm a possíbíIíty ínto a rcaIíty. But ít ís a gravc crror to supposc that
thc proccss ot transIatíng a truc conscíousncss ot rcaIíty ínto a vaIíd,
ataIscconscíousncss' (pp.º6-Jt.).Oragaín,hchasthísto sayaboutthc
nowadays. 'Jhccmcrgcncccvcnín crítícaI rcaIísm otan ídcaIotmon�
graphíc compIctíon,as ín ZoIa, tor cxampIc, ísstríkíngcvídcncc otan
íntcrnaI probIcm. I shaII show Iatcr that símíIar, and pcrhaps cvcn
grcatcr probIcms arc ínhcrcnt ín socíaIíst rcaIísm' (p. !00).
Whcn Lukacs gocs on, ín thctcrmínoIogy othís youth, toínsíst on
thcprímacyotíntcnsívcovcr cxtcnsívc totaIíty, hc wouId onIynccd to
toIIow hís own rccommcndatíon ínto thc rcaIm otthc crcatcd work to
ñnd hímscIttorccd toacccptthc vcry thíngshís cx-cathcdrapronouncc-
mcnts ñnd tauIt wíth ín thc modcrnísts. Itís grotcsquc that hc shouId
stíII pcrsíst ín wantíng to 'ovcrcomc' thc 'antí-rcaIísm otthc dccadcnt
movcmcnt'.HccvcncomcscIoscto pcrccívíngthatthcKussíanKcvoIu-
tíon has tar trom crcatcd a socícty whích rcquírcs and mn sustaín a
'posítívc' Iítcraturc .'AbovcaIIcIscwcmustnotIoscsíghtotthctrívíaI
tact that cvcn though thc scízurc ot powcr rcprcscnts a trcmcndous
Icap torward, thc majoríty ot pcopIc, artísts íncIudcd, wíII not bc
automatícaIIy transtormcd' (p. !01t.). Hc thcn procccds to Ict out thc
truth about so-caIIcd socíaIíst rcaIísm, aIbcít ín a somcwhat mutcd
tashíon,asíthcwcrconIydíscussíngancxtrcmctormotít. 'Jhcupshot

ís a unhcaIthy, díIutcd vcrsíon ot bourgcoís rcaIísm, or at Icast a
híghIy dubíous ímítatíon otít, whíchín thcnaturc otthccasc ís onIy
achícvcd at thccostotítsgrcatvírtucs' (p. !!6). In suchIítcraturcthc
'rcaI naturc otthc artíst's pcrspcctívc' ís ovcrIookcd. Jhís mcans that
'many wrítcrs hnd thcmscIvcs ín thc prcscncc ot rcaIIy progrcssívc
tcndcncícs, but oncs whích onIy provídc guídcIíncs to thc tuturc. It
Adoro on Lukacs 175
ríghtIy vícwcd, thcy couId act as thc Icvcr to bríng movcmcnt ínto thc
cxístíngsítuatíon. Instcad manywrítcrssímpIyídcntítythcsctcndcncícs
wíthrcaIítyítscIt; somcthíng whích onIycxísts ín cmbryoníctorm thcy
rcprcscnt as a tuIIy-ñcdgcd tact, ín short thcy mcchanícaIIy cquatc a
possíbIcpoíntotvícw,apcrspcctívc, wíth rcaIíty ítscIt'(p. ! !6-J).
Jo put ít ín a nutshcII, what thís mcans ís that thc proccdurcs ot
socíaIíst rcaIísm, and thc 5ocíaIíst Komantícísm whích Lukacs sccs as
typícaI ot thc totaIítarían approach to Iítcraturc cnds up as purc sub-
jcctívísm. Hc opposcs to ít an acsthctíc conccpt otobjcctívíty whích ís
aItogcthcr morc ín tunc wíth thc dígnítyotman. 'Art too ís govcrncd
practícaIconscqucnccs as dothc íntríngcmcnt otcconomícIaws, but ít
rcsuIts no Icss íncxorabIy ín ñawcd or íntcríor works otart' (p. ! !J).
Hcrc, whcrc hchasthccouragc othísownconvíctíons, hísjudgcmcnts
arc tar morc cogcnt than hís phíIístínc uttcranccs about modcrn art.
On thc onc hand, thcory, trombcínga guídc to practícc, hardcns ínto
dogma; on thc othcr, thc cIcmcnt otcontradíctíon (and cvcn chancc)
dísappcars trom thc índívíduaI tacts ot Iítc' (p. ! !8). Hc succínctIy
sums up thc ccntraI íssuc. 'In such works, Iítcraturc ccascs to rcñcct
thc dynamíc contradíctíons otsocíaI Iítc; ítbccomcs thc íIIustratíon ot
abstracttruth' (p. !º). JhcrcsponsíbíIítytor thís ís putsquarcIyatthc
doorot'agítatíon asthc poínt otdcparturc', asaparadígm tor both art
wíthanovcr-cmphasíson praxís. 'Instcadotancw díaIcctícaIstructurc,
wchnda statíc schcmatícísm' (p. !2!).Mo modcrnístcouId havcputít
lor aII thís, ít ísímpossíbIctoríd oncscItotthctccIíngthathcrc ísa
man who ís dcspcratcIy tuggíng at hís chaíns, ímagíníng aII thcwhíIc
that thcír cIankíng hcraIds thc onward march otthc worId-spírít. Hc
ídcas to hcart,cvcn ítíttoIcratcd thcm. Lvcnworsc,aIthoughcontcm-
porary Kussían socícty ís opprcsscd and cxpIoítcd, Lukacs ncvcr quítc
thcsís whích Lukacs ímpIícítIycndorscs byhís uscotthctcrm socíaIíst
rcaIísm,andtobanísh trom thcírmíndsanythíng that míghtIcadthcm
cannot bc brokcn mcrcIybydcmonstratíng íts taIsíty.Lukacsquotcs a
cynícaI scntcncc by HcgcI whích sums up thc socíaI mcaníng otthís
proccss as ít was sccn ín thc tradítíonaI bourgcoís novcI otcducatíon
[Bildungsromanl : 'For thc cnd otsuch apprcntíccshíp consísts ín thís.
thc subjcct sows hís wíId oats, cducatcs hímscItwíth hís wíshcs and
cntcrs thc concatcnatíon ot thc worId and works out tor hímscIt an
appropríatc attítudc to ít.'¹¹Lukacs adds thís commcnt: 'Inonc scnsc
manyotthcgrcatbourgcoísnovcIs contradíct HcgcI'sasscrtíon;butín
anothcrscnsc,cquaIIyspccíhc, thcyconhrmhíspoíntotvícw. Jhcyarc
ín conñíctwíth ítínsotarasthccducatíonthcyhavcdcpíctcd docs not
ncccssaríIycuImínatcín anysuchrccognítíonotbourgcoíssocícty.Jhc
struggIc to rcaIízc thcdrcams and convíctíons otyouth ís cndcd by thc
prcssurcs otsocícty, thc rcbcIs arc brokcn or drívcn ínto ísoIatíon, but
thc rcconcíIíatíon ot whích HcgcI spcaks ís not aIways cxactcd trom
socíaI rcaIíty docs tríumph ovcr thc purcIy subjcctívc strívíngs otthc
índívíduaI , and on thc othcr, thc rcconcíIíatíon HcgcI procIaíms ís by
nomcansuttcrIydíñcrcnttromatccIíngotrcsígnatíon'(op. cít. p. ! !2).
Jhc suprcmc crítcríon ot hís acsthctícs, thc postuIatc ot a rcaIíty
whíchmust bcdcpíctcdasanunbrokcn contínuumjoíníngsubjcct and
objcct, a rcaIíty whích, to cmpIoy thc tcrm Lukacs ºtubbornIy adhcrcs
to, mustbc 'rcIIcctcd' - aIIthís rcsts onthc assumptíon that thcrccon-
cíIíatíon has b«cn accompIíshcd, that aII ís wcII wíth socícty, that thc
conccdcs thc nccd tor aII thís ín an antí-ascctíc dígrcssíon. But thís
prcscncc hc wouId ccrtaínIy havc to acknowIcdgc ín hís prototypícaI
rcaIíst, Gocthc, who actuaIIy advocatcd ít. But thc cIcavagc, thc anta-
as thcycaII ít, ín thcstatcsotthc Lastcm bIoc. Jhc magícspcII whích
hoIds Lukacs ín thraII and whíchprcvcntshís rcturn to thc utopía ot
durcsshchad hímscItdísccrncdatthchcartotabsoIutcídcaIísm.
Translated by Rodney Livingstone
"¯ From Hegel's Aesthetics, vol. I, p. 593, Oxford 1975, slightly adapted from the trans­
lation by T. M. Knox.
Theodor Adorno
5íncc 5artrc's cssay What is Literature / thcrc has bccn Icss thcorctícaI
dcbatc about commíttcd and autonomous Iítcraturc. McvcrthcIcss, thc
controvcrsy ovcr commítmcnt rcmaíns urgcnt, so tar as anythíng that
mcrcIy conccrns thcIítcotthc mínd can bc today, as opposcd to shccr
human survívaI. 5artrc was movcd to íssuc hís manítcsto bccausc hc
saw- and hcw�sccrtaínIynotthc hrsttodoso- worksotartdíspIayo
commodítícs. In suchcocxístcncc, thcydcsccratccachothcr. !tawork,
wíthout íts authorncccssaríIy íntcndíng ít, aíms at a suprcmc cñ`cct, ít
cannot rcaIIy toIcratc a ncíghbour bcsídc ít. Jhís saIutary íntoIcrancc
hoIds not onIy tor índívíduaI works, but aIso tor acsthctíc gcnrcs or
attítudcs such as thosc oncc symboIízcd ín thc now haIt-torgottcn
controvcrsyovcr commítmcnt.
Jhcrc arc two 'posítíons on objcctívíty' whícharc constantIy at war
wíth onc anothcr, cvcnwhcn íntcIIcctuaI IítctaIscIyprcscnts thcmasat
pcacc.´¹ work otart that ís commíttcd stríps thc magíc trom awork ot
art that ís contcnt to bc a tctísh, an ídIc pastímc tor thoscwhowouId
Iíkc to sIccp through thc dcIugc that thrcatcns thcm, ín an apoIítícísm
that ís ín tact dccpIy poIítícaI. For thc commíttcd, such works arc a
cxcmpt tromthc conñíct bctwccn thc two grcat bIocs. Jhc possíbíIíty
otíntcIIcctuaI IítcítscItdcpcnds on thís conñíct to suchan cxtcntthat
onIybIínd íIIusíon canínsíst on ríghtsthat maybcshattcrcdtomorrow.
lor autonomous works ot art, howcvcr, such consídcratíons, and thc
conccptíon ot art whích undcrIícs thcm, arc thcmscIvcs thc spírítuaI
catastrophc otwhích thccommíttcd kccpwarníng. Oncc thcIítcotthc
mínd rcnounccsthcdutyandIíbcrtyotítsownpurcobjcctíñcatíon,íthas
abdícatcd. Jhcrcattcr, works otart mcrcIy assímíIatc thcmscIvcs to thc
brutc cxístcncc agaínst whích thcy protcst, ín torms so cphcmcraI (thc
tromthcírhrstdaythcybcIong tothc scmínars ín whíchthcyíncvítabIy
cnd. Jhc mcnacíng thrust otthc antíthcsís ís a rcmíndcr othow prc-
caríous thc posítíon otart ístoday. Lachotthc twoaItcrnatívcs ncgatcs
ítscIt wíth thc othcr. Commíttcd art, ncccssaríIy dctachcd as art trom
rcaIíty, canccIs thc dístanccbctwccn thctwo. 'Arttor art's sakc' dcnícs
byítsabsoIutccIaímsthatíncradícabIc conncctíon wíth rcaIíty whíchís
thc poIcmícaI a priori otthc attcmpt to makc art autonomous trom thc
rcaI.BctwccnthcsctwopoIcsthctcnsíonínwhích arthasIívcd íncvcry
agc tíII now ísdíssoIvcd.
ContcmporaryIítcraturcítscItsuggcstsdoubtsas to thcomnípotcncc
otthcsc aItcrnatívcs. lor ít ís not yct so compIctcIy subjugatcd to thc
courscotthcworId as to constítutcrívaI tronts. Jhc 5artrcangoatsand
thcVaIcryanshccp wíII not bc scparatcd. Lvcn ítpoIítícaIIy motívatcd,
commítmcnt ín ítscItrcmaíns poIítícaIIy poIyvaIcnt so Iong as ít ís not
rcduccd to propaganda, whosc pIíancy mocks any commítmcnt by thc
subjcct. On thc othcr hand, íts opposítc, known ín Kussían catcchísms
as tormaIísm,ísnotdccrícd onIy by 5ovíct omcíaIs orIíbcrtarían cxís-
tcntíaIísts, cvcn 'vanguard' crítícs thcmscIvcs trcqucntIy accusc so-
caIIcd abstract tcxts ot a Iack ot provocatíon and socíaI aggrcssívíty.
ConvcrscIy, 5artrc cannot praísc Pícasso's Guernica too híghIy, yct hc
couId hardIybcconvíctcd ottormaIístsympathícsín musícor paíntíng.
Hc rcstrícts hís notíon otcommítmcnt to Iítcraturc bccausc otíts con-
ccptuaIcharactcr:'JhcwrítcrdcaIswíthmcaníngs'. ¹Otcoursc,butnot
onIy wíth thcm. Itno word whích cntcrs a Iítcrary work cvcr whoIIy
trccs ítscIt trom íts mcaníng ín ordínary spccch, so no Iítcrary work,
not cvcn thc tradítíonaI novcI, Icavcs thcsc mcaníngs unaItcrcd, as thcy
wcrc outsídc ít. Lvcn an ordínary 'was', ín a rcport otsomcthíng that
wasnot, acquírcsancw tormaI quaIíty trom thc tact thatítwas notso.
Jhc samcproccssoccursínthchíghcrIcvcIs otmcaníngotawork, aII
thcwayupto whatonccuscdtobccaIIcdíts 'Idca'.JhcspccíaIposítíon
that5artrcaccordsto IítcraturcmustaIsobcsuspccttoanyoncwhodocs
not uncondítíonaIIy subsumc dívcrsc acsthctíc gcnrcs undcr a supcríor
unívcrsaI conccpt. Jhc rudímcnts ot cxtcrnaI mcaníngs arc thc írrc-
ducíbIynon-artístíc cIcmcntsínart. ItstormaIpríncípIcIícsnotínthcm,
but ín thc díaIcctíc otboth momcnts - whích accompIíshcs thc trans-
tormatíon ot mcaníngs wíthín ít. Jhc dístínctíon bctwccn artíst and
' Jean-Paul Sartre, What is Literature?, London 1967, p. 4.
Adorno on Brecht 179
litterateur ísshaIIow. butítístructhatthcobjcctotanyacsthctícphíIo-
sophy,cvcnas undcrstood by 5artrc, ísnotthcpubIícístícaspcctotart.
5tíII Icss ís ít thc 'mcssagc' ot a work. Jhc Iattcr oscíIIatcs unhappíIy
bctwccn thc subjcctívc íntcntíons otthc artíst and thc dcmands otan
objcctívcIycxpIícítmctaphysícaImcaníng. Inourcontcxt, thísmcaníng
somcwhatcontuscd. CuIturaIconscrvatívcswhodcmandthataworkot
atcIíc, hcrmctícworksotart. LuIogísts ot'rcIcvancc'arcmorc IíkcIyto
hnd 5artrc'sHuis etos protound,thanto IístcnpatícntIytoatcxtwhosc
IanguagcchaIIcngcssígníhcatíonand byítsvcrydístancctrom mcaníng
rcvoIts ín advanccagaínst posítívíst subordínatíon otmcaníng. lorthc
athcíst 5artrc, on thc othcr hand, thc conccptuaI ímport otart ís thc
prcmíss otcommítmcnt. Yct works banncd ín thc Last arc somctímcs
dcmagogícaIIy dcnounccd by IocaI guardíans otthc authcntíc mcssagc
bccausc thcy apparcntIy say what thcy ín tact do not say. Jhc Mazís
wcrc aIrcady usíng thc tcrm 'cuIturaI boIshcvísm' undcr thc Wcímar
whcn ít was ínstítutíonaIízcd. Joday ít has ñarcd up agaín, just as ít
díd torty ycars ago at works ot thc samc kínd, íncIudíng somc whosc
orígíns go aIongwayback andarcunmístakcabIypartotancstabIíshcd
Mcwspapcrs and magazíncs ot thc radícaI Kíght constan1Iy stír up
índígnatíon agaínst what ís unnaturaI, ovcr-íntcIIcctuaI, morbíd and
dccadcnt . thcy know thcír rcadcrs. Jhc ínsíghts ot socíaI psychoIogy
ínto thc authorítarían pcrsonaIíty conhrm thcm. Jhc basíc tcaturcs ot
thís typc íncIudc contormísm, rcspcct tor a pctríhcd &çadcotopíníon
and socícty, and rcsístancc to ímpuIscs that dísturb íts ordcr or cvokc
to anythíngaIícnoraIícnatíngcanaccommodatcítscItmuchmorccasíIy
to Iítcrary rcaIísm otany provcnancc, cvcn ítít procIaíms ítscItcrítícaI
orsocíaIíst,thanto workswhíchswcaraIIcgíancctonopoIítícaIsIogans,
but whosc mcrc guísc ís cnough to dísrupt thc whoIc systcm otrígíd
cIíng aII thc morc hcrccIy, thc Icss capabIc thcy arc ot spontancous
apprccíatíon otanythíng notomcíaIIy approvcd. Campaígns to prcvcnt
thcstagíngotBrccht'spIays ínWcstcrnGcrmanybcIongto arcIatívcIy
supcrhcíaI Iaycr otpoIítícaI conscíousncss. Jhcy wcrc not cvcn partí-
cuIarIy vígorous, or thcy wouId havc takcn much crasscr torms attcr
!3 August.²By contrast, whcn thc socíaI contract wíth rcaIíty ís aban-
� doncd,and Iítcrary worksnoIongcrspcakasthoughthcywcrcrcportíng
¿ tact, haírsstart to brístIc. Mot thc Icast otthcwcakncsscs otthc dcbatc
on commítmcnt ís that ít ígnorcs thc cñcct produccd by works whosc
^ own tormaI Iaws pay no hccd to cohcrcnt cñ`ccts. 5o Iong as ít taíIs to
undcrstand what thc shock otthc uníntcIIígíbIc can communícatc, thc
whoIc dísputc rcscmbIcs shadow-boxíng. Contusíons ín díscussíon ot
thc probIcm do not índccd aItcr ít, but thcy do makc ít ncccssary to
rcthínkthc aItcrnatívcsoIutíonsproposcd torít.
Inacsthctícthcory,'commítmcnt'shouId bcdístínguíshcd trom 'tcn-
dcncy'. Commíttcd art ínthc propcr scnsc ís notíntcndcd to gcncratc
amcIíoratívc mcasurcs, IcgísIatívc acts or practícaI ínstítutíons - Iíkc
carIícr propagandíst pIays agaínst syphíIís, ducIs, abortíon Iaws or
borstaIs- buttowork at thcIcvcIottundamcntaI attítudcs. lor 5artrc
ítstask ís to awakcnthc trccchoíccotthcagcnt whíchmakcsauthcntíc
cxístcncc possíbIc at aII, as opposcd tothcncutraIíty otthcspcctator.
But what gívcs commítmcnt íts acsthctíc advantagc ovcr tcndcntíous-
ncss aIso rcndcrs thc contcnt to whích thc artíst commíts hímscItín-
hcrcntIyambíguous. In5artrcthcnotíonotchoícc-orígínaIIyaKícrkc-
gaardíancatcgory- ís hcírto thc Chrístíandoctrínc 'Hcwhoís notwíth
mc ís agaínst mc', butnow voídcd otany concrctc thcoIogícaI contcnt.
no rcgard tor thc tact that thc vcry possíbíIíty otchoosíng dcpcnds on
whatcan bc choscn. Jhc archctypaI sítuatíon aIways cítcd by 5artrc to
a prcdctcrmíncd rcaIíty, trccdom bccomcs an cmpty cIaím: Hcrbcrt
Marcusc has cxposcd thc absurdíty ot thc phíIosophícaI thcorcm that
ít ís aIways possíbIc ínwardIy cíthcr to acccpt or to rcjcct martyrdom.³
Yctthís ís prccíscIy what 5artrc's dramatíc sítuatíons arc dcsígncd to
dcmonstratc. But hís pIays arc ncvcrthcIcss bad modcIs ot hís own
cxístcntíaIísm,bccausc thcydíspIay ínthcírrcspcct tor truth thc whoIc
admínístcrcd unívcrscwhíchhísphíIosophyígnorcs.thcIcssonwcIcarn
trom thcm ís onc otuntrccdom. 5artrc'sthcatrc otídcas sabotagcs thc
aíms othís catcgorícs. Jhís ís nota spccíñc shortcomíng othís pIays.
aIonc thc coursc otthcworId,whích pcrmancntIyputsapístoI to mcn's
hcads. Intact,assoonascommíttcdworksotartdoínstígatcdccísíonsat
ª Reference to the establishment ofthe Berlin Wall in 1961.
´ Reference to Marcuse's essay 'Sartre's Existentialism', include in Studies in Critical
Philosophy, NLB, London 1972, pp. 157-90.
Adorno on Brecht 181
thcír own IcvcI, thc dccísíons thcmscIvcs bccomc íntcrchangcabIc.
Bccauscotthís ambíguíty, 5artrchas wíthgrcatcandourcontcsscd that
hc cxpccts no rcaI changcs ín thc worId trom Iítcraturc- a sccptícísm
whích rchccts thc hístorícaI mutatíons both otsocícty and otthc prac-
tícaI tunctíon otIítcraturc síncc thc days otVoItaírc. Jhc príncípIc ot
wíth thc cxtrcmc subjcctívísm ot5artrc's phíIosophy, whích tor aII íts
matcríaIíst undcrtoncs, stíII cchocs Gcrman spccuIatívc ídcaIísm. In
5artrcwíIInotaIIowthatcvcryworkotart, at ítsvcryínccptíon,con-
tronts thc wrítcr, howcvcr trcc hc may bc, wíth objcctívc dcmands ot
composítíon. Hís íntcntíon bccomcs símpIy onc cIcmcnt among thcm.
5artrc's qucstíon, 'Why wrítc³', and hís soIutíon ot ít ín a 'dccpcr
choícc', arc ínvaIíd bccausc thc author's motívatíons arc írrcIcvant to
thcñníshcdwork,thcIítcraryproduct. 5artrchímscItísnots tar trom
thís vícw whcn hc notcs that thc staturc otworks íncrcascs, thc Icss
sawIongago. WhcnhccaIIsthcIítcrarywork, ín Ourkhcím'sIanguagc,
a socíaI tact, hc agaín ínvoIuntaríIy rccaIIs íts ínhcrcntIy coIIcctívc
5artrcthcrctorcdocsnotwanttosítuatccommítmcntatthc IcvcIotthc
íntcntíon otthc wrítcr, but at that othís humaníty ítscIt¹ Jhís dctcr-
mínatíon, howcvcr, ís so gcncríc that commítmcntccascsto bc dístínct
ís thatthc wrítcr commítshímscItínthcprcscnt, 'dans Ie present'; but
a programmc. Jhc actuaI obIígatíon a wrítcrundcrtakcsís much morc
prccísc: ítís not onc otchoícc, but otsubstancc. AIthough 5artrctaIks
ot thc díaIcctíc, hís subjcctívísm so IíttIc rcgístcrs thc partícuIar othcr
tor whích thc subjcct must ñrst dívcst ítscItto bccomc a subjcct, that
hcsuspcctscvcryIítcrary objcctíñcatíonotpctrítactíon.Howcvcr, síncc
thcpurc ímmcdíacy and spontancíty whích hchopcsto savc cncountcr
no rcsístancc ín hís work bywhích thcy couId dchnc thcmscIvcs, thcy
undcrgo a sccond rcíhcatíon. In ordcr to dcvcIop hís drama and novcI
bcyond shccr dccIaratíon - whosc rccurrcnt modcI ís thc scrcam otthc
torturcd - 5artrc has to scck rccoursc ín a ñat objcctívíty, subtractcd
¯ 'Becuse he is a man' ; Situations II, Paris 1948, p. 51.
trom any diaIcctíc ottorm and cxprcssíon, which ís simpIy a commu-
nícationot hísownphíIosophy.Jhccontcntot hísartbccomcsphiIosophy,
a wíth no othcr wrítcr cxccpt 5chiIIcr.
Buthowcvcr subIimc,thoughts canncvcrbc muchmorcthanoncot
thc matcríaIs tor art. 5artrc's pIaysarc vchícIcs tor thcauthor's ídcas,
whíchhavcbccnIcttbchíndínthcraccotacsthctíctorms. Jhcyopcratc
wíth tradítíonaI pIots, cxaItcd byan unshakcn taíth in mcanings which
can bc transtcrrcd trom art to rcaIity. But thc thcscs thcy iIIustratc, or
whcrc possíbIc statc, mísusc thc cmotíons whích 5artrc's own drama
scIvcs. Whcn onc othís most tamous pIays cnds wíth thc díctum 'HcII
isothcrpcopIc', it sounds Iíkca quotation tromBeing and Nothingness,
and ítmíght }ust aswcII havcbccn 'HcII is ourscIvcs'. Jhccombination
otsoIidpIot,and cquaIIy soIid, cxtractabIcidcawon5artrcgrcatsucccss
and madc hím, wíthout doubt agaínst hís honcst wíII, acccptabIc to
thc cuIturcíndustry.JhchíghIcvcI otabstraction otsuchthcsis-artIcd
hímintothcmístakcotIcttíngsomcothísbcstworks, thc hIm Les Jeux
sont Faits or thc pIay Les Mains Sales, bcpcrtormcd as poIítícaI cvcnts,
andnotjusttoanaudicnccotvíctímsínthcdark. Inmuchthcsamcway,
a currcnt ídcoIogy - which 5artrc dctcsts - contuscs thc actions and
suñcríngs ot papcr Icadcrs wíth thc objcctívc movcmcnt ot hístory.
!ntcrwovcn ín thc vcíI otpcrsonaIizatíon ís thc ídcathat human bcíngs
on thc commandínghcights otsocicty. Bcckctt's moribund grotcsqucs
suggcst thc truth about that. 5artrc's vísion prcvcnts him trom rccog-
nízíngthchcII hcrcvoIts against. Many othís phrascs couId bcparrotcd
by his mortaI cncmícs. Jhc ídca that dccisíon as such ís what counts
wouId cvcn covcr thc Mazí sIogan that 'onIy sacríhcc makcs us trcc'.
mcnts ín phíIosophy. Jhc haw in 5artrc's conccptíon ot commítmcnt
strikcsatthcvcrycauscto whíchhccommitshímscIt.
Brccht, in somc ot hís pIays, such as thc dramatízatíon ot Gorky's
The Mother or The Measures Taken, bIuntIy gIoríhcs thc Party. But at
timcs, at Icast accordíng to his thcorctícaI wrítíngs, hc too wantcd to
¯ cducatcspcctatorstoancwattítudcthatwouIdbcdístanccd,thoughttuI,
cxpcrímcntaI, thc rcvcrsc ot íIIusory cmpathy and idcntíbcatíon. In
tcndcncytoabstraction,híspIaysattcrSaint Joan trumpthoscot5artrc.
JhcdíñcrcnccisthatBrccht,morcconsistcntthan 5artrcand agrcatcr
artíst, madc thís abstraction into thc tormaI príncipIc ot his art, as a
didactic poctícs that cIímínatcs thc traditíonaI conccpt ot dramatíc
Adoro on Brecht 183
charactcraItogcthcr. HcrcaIízcdthatthcsurtaccotsociaI Iítc�thcsphcrc
ot consumption, which íncIudcs thc psychoIogicaIIy motívatcd actíons
ot índivíduaIs, conccaIs thc csscncc ot socícty - which, as thc Iaw ot
cxchangc, isítscItabstract.Brcchtrcjcctcdacsthcticíndivíduationasan
íntothcatricaIappcarancc, bydraggíngitstraíghtoutotitscamouhagc.
JhcpcopIcon hís stagc shrinkbctorcourcycsíntothcagcntsotsocíaI
proccsscsand tunctíons, whích índírcctIy and unknowíngIythcyarc in
cmpírícaI rcaIíty. Brccht no Iongcr postuIatcs, Iíkc 5artrc, an ídcntíty
bctwccn Iívíng índívíduaIs and thc csscncc otsocicty, Ict aIonc any
absoIutcsovcrcigntyotthcsubjcct. McvcrthcIcss,thcproccssotacsthctíc
way. lor thís truth ínvoIvcs ínnumcrabIc mcdiatíons, whích Brccht
whcn it starts to cIaím thcorctícaI or socíaI vaIídity. Brccht wantcd to
rcvcaIínímagcsthcínncrnaturcotcapítaIísm. Inthisscnschísaímwas
havc rctuscd to dcprívc socíaI csscncc ot mcaníng by takíng it as ít
hím wíth thc obIigatíon ot cnsuríng that what hc íntcndcd to makc
uncquívocaIIy cIcar was thcorcticaIIycorrcct. Hís art, howcvcr, rctuscd
to acccpt thísquid pro quo: ítboth prcscntsítscItas dídactíc, and cIaims
acsthctíc díspcnsatíon trom rcsponsíbíIíty tor thc accuracy otwhatít
Criticísm otBrccht cannot ovcrIook thc tact that hc díd not - tor
objcctivcrcasonsbcyondthcpowcrothís own crcations- tuIhIthcnorm
hcscthímscItasítítwcrcamcanstosaIvatíon.Saint Joan wasthcccntraI
workothísdíaIccticaI thcatrc. (The Good Woman ofSzechuan ísavaría-
tíon ot ít ín rcvcrsc: whcrc |oan assísts cviI by thc immcdiacy ot hcr
goodncss, 5hcn Jc, who wiIIs thc good, must bccomc cvíI).JhcpIayís
sctín aChícagohaIt-way bctwccnthc WiId WcsttabIcsotMahagonny
and cconomíc tacts. But thc morc prcoccupícd Brccht bccomcs

