Georg Lukacs wanted to write his autobiography shortly before he died in 1971, but his health wouldn’t permit it. Instead, he jotted an autobiographical sketch and gave a long interview to a couple of his students. One of them, Istvan Etirsi, has combined these materials with earlier interviews and presented the results as Record of a Life. Naturally the book is jumpy and fragmentary. But no one can say it lacks dramatic events. Lukacs was a man of action, indeed a man of violence, though it seems odd to say this. In 1919 he joined the Communist revolution in Hungary, which established what must be the most culturally distinguished dictatorship in modern times (dictatorship is Lukacs’s own term for the regime). He
became commissar for education; BartOk, Kodaly, and Dohnanyi were the commissars for music. And the commissar for education tells us that he voted to execute two men at a Central Committee meeting. During the war with Romania, he served as political commissar in the army and ordered eight of his own men executed in a public square.
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