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New Left Review I/67, May-June 1971


Raymond Williams

Literature and Sociology: In memory of Lucien Goldmann

Last spring Lucien Goldmann came to Cambridge and gave two lectures. It was an opportunity for many of us to hear a man whose work we had welcomed and respected. And he said that he liked Cambridge: to have trees and fields this near to lecture-rooms. I invited him and he agreed to come back again this year. More particularly we agreed to exchange our current work directly, for we were both aware of the irony that the short physical distance between England and France converts, too often, to a great cultural distance, and especially at the level of detail. And then, in the autumn, he died, at the age of 57. The beginning of a project had to revert to print, as must perhaps always finally happen. But first I want to remember him directly, as an act of respect and as an active acknowledgment of what I believe is now necessary: a bringing together and a discussion of work and ideas occurring in very different traditions but nevertheless sharing many common positions and concerns. My regret, of course, is that he cannot be here to take part in the dialogue [*] Text of a lecture given at the Lady Mitchell Hall, Cambridge, on 26 April 1971.. For the manner of his lectures in Cambridge was precisely dialogue: in a sense to my surprise, having read only his published writings, which are marked by a certain defining and systematic rigour.

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