íntormatíon, and thc Icss hc Iooks tor ímagcs, thc morc hc mísscs thc
csscncc otcapítaIísm whích thc parabIc ís supposcd to prcscnt. Mcrc
cpísodcs ín thc sphcrc otcírcuIatíon, ín whích compctítors mauI cach
othcr,arcrccountcd ínstcadotthcappropríatíon otsurpIus-vaIucínthc
sphcrcotproduction, comparcd wíth whích thcbrawIsotcattIcdcaIcrs
any grcat crísis. Morcovcr, thc cconomíc transactions prcscntcd as thc
machínatíons otrapacíous tradcrs arc not mcrcIy pucríIc, whích íshow
Brccht sccms to havc mcant thcm; thcy arc aIso uníntcIIígíbIc by thc
crítcría otcvcn thc most prímítívc cconomíc Iogíc. Jhc obvcrsc otthc
Iattcr ís a poIítícaI naívctó whích couId onIy makcBrccht's opponcnts
grín at thc thought otsuch an íngcnuous cncmy. Jhcy couId b as
comtortabIcwíthBrcchtas thcyarcwíththcdyíng]oan ín thcímprcs-
sívc ñnaI sccnc otthc pIay. Lvcn wíth thc broadcst-míndcd aIIowancc
tor poctíc Iíccncc, thc ídcathat a stríkc Icadcrshíp backcd bythc Party
couId cntrust acrucíaI tasktoa non-mcmbcrís asínconccívabIcasthc
subscqucnt ídcathatthc taíIurcotthatíndívíduaIcouId ruín thc whoIc
Brccht's comcdy otthc rcsístíbIc rísc otthcgrcatdíctatorArturo Ui
cxposcsthcsubjcctívcnuIIítyand prctcnccotatascístIcadcrínaharsh
and accuratc Iíght. Howcvcr, thc dcconstructíon otIcadcrs, as wíth aII
índívíduaIs ín Brccht, ís cxtcndcd ínto a rcconstructíon ot thc socíaI
and cconomíc ncxus ínwhích thc díctator acts. Instcad ota conspíracy
ot thc wcaIthy and powcrtuI, wc arc gívcn a trívíaI gangstcr organíza-
tíon, thc cabbagc trust. Jhctruchorrorottascísmís conjurcd away,ít
mcrc hazard, Iíkc an accídcnt or a crímc. Jhís concIusíon ís díctatcd
by thc cxígcncícs ot agítatíon. advcrsarícs must bc dímíníshcd. Jhc
conscqucncc ís bad poIítícs, ín Iítcraturc a ín practícc bctorc !º33.
gaínst cvcry díaIcctíc, thc rídícuIc to whích Lí ís consígncd rcndcrs
ínnocuous thc !ascísm that was accuratcIy prcdíctcd by |ack London
dccadcs bctorc. Jhc antí-ídcoIogícaI artíst thus prcparo thc dcgrada-
tíon othís own ídcas ínto ídcoIogy. Jacít acccptancc otthc cIaím that
onc haItotthc worId no Iongcr contaíns antagonísms ís suppIcmentcd
byjcsts at cvcrythíng that bcIícs thc omcíaI thcodícyotthc othcr haIt.
It ís not that rcspcct tor hístorícaI scaIc torbíds Iaughtcr at housc-
paíntcrs, aIthoughthcuscotthattcrm agaínst HítIcr wasítscItapaíntuI
cxpIoítatíon ot bourgcoís cIass-conscíousncss. Jhc group whích cn-
gínccrcd thc scízurc ot powcr ín Gcrmany was aIso ccrtaínIy a gang.
But thc probIcm ís that such cIcctívcamnítícs arc not cxtra-tcrrítoríaI:
thcy arc rootcd wíthín socícty ítscIt. Jhat ís why thc buñ`ooncry ot
horror. Itthísís supprcsscd,and a tcw sorrycxpIoítcrsotgrccngroccrs
thc attack míshrcs. The Great Dictator Ioscs aII satírícaI torcc and bc-
comcs obsccnc whcn a )cwísh gírI can híta Iínc otstorm-troopcrs on
Adorno on Brecht 185
commítmcnt, poIítícaI rcaIíty ís trívíaIízcd. whích thcn rcduccs thc
5artrc'strankdoubtwhcthcrGuernica 'wonasíngIcsupportcrtor thc
anyoncnccdstob taughtthcfabula docet tobccxtracto trom ít- that
thcrcísínjustícc mthcworId,whíIcthcmoraIítscItshowstcwtraccsot
thc díaIcctícaI thcory to whích Brccht gavc cursory aIIcgíancc. Jhc
trappíngs otcpíc drama rccaII thc Amcrícan phrasc 'prcachíng to thc
to achícvc, bccamc a tormaI dcvícc ítscIt. Jhc suspcnsíon ot torm
turns back agaínst íts own charactcr as appcarancc. Its scIt-crítícísm ín
drama was rcIatcd tothc doctrínc otobjcctívíty [Sachlichkeit] ín thc
appIícdvísuaIarts. JhccorrcctíonottormbycxtcrnaIcondítíons,wíth
autonomy. Jhc substancc ot Brccht's artístíc work was thc dídactíc
pIay asan artístícpríncípIc.Hísmcthod,tomakcímmcdíatcIyapparcnt
cvcnts ínto phcnomcna aIícn to thc spcctator, was aIso a mcdíum ot
tormaI constructíon rathcr than a contríbutíon to practícaI cmcacy. It
ís tructhatBrccht ncvcr spokc as sccptícaIIy as 5artrcaboutthc socíaI
cñccts otart. But, as an astutc and cxpcrícnccd man otthc worId, hc
canscarccIyhavcbccnwhoIIyconvínccd otthcm.HconcccaImIywrotc
that, to bc honcst, thc thcatrc was morc ímportant to hím than any
changcs ín thc worId ít míght promotc. Yct thc artístíc príncípIc ot
símpIíhcatíon not onIy purgcd poIítícs otthc íIIusory dístínctíons pro-
jcctcd bysubjcctívcrcßcctíonínto socíaIobjcctívíty,asBrcchtíntcndcd,
butít aIso taIsíhcd thc vcry objcctívíty whíchdídactícdramaIabourcd
todístíI. ItwctakcBrcchtathíswordandmakcpoIítícsthccrítcríonby
whích to judgc hís commíttcd thcatrc, thcn poIítícs provcs hís thcatrc
untruc. HcgcI's Logic taught that csscncc must appcar. Itthís ís so, a
rcprcscntatíon otcsscncc whích ígnorcsíts rcIatíon toappcaranccmust
bc as íntrínsícaIIy taIsc as thc substítutíon ota Iumpcn-proIctaríat tor
thcmcnbchínd tascísm.JhconIyground onwhíchBrccht'stcchníquc
o!rcductíon wouId bc Icgítímatcísthatot'art tor art'ssakc', whích hís
kínd otcommítmcnt condcmnsas ítdocsLucuIIus.³
ContcmporaryIítcraryGcrmany ísanxíoust dístínguíshBrccht thc
artíst trom Brcchtthc poIítícían. Jhc major wrítcr must bc savo tor
thcWcst, ítpossíbIcpIaccd on apcdcstaIas an AII-Gcrmanpoct,andso
ncutraIízcdau-dessus de fa melee. Jhcrcístruthínthísto thccxtcntthat
"Reference to Brecht's last play on the Roman general Lucullus.
both Brccht's artistic torcc, and his dcvious and uncontroIIabIc intcIIi-
gcncc, wcnt wcII bcyond thc omciaI crcdos and prcscribcd acsthcticsot
thcPcopIc'sOcmocracics.AII thcsamc,Brcchtmustbcdctcndcdagains:
this dctcncc othim. Hiswork,withitsottcn patcnt wcakncsscs, wouId
not havc had such powcr, it it wcrc not saturatcd with poIitics. !vcn
itsmostqucstionabIccrcations,suchasThe Measures Taken, gcncratcan
immcdiatc awarcncss that issucs otthc utmost scriousncss arc at stakc

