Presentiamo qui l’edizione inglese di “Il significato attuale del realismo critico” perché contiene alcune pagine (83-89) non presenti nelle edizioni italiana, francese e tedesca.
In this fascinating study the Hungarian philosopher and literary critic examines what he considers the three main trends in modern literature. First, he discusses the ‘literature of the avant-garde’ – experimental Modernism from Kafka, Joyce and Musil to Beckett and Faulkner. He criticises Modernism for its subjectivism, its ‘static’ view of the human condition, its dissolution of ‘character’, its obsession with pathological states, and its lack of a sense of history. According to Lukács, the ‘literature of the avant-garde’ has been the typical literature of Western capitalist society over the past fifty years. Its counterpart in Communist Eastern Europe, often equally narrow and dogmatic, though in Lukács’ view more promising in the long run, is so-called ‘socialist realism’. The main fault Lukács sees in socialist realist writers is that they over-simplify the problem of realism in literature by failing to see the contradictions in the everyday life of actual society. Their view of history – Utopia is already with us – is no less ‘static’ than that of Western avant-gardists. Contrasted with these two systems of artistic dogmatism stands, in Lukács’ view ‘critical realism’. The critical realists, represented at their best by Thomas Mann, Conrad and Shaw, are the true heirs to the great European realists of the nineteenth century – Balzac, Stendhal and Tolstoy. In their work the social changes that characterise our era are most truly reflected, character is not sacrificed to artistic pattern, the human condition is understood dynamically, in a historical context, the pathological aspects of modern life are placed in a ‘critical’ perspective. Thus, ‘critical realism’ is not only the link with the great literature of the past, but is also the literature that points into the future.