Lucien Goldmann Critical Essays

Introduction

Lucien Goldmann 1913–1970

Rumanian-born French critic and sociologist.

Greatly influenced by the theories of Georg Lukács, Goldmann was a prominent figure in the critical movement known as "Marxist Humanism" which emerged and gained a respectable following after World War II.

Most of Goldmann's work was written more than a decade before it was translated into English, which may have contributed to views that his theories were outmoded and redundant. Le Dieu caché (The Hidden God), Goldmann's first work to be translated into English, presents one of his most important concepts: vision du monde, or "world view"—a concept of the world as it is defined by a given social group. As Goldmann perceived it, a writer's world view is directly related to the world created in the work of art. Tragedy results from the writer's rejection of the world and the sense that God, if not absent, is a "hidden," silent observer.

Le Dieu caché and Pour une sociologie du roman (Towards a Sociology of the Novel) are probably Goldmann's best-known works. In Pour une sociologie du roman, a study of the novel from André Malraux to Alain Robbe-Grillet, Goldmann attempted to demonstrate that the form of a literary work is the result of the predominant social structures of the writer's world. Goldmann called this method "genetic structuralism."

Goldmann's last work, Lukács and Heidegger: Towards a New Philosophy, is considered important, yet flawed and inconclusive. In this compilation of lectures, which also includes an introduction he had been writing at the time of his death, Goldmann asserted that Heidegger's Being and Time is, at least in part, a response to the work of Lukács.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols 25-28 and Contemporary Authors Permanent Series, Vol. 2.)