wasjustihcd. !tistutiIctotrytoscparatcthcbcautics,rcaIorimaginary,
ot his works trom thcir poIiticaI intcntions. Jhc task ot immancnt
criticism,whichaIoncisdiaIccticaI, israthcrtosynthcsizcasscssmcntot
thc vaIidityothis tormswith that othis poIitics. 5artrc'schaptcr 'Why
writc³' contains thc undcniabIc statcmcnt that: 'Mobody can supposc
tor a momcnt that it is possibIc to writc a good novcI in praisc otanti~
scmitism'.° Mor couId onc bc writtcn in praisc otthc Moscow JriaIs,
cvcn itsuch praisc wcrc bcstowcd bctorc 5taIin actuaIIy had Zinovicv
and Bukharin murdcrcd.' Jhc poIiticaI taIschood stains thc acsthctic
torm. Whcrc Brccht distorts thc rcaI sociaI probIcms discusscd in his
cpic drama in ordcr to provcÜ thcsis, thcwhoIc structurc and tounda-
tionotthcpIayitscItcrumbIcs.Mother Courage isaniIIustratcdprimcr
intcndcd to rcduccto absurdity MontccuccoIi's dictum that war tccds
on war. Jhc camp toIIowcrwho uscs thc Jhirty Ycars' War tomakca
Iitc tor hcrchiIdrcn thcrcby bccomcs rcsponsibIc tor thcir ruin. Butin
thcpIay this rcsponsibiIity toIIows rigorousIy ncithcr trom thc tact ot
thcwar itscItnor trom thc individuaI bchaviourotthc pctty prohtccr;
itMothcr CouragchadnotbccnabscntatthccriticaI momcnt, thcdis-
astcr wouId nothavc happcncd, and thc tactthat shc has to bc abscnt
Jhcpicturc-book tcchniquc whichBrcchtnccdstospcIIouthisthcsis
prcvcnts him trom proving it. A socio-poIiticaI anaIysis, ot thc sort
Marxand!ngcIsskctchcdinthcircriticismotLassaIIc'spIayFranz von
Sickingen, wouId show that Brccht's simpIistic cquation otthc Jhirty
Ycars'Warwithamodcrn warcxcIudcs prcciscIywhatiscruciaItorthc
bchaviour and tatc ot Mothcr Couragc in GrimmcIshauscn's novcI.
Bccausc thc socicty ot thc Jhirty Ycars' War was not thc tunctionaI
capitaIist socictyotmodcrn timcs, wccannotcvcn pocticaIIystipuIatca
6 What is Literature?, p. 4.
7 Reference to The Measures Taken, written in 1930, which contained m implicit justi­
fction in advance of the Moscow Trials. Zinoviev and Bukharin were condemne in 1938.
Adorno on Brecht 187
cIoscd tunctionaI systcm inwhich thc Iivcs and dcathsotprivatcindi-
days as an imagc othis own, prcciscIy bccausc hc saw cIcarIy that thc
socicty ot his own agc couId no Iongcr bc dircctIy comprchcndcd in
tcrms ot pcopIc and things. His attcmpt to rcconstruct thc rcaIity ot
socicty thus Icd hrst to a taIsc sociaI modcI and thcn to dramatic im-
pIausibiIity. Bad poIitics bccomcs bad art, and vicc-vcrsa. But thc Icss
thcmorctcIIingthcy bccomcin thcir ownright;and thcIcssthcynccd
asurpIus otmcaning bcyond whatthcyarc. lor thcrcst, thcintcrcstcd
particsincvcrycampwouId probabIybcassucccsstuIin survivingwars
today as thcy havc aIways bccn.
thcvcry hbrc othis poctic art. !nimitabIcthough its quaIitics may bc-
quaIiticswhichthcmaturcBrcchtmayhavcthoughtunimportant- thcy
wcrc poisono bythc untruth othis poIitics. lor what hc justihcd was
notsimpIy,as hcIongsinccrcIybcIicvcd,anincompIctcsociaIism,buta
cocrcivc domination in which bIindIy irrationaI sociaI torccs rcturncd
to work oncc again. Whcn Brccht bccamc a pancgyrist otits harmony,
his Iyricvoicchad toswaIIow chaIk, and it starto to gratc. AIrcadythc
cxaggcratcd adoIcsccnt viriIity otthc young Brccht bctraycd thc bor-
rowcd couragc otthc intcIIcctuaI who, indcspair at vioIcncc, suddcnIy
ot The Measures Taken drowns out thc noisc ot thc disastcr that has
ovcrtakcn thccausc, which Brccht convuIsivcIy trics to procIaim as
commitmcnt. !tsIanguagc showshow tar thcundcrIyingpoctic subjcct
and its mcssagc havc movcd apart. !n an attcmpt to bridgc thc gap,
Brcchtañcctcd thc diction otthc opprcsscd. But thcdoctrinchc advo-
catcd nccds thc Ianguagc otthc intcIIcctuaI. Jhc homcIincss and sim-
pIicity othis tonc is thus a hction. !t bctrays itscIt both by signs ot
cxprcssion. !t can ottcn bc importunatc, and cars which havc not Ict
thcmscIvcs bc dcprivcd ot thcir nativc scnsitivity cannot hcIp hcaring
thatthcy arcbcing taIkcd into somcthing. !tis ausurpation andaImost
a contcmpt tor victims to spcak Iikc this, as itthc author wcrc onc ot
thcm. AII roIcs may bc pIaycd, cxccpt that otthcworkcr. Jhc gravcst
thcyarc noticcd, andstiII morcso,whcnthcythcntryto conccaIthcm-
scIvcs. 5omcthing otthisrcmains inBrccht's IatcrpIaysinthcIinguistic
gestus otwisdom,thchctionotthcoId pcasantsatcdwithcpiccxpcricncc
as thc poctic subjcct. Mooncin anycountryotthc worId is any Iongcr
capabIc ot thc carthy cxpcricncc ot 5outh Gcrman muzhiks: thc pon-
dcrousdcIivcryhas bccomcapropagandadcviccto makcusbcIicvcthat
thcgoodIitciswhcrcthcKcd Army isincontroI. 5inccthcrcis nothing
to givc substancc to this humanity as prcscntcd,which wchavc to takc
ontrust,Brccht'stoncdcgcncratcsintoa cchootarchaicsociaIrcIations,
JhcIatcBrcchtwasnotsodistanttromomciaIhumanism. AjournaI-
isticaIIymindcdWcstcrncrcouIdwcIIpraiscThe Caucasian Chalk Circle
as a hymn to mothcrhood, and who is nottouchcd whcn thc spIcndid
girI is hnaIIy hcId up as an cxampIc to thc qucruIous Iady bcsct with
l'art pour l'art, wouId havcbccnIcss suitcd to suchacatharsis. Lvcnthc
grandcurand virtuosityotsuch pocms as The Legend of the Origin of the
Book of Tao Te Ch'ing on Lao-Tzu's Jourey into Exile arcmarredbythc
thcatricaIity,ot totaI pIain-spokcnncss. What his cIassicaI prcdcccssors
onccdcnounccdas thcidiocyotruraI Iitc, Brccht, Iikc somc cxistcntiaI
to rcconciIc his highIy cuItivatcd and subtIc tastc with thc crudcIy
hctcronomous dcmandswhichhcdcspcratcIy imposcd on himscIt.
I havc no wish to sottcn thc saying that to writc Iyric poctry attcr
Auschwitz is barbaric,it cxprcsscs in ncgativctormthc impuIsc which
inspircs committo Iitcraturc. Jhc qucstion askcd by a charactcr in
5artrc's pIayMorts Sans Sepulture, 'Is thcrc any mcaning inIitcwhcn
mcn cxist who bcat pcopIc untiI thc boncs brcak in thcir bodicsr', is
tcIIcctuaI rcgrcssion is notinhcrcnt in thc conccpt otcommittcd Iitcra-
turcbccauscotthcrcgrcssionotsocicty. But Lnzcnsbcrgcr's rctortaIso
rcmains truc, that Iitcraturc mustrcsistthis vcrdict, inothcr words, bc
such that its mcrc cxistcncc attcr Auschwitz is not a surrcndcr to
cynicism. Itsownsituationisoncotparadox,notmcrcIythcprobIcmot
how to rcact to it. Jhc abundancc ot rcaI suñcring toIcratc no tor-
gctting, PascaI's thcoIogicaI saying, On ne do:t plus dorm:r, must bc
sccuIarizcd. Yct this suñcring, what HcgcI caIIcd consciousncss ot
it, it is now virtuaIIy in art aIonc that suñcring can stiII hnd its own
voicc, consoIation, withoutimmcdiatcIybcingbctrayo by it. Jhcmost
important artists otthc agc havc rcaIizcd this. Jhc uncompromising
radicaIism otthcirworks, thcvcry tcaturcs dctamcd as tormaIism,givc
Adoro on Brecht 189
thcm atcrrityingpowcr, abscnt trom hcIpIcss pocms to thc victims ot
our timc. But cvcn 5chocnbcrg's Survivor of Warsaw rcmainstrappcd
in thc aporia to which, autonomous hguration ot hctcronomy raiscd
tothcintcnsityothcII,ittotaIIysurrcndcrs.Jhcrcis somcthingcmbar-
rassing in 5chocnbcrg's composition - not whatarouscsangcr m Gcr-
many, thc tact that it prcvcnts pcopIc trom rcprcssing trom mcmory
whatthcyataIIcostswanttorcprcss- butthcwaymwhich,byturning
suñcring into imagcs, harsh and uncompromising though thcy arc, it
wounds thc shamc wc tccI in thc prcscncc otthc victims. lor thcsc
consumption ota worId which dcstroycd thcm. Jhc so-caIIcd artistic
rcprcscntationotthcshccrphysicaI painotpcopIcbcatcntothcground
byrißc-buttscontains, howcvcrrcmotcIy,thcpowcrtocIicitcnjoymcnt
intothcabyssotitsoppositc. JhcacsthcticprincipIcotstyIization,and
cvcnthcsoIcmnpraycrotthcchorus, makcanunthinkabIctatcappcar
tohavchad somcmcaning,itistranshgurcd,somcthingotitshorroris
rcmovcd. Jhis aIonc docsan injusticc to thc victims,yct no art which
tricdtocvadcthcmcouIdcontrontthccIaimsotjusticc. Lvcnthcsound
otdcspair pays its tributc to a hidcousamrmation. Works otIcss than
thchighcstrankarcaIso wiIIingIyabsorbcd as contributions tocIcaring
upthcpast. Whcn gcnocidc bccomcspartotthccuIturaIhcritagcin thc
thcmcs otcommittcd Iitcraturc, it bccomcs casicr to continuc to pIay
Jhcrc u onc
ncarIyinvariabIccharactcristic ot such Iitcraturc. It is
into adismaI mctaphysic whichdocsits bcst to workupatrocitics into
'Iimitingsituations' which itthcn acccpts to thccxtcntthatthcyrcvcaI
tionbctwccncxccutioncrsand victimsbccomcsbIurrcd;both,attcraII,
arc cquaIIy suspcndcd abovc thc possibiIity otnothingncss, which ot
Joday, thc adhcrcnts ota phiIosophy which has sincc dcgcncratcd
into a mcrc idcoIogicaI sport, tuIminatc in prc-!º33 tashion against
by taithtuIIy rcñccting atrocitics, wcrc rcsponsibIc tor whatthcyrcvoIt
against. Jhc bcst cxampIc ot this attitudc, stiII prcvaIcnt among thc
siIcnt majority in Gcrmany, is thc toIIowing story about Picasso. An
poíntíngtoGuernica, askcd. 'Oíd you do that r'. Pícasso íssaídtohavc

cxístsand,bymcrcIycxístíng, cndIcssIyrcítcratcsguíIt. Itísnoncothcr
than 5artrc who has sccnthc conncctíon bctwccn thc autonomy o!a

