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February 25, 2005

Comments

Blimpish

Wow, Mr. P. I had no idea - Lukacs being one of those of whom I knew more about than I knew directly. I've only got his Churchill book from a couple of years ago, which is quite summary anyway (although not bad).

Impressive stuff though.

An Interested Party

Yes, Lukacs is among the best.

Commenting on a Blimpish post of several months ago, I brought Lukacs into the conversation:

"Where do nationalism and internationalism fit in your discussion? And how do the peculiarly British and American forms of it affect conservative politics today?

"John Lukacs, the Hungarian historian, has said that we have all become national socialists (not in the Nazi racialist sense of course), but as I look around I have to wonder if we aren't all becoming international capitalists. It's an odd world when we see a basically conservative position such as nationalism teamed with socialism, and a basically liberal position such as internationalism teamed with capitalism. What do you think are the ramifications in all this for the future political landscape?"

Yes, as I said, it's an odd world, but, I should add, such oddities for the 20th century have seemingly become the commonplace for the 21st. The evolution of our politics and economics renders the formerly usefel labels of conservative and liberal -- right and left quite meaningless. This too is something that Lukacs points out in his autobiographical "Confessions of an Original Sinner" (as well as in other books). And it's why Lukacs describes himself (he believes with greater accuracy) as a reactionary. And why I'd describe myself as a reactionary populist (there we go, a good new oxymoronic-sounding political handle for the 21st century).

Two more quick comments:

1) I'd highly recommend the Lukacs autobiographical, "Confessions of an Original Sinner," as well as "The Last European War," "The Hitler of History," and what is probably Lukacs most important work, "Hitorical Consciousness: The Remembered Past."

2) I'd like to discuss this matter further, but I'm still waiting for Blimpish's promised reply to my above post (it's what...three months?)

Sorry, I really shouldn't pressure you. You already (and usually very promptly) reply to just about everyone on your site. Not to mention your prolific posts on I can't even guess how many other sites.

Blimpish

Yes, D.C., three months - but I assure you my promise to respond is delayed and certainly not forgotten. I will redouble my efforts. Keep an eye out on my place in the next week.

Mr. Peperium

For Blimpish's guidance in further reading, let me mention what should have included in the original post: All quotations are from the book I am currently reading, "The Last European War, September 1939-December 1941".

I have also read his "Five Days in London", a history of the crucial five days in 1940 when England, guided by Churchill, finally abandoned all ideas of venturing onto the "slippery slope" of negotiation with Hitler, and "The Duel" which tells the story of the 80 days when the decision to invade England hung in the balance.

Another thing I like about Lukacs--as the subjects of these books suggest--is his unflinching willingness to put his finger on crucial moments in history. It is a quaint, 19th century practice that has fallen out of fashion as intellectuals in all disciplines became more and more convinced that nothing was definite about anything.

If the Churchill book on your shelf is the one that has the words "Visionary" and "Statesman" in the title, I must confess to being less impressed with that one. But hey, even Shakespeare wrote some duds. And who knows what a thoughtful re-reading might accomplish?

Redslates

Thinking about thinking is one of his underlying gifts to us. His classroom presentations are the best. Strongly recommend "A Thread of Years". He is a great Philadelphian (via Budapest).

Mr. Peperium

Redstates appears to have been--or is?--a student under Mr. Lukacs. Could you give us a better sense of what he's like at the lectern?

Redslates

At the lectern: first encountered thirty years ago, he engaged the classroom (LaSalle University in Philadelphia) with 50-100 minutes of narrative without notes. We looked forward to his classes. I have sought him out in recent years at book signings and on c-span; he has not lost his touch. Each presentation full of mental footnotes, wry humor and depth. He knows how to laugh. It was evident that he enjoyed teaching. He worked with the highest sources when it came to Churchill and WWII. He understands history because he has thought a great deal about it.

Cardinal

Last year I saw Lukacs speak at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. He had been invited by the Grosse Pointe Library. His subject was Churchill, but because he was trying to speak to a wide-ranging audience, the talk was rather low key and dealt with matters on a very elementary level. I would really love to see him in an academic environment where he could get into more of the details he discusses in books like "The Duel," and "Five Days in London."

Blimpish

Mr. P: indeed that was the Churchill book. And it might explain why I didn't rush out to buy other Lukacs books after it.

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