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IN HIS BOOK, GEORG LUKACS: FROM ROMANTICISM TO BOLSHEVISM, (1) MICHAEL Lowy charts Lukacs development from the anti-capitalist Romanticism of The Theory of the Novel, through his conversion to Bolshevism in 1917, to his Hegelian reconciliation with Stalinist reality in the course of the 1920s. This paper, however, challenges the view that Lukacs ever completely left behind his "Romanticism" and suggests that in the case of Walter Scott Lukacs may have even "out-romanticized" his subject. This is especially evident in his comments on Waverley in The Historical Novel, in which he appears to idealize the Scottish clans to an extent that Scott does not. Scott's depiction of the clans is heavily influenced by a robust materialism that follows that of the Scottish philosophical historians such as Adam Ferguson and William Robertson, and, indeed, it is this materialism that Scott's Marxist critic picks up on. What Lukacs fails to pick up on is the extent of" Scott's materialism and the fact that Scott's sense of historical determinism and his satisfaction with British historical progress--at least at the time of this early novel (2)--prevent him demonstrating as much sympathy with the clansmen as Lukacs. Lukacs draws on earlier Marxist thought, especially that of Engels, when he refers to what is lost in the collapse of the "gentile" social order. Further, I will argue that Lukacs's apparent idealization of the clans has less to do with a detailed analysis of Scott's novel than it has with his own dissatisfaction in the late 1930s with the state of democracy. The Historical Novel should be read as a political manifesto and not simply as (what Lukacs himself calls) a preliminary essay in Marxist aesthetics. For Lukacs, Waverley is the prime example of the art of the historical novelist. Scott's achievement, in his view, is not the retelling of the political and military events of 1745 Britain, but the recreation of a political movement (the Jacobites) and, in particular, the reactionary elements of Scottish clan society that supported Charles Edward Stuart's unsuccessful rebellion. According to Lukacs, Scott uses the naive, English hero's experience with a Scottish clan to build up a picture of the people supporting the coming rebellion. When Waverley first encounters them, Lukacs observes, they are "unintelligible" but by the time they go to war "both he and the reader are already familiar with the peculiar being and consciousness of these people still living in a gentile order." (3) One of the points highlighted here is the "diversitarian" view that each people has a "being and consciousness" that is peculiar to itself, reflecting Lukacs's earlier suggestion (22) that Scott's novels were fictional expressions of a "historicism" that had already been given theoretical formulation by Herder. (4) Lukacs' point about consciousness appears to be borne out by Scott's comment about contemporary Scots being "a class of beings as different from their grandfathers as the existing English are from those of Queen Elizabeth's time." (5)

Professional & Technical
September 22
Boston University

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