work and an íntcntíon whích ís not contcrrcd upon ít but ís íts own
gcsturctowardsrcaIíty.'Jhcworkotart',hchaswríttcn, 'does not have
an cnd, thcrc wc agrcc wíth Kant. But thc rcason ís that ít is an cnd.
JhcKantíantormuIadocsnotaccounttor thcappcaIwhíchíssucstrom
cvcry paíntíng, cvcry statuc, cvcry book.'" It onIyrcmaíns to add thcrc
ísno straíghttorward rcIatíonshíp bctwccn thís appcaI and thcthcmatíc
commítmcnt ot a work. Jhc uncaIcuIatíng autonomy ot works whích
avoíd popuIarízatíon and adaptatíon to thc markct, ínvoIuntaríIy bc.
totaIIytoít. Jhcdístanccthcscworksmaíntaíntrom cmpírícaIrcaIítyís
ín ítscItpartIy mcdíatcd by that rcaIíty. Jhc ímagínatíon ot thc artíst
ísnotacrcatíonex nihilo; onIydíIcttantíandacsthctcsbcIícvcíttobcso.
Works otart that rcact agaínst cmpírícaIrcaIíty obcy thc torcc otthat
rcaIíty, whích rcjcct íntcIIcctuaI crcatíons and throw thcm back on
thcmscIvcs. 3hcrc ís no matcríaI contcnt, no tormaI catcgory otartístíc
crcatíon, howcvcr mystcríousIy transmíttcd and ítscIt unawarc ot thc
proccss, whích díd not orígínatc ín thc cmpírícaI rcaIíty trom whích ít
It ís thís whích constítutcs thc truc rcIatíon ot art to rcaIíty, whosc
cIcmcntsarcrcgroupcdbyítstormaIIaws. Lvcnthcavant-garde abstrac-
ín common wíth conccptuaI or IogícaI abstractíon, ís a rchcx rcsponsc
to thc abstractíon otthc Iaw whích objcctívcIy domínatcs socícty. Jhís
couId bc shown ínBcckctt's works. JhcsccnjoywhatístodaythconIy
torm otrcspcctabIc tamc. cvcryonc shuddcrs at thcm, and yct no-onc
can pcrsuadchímscItthatthcsc ccccntríc pIaysandnovcIsarcnotabout
what cvcryonc knows but no onc wíII admít. PhíIosophícaI apoIogísts
mayIaudhísworksasskctchcstromananthropoIogy. ButthcydcaIwíth
Ecce Homo ís what human bcíngs havc bccomc. As though wíth cycs
draíncd ottcars, thcystarcsíIcntIy outothís scntcnccs. Jhc spcII thcy
" What is Literature?, p. 3.
Adorno on Brecht 191
thc mínímaI promísc othappíncss thcy contaín, whích rctusc to bc
tradcd torcomtort, cannotbchad torapríccIcssthantotaIdísIocatíon,
bc abandoncd to satísty thc ídcaI otthc commíttcd work otart - that
practíscd Icss and Icss ashccommíttcd hímscItmorc hrmIy to thc roIc
ot a trícnd ot mankínd. Jhís paradox, whích míght bc chargcd wíth
sophístry, can bc supportcd wíthout much phíIosophy by thc símpIcst
cxpcrícncc. Katka's prosc and Bcckctt's pIays, or thc truIy monstrous
novcIThe Unnameable, havcancñcctbycomparísonwíthwhíchomcíaIIy
commíttcd works Iook Iíkc pantomíncs. Katka and Bcckctt arousc thc
thcy cxpIodc trom wíthín thc art whích commíttcd procIamatíon sub-
jugatcstrom wíthout,and hcncconIyínappcarancc. JhcíncscapabíIíty
otthcír work compcIs thc changc otattítudc whích commítto works
mcrcIy dcmand. Hc ovcr whom Katka's whccIs havc passcd, has Iost
tor cvcrbothanypcaccwíththcworIdandanychanccotconsoIínghím-
scItwíth thc ¡udgmcntthatthcwayotthcworIdís bad,thccIcmcnt ot
ratíñcatíon whích Iurks ínrcsígncd admíssíon otthc domínancc otcvíI
íng and taíIurc. Jhc Ioss ot tcnsíon cvídcnt ín works otpaíntíng and
musíc whích havc movcd away trom ob¡cctívc rcprcscntatíon and
knownín a rcpcIIcnt jargon as 'tcxts'. 5uch worksdrítt to thcbrínk ot
ottormuIas now abandoncd ínothcr art-torms, ínto trívíaI pattcrns. It
ísthísdcvcIopmcntwhíchottcngívcssubstanccto crudc caIIs tor com-
mítmcnt. lormaI structurcs whích chaIIcngc thc Iyíng posítívísm ot
mcaníng can casíIy sIídc ínto a díñcrcnt sort ot vacuíty, posítívístíc
arrangcmcnts,cmpty juggIíng wíth cIcmcnts. JhcytaIIwíthín thcvcry
sphcrc trom whích thcy scck to cscapc. Jhc cxtrcmc casc ís Iítcraturc
whíchundíaIcctícaIIycontuscsítscItwíthscícnccandvaínIytrícsto tusc
wíthcybcrnctícs.Lxtrcmcsmcct:whatcutsthc Iastthrcadotcommuní-
catíon bccomcs thc prcy ot communícatíon thcory. Mo ñrm crítcríon
posítívísmotmcaníngIcssncss,as anassíduoussoIdícríngonjusttor thc
sakcotít. Lcast otaIIcan such a Iínc bc bascd on an appcaI to human
vaIucs, and a cursc ot mcchanízatíon. Works ot art whích by t
cxístcncc takc thc sídc ot thc víctíms ota ratíonaIíty that subjugatcs
naturc, arccvcnín thcírprotcstconstítutívcIyímpIícatcd ínthcproccss
both acsthctícaIIy and socíaIIy powcrIcss. mcrc cIay. Jhc organízing,
unítyíng príncipIc otcachand cvcryworkotart ís borrowcd trom that
vcry ratíonaIítywhosccIaím to touIíty ít scckstodcty.
!nthc hístory otlrcnch and Gcrmanconscíousncss, thcprobIcm o!
commítmcnt has bccn poscd ín opposítc ways. !n lrancc acsthctícs
havcbccn domínatcd, opcnIyorcovcrtIy, bythc príncípIc otlart pour
l' art, aIIícd to acadcmícand rcactíonary tcndcncícs.°Jhís cxpIaínsthc
rcvoIt agaínst ít. Lvcn cxtrcmc avant-garde works havc a touch ot
dccoratívcaIIurcínlrancc. It ístorthísrcasonthatthccaIItocxístcncc
and commítmcnt soundcd rcvoIutíonary thcrc. !n Gcrmany thc sítua-
tíonísthcothcrwayround.JhcIíbcratíonotarttrom anycxtcrnaIcnd,
aIthough ít was a Gcrman who hrst raíscd ít purcIy and íncorruptíbIy
dccp roots m Gcrman ídcaIísm. Jhc hrst tamous documcnt ot thís
tradítíon ís that scníor mastcrs' bíbIc ot íntcIIcctuaI hístory, 5chíIIcr's
Treatise on the Theatre as a Moral Institution. 5uch suspícíon ís not so
much duc to thc cIcvatíon otmínd to an AbsoIutcthat ís coupIcd wíth
ít- anattítudcthatswaggcrcdítswayto hubrís m Gcrman phíIosophy.
goaIshowstosocícty. lorthísartísarcmíndcrotthatscnsuouspIcasurc
otwhích cvcn - índccd cspccíaIIy - thc most cxtrcmc díssonancc, by
subIímatíon and ncgatíon, partakcs. Gcrman spccuIatívc phíIosophy
but onIy thcrctorc to dcmand a ccrtíhcatc otgood bchavíour trom ít.
Accordíng to thís Iatcnt tradítíon, a work otart shouId havc no bcíng
torítscIt,sínccothcrwíscítwouId- asPIato'scmbryonícstatcsocíaIísm
cIassícaIIy stígmatízcd ít- bca sourcc otcñ`cmínacy and an obstacIcto
actíon tor íts own sakc, thc Gcrman orígínaI sín. KíIIjoys, ascctícs,
moraIísts otthc sort who arc aIways ínvokíng namcs Iíkc Luthcr and
Bísmarck, havc no tímc tor acsthctíc autonomy, and thcrc ís aIso an
undcrcurrcnt ot scrvíIc hctcronomy ín thc pathos ot thc catcgorícaI
ímpcratívc, whích ís índccd on thc onc hand rcason ítscIt, but on thc
othcr an absoIutc datum to bc bIíndIy obcycd. líhy ycars ago 5tctan
`'We know very well that pure art and empty art are the same thing and that aesthetic
purism was a brilliant manoeuvre of the bourgeis of the last century who preferre U see
themselve denounced as philistine rather than as exploiters.' What is Literature?, p. 17.
Adorno on Brecht 193
Joday thc curmudgcons whomno bombs couId shakc out otthcír
thcscattacks ís pctty-bourgcoís hatrcd otscx, thc common ground ot
WcstcmmoraIístsandídcoIogístsot5ocíaIístKcaIísm. MomoraItcrror

prcvcnt thc sídc thc work ot art shows íts bchoIdcr trom gívíng
h:mpIcasurc,cvcn itonIyínthctormaItactottcmporarytrccdomtrom
thc compuIsíon otpractícaI goaIs. Jhomas ManncaIIcd thís quaIíty ot
art 'hígh spíríts¸ a notíon íntoIcrabIc to pcopIc wíth moraIs. Brccht
hímscIt,whowasnotwíthoutascctíctraíts- whíchrcappcartransmutcd
í��hc rcsístanccotanygrcat autonomous art to consumptíon- ríghtIy
rid:cuIo cuIinary art, but hc was much too íntcIIígcnt not to know
that pIcasurc can ncvcr bc compIctcIy ígnorcd ín thc totaI acsthctíc
cñcct,no mattcrhow rcIcntIcss thc work. Jhc prímacy otthcacsthctíc
objcct as purc rchguratíon docs not smuggIc consumptíon, and thus
taIsc harmony, ín agaín through thc back door. AIthough thc momcnt
otpIcasurc, cvcn whcn ít íscxtírpatcd trom thc cñ`cct ota work, con-
stantIyrcturnsto ít,thcpríncípIcthatgovcrnsautonomous worksotart
ísnotthctotaIítyotthcírcñccts butthcírownínhcrcntstructurc.Jhcy
arc knowIcdgc as non-conccptuaI objccts. Jhís ís thc sourcc otthcír
nobíIíty. It ís not somcthíng ot whích thcy havc to pcrsuadc mcn
rathcr than commíttcd art shouId bc cncouragcd ín Gcrmany. Com-
míttcd works aII too rcadíIy crcdít thcmscIvcs wíth cvcry nobIc vaIuc,
and thcn manípuIatc thcmatthcír casc. Lndcr tascísm too, no atrocíty
and humaníty ín Gcrmany today arc mcrcIy waítíng tor a chancc to
pcrsccutcthoscwhomthcírruIcscondcmn, and tocxcrcíscthcsamcín-
humaníty ín practícc ot whích thcy accusc modcm art ín thcory. In
Gcrmany, commítmcnt ottcn mcansbIcatíngwhatcvcryonc ísaIrcady
sayíngor at Icast sccrctIy wants to hcar. Jhcnotíon ota 'mcssagc' ín
art, cvcn whcn poIítícaIIy radícaI, aIrcady contaíns an accommodatíon
to thc worId. thc stancc otthc Iccturcr conccaIs a cIandcstínc cntcntc
JhctypcotIítcraturcthat, ínaccordanccwíththctcnctsotcommít-
mcnt butaIsowíth thc dcmands otphíIístíncmoraIísm,cxíststor man,
bctrayshím bytraducíng that whích couIdhcIp hím, ítonIy ít díd not
stríkc a posc ot hcIpíng hím. But any Iítcraturc whích thcrctorc con-
íntoídcoIogynoIcss. Art,whíchcvcnínítsopposítíontosocíctyrcmaíns
apartotít, mustcIoscíts cycsandcarsagaínst ít:ítcannot cscapc thc
shadow otírratíonaIíty. But whcn ít appcaIs to thís unrcason, makíng
ít a raison d'etre, ítconvcrts íts own maIcdíctíon ínto a thcodícy. Lvcn
ínthcmostsubIímatcdworkotartthcrcísahíddcn 'ítshouIdbcothcr-
wísc'. Whcn a work ís mcrcIy ítscItand no othcr thíng, as ín a purc
pscudo-scícntíñcconstructíon,ítbccomcsbadart- IítcraIIyprc-artístíc.
Jhc momcnt ot truc voIítíon, howcvcr, ís mcdíatcd through nothíng
othcrthanthctorm otthcworkítscIt,whosccrystaIIízatíon bccomcsan
anaIogy ot that othcr condítíon whích shouId bc. As cmíncntIy ccn-
structcd and produccd objccts, works ot art, íncIudíng Iítcrary oncs,
poínt to a practícc trom whích thcy abstaín. thc crcatíon ota |ust Iítc.
Jhís mcdíatíon ís not a compromísc bctwccn commítmcnt and auto-
nomy, norasort otmíxturc otadvanccdtormaI cIcmcnts wíthan íntcI-
Jhc contcnt otworks otart ís ncvcr thc amount ot íntcIIcct pumpcd
íntothcm: ítanythíng, ítísthcopposítc.
McvcrthcIcss, a cmphasís on autonomous works ís ítscIt socío-
poIítícaI ín naturc. Jhc tcígníng ota truc poIítícs hcrc and now, thc
trcczíng ot hístorícaI rcIatíons whích nowhcrc sccm rcady to mcIt,
obIígc thc mínd to go whcrc ít nccd not dcgradc ítscIt. Joday cvcry
phcnomcnon ot cuIturc, cvcn ít a modcI ot íntcgríty, ís IíabIc to bc
suñocatcd ín thc cuItívatíon ot kítsch. Yct paradoxícaIIy ín thc samc
cpoch ít ís to works ot art that has taIIcn thc burdcn ot wordIcssIy
asscrtíng what ís barrcd to poIítícs. 5artrc hímscIthas cxprcsscd thís
truth ínapassagc whích docs crcdít to híshoncsty.'ºJhís ísnotatímc
tor poIítícaI art, but poIítícs has mígratcd ínto autonomous art, and
ís Katka's aIIcgory ot toy guns, ín whích an ídca ot non-víoIcncc ís
tuscdwíthadawníng awarcncssotthcapproachíngparaIysísotpoIítícs.
PauI KIcc too has a pIacc ín any dcbatc about commíttcd and auto-
nomousart,torhíswork,icriture par excellence, hadíurootsínIítcraturc
and wouId not havc bccn what ít was wíthout thcm - or ítit had not
consumcd thcm. Ouríng thc lírst WorId War or shortIy attcr, KIcc
drcw cartoons ot Kaíscr WíIhcIm as an ínhuman íron-catcr. Latcr, ín
Iº20,thcscbccamc- thcdcvcIopmcntcan bcshownquítccIcarIy- thc
Angelus Novus, thc angcI ot thc machínc, who, though hc no Iongcr
bcars any cmbIcm otcarícaturc or commítmcnt, ñícs tar bcyond both.
Jhc machínc angcI's cnígmatíc cycs torcc thc onIookcrtotry to dccídc
See Jean-Paul Sartre, L' Existentialisme est un Humanisme, Pari 194, p. 105.
Adorno on Brecht 195
wíthínít.But,asWaItcrBcnjamín,whoowncd thcdrawíng,saíd,hcís
Translated by Francis McDonagh.
Fredric Jameson
Reflections in Conclusion
Itís notonIypoIítícaI hístory whích thoscwhoígnorc arccondcmncd
to rcpcat. A host otrcccnt 'post-Marxísms' documcntthc truth otthc
asscrtíon that attcmpts to 'go bcyond' Marxísm typícaIIy cnd by rc-
ínvcntíng oIdcrprc-Marxístposítíons (trom thc rccurrcnt nco-Kantían
rcvívaIs, to thc most rcccnt 'Míctzschcan' rcturns through Humc and
Hobbcs aII thc way back to thc Prc-5ocratícs). Lvcn wíthín Marxísm
ítscIt, thctcrmsotthcprobIcms,ítnotthcírsoIutíons, arcnumbcrcdín
advancc, and thc oIdcr controvcrsícs - Marx vcrsus Bakunín, Lcnín
vcrsus Luxcmburg, thc natíonaI qucstíon, thc agrarían qucstíon, thc
díctatorshíp otthcproIctaríat- ríscup tohaunt thosc whothought wc
couIdnowgoonto somcthíng cIscandIcavcthcpastbchínd us.
Mowhcrc has thís 'rcturn otthc rcprcsscd' bccn morc dramatíc than
ín thc acsthctíc conhíct bctwccn 'KcaIísm' and 'Modcrnísm', whosc
wcmaytccIthatcachposítíonísín somc scnsc ríghtandyctthatncíthcr
and ín a Iongcr pcrspcctívc may bc saíd to bc a contcmporary poIítícaI
rcpIayotthc !JthccnturyQuerele des anciens et des moderes, ínwhích,
tor thc hrst tímc, acsthctícs camc tacc to tacc wíth thc díIcmmas ot
ovcrKcaIísmand ModcrnísmwasthcIívíngtactandpcrsístíng ínßucncc
otLxprcssíonísmamongthcwrítcrsotthcGcrmanLcttínthc !º20sand
30s. An ímpIacabIcídcoIogícaI dcnuncíatíon by Lukacs ín !º31sct thc
stagc tor thc scrícs otíntcrconncctcd dcbatcs and cxchangcs bctwccn
BIoch, Lukacs, Brccht, BcnjamínandAdornopubIíshcdínthísvoIumc.
Muchotthctascínatíonotthcscjousts, índccd, comcstrom thcíntcrnaI
dynamísm by whích aIIthc IogícaI possíbíIítícs arc rapídIygcncratcd ín
turn,sothatítquíckIycxtcndsbcyondthcIocaIphcnomcnonotLx prcs-
Conclusion 197
síonísm, andcvcnbcyondthcídcaItypcotrcaIísmítscIt,todrawwíthín
íts scopc thc probIcms ot popuIar art, naturaIísm, socíaIíst rcaIísm,
avant-gardísm, mcdía, and hnaIIy modcrnísm - poIítícaI and non-
poIítícaI - ín gcncraI. Joday, many ot íts tundamcntaI thcmcs and
by Marcusc, to thc studcnt and antí-war movcmcnts ot thc !º60s,
Jhc Icgacy ot Gcrman Lxprcssíonísm provídcd a morc propítíous
tramcworktor thc dcvcIopmcntotamajordcbatcwíthínMarxísmthan
ítscontcmporary lrcnch countcrpart, surrcaIísm, was to do. lor ínthc
wrítíngs otthc surrcaIísts, and ín partícuIar otBrcton, thc probIcm ot
rcaIísm IargcIy taíIs to arísc- ín thc hrstínstancc owíng to thcír ínítíaI
rcpudíatíon otthc novcI as atorm. WhíIc tor thcírpríncípaIadvcrsary,
)can-PauI 5artrc - thc onIy ímportant wrítcr ot

hís gcncratíon not to
havc passcd through surrcaIísm's tutcIagc, and whoscnotíon ot'com-
mítmcnt' (engagement) AdornowasIatcrtotakcasthcvcryprototypcot
a poIítícaI acsthctíc, thc rcaIísmjmodcrnísm díIcmma díd not arísc
cíthcr, but tor thc opposítc rcason. bccausc ot 5artrc's prcIímínary
cxcIusíon otpoctry and

thc Iyríc trom hís account ot thc naturc and
tunctíonotIítcraturcíngcncraI(ínWhat is Literature?). Jhusínlrancc,
untíI thatsccond wavcotmodcrnísm(orpost-modcrnísm)rcprcscntcd
bythcnouveau roman andthcnouvelle vague, JcIQucIand'structuraIísm',
thctcrraíntor whíchrcaIísmand modcrnísmwcrccIscwhcrcsobíttcrIy
tocontcnd-thatotnarrative - wascñcctívcIydívídcdupbctwccnthcm
ínadvancc,asthoughínamícabIcscparatíon. ItthcprobIcmotnarratívc
docs not Ioom Iargc ínthctcxts coIIcctcd hcrc, that ís ín part bccausc
Lukacs's príncípaI cxhíbíts wcrc novcIs, whíIc Brccht's maín ñcId ot
actívítywas thcthcatrc. Jhc íncrcasíng ímportancc, ín turn, otñImín
artístícproductíon sínccthctímcotthcscdcbatcs(wítncssthctrcqucnt
juxtaposítíonsotBrccht and Godard) Iíkcwísc suggcsts that structuraI
díñcrcnccs ín mcdíum and ín gcnrc may pIay a Iargcr part ín com-
poundíng thc díIcmmas ot thc KcaIísmjModcrnísm controvcrsy than
ítscarIícst partícípants wcrc wíIIíngto admít.
Morc than thís, thchístoryotacsthctícs ítscItsuggcststhatsomc ot
spríng trom contradíctíons wíthín thc vcry conccpt ot rcaIísm, an
uncasíIydíñcrcntquantíty trom such tradítíonaI acsthctíc catcgorícs as
comcdyandtragcdy,orIyríc, cpícand dramatíc. JhcIattcr- whatcvcr
socíaItunctíonaIítymaybcínvokcd tor thcmínthísorthatphíIosophícaI
systcm - arc purcIy acsthctíc conccpts, whích may bc anaIyscd and
cvaIuatcd wíthout any rctcrcncc outsídc thc phcnomcnon otbcautyor
has bccn ísoIatcd and constítutcd as a scparatc rcaIm or tunctíon ín íts
ownríght). JhcorígínaIítyotthcconccptotrcaIísm,howcvcr,Iícsíníts
cIaím to cognítívc as wcII as

