It would be impossible, in a short letter, to deal with all the points raised by Miriam Glucksmann in her critique of Lucien Goldmann (and implicitly of Lukács) in nlr 56. Since, however, this article seriously misrepresents a major thinker, I would request permission to make a few observations.
I do not propose to defend the specific political positions held by Goldmann, such as his apology for the Yugoslav régime, or the apparent reformism of some of his statements, nor yet the pessimistic prognostications to be found, for example, in the essay on Valéry of 1965. The importance of Goldmann is essentially that through the difficult period of the ’fifties he revived the early work of Lukács, stifled by official Marxism, and extended it in his own concrete studies; in so doing he stuck to the central problems of Marxism, while so many others abandoned Marxism altogether, involved themselves in advocacy of piecemeal social reforms, or shifted the locus of revolution entirely to the so-called ‘Third World’. In a more hopeful period we shall have to go beyond Goldmann, but not reject his contribution.
Glucksmann’s essay gives a very partial view of the scope of Goldmann’s work; there is no discussion of the book on Kant, the essays on Piaget or the recent work on Genêt. In the listing of the basic themes of Goldmann’s thought there is no mention of what is perhaps the most central of all, the inseparability of judgments of fact and judgments of value.
It is from this neglect that the antithesis of ‘humanism’ and ‘science’ (both terms seem to me vague and confusing unless carefully defined) is allowed to dominate the essay. As Lukács pointed out in his essay on Rosa Luxemburg, if society is seen as having a rationality foreign to man, then the only responses are a fatalistic acceptance of ‘immutable laws’ or a purely ethical humanism.