Lukács & tragedy / tragedio (1)

The following quotation is excerpted from an excerpt from Lukács' early work on modern drama translated into English in 1968. This translation does not mention Imre Madách; the complete German text does. But here you will find background on Lukács' view of tragic drama from this period.

On the historical transition from the logical structure of traditional drama based on a presumed metaphysical/social order to the logic of individualism in modern drama:

“Artistically this all implies, in the first place, a paradox in the dramatic representation of character. For in the new drama, compared to the old, character becomes much more important and at the same time much less important. Our perspective alone determines whether we count its formal significance as everything or as nothing. Even as the philosophies of Stirner and Marx are basically drawn from the same source, Fichte, so every modern drama embodies this duality of origin, this dialectic out of the life that gives it birth. [….] Character becomes everything, since the conflict is entirely for the sake of character’s vital centre; for it alone and for nothing peripheral, because the force disposed of by this vital centre alone determines the dialectic, that is, the dramatic, quality of drama. Conversely, character becomes nothing, since the conflict is merely around and about the vital centre, solely for the principle of individuality. Since the great question becomes one of to what degree the individual will finds community possible, the direction of the will, its strength, and other specifics which might render it individual, in fact, must remain unconsidered. Thus—and the essence of the stylistic problem is here—character is led back to more rational causes than ever before, and becomes at the same time ever more hopelessly irrational.” [p. 435]
SOURCE: Lukács, Georg. “The Sociology of Modern Drama” [1909/1911? - excerpt from Entwicklungsgeschichte des modernen Dramas], translated by Lee Baxandall (1965), in The Theory of the Modern Stage, edited by Eric Bentley (London: Penguin Books, 1968), pp. 425-450.

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