acsthctíc status. A ncw vaIuc, contcmpo-
rancous wíththc sccuIarízatíon otthc worId undcr capítaIísm, thcídcaI

otrcaIísm prcsupposcs a torm otacsthctíc cxpcrícncc whích yct Iays
cIaím to a bíndíng rcIatíonshíp to thc rcaI ítscIt, that ís to say, to thosc
rcaImsotknowIcdgc and praxís whích had tradítíonaIIy bccn díñcrcn-
tíatcd tromthc rcaIm otthc acsthctíc, wíthítsdísíntcrcstcd judgcmcnts
and íts constítutíon as shccr appcarancc. But ítís cxtrcmcIydímcuItto
do justícc to both ot thcsc propcrtícs ot rcaIísm símuItancousIy. In
practícc, an ovcr-cmphasís on íts cognítívc tunctíon ottcn Icads to a
na:vcdcníaIotthcncccssaríIy hctívc charactcr otartístíc díscoursc, or
cvcn to íconocIastíc caIIs tor thc 'cnd otart' ín thcnamc ot poIítícaI
míIítancy. AtthcothcrpoIcotthísconccptuaI tcnsíon, thc cmphasísot
thcorísts Iíkc Gombrích or Barthcs on thc 'tcchníqucs' whcrcby an
'íIIusíon' otrcaIíty or'eft de rel' ísachícvcd, tcnds surrcptítíousIy to
transtorm thc 'rcaIíty' ot rcaIísm ínto appcarancc, and to undcrmínc
that amrmatíon otíts own truth - or rctcrcntíaI - vaIuc, by whích ít
díñcrcntíatcs ítscIt trom othcr typcs ot Iítcraturc. (Among thc many
wíth whích hc waIks thís partícuIar tíghtropc, trom whích, cvcn at hís
mostídcoIogícaIor'tormaIístíc',hcncvcr quítc taIIs).
Jhísísnottosaythatthcconccptotmodcrnísm, rcaIísm'shístorícaI
countcrpart and íts díaIcctícaI mírror-ímagc, ís not cquaIIy contradíc-
tory,' andínwayswhíchítwíIIbcínstructívctojuxtaposctothccontra-
díctíons ot rcaIísm ítscIt. lor thc momcnt, sumcc ít to obscrvc that
ncíthcr otthcsc scts ot contradíctíons can bc tuIIy undcrstood, unIcss
thcyarc rcpIaccdwíthínthcbroadcr contcxt otthccrísís othístorícíty
ítscIt, and numbcrcd among thc díIcmmas a díaIcctícaI crítícIsm taccs
whcn íttrícsto makcordínaryIanguagc tunctíonsímuItancousIyon two
mutuaIIy cxcIusívc rcgístcrs. thc absoIutc (ín whích casc rcaIísm and
and thc rcIatívc (ín whích casc thcy íncxorabIy rcvcrt to thc narrow
conhncs ota antíquarían nomcncIaturc, rcstríctcd to usc tor spccíhc
' For a complementary analysis of the internal contradictions of the idea of modernism,
se Paul de Man, 'Literar History and Literary Moderity', in Blindness and Insight,
. New York, 1971.
Conclusion 199
Iítcrary movcmcnts ín thcpast). Languagc, howcvcr, docs not submít
and somctímcs cvcn cxtínct conccpts trom an archacoIogícaI past, that
noncthcIcss contínuc to transmít taínt butabsoIutc cIaíms upon us.
McanwhíIc, post-structuraIísm has addcd yct a díñcrcnt kínd ot
paramctcrto thcKcaIísmjModcrnísmcontrovcrsy,oncwhích- Iíkcthc
qucstíonotnarratívcorthcprobIcmsothístorícíty- was ímpIícít ínthc
orígínaI cxchangc but scarccIy artícuIatcd or thcmatízcd as such. Jhc
assímíIatíon ot rcaIísm as a vaIuc to thc oId phíIosophícaI conccpt ot
rctormuIatcd thc KcaIísmjModcrnísm dcbatc ín tcrms ot a PIatoníc
attackonthc ídcoIogícaI cñccts otrcprcscntatíon. Inthísncw (and oId)
uncxpcctcdIycIcvatcd,andthcíríssucs- onccIargcIypoIítícaIíntocus-
artíIIcry ís, ot coursc, íntcndcd to íncrcasc thc dctcnsívcncss ot thc
dctcndcrsotrcaIísm,yctmyowntccIíngís thatwcwíIInottuIIybcabIc
toasscssthcconscqucnccsotthcattackonrcprcscntatíon,and otpost-
structuraIísm gcncraIIy, untíI wcarc abIcto sítuatc ítsownworkwíthín
thchcId otthcthcoryotídcoIogyítscIt.
It ís at any ratc cIcar that thc KcaIísmjModcrnísm controvcrsy Ioscs
íts íntcrcst itonc sídc ís programmcd to wín ín advancc. Jhc Brccht-
Lukacs dcbatc aIonc ís onc otthosc rarc controntatíons ín whích both
advcrsarícs arc otcquaI staturc, both otíncomparabIc sígníhcancc tor
thcdcvcIopmcntotcontcmporary Marxísm,thconcamajorartístand
probabIy thc grcatcst Iítcrary ñgurc to havc bccn produccd by thc
to thcwhoIcGcrmanphíIosophícaItradítíon,wíthítsuníquccmphasís
onacsthctícs as a díscípIínc. It ístruc that ín rcccnt accounts otthcír
opposítíon,²Brcchthastcndcdto gct thcbcttcrotLukacs, thctormcr's
'pIcbcían' styIc and 5chwcíkían ídcntíñcatíons províngcurrcntIy morc
attractívc than thc 'mandarín' cuIturc to whích thc Iattcr appcaIcd.³
"See Werner Mittenzwei, 'Die Brecht-Lukacs Debatte' Das Argument 4, (March
1968), Eugene Lunn, 'Marxism and Ar in the Era of Stalin and Hitler: A Comparison of
Brecht and Lukacs', New German Critique, 3 (Fall, 1974), 12-44; and, for the somewhat
earlier period of the review Die Linskskurve (1928-1932), Helga Gallas, Marxistische
Literaturtheorie-Kontroversen im Bund proletarisch-revoJutionarer SchrijstelJer, Neuwied,
"See Lunn, op. cit., pp. 16-18 .
ínLcssíng'stímc trcatcd 5pínoza as a "dcaddog",'asMarxdcscríbcd
thc standard vícw otHcgcI currcnt amonghís radícaI contcmporarícs.
Jo thc dcgrcc to whích Lukacs síngIc-handcdIy turncd thc Lxprcs-
síonísm dcbatc around ínto a díscussíon ot KcaIísm, and torccd thc
dctcndcrs ot thc tormcr to hght on hís own ground and ín hís own
tcrms, thcír annoyancc wíth hím was undcrstandabIc (Brccht's own
On thc othcr hand, such mcddIíngíntcrtcrcnccwas at onc wíth cvcry-
thíng that madc Lukacs a major hgurc ín ?0th ccntury Marxísm - ín
partícuIar hís IítcIong ínsístcncc on thc crucíaIsígníhcanccotIítcraturc
and cuIturc ínany rcvoIutíonary poIítícs. Hís tundamcntaI contríbutíon
hcrc was thc dcvcIopmcnt ota thcory otmcdíatíons that couId rcvcaI
thc poIítícaI andídcoIogícaIcontcntotwhathadhíthcrtosccmcdpurcIy
tormaI acsthctícphcnomcna.Oncotthcmosttamousínstanccswashís
Yct at thc samc tímc, ít was prccíscIy thís Iínc otrcscarch - ítscItan
ímpIícítcrítíqucand rcpudíatíonottradítíonaIcontcntanaIysís- whích
was rcsponsíbIc tor Brccht's charactcrízatíon ot Lukacs's mcthod as
formalistic: by whích hc mcant thc Iattcr's unwarrantcd conhdcncc ín
,thc possíbíIíty ot dcducíng poIítícaI and ídcoIogícaI posítíons trom a
an acsthctíc otpcrtormancc and a vícw otthc work otart ín sítuatíon
thatwasín díamctríccontrastto thcsoIítary rcadíngand índívíduaIízcd
bourgcoís pubIíc ot Lukacs's prívíIcgcd objcct ot study, thc novcI.
Can Brccht thcn bc cnIístcd ín currcnt campaígns agaínst thc vcry
tormaIísm (aIong wíth thc Brcchtían watchword otplumpes Denken) at
a somcwhat IcssphíIosophícaIand morc practícaIIcvcI,as athcrapcutíc
warníng agaínst thc pcrmancnt tcmptatíon ot ídcaIísm prcscnt ín any
ídcoIogícaI anaIysís as such, thc protcssíonaI procIívíty ot íntcIIcctuaIs
ídcaIísms. onc thc common-or-gardcn varícty to bc tound ín rcIígíon,
otídcaIísm wíthínMarxísmítscIt,ínhcrcnt ínthc vcry ídcaI otscícncc
` Se i particular <Narrate or Describe?' i Georg Lukacs, Writer an Critic, London
Conclusion 201
Iabour. Jo that dangcr thc íntcIIcctuaI and thc scícntíst can ncvcr
sumcícntIy bc aIcrtcd. At thc samctímc, Lukacs'swork on mcdíatíon,
rudímcntary as at tímcs ít may havc bccn, can on anothcr rcadíng bc
cnIístcd as aprccursorotthcmostíntcrcstíngworkínthchcIdotídco-
IogícaIanaIysís today- thatwhích, assímíIatíng thcñndíngsotpsycho-
anaIysís and ot scmíotícs, sccks to construct a modcI otthc tcxt as a
compIcx and symboIíc ídcoIogícaI act. Jhc rcproach ot 'tormaIísm',
whosc rcIcvancc to Lukacs's own practícc ís onIy too cvídcnt, may
conscqucntIy havc a wídcr cxtcnsíon to prcscnt-day rcscarch and
Jhc chargc ot'tormaIísm' was onIy onc ítcm ot Brccht's attack on
Lukacs's psítíon; íts coroIIary and obvcrsc was índígnatíon at thc
ídcoIogícaI judgcmcntsthc Iattcr uscd hís mcthod to substantíatc. Jhc
prímary cxhíbít atthc tímc was Lukacs's dcnuncíatíon otaIIcgcd Iínks
bctwccn Lxprcssíonísm and trcndswíthín 5ocíaI-Ocmocracy (ín partí-
cuIarthc L5PO),notto spcak ottascísm,whích Iaunchcd thc KcaIísm
dcbatc ín thc Gcrman cmígratíon and whích Lrnst BIoch's cssay was
díscrcdítcd Marxísm than thc practícc ot amxíng ínstant cIass IabcIs
(gcncraIIy 'pctty bourgcoís') to tcxtuaI oríntcIIcctuaIobjccts; nor wíII
thcmosthardcncdapoIogísttorLukacswantto dcnythatotthc many
Lukacs's conccívabIc, thís partícuIar onc - cpítomízcd ín thc shríII
and outragcous postcrípt to Die Zerstorung der Vernunft - ís thc Icast
worthy otrchabíIítatíon. But abusc otcIass ascríptíon shouId not Icad
to ovcr-rcactíon and mcrc abandonmcnt ot ít. In tact, ídcoIogícaI
anaIysís ís ínconccívabIc wíthout a conccptíon otthc 'uItímatcIy dctcr-
míníng ínstancc' ot socíaI cIass. What ís rcaIIy wrong wíth Lukacs's
anaIyscs ís not too trcqucnt and tacíIc a rctcrcncc to socíaI cIass, but
rathcr too íncompIctc and íntcrmíttcnt a scnsc ot thc rcIatíonshíp ot
basíc conccpts, that ot 'dccadcncc' - whích hc ottcn assocíatcs wíth
tascísm, butcvcn morc pcrsístcntIy wíth modcm art and Iítcraturc ín
gcncraI. Jhc conccpt ot dccadcncc ís thc cquívaIcnt ín thc acsthctíc
rcaIm otthat ot'taIsc conscíousncss' ín thc domaín ottradítíonaI ídco-
IogícaI anaIysís. Both suñcr trom thc samc dctcct - thc common prc-
supposítíonthatínthcworId otcuIturcandsocíctysuchathíngaspurc
crror ís possíbIc. Jhcy ímpIy, ín othcr words, that works ot art or
systcms otphíIosophy arc conccívabIc whích havc no contcnt, and arc
thcrctorcto bc dcnounccdtortaíIíngto grappIc wíththc'scríous' íssucs
otthc day, índccd dístractíng trom thcm. !n thc íconography otthc
poIítícaIartotthc!º?0sand 30s, thc'índcx'otsuchcuIpabIcandvacuous
dccadcncc wasthc champagncgIassand tophatotthcídIcrích,makíng
thc rounds ota ctcrnaI níght-cIub círcuít. Yct cvcn 5cott FítzgcraId
and Orícu Ia KochcIIc arc morc compIícatcd than that, and trom cur
prcscnt-day vantagc poínt, dísposíngotthc morc compIcx ínstrumcnts
otpsychoanaIysís(ínpartícuIar thcconccptsotrcprcssíonand dcníaIor
Verneinung), cvcn thosc who míght wísh to sustaín Lukacs's hostíIc
vcrdíct on modcrnísm wouId ncccssaríIy ínsíst on thc cxístcncc ot a
rcprcsscd socíaI contcnt cvcn ín thosc modcrn works that sccm most
ínnoccntotít. Modcrnísm wouId thcnnotsomuchbcawayotavoídíng
socíaI contcnt - ín any casc an ímpossíbíIíty tor bcíngs Iíkc ourscIvcs
thc most apparcntIyprívatcotour cxpcrícnccs- as rathcrotmanagíng
and contaíníng ít, sccIudíng ít out otsíght ín thc vcry torm ítscIt, by
mcans ot spccíhc tcchníqucs ottramíng and díspIaccmcnt whích can
bc ídcntíhcd wíth somc prccísíon. It so, Lukacs's summary dísmíssaI
ot 'dccadcnt' works ot art shouId yícId to an íntcrrogatíon of thcír
burícd socíaI and poIítícaIcontcnt.
Jhc tundamcntaI wcakncss ín Lukacs's vícw otthc rcIatíonshíp ot
ísusuaIIycaIIcd hís'5taIínísm',canoncIoscrcxamínatíon,bcscparatcd
íntotwo quítcdístínctprobIcms. JhcchargcthathcwascompIícítwíth
a burcaucratíc apparatus and cxcrcíscd a kínd ot Iítcrary tcrrorísm
(partícuIarIy agaínst poIítícaI modcrnísts, torcxampIc, otthcProIctkuIt
varícty), ísbcIícd byhísrcsístanccín thcMoscowotthc 30sand10sto
what was Iatcr to bc known as Zhdanovísm - that torm ot socíaIíst
rcaIísm whích hc dísIíkcd as much as Wcstcrn modcrnísm, but was
obvíousIy Icss trcc to attack opcnIy. 'MaturaIísm' was hís pcjoratívc
codc-word tor ít at thc tímc. Indccd, thc structuraI and hístorícaI
ídcntíhcatíon tor whích hc argucd bctwccn thc symboIíc tcchníqucsot
modcrnísm and thc 'bad ímmcdíacy' ota photographíc naturaIísm was
mcmbcrshíp, what hc caIIcd hís 'cntry tíckct to hístory_ thc tragíc tatc
and wastcd taIcnts ot so many opposítíonaI Marxísts othís gcncratíon,
IíkcKorschorKcích, arcpowcrtuIargumcnts tor thcrcIatívcratíonaIíty
otLukacs'schoícc- onc, otcoursc, thathcsharcd wíthBrccht. Amorc
scríous probIcm ís poscd by thc 'popuIar trontísm' ot hís acsthctíc
thcory. Jhat bctokcncd a tormaI mcn bctwccn a modcrnístíc sub-
jcctívísm and an ovcrIy objcctívístíc naturaIísm whích, Iíkc most
Conclusion 203
cnthusíasm tor ít. 5o tar as thc poIítícaI aIIíanccbctwccnrcvoIutíonary
5taIín who bcIatcdIy authorízcd a vcrsíon ot thc poIícy that Lukacs
had advocatcd ín thc 'BIum Jhcscs' ot!º?8-?º, whích torcsaw a hrst-
stagc,dcmocratícrcvoIutíon agaínst thctascístdíctatorshípínHungary,
príor to any socíaIíst rcvoIutíon. Yct ít ís prccíscIy that dístínctíon,
bctwccn an antí-tascíst and an antí-capítaIíst stratcgy, that sccms Icss
casy to maíntaín today and Icss ímmcdíatcIy attractívc a poIítícaI pro-
and'cmcrgcncyrcgímcs' arc thcordcr otthc day- índccd muItípIyíng
prccíscIy to thc dcgrcc that gcnuínc socíaI rcvoIutíon bccomcs a rcaI
possíbíIíty. From our prcscnt pcrspcctívc, Mazísm ítscIt, wíth íts
autobahns as wcII as radío and tcIcvísíon), now sccms to rcprcscnt a
to rccur as such¡ whíIc routínc torturc and thc ínstítutíonaIízatíon ot
countcr-ínsurgcncy tcchníqucs havc provcd pcrtcctIy consístcnt wíth
thckíndotparIíamcntarydcmocracythatuscdto bc dístínguíshcdtrom
tascísm.LndcrthchcgcmonyotthcmuItínatíonaIcorporatíonsand thcír
'worId systcm', thc vcry possíbíIíty ota progrcssívc bourgcoís cuIturc
ís probIcmatíc - a doubt that obvíousIy stríkcs at thc vcry toundatíon
FínaIIy,thc prcoccupatíons otourownpcríod havc sccmcd torcvcaI
ín kínd trom thc attcmpts to prcscríbc a ccrtaín typc ot productíon
whích wcrc dcnounccd byBrccht. It ís Lukacs as a partísan, Icss ota
otncw poIcmícs today - an atmosphcrc ín whích hís work has tound
ítscItrcgardcd by admírcrs and opponcnts aIíkcasamonumcntto oId-
tashíoncd contcnt-anaIysís. Jhcrcís somcíronyín thístranstormatíon
otthcnamcotthcauthorotHistory and Class Consciousness íntoasígnaI
notunIíkc that cmíttcd bythc namcs otBcIínskyand Chcrnyshcvsky ín
an carIícr pcríod otMarxíst acsthctícs. Lukacs's own crítícaI practícc
ís ín tact vcry much gcnrc-orícntcd, and commíttcd to thc mcdíatíon
otthcvaríoustormsotIítcrarydíscoursc,sothatítís amístakcto cnIíst
thc cvcnts orcharactcrs ota novcI, ín thc samc way wc wouId Iookat
'rcaI' oncs. On thcothcrhand, ínsotar as hís crítícaI practícc ímpIícs
thc uItímatc possíbíIíty otsomc tuII and non-probIcmatícaI 'rcprcscn-
tatíon otrcaIíty', LukacsíanrcaIísm can bcsaíd togívcaídand comtort
to a documcntary and socíoIogícaI approach to Iítcraturc whích ís cor-
rcctIy cnough tcIt to bc antagonístíc to morc rcccnt mcthods ot con-
írrcconcíIabIc posítíons may_ provc to bc tw
dístínct and cquaIIy ín-
díspcnsabIc momcnts ot thc hcrmcncutíc proccss ítscIt- a hrst naîvc
'bcIíct' ín thc dcnsíty or prcscncc ot novcIístíc rcprcscntatíon, and a
Iatcr 'brackcttíng' otthatcxpcrícncc ín whíchthcncccssarydístanccot
aII Ianguagc trom what ít cIaíms to rcprcscnt - íts substítutíons and
díspIaccmcnts - arc cxpIorcd. At any ratc, ít ís cIcar that as Iong as
Lukacsís uscd as araIIyíng cry (or bogcyman) ín thís partícuIarmctho-
doIogícaI conñíct, thcrc ísnot much IikcIíhoo otany mcasurcd asscss-
Brccht, mcanwhíIc, ís ccrtaínIy much morc casíIyrcwríttcn ín tcrms
otthcconccrns otthcprcscnt, ín whích hcsccms to addrcssusdírcctIy
ín a unmcdíatcd voícc. Hís attack on Lukacs's tormaIísm ís onIy onc
aspcct ot a much morc compIcx and íntcrcstíng stand on rcaIísm ín
gcncraI,towhíchítíssurcIynodísscrvícctoo�scrvcatcw ot

whíchmust sccm datcd to us today. !n particuIar, Brcchts acsthct:c,
and hís way ottramíng thcprobIcms ot rcaIísm, arc íntímatcIy bound
up wíth a conccptíon ot scícncc whích ít wouId bc wrong to
wíth thc morc scícntístíc currcnts ín contcmporary Marxism (tor
cxampIc thc workotAIthusscr or CoIIcttí). lor thc Iattcr, scícncc ísan
cpístcmoIogícaI conccpt and a torm ot abstract knowIcdgc, and thc
thc hístoríography ot scícncc - thc hndíngs ot schoIars Iíkc Koyré,
BachcIard and Kuhn. lor Brccht, howcvcr, 'scícncc' ístarIcss amattcr
ot knowIcdgc and cpístcmoIogy than ít ís ot shccr cxpcrímcnt and ot
practícaI, wcII-nígh manuaI actívíty. Hí
s ís morc an ídc

I ot
mcchanícs, tcchnoIogy, thc homc chcmicaI sct and thc tmkcrmg ota
GaIíIco thanonc ot'cpístcmcs' or 'paradígms' ín scícntíhc díscoursc.
Brccht'�partícuIarvísíonotscícnccwastor hímthcmcansotannuIIíng
dívísíon otIabour (not Icast that bctwccn workcr and íntcIIcctuaI) that
rcsuItcdtrom ít.ítputsknowíng thcworIdbacktogcthtrwíthchangíng
thc worId, and at thc samc tímc unítcs an ídcaI otpraxís wíth a con-
ccptíon otproductíon. Jhc rcuníon ot 'scícncc' and practícaI, ch


orícntcd actívíty - not wíthout íts ínñucncc on thc Brccht-Bcnjamm
anaIysísotthcmcdía,as wcshaIIsccínamomcnt- thustranstormsthc
Conclusion 205
proccss ot 'knowíng' thc worId ínto a sourcc ot dcIíght or pIcasurc ín
ítsown ríght ,andthís ísthctundamcntaI stcp ínthcconstructíon ota
propcrIyBrcchtían acsthctícs. lorítrcstorcsto'rcaIístíc' artthatprín-
cípIc ot pIay and gcnuínc acsthctíc gratíhcatíon whích thc rcIatívcIy
morc passívc and cognítívc acsthctíc otLukacs had sccmcd to rcpIacc
wíth thc grím duty ot a propcr rchcctíon ot thc worId. Jhc agc-oId
díIcmmas otadídactíc thcory otart (totcachor to pIcasc³)arc thcrcby
aIso ovcrcomc, and ín a worId whcrc scícncc ís cxpcrímcnt and pIay,
knowíng and doíng aIíkc arc torms otproductíon, stímuIatíng ín thcír
own ríght, a dídactíc art may now bc ímagíncd ín whích Icarníng and
pIcasurc arc no Iongcr scparatc trom cach othcr. In thc Brcchtían
acsthctíc, índccd, thc ídcaotrcaIísm ís not apurcIy artístíc and tormaI
ítscIt, charactcrízíngapartícuIarstancctowardsít. JhcspírítotrcaIísm
dcsígnatcs an actívc, curíous, cxpcrímcntaI, subvcrsívc - ín a word,�
scientifc - attítudctowardssocíaI ínstítutíons and thc matcríaI worId;
and thc 'rcaIístíc' work otart ís thcrctorc onc whích cncouragcs and
dísscmínatcs thís attítudc, yctnotmcrcIy ín a hat or mímctíc way or
aIong thcIíncs otímítatíon aIonc. !ndccd,thc'rcaIístíc' workotart ís
onc ín whích 'rcaIístíc' and cxpcrímcntaI attítudcs arc trícd out, not
onIybctwccn íts charactcrs and thcírhctívcrcaIítícs, but aIsobctwccn
thc audícncc and thc work ítscIt, and - notIcast sígníhcant- bctwccn
thcwrítcrandhísownmatcríaIsand tcchníqucs. Jhcthrcc-toIddímcn-
tatíonaI catcgorícs otthc tradítíonaI mímctíc work.
WhatBrcchtcaIIcdscícnccísthusín aIargcrscnscahgurctor non-
aIícnatcd productíon ín gcncraI. Itís what BIoch wouId caII a Ltopían
cmbIcm ot thc rcuníhcd and satístyíng praxís ota worId that has Ictt
aIícnatíon and thc dívísíon otIabour bchínd ít. Jhc orígínaIíty ot thc
thcmorc convcntíonaIímagc otartand thcartíst whích, partícuIarIy ín
bourgcoísIítcraturc,hastradítíonaIIyhad thísLtopíantunctíon.Atthc
samc tímc, ít must aIso bc askcd whcthcr Brccht's vísíon otscícncc ís
rcIatívcIy prímítívc stagc ín what has now comc to bc known a thc
sccond índustríaI rcvoIutíon. 5ccn ín thís pcrspcctívc, thc Brcchtían
dcIíght ín 'scícncc' ís rathcr ota píccc wíth Lcnín's dchnítíon otcom-
munísm as 'thcsovíctspIus cIcctríhcatíon', orOícgoKívcra'sgrandíosc
KockctcIIcr Ccntrc muraI (rcpaíntcd torBcIIas Artcs) ín whích, atthc
íntcrscctíonotmícrocosmand macrocosm, thcmassívchandsot5ovíct
Mcw Man grasp and movc thcvcry Icvcrs otcrcatíon.
Jogcthcr wíth hís condcmnatíon ot Lukacs's tormaIísm and hís
conccptíon otauníon otscícncc and acsthctícs ín thc dídactíc workot
art, thcrc ís yct a thírd straín ín Brccht's thínkíng - ín many ways thc
most ínßucntíaI - whích dcscrvcs attcntíon. Jhís ís, ot coursc, hís
tundamcntaI notíon ot Verfremdung. It ís thc so-caIIcd 'cstrangcmcnt
cñcct` whích ís most ottcn ínvokcd to sanctíon thcorícs ot poIítícaI
modcrnísmtoday, suchasthatotthcJcIQucIGroup.´Jhcpractíccot
cstrangcmcnt- stagíngphcnomcnaínsuchawaythatwhathadsccmcd
naturaIandímmutabIcínthcmísnowtangíbIyrcvcaIcdto bchístorícaI,
anoutIcttrom thcdcadcndotagítatíonaI dídactícísmínwhíchsomuch
otthc poIítícaI art otthc past rcmaíns conñncd. At thc samc tímc ít
aIIows a tríumphant rcappropríatíon and a matcríaIíst rcgroundíng ot
thc domínant ídcoIogy otmodcrnísm (thc Kussían lormaIíst 'makíng
strangc', Pound's 'makc ít ncw`, thc cmphasís otaII otthc hístorícaI
tíonassuch)tromthccndsotarcvoIutíonarypoIítícs. Joday,tradítíonaI
rcaIísm- thccanondctcndcdbyLukacs,butaIsooId-tashíoncdpoIítícaI
artotthcsocíaIístrcaIísttypc- ísoItcnassímíIatcdtocIassícaIídcoIogícs
otrcprcscntatíon and to thcpractíccot'cIoscd torm';whíIc cvcnbour-
gcoís modcrnísm (Krístcva's modcIs arc Lautróamont and MaIIarmó)
ís saíd to bc rcvoIutíonary prccíscIy to thc dcgrcc to whích ít caIIs thc
opcn 'tcxt'. Whatcvcr objcctíons may bc madc to thís acsthctíc ot
poIítícaI modcrnísm - and wc wíII rcscrvc a tundamcntaI onctor our
díscussíon otsímíIar vícwsotAdorno- ít wouId sccm mostdímcuItto
assocíatc Brccht wíth ít. Mot onIy was thc author ot 'On Abstract
Paíntíng'° as hostíIc to purcIy tormaI cxpcrímcntatíon as was Lukacs
hímscIt. that míghtbc hcId to bc a hístorícaI orgcncratíonaI accídcnt,
and símpIy to spcII out thc Iímíts otBrccht's pcrsonaI tastcs. What ís
morc scríous ís that hís attack on thc tormaIísm otLukacs's Iítcrary
´ For a persuasive yet self-critical statement of such a Brechtian modernism, see Colin
McCabe, 'Realism and the Cinema: note on some Brechtian theses', in Screen, XV, 2
(Summer, 1974), pp. 7-27.
" 'You say that you are communists, people intent on changing a world no longer ft for
habitaton . . . Yet were you in relity the cultural servant of the ruling clases, it would be
cunning stategy on your pr to make material things unrecognizable, since the struggle
concerns things and it is in the world ofthings that your masters have the most U answer
for.' 'Ober gegenstandslose Malerei', in Schriften zur Literatur und Kunst, II, Frankfurt,
1967, pp. 6869.
Conclusion 207
anaIyscsrcmaíns bíndíng onthcquítcdíñcrcntattcmptsotthcpoIítícaI
modcrníststo makcídcoIogícaI judgmcnts (rcvoIutíonaryjbourgcoís) on
thc basís otthc purcIy tormaI charactcrístícs otcIoscd or opcn torms,
'naturaIíty', cñaccmcnt otthc traccs otproductíon ín thc work, and so
torth. lor cxampIc, ítísccrtaínIythc cascthatabcIíctín thcnaturaIís
ídcoIogícaI and that muchot bourgcoís art has workcd to pcrpctuatc
such abcIíct, not onIy ín íts contcnt but through thccxpcrícncc otíts
torms as wcII. Yct ín díñcrcnt hístorícaI círcumstanccs thc ídca ot
naturc was oncc a subvcrsívc conccpt wíth a gcnuíncIy rcvoIutíonary
tunctíon, and onIy thc anaIysís otthc concrctc hístorícaI and cuIturaI
conjuncturc can tcII us whcthcr, ín thc post-naturaI worId ot Iatc
It ís tímc, índccd, to makc an asscssmcnt ot thosc tundamcntaI
changcs whích havc takcn pIacc ín capítaIísm and íts cuIturc síncc thc
pcríod ín whích Brccht and Lukacs spcIIcd out thcír optíons tor a
Marxíst acsthctícs and a Marxían conccptíon ot rcaIísm. What has
mcntwhíchhasdoncmuchtodatcmanyotLukacs'sbasícposítíons- ís
not wíthout íts cñcct on thosc otBrccht as wcII. Hcrc ít ís ncccssary
to cmphasízc thc íncxtrícabIc rcIatíonshíp bctwccn Brccht's acsthctíc
and thcanaIysísotthc mcdíaand ítsrcvoIutíonarypossíbíIítícsworkcd
out)oíntIybyhím and WaItcr Bcnjamín, and most wídcIyacccssíbIcín
anícaI Kcproductíon'.' lorBrccht and Bcnjamín had not yct bcgun to
tccI thc tuIItorcc and constríctíon otthat stark aItcmatívc bctwccn a
mass audícncc or mcdía cuIturc, and amínoríty'cIítc' modcrnísm, ín
whích ourthínkíng about acsthctícs today ís íncvítabIy Iockcd. Kathcr,
thcy torcsaw a rcvoIutíonary utíIízatíon otcommunícatíons tcchnoIogy
suchthatthcmoststríkíngadvanccs ín artístíctcchníquc- cñcctssuch
as thosc ot 'montagc', tor ínstancc, whích today wc tcnd to assocíatc
to poIítícízíng and dídactíc purposcs. Brccht`s conccptíon ot'rcaIísm'
ísthusnotcompIctcwíthoutthíspcrspcctívc ínwhíchthcartístís abIc
to usc thc most compIcx, modcrn tcchnoIogyín addrcssíng thc wídcst
' See Illuminations, London, 1970, also 'The Author as Producer', in Understanding
Brecht, London, 1973; and for f

rther developmets in a radical thery ofthe media, )iirgen
Habermas, Strukturwandel der
fentlithkeit, Neuwie, 1962; Hans-Magnus Enzensberger,
The Consciousness Industr, New York, 1974; and Oskar Negt and Alexande Kluge,
fentlichkeit und Erfahrung, Frankfurt, 1973.
popuIar pubIíc. Yct ít Mazísm ítscIt corrcsponds to an carIy and stíII
rcIatívcIy prímítívc stagc ín thccmcrgcncc otthc mcdía, thcn so docs
Bcnjamín's cuIturaI stratcgy tor attackíng ít, and ínpartícuIar hís con-
ccptíon otan artthat wouId bc rcvoIutíonary prccíscIy tothcdcgrccto
whích ít was tcchnícaIIy (and tcchnoIogícaIIy) 'advanccd'. In thc ín-
no Iongcr sharc thís optímísm. Wíthout ít, howcvcr, thc projcct ot a
spccíñcaIIypoIítícaImodcrnísm bccomcs índístínguíshabIc trom aII thc
othcr kínds- modcrnísm,amongothcr thíngs, bcíngcharactcrízcdbyíts
otthat uItímatc transtormatíon ot Iatc monopoIy capítaIism varíousIy
known asthcsociete de consommation or as post-índustríaI socícty. Jhís
ís thc hístorícaI stagc rchcctcd by Adorno's two post-war cssays, so
díñcrcntíncmphasístromthcprc-warmatcríaIsínthcprcscnt voIumc.
It may appcar casy cnough ín rctrospcct to ídcntítyhís rcpudíatíon ot
both Lukacs and Brccht, on thc grounds otthcír poIítícaI praxís, as a
charactcrstíc cxampIcotan antí-communísm nowoutmodcd wíththc
CoId War ítscIt. Morc rcIcvant ín thc prcscnt contcxt, howcvcr, ís thc
lrankturt 5chooI'sprcmíscota'totaIsystcm',whíchcxprcsscdAdorno's
andHorkhcímcr's scnsc otthc íncrcasíngIy cIoscd organízatíon otthc
worId íntoa scamIcss wcb otmcdía tcchnoIogy, muItínatíonaI corpora-
tíons and íntcrnatíonaIburcaucratíccontroI.° Whatcvcr thcthcorctícaI
mcrí:s otthc ídcaotthc 'totaI systcm'- and ít wouId sccm to mc that
whcrcít docnotIcadoutotpoIítícsaItogcthcr,ítcncouragcsthcrcvívaI
otan anarchíst opposítíon to Marxísm ítscIt, and can aIso bc uscd as a
justíñcatíon tor tcrrorísm - wcmayatIcastagrcc wíthAdorno that ín
or (Lnzcnsbcrgcr's varíant) íts 'conscíousncss-índustry', makcs tor an
unpropítíous cIímatctor anyotthcoIdcr, símpIcrtorms otopposítíonaI
art, whcthcr ít bc that proposcd by Lukacs, that produccd by Brccht,
or índccdthosc ccIcbratcd ín thcír díñcrcnt ways by Bcnjamín and by
BIoch. Jhc systcm has a powcr to co-opt and to dctusccvcn thc most
potcntíaIIy dangcrous torms otpoIítícaI art by transtormíng thcm ínto
cuIturaI commoditícs (wítncss, ít turthcr proot bc ncoo, thc grísIy
cxampIcotthcburgconíngBrccht-!ndustrícítscIU). Onthcothcrhand,
ít cannot bc saíd that Adorno's rathcr astoníshíng 'rcsoIutíon' ot thc
´The more reent French variant on this position -as for example in Jean Baudrillard ­
enlarge the model to include the 'socialist bloc' within this new dystopian entente.
Conclusion 209
probIcm- hísproposaItosccthccIassícaIstagcothíghmodcrnísm ítscIt
as thc vcry prototypc otthc most 'gcnuíncIy' poIítícaI art('thís ís not a
tímc tor poIítícaI art, but poIítícs has mígratcd ínto au´tonomous art,
and nowhcrc morc so than whcrc ít sccms to bc poIítícaIIy dcad') and

- torínstancc,hísdíscussíonot5chocnbcrgandthc
twcIvc-tonc systcm ín thc Philosophy ojModer Music - documcnt hís
asscrtíonthatthcgrcatcstmodcrnart, cvcnthcmostapparcntIyun- or
antí-poIítícaI, ín rcaIíty hoIdsup amírrortothc 'totaI systcm' otIatc
capítaIísm. Yctín rctrospcct, thísnowsccmsamostuncxpcctcdrcvívaI
ota Lukacs-typc 'rchcctíon thcory' otacsthctícs, undcr thc spcII ota
hcncctorth unímagínabIc. What ís uItímatcIy tataI to thís ncw and
ísIcssthccquívocaIrhctorícot Adorno'sattackonLukacsorthcpartíaIíty
othís rcadíng otBrccht,° than vcryprccíscIythctatcotmodcrnísm ín
consumcr socícty ítscIt. lor what was oncc an opposítíonaI and antí-
socíaI phcnomcnon ínthc carIyycarsotthcccntury, has todaybccomc
thc domínant styIc ot commodíty productíon and an índíspcnsabIc
componcnt ín thc machíncry ot thc Iattcr's cvcr morc rapíd and
dcmandíngrcproductíonotítscIt.Jhat5chocnbcrg'sHoIIywoop pupíIs
uscd thcíradvanccdtcchníqucs to wrítc movíc musíc, thatthc mastcr-
píccc otthc mostrcccnt schooIs otAmcrícan paíntíngarcnow sought
to cmbcIIísh thc spIcndíd ncw structurcs otthc grcat ínsurancc com-
panícs and muItínatíonaI banks (thcmscIvcs thc work ot thc most
taIcntcdand 'advanccd' modcrnarchítccts),arcbutthccxtcrnaIsymp-
to thcsociete de consommation otthcprcscnt.
JhcñnaIaspcctotthccontcmporarysítuatíonrcIcvantto oursubjcct
hastodowíth thcchangcsthathavctakcnpIacc wíthín socíaIísm ítscIt
síncc thc�pubIícatíon otthc Lxprcssíonísm dcbatc ín Das Wort somc
tortyycarsago. !tthcccntraIprobIcmotapoIítícaIartundcrcapítaIísm
ís that otco-optatíon, oncotthc crucíaI íssucs otcuIturc ína socíaIíst
tramcwork mustsurcIy rcmaín thatotwhat LrnstBIochcaIIs thcErbe:
. For a path-breking Marxian crretive to Adoro's reding of the Caucasian Chalk
Circle, see Darko Suvin, 'Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circl and Marxist Figuration: Open
Dramaturgy A Open History', in Norml. Rudick, e., Th Weapons ofCritiism, Palo
Alto, Califora, 1976.
ingIy bc a síngIc íntcrnationaI cuIturc ot thc tuturc, and ot thc pIacc
`ccts otdívcrsc hcrítagcsínasocictyíntcntonbuíIdíngsocíaIísm.
BIoch's tormuIatíon ot thc probIcm is obvíousIy a stratcgic mcans ot
transtormíng Lukacs's narrow poIcmícs - whích wcrc Iímítcd to thc
rcaIisticnovcIístsotthcLuropcanbourgcoistradítíon- andotcnIargíng
thctramcvorkotthcdcbatctoincIudcthcímmcnsc varíctyotpopuIar
orpcasant,prc-capítaIístOf 'prímítivc'arts. !tshouIdbcundcrstoodin
thc contcxt ot hís monumcntaI attcmpt to rcínvcnt thc conccpt ot
Marx and LngcIsthcmscIvcstothc'utopiansocíaIism' ot5aint-5ímon,
Owcn or louricr. BIoch's ltopían príncípIc aims at jarríng socíaIist
thoughtIoosctrom its narrow scIt-dchnition in tcrmswhichcsscntiaIIy
proIong thc catcgorics ot capítaIísm itscIt, whcthcr by ncgatíon or
adoptíon (tcrms Iíkc industriaIízatíon, ccntraIízatíon, progrcss, tcch-
noIogy, and cvcn productíon ítscIt, which tcnd to ímposc thcir own
sociaI Iímitatíons and options on thosc who work wíth thcm). Whcrc
Lukacs's cuIturaI thinkíng cmphasízcs thc contínuitics bctwccn thc
bourgcois ordcr and thatwhíchisto dcvcIop outotit,BIoch'spriorítícs
suggcstthcnccdtothínkthc 'transition to socíaIism' ín tcrmsotradícaI
díñcrcncc otamorcabsoIutcbrcakwíththatpartícuIarpast,pcrhapsot ,
a rcncwaI or rccovcry otthc truth otmorc ancicnt sociaI torms. Jhc
ncwcr Marxíst anthropoIogy, índccd, rcminds us - trom wíthín our
socictícs;andatahístorícaImomcntínwhíchsuchan íntcrcstínamuch
morc rcmotc past sccms Icss IíkcIy to givc rísc to thc scntímcntaIízíng
otthc tuturc. PoIiticaIIy, thccIassícaI Marxían notíon otthc ncccssity,
duríng thc transítion to sociaIism,ota'dictatorship otthcproIctaríat'-
thatís,awithdrawaIotcñ`cctívcpowcrtromthoscwithavcstcd íntcrcst
in thc rc-cstabIíshmcnt otthc oId ordcr - has surcIy not bccomc out-
modcd. Yct ít may cmcrgc conccptuaIIy transtormcd whcn oncc wc
coIIcctívcrc-cducationotaIIthccIasscs. Jhisísthcpcrspcctívcínwhích
Lukacs's cmphasis on thc grcat bourgcois novcIísts sccms most ínadc-
quatcto thctask, butítísoncínwhíchthcantí-bourgcoísthrustotthc
grcat modcrnísms aIso appcars ínappropríatc. !t ís thcn that BIoch's
mcdítationon thcErbe, onthcrcprcsscdcuIturaIdíñcrcncc otthcpast
Conclusion 211
wíII tor thc hrst tímc comc into íts own, at a point whcn thc conhict
bctwccn KcaIism and Modcrnísm rcccdcs bchínd us.
But surcIy ínthc Wcst, and pcrhaps cIscwhcrc as wcII, that pointis
stíII bcyond us. In our prcscnt cuIturaI situatíon, it anything, both
aItcrnativcsotrcaIismand otmodcrnismsccmíntoIcrabIc tous. rcaIísm
bccausc íts torms rcvívc oIdcr cxpcricnccs ota kínd otsocíaI Iítc (thc
cIassícaI ínncr cíty, thc tradítíonaI opposítíon cítyjcountry) whích í
s no
Iongcr wíth us ín thc aIrcady dccaying tuturc ot consumcr socicty.
acutc than thosc ot rcaIism. An acsthctic ot novcIty today - aIrcady
cnthroncd as thc dominant críticaI and tormaI ídcoIogy - must scck
dcspcratcIy to rcncwitscItbycvcrmorcrapíd rotatíonsotíts own axís:
modcrnism sccking to bccomc post-modcrnísm wíthout ccasing tobc
modcrn. Jhus today wc wítncssthcspcctacIc ota prcdíctabIc rcturn,
attcr abstractíon has itscItbccomc a tírcd convcntíon, to hguratívc art,
ítscIt! In Iítcraturc, mcanwhiIc, amidst a wcaríncss wíth pIotIcss or
poctic hctíon, a rcturn to intriguc ís achícvcd,notbythcIattcr's rcdis-
covcry but rathcr by pastíchc otoIdcr narrativcs and dcpcrsonaIízcd
ímítati�n ottradítíonaI voiccs, simíIar to 5travínsky's pastichc ot thc
cIassicscrítícizcdbyAdorno's Philosophy of Music.
In thcsc circumstanccs, indccd, thcrc ís somc qucstíon whcthcr thc
uItímatc rcncwaI otmodcrnísm, thc hnaI diaIccticaI subvcrsion o�thc
now automatizcd convcntíons otan acsthctícs otpcrccptuaI rcvoIution,
might not simpIy bc . . .rcaIísm itscItl lor whcn modcrnism and its
accompanyíng tcchníqucs ot'cstrangcmcnt' havc bccomcthcdomi

styIc whcrcby thc consumcr ís rcconciIcd wíth capítaIism, thchabitot
tragmcntatíon itscIt nccds to bc 'cstrangcd' and corrcctcd by a morc
totaIízíngwayotvícwíngphcnomcna.¹° !nanuncxpcctcddónoucmcnt,
See, for example, the instructive cmments of Stanley Aronowitz on the cinema.
'Unlike the important efforts of Japanese and Europen flm-makers U fx the camera
directly on the action and pennit the scene to work "itself" ou

, American flms are

terize by rapid camera work and sharp editing whose effect IS to segme
the actIOn

one or two-minute time slots, paralleling the prevailing style of tel

vlslQn product

The American moviegoer, having become accustomed in TV watchmg V
breaks i the action of a dramatic presentaton, is believe to have become mca

able of
sustaining longer and slower action. Therefore the prevailing mode of flm prod

ctlOn rely
on conceptions of dramatic time inherited from the more craSS forms of commerCial culture.
ítmaybLukac- wrongashcmíghthavcbccnínthc!º30s-whohas
somcprovísíonaIIastword tor ustoday. YctthíspartícuIarLukacs, íthc
bcímagínabIc, wouId bconctor whom thc conccptotrcaIísmhasbccn
rcwríttcn ín tcrms otthc catcgorícs otHistor and Class Consciousness,
ín partícuIar thosc otrcíhcatíon and totaIíty. LnIíkc thc morc tamíIíar

to work(díssocíatíng thcworkcrtrom hísIabour,hísproduct,hístcIIow
workcrs and uItímatcIy trom hís vcry 'spccícs bcíng' ítscI], rcíhcatíon
!t ís adíscasc otthat mappíng tunctíon whcrcbythc índívíduaI sub|cct
projccts and modcIs hís or hcr ínscrtíon ínto thc coIIcctívíty. Jhc
anappcaranccotrcIatíonshípsbctwccnthíngs- rcndcrssocíctyopaquc.
bywhíchdomínatíonand cxpIoítatíonarcIcgítímízcd.5ínccthc tunda-
mcntaIstructurcotthcsocíaI'totaIíty' ís asctotcIassrcIatíonshíps- an
antagonístíc structurc such that thc varíous socíaI cIasscs dchnc thcm-
scIvcsín tcrmsotthatantagonísmandbyopposítíonwíthoncanothcr-
rcíhcatíonncccssaríIyobscurcsthccIasscharactcrotthatstructurc, and
as to thc naturc and cvcn thc cxístcncc ot socíaI cIasscs whích can bc
abundantIy obscrvcd ín aII thc 'advanccd' capítaIíst countrícstoday. It
thc díagnosís ís corrcct, thc íntcnsíhcatíon otcIass conscíousncss wíII
ítscIt, thanotthctorcíbIcrcopcníng otacccsstoa scnscotsocíctyasa
that aIIow socíaI phcnomcna oncc agaín to bccomc transparcnt, as
momcntsotthcstruggIcbetween cIasscs.
Lndcr thcsc círcumstanccs, thc tunctíon ota ncw rcaIísm wo¤Id bc
cIcar, to rcsíst thc powcr otrcíhcatíon ín consumcrsocícty and to rc-
ínvcnt that catcgory ot totaIíty whích, systcmatícaIIy undcrmíncd by
cxístcntíaI tragmcntatíon on aII IcvcIs ot Iítc and socíaI organízatíon
today, can aIonc pro|cct structuraI rcIatíons bctwccn cIasscs as wcII as
The flm-maker who subordinate the action and the characters Vthis concept of dramatic
time reveals a politics inside technique that is f more insidious than "reactionary" content
When viewed from this perspective, the flm-maker such as Howard Hawks, who refuses
to subordinate art to the requirements of segmented time, becomes more resistant to
authoritarianism than the liberal or left-wing flm-makers who are concerne with the
humanitarian content of fl but have capitulate t technique that totally reduc the
audienc to spectators.' Paise Promises, New York 1973, p. 1 16-17.
C onelusion 213
cIass struggIcs ín othcr countrícs, ín what has íncrcasíngIy bccomc a
worId systcm. 5uch a conccptíon ot rcaIísm wouId íncorporatc what
wasaIwaysmost concrctc ínthcdíaIcctícaIcountcr-conccpt otmodcrn-
ísm- íts cmphasíson víoIcntrcncwaIotpcrccptíonínaworId ínwhích
cxpcrícncchassoIídíhcdíntoamassothabítsand automatísms. Yctthc
habítuatíon whích ít wouId bc thc tunctíon ot thc ncw acsthctíc to
dísruptwouId no Iongcr bc thcmatízcd ínthcconvcntíonaImodcrnístíc
tcrms otdcsacraIízcd or dchumanízíngrcason, otmasssocíctyand thc
índustríaI cíty or tcchnoIogy ín gcncraI, but rathcr as a tunctíon otthc
commodítysystcm and thc rcítyíng structurcotIatccapítaIísm.
Othcr conccptíons ot rcaIísm, othcr kínds
ot poIítícaI acsthctícs,
obvíousIy rcmaín conccívabIc. JhcKcaIísmjModcrnísm dcbatctcachcs
ínwhíchthcyarccaIIcd to tunctíon.Jotakcanattítudcotpartísanshíp
towards kcy struggIcs otthc past docs not mcan cíthcr choosíng sídcs,
or scckíng to harmonízc írrcconcíIabIc díñcrcnccs. !n such cxtínct yct
stíII víruIcnt íntcIIcctuaI conhícts, thc tundamcntaI contradíctíon ís
bctwccn hístory ítscItand thc conccptuaI apparatus whích, scckíng to
grasp íts rcaIítícs, onIy succccds ín rcproducíng thcír díscord wíthín
ítscItínthctorm otancnígmatorthought,an aporía. !tís to thísaporía
that wc must hoId, whíchcontaíns wíthín íts structurc thc crux ot a
hístory bcyond whích wchavcnotyctpasscd. !t cannot otcoursc tcII
us what our conccptíon ot rcaIísm ought to bc,yct íts study makcs ít
ímpossíbIctous notto tccI thcobIígatíontorcínvcnt onc.
ABC of Communism (Bukharin), 131
Adorno, Gretel, 110 and n, 117, 131,
Adorno, Theodor, 13, 65-6, 67,
100-9, 110-33, 142-50, 151-76,
177-95, 196-7, 206, 208-9, 211
Die Aktion, 169n
L' Are Du Vin, 129, 137
Andersen, Hans Christian, BIn
Anna Karenina (Tolstoy), 161
Arcades (Benjamin), 100, 115-20
Aristotle, 149, 158
Aronowitz, Stanley, 211n
Art Nouveau, 118, 136, 170n
Arturo Vi (Brecht), 92, 147, 157,
Bachelard, Gaston, 204
Bahr, Hermann, 49
Bakunin, Mikhail, 196
Balazs, Bela, 12
Ballad of the Dead Soldier (Brecht),
Balzac, Honore de, 21, 36, 46, 49, 56,
61, 62-3, 74, 76-9, 82, 132, 145,
149, 163
Roland, 198
Bateau ivre (Rim baud), 86-7
Baudelaire, Charles, 66 and Ï¿ 119,
134-5, 137, 140, 158, 188
Baudrillard, Jean, 208n
The Beaver Coat (Hauptmann), 40
Becher, Johannes, 160, 18, 25, 52,
Beckett, Samuel, 67, 144, 146, 156,
161, 166, 182, 190-1, 209
Being and Nothingness (Sartre), 182
Being and Time (Heidegger), 164
Belinsky, Vissarion, 203
Benjamin, Walter, lOn, 61, 62, 6,
65 and n, 66 and n, 86-99, 100-9,
1 10-33, 134-41, 142, 144, 156, 158,
195, 196, 204, 207-8
Benn, Gottfried, 12, 16 and n, 40-1,
42, 43, 146, 156, 169-70
Bentley, Eric, 58n
Berg, Alban, 120
Bergson, Henri, 171
Berlin Alexanderplatz, 69n
Berliner Kindheit im Neunzehnhundert
(Benjamin), 117 and n
Bernstein, Henry, 50
Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider),
12, 13n, 16 and n, 23, 24, 52
Bloch, Ernst, 9-15, 16-27, 29, 30-1,
34-6, 40-3, 44-59, 62, 142, 196,
201, 208, 209-11
Borchardt, Rudolf, 122 and n, 165
Borkenau, Franz, 173
Brahms, Johannes, 118
Brecht, Bertolt, 11, 12, 15, 23n, 26,
56n, 58 and n, 59, 60-7, 68-85,
86-99, 102, 114, 126, 142, 144,
146-50, 152, 157, 179, 182-93,
196-7, 199-209
Bredel, Willi, 11, 60 and n, 62
Breton, Andre, 197
Breughel, Pieter, 70
Brill, Hans, 139
The Brothers Karamazov
(Dostoyevsky), 88
Die Bricke, 12, 16n
Buddenbrooks (Mann), 53
Buch der Wendungen (Brecht), 65n
Bukharin, Nikolai, 131, 186 and n
The Business Affairs of Herr Julus
Caesar (Brecht), 70
Cahiers du Cinema, 108
Capital (Marx), 96, 155
The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Brecht),
67, 149, 188, 209n
Cervantes, Saavedra Miguel de, 28, 56
Cezanne, Paul, 21, 45n
Chagall, Marc, 18
Chaplin, Charies, 106, 107, 123, 184
Charles Baudelaire - A lyric poet in
the era of high capitalism
(Benjamin), 100-1, 103-6, 110-20,
126-33, 134-8
Charpentier, Marc Antoine, 130, 137
Chernyshevsky, Nikolai Gavrilovich,
Childrens' Songs (Brecht), 98
Chopin" Frederic, 93
L Cid (Corneille), 94
L ComMie Humaine (Balzac), 163
Confucius, 65n, 87
Crime and Punishment (Dostoyevsky),
Cubism, 25
Cuvier, Georges, 55 and n
The Cultivation of the Millet (Brecht),
Dadaism, 126, 183
Dante, 94
Daumer, C. F., 155-6, 156n
Delauney, Robert, 45n
De Man, Paul, 198n
Derain, Andre, 124n
The Destruction of Reason (Lukacs),
Dickens, Charles, 36, 163
Dilthey, Wilhelm, 105
Dimitrov, Georgi, 28
Dix, Otto, 18, 26
Index 215
Dablin, Alfred, 12, 58 and n, 59, 69
Don Carlos (Schiller), 54
Don Quixote (Cervantes), 28, 47
Dos Passos, John, 69n, 77
Dostigayev (Gorky), 47
Dostoyevsky, Fedor, 9, 65, 88, 93,
Drieu la Rochelle, Pierre, 202
Dudow, Slatan, 148
Durkheim, Emil, 181
Education before Verdun (Zweig), 47
Education Sentimentale (Flaubert),
Edward I (Brecht), 94
Ehrenstein, Albert, 18
Einbahnstrasse (Benjamin), 121
Eisler, Johannes, 12, 56n
Eisler, Hanns, 29, 54, 55, 56n, 62
Elective Afnities (Goethe), 97, 122
and n, 131, 137
Eliot, T. S., 162
Engels, Friedrich, 87, 96, 155, 163,
186, 210
Enzensberger, Hans-Magnus, 188,
207n, 208
Erbschaf dieser Zeit (Bloch), 10, 30
Erpenbeck, Fritz, 11
Exhibition of Degenerate Art,
Munich (1937), 17n
L'Existentialisme est un Humam"sme
(Sartre), 194n
Faust (Goethe), 24, 136 and n
Feuchtwanger, Leon, 11, 58, 59, 62
Feuerbach, Ludwig, 21, 155
Fichte, Johann Gottlieb, 49
Fin de Partie (Beckett), 161
The Finest Legends ofWoynok the
Brgand(Seghe�), 97
Fischer, Peter, 29
Fitzgerald, Scott, 202
Flaubert, Gustave, 140, 162, 171
Fontane, Theodor, 53
Fortini, Franco, 15n
Fourier, Charles Andre, 115, 210
France, Anatole, 53
Frankfurt Institute ofSocial Research,
142, 143, 197, 208
Frankfurter Zeitung, 117
Franz 'on Sickingen (Lasalle), 186
Galileo Galilei (Brecht), 67
Gallas, Helga, 61n, 199n
Der Geist der Utopie (Bloch), 9
Genealogy ofMorals (Nietzsche), 131
Gentile, Giovanni, 182
George, Stefan, 192
Gide, Andre, 69, 77,78, 123
Godard, Jean-Luc, 67, 197
Goebbels, Joseph, 17n
Goering, Reinhard, 74n
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 21,
24, 41-2, 97, 131, 136n, 171 and n,
Gombrich, Erst, 198
The Good Solier Schweik (Hasek),
73, 76,93
The Good Woman o/Szechupn
(Brecht), 148, 183
Gorky, Maxim, 29, 46- 7, 49, 53, 54,
56, 58
The Great Dictator (Chaplin), 184-5
The Greatness and the Decline of
Expressionism (Lukacs), 17
Grimmelshausen, Hans Jacob
Christofel von, 55 and n, 56, 186
Grosz, Georg, 18, 26
Grundrisse (Marx), 155 and n
Grunewald, Mathis, 23
Guernica (Picasso), 178, 185, 190
Habermas, Jiirgen, 207n
Hamlet (Shakespeare), 114
Harzreise im Winter (Goethe), 24
Hasek, Jaroslav, 73, 93
Hasenc1ever, Walter, 18
Hauptmann, Gerhart, 39-0, 87
Haussmann, Georgs-Eugene, 113,
Hawks, Howard, 212n
Heartfeld, John, 26
Hebbel, Christian Friedrich, 132
Hegel, Friedrich, 9, 10, 21, 38, 45,
151n, 153, 158, 162, 164, 168, 173,
176, 181, 185, 188, 200
Heidegger, Martin, 156, 158, 164, 169
Heine, Heinrich, 21-2, 96, 116
Herbst-Blumine Oean Paul), 132
Hesse, Hermann, 18
Heym, Stefan, 12, 16n, 18
Hilferding, Rudolf, 50
Hiller, Kurt, 18, 20n
Historical Novel (Lukacs), 14
History and Class Consciousness
(Lukacs), 50, 151, 203, 212
History ofthe Jewish Wars
(Feuchtwanger), 58
Hitler, Adolf, 17, 25, 92, 179, 184
Hoffmann, E. T. A., 138
Hofmannsthal, Hugo Von, 122n
Homer, 21, 56n
Horkheimer, Max, 101, 106, 113,
123, 125-8 passim, 130, 139, 142,
161, 208
Hugo, Victor, 128, 132, 138
Huis Clos (Sartre), 179
Husserl, Edmund, 169
Ibsen, Henrik, 118
Illuminations (Benjamin), 100, 207n
Impressionism, 21, 29, 43
The Infero (Dante), 94
The Informer (Brecht), 58 and n
Internationale Literatur, 10, 17, 61
Jean Christophe (Rolland), 42 and n
Jean Paul, 132-3, 135
Les Jeux sont Faits, 182
Joyce, James, 34, 35-, 42, 44, 57, 65,
69 and n, 73, 156, 159, 162, 166,
Die Jugend des Konigs Henri Quatre
Jung, Carl Gustav, 102-3, 105, 113
J unger, Ernst, 23n, 156
Kafka, Franz, 65, 88-91, 102, 114,
124, 144, 146, 149, 154, 156, 161,
165, 166, 191, 194
Kaiser, Georg, 12, 74 and n
Kameraden der Menschheit (Friends of
Mankind), 24
Kandinsky, Wassily, 16n, 18, 24n,
Kant, Immanuel, 165n, 190
Karamora (Gorky), 47
Kassner, Rudolf, 151
Kastner, Erich, 23n
Kautsky, Karl, 50
Keller, Gottfried, 56, 152
Kierkegaard, S�ren, 9, 118, 165
Kierkegaard,' K(nstruktion des
Aesthetischen (Adorno), 112 and n,
115, 1 17-18, 119, 136-7
Klages, Ludwig, 105, 113 and n, 169
Klee, Paul, 18, 194-5
Klim Samgin (Gorky), 47
Klimt, Gustav, 170n
Kluge, Alexander, 207n
Kokoschka, Oskar, 18, 170n
Korsch, Karl, 202
Koyre, Alexandre, 204
Kracauer, Siegfried, 123 and n
Kraus, Karl, 12, 90, 116
Kroger, Tonio, 57n
Kuhle Wampe, 60n, 148
Kuhn, J. G., 204
Kun, Bela, 96
Kunst und Macht (Benn), 41
Kurella, Alfred (pseudonym:
Berhard Ziegler), 11, 12, 16 and
n, 17, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26, 52, 61, 95,
Lafargue, Paul, 46
Lao Tzu, 89
Lask, Emil, 151n
Lasker-Schuler, Else, 16n, 18
The Last Days ofMankind (Kraus),
Lautreamont, Comte de, 206
The Legend ofthe Origin of the Book
ofTao Te Ch'ing on Lao-Tzu's
Jourey into Exile (Brecht), 188
Index 217
Lenin, V. 1., 33, 39, 55, 87, 107, 122,
196, 205
Leonhard, Rudolf, 18, 40, 45-6
Leschnitzer, 12, 17
Letters from the Underworld
(Dostoyevsky), 164
Linkskurve, 60, 61, 199n
Die Literarische Welt, 127
Literary History and Literary
Moderity (De Man), 198n
London, Jack, 184
Louise (Charpentier), 130
Lowenthal, Leo, 131
Lowy, Michael, 144n
Lucinde (Schlegel), 165n
Lukacs, Georg, 9-15, 17, 18-23,
28-59, 6(. 6, 68-85, 95, 96, 97,
116, 142-50, 151-76, 196-212
Lukacs and Stalinism (L6wy), l44n
Luxemburg, Rosa, 196
McCabe, Colin, 206n
Macke, August, 16n
Maeterlinck, Maurice, 118
The Magic Mountain (Mann), 35,
146, 171
Mahagonny (Brecht), 183
Mahler, Gustav, 139
Mallarme, Stephane, 65, 118, 121,
122, 206
Man ofthe Crowd (Poe), 119, 137
Manet, Edouard, 116
Mann, Heinrich, 20, 29, 37, 47, 56,
Mann, Thomas, 29, 30, 34, 35-6, 37,
53, 54, 56, 57, 58, 65, 144, 146,
170, 171-2, 193
Marc, Franz, 16n, 18
Marcuse, Herbert, 180, 197
Marx, Karl, 21, 32, 38, 45, 87, 96,
105, 107, 155, 163, 186, 196, 200,
Die Massnahme (Brecht), 83n
The Master Builder (Ibsen), 118
Maupassant, Guy de, 119
Mayakovsky, Vladimir, 52
The Meaning ofContemporary
Realism (Lukacs), 143, 146, 152-76
The Measures Taken (Brecht), 148,
182, 186, 187
Menschheitsdimmerung (Dawn of
MankinJ, 12, 16 and n, 24
Michaelis, Karin, 88
Mo Ti, 65n
Modern Times (Chaplin), 124
Moments Musicaux (Adoro), 120n
Die Monat, 143
Montherlant, Henri de, 161
Morike, Eduard, 22
Morts sans Sepulture (Sartre), 188
The Mother (Brecht), 182
Mother Courage (Brecht), 67, 147,
Muller, Adam, 38
Munzenberg, Willi, 61n
Musil, Robert, 144, 161, 169
Negr, Oskar, 207n
Neher, Carola, 86
Neo-classicism, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 30
Neue Deutsche Beitrige, 122n
Die Neue Rundschau, 146
Neue Sachlichkeit (Neo-Objectivity),
23 and n, 69n
Neue Weltbuhne, 29
Neumann, Heinz, 61n
The Next Village (Kafka), 90-1
Nietzsche, Friedrich, #, 131, 152
Nolde, Emil, 18
Nordic decorative art, 24
Noske, Gustav, 50-52
Nouveau roman, 197
Nouvelle vague, 197
La Nuit (Maupassant), 119
Oblomov (Goncharov), 47
Ofenbach, Jacques, 1 1 1
Ottwalt, Erst, 60 and n, 95, 148
Owen, Robert, 210
Pandora (Goethe), 24
The Peasant and his Ox (Brecht), 96
Peguy, Charles, 128, 137
The Philosophy of Modern Music
(Adorno), 167, 209, 211
Picard, Louis-Benoit, 30
Picasso, Pablo, 26, 178, 189-90
Pieces Condamnees (Baudelaire), 119
Pinthus, Kurt, 16n, 18, 30
Piscator, Erwin, 83
Poe, Edgar Allan, 119, 135
Poems from Exile (Brecht), 98
Pound, Ezra, 206
Probleme des Realsmus (Lukacs), 56n
Professor Unrat, 47
Proust, Marcel, 65, 102, 119, 127,
156, 157-8, 160
Puntila (Brecht), 67
Raabe, Wilhelm, 152
Reich, Wilhelm, 202
The Religion o/the New Age
(Daumer), 155
Retour de ( URSS (Gide), 77n
Rickert, Heinrich, 102, 151n
Rilke, Rainer Maria, 124, 170
Rimbaud, Arthur, 86- 7
Rivera, Diego, 205-6
Rolland, Romain, 29, 37, 42n, 53, 54
Rosenberg, Alfred, 24, 169
Rubiner, Ludwig, 18
St Joan of the Stockyards (Brecht),
147, 148, 182, 183-4
Saint-Simon, 210
Sartre, Jean-Paul, 146- 7, 177-86, 188,
190, 194, 197
Schickele, Rene, 18
Schiller, Friedrich, 35n, 54, 182, 192
Schlegel, Friedrich, 165
Schlnberg, Arold, 18, 102, 121, 123,
124, 146, 189, 209
Schopenhauer, Arthur, 10, 160, 169
Schriften zur Kunst und Literatur, 62
Sedlmayr, Hans, 167n
Seghers, Anna, 97
Sergeant Grischa (Zweig), 47
Shakespeare, William, 56, 98
Shaw, George Bernard, 148
Simmel, Georg, 9, 104n, 129 and n,
Simplizissimus (The Adventures of a
Simpleton) (Grimmelshausen), 55
and n
Sons (Feuchtwanger), 58
Soul and Form; The Theory of the
Novel (Lukacs), 151
Stadler, Ernst, 12, 16n
Stalin, Josef, 76, 94, 96, 142, 144, 152,
Stefn, Gretl, 95
Sternberg, Leo, 74 and n
Storm and Stress movement, 23
Stramm, August, 12
Stravinsky, Igor, 211
Streicher, Julius, 21
Der Sturm, 12
Surrealism, 29, 34, 35, 36, 37, 41,
42-3, 46, 48, 49, 127, 197
Survivor 0/Warsaw (Schoenberg),
Suvin, Darko, 209n
Tableaux Parisiens, 158
Tel Quel group, 197, 206
Tentation de Saint-Antoine (Flaubert),
Thackeray, William Makepeace, 119
The Teory of the Novel (Lukacs),
42, 49, 152-3
The Threepenny Novel (Brecht), 92,
The Threepenny Opera (Brecht), 67,
Toller, Erst, 12, 74 and n
Tolstoy, Leo, 36, 56,61, 62-3, 73,
74, 76-7, 82, 161, 171
Trakl, Georg, 12, 16n, 18
Treatise on the Theatre as a Moral
Institution (Schiller), 192
Tretyakov, Sergei, 60, 78, 88-9, 95
The Trial (Kafka), 90-1
Trotsky, Leon, 96
Tucholsky, Kurt, 73 and n
Ulysses Goyce), 73
Understanding Brecht (Benjamin), 100
The Unnameable (Beckett), 191
Index 219
Der Untertan, 47
Der Ursprung des Deutschen
Trauerspiels (Benjamin), 112 and n
Valentin, Karl, 94
Valery, Paul, 102, 122
Verlust der Mitre (Sedlmayr), 167n
Versuch iber Wagner (Adorno), 129n
Virgil, 94
Vlaminck, Maurice de, 124
Vogeler, Heinrich, 41
Die Vollendung des Konigs Henri
Quatre (Mann) 47n
Voltaire, 75, 181
Wagner, Richard, 118, 119, 129, 130
Waiting for Godot (Beckett), 67
Walden, Herwarth, 12, 44
Wallensteins Tod (Schiller), 35n
Wanderers Sturmlied (Goethe), 24
Wangenheim, 12, 41, 46
Wassermann, Jakob, 30
The Weavers (Hauptmann), 40
Weber, Max, 9, 151n
Wedekind, Frank, 118
Die Weltbihne, 73n
Werfel, Franz, 12, 16n, 18, 19, 124
What is Literature? (Sartre), 146, 177,
178n, 186n, 190n, 192n, 197
Wildenbruch, Erst von, 25 and n
Wilhelm 11, 194
Winckelmann, Johann Joachim, 21,
Wolfe, Thomas, 158
The Work of Art in the Age of
Mechanical Reproduction
(Benjamin), 106, 120-6, 140, 207
Das Wort, 11, 28, 56n, 58, 62, 94, 97,
Writer and Critic (Lukacs), 200n
Zeitschrit fur Sozialforschung, 101,
106, 120n
Die Zerstoriing der Verunf (Lukacs),
Ziegler, Bernhard see Kurella, Alfred
Ziel-Jahrbucher, 20 and n
Zinoviev, Grigori, 186 and n
Zola, Emile, 25n, 174
Zur Metakritik des Erkenntnistheorie.
Studien tber Husserl und die
phanomenologischen Antinomien
(Adorno), 120
Zweig, Arnold, 47
Zweig, Stefan, 18

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