Statement by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences regarding the implementation of György Lukács’s testament

In accordance with his last will and testament, the processing of the legacy of philosopher György Lukács has been initiated by the Library and Information Centre of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The documents are continuously being published on the internet, and hundreds of letters are already available to anyone. The steps of implementation were settled during a one-on-one meeting between László Lovász, President of the Academy, and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Lukács Archive International Foundation (LANA). Contrary to earlier plans, the Academy shall maintain the research unit in Lukács’s former flat and hopes that LANA, as it has indicated, will provide support in terms of external financial resources and utilisation of the flat for a wider range of users. In order for LANA to be able to attract external resources, a joint statement was drafted and signed by representatives of the Academy and LANA on 6 February 2018.

3 February, 2018

In his last will and testament dated 5 July, 1971, György Lukács bequeathed his library to the MTA Institute of Philosophy, and entrusted his manuscripts to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Consequently, the responsibility for safekeeping and processing his legacy lies with the institutions of the Academy.

The professional processing of the inheritance located in Lukács’s former home and the schedule of improvements regarding the philosopher’s flat were finalised by László Lovász, President of MTA, and academician János Kelemen, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Lukács Archive International Foundation (LANA). The institutions and organisations of the MTA have proceeded accordingly, and will continue to do so.

Arrangement of the book collection

On 15 January 2018, the staff of the MTA Library and Information Centre (MTA KIK) began the organisation of György Lukács’s legacy, based on international library standards. The book collection is being processed by two MTA KIK associates, who are checking the database items (catalogue records) that describe the volumes and are also recording the data of previously uncatalogued items. With the catalogue record of each volume, the table of contents is also recorded. Besides that, they are recording the data of origin (provenance), that is, the date and place of the dedication to Lukács, and the name of the person making the dedication – insofar as it is clear from the specific book. If something cannot clearly be made out, the text is collated by competent staff at the MTA Institute of Philosophy. Pages with Lukács’s handwriting are being digitised along with the cover and table of contents. The librarians’ tasks also include indicating any annotations or tagging Lukács may have left in a book.

The catalogue of books will be published in print by MTA KIK, with an accompanying study by the associates of the MTA Institute of Philosophy. Notes to the books will be featured in Hungarian and German, and searching in the catalogue will be aided with an index of persons, locations and provenances. The catalogue is planned to be issued by the end of 2018.

Librarians from MTA KIK are also processing the data from books and studies regarding György Lukács. These data will be stored in the online catalogue of the MTA Library (a part of the ALEPH integrated library system) and, in the case of Hungarian authors, also in the Hungarian Scientific Bibliography (MTMT).

Where MTA KIK librarians carry out the cataloguing is their choice: the work can also be done in the flat in Belgrád rakpart, but should digitisation be required, the books must temporarily be transported to the Arany János Street building of MTA KIK.

Arrangement of letters and manuscripts

Another part of the legacy is made up of different letters and manuscripts. Documents that do not belong to Lukács’s legacy are separated from manuscripts by the staff of the Archives of the Academy and MTA KIK, while the associates of the Archives find out under which conditions they got in the Library. As long as the legal status of such a manuscript is unclear, it is locked away in the storage of the Archives, and donors or their heirs are tracked down for clarification.

The different parts of the Lukács legacy are identified through handwritten or typed lists created over the past 46 years. In the course of the handover, started on 15 January 2018, this part of the legacy is transported for further processing to the Archives in the main building of MTA. If any section of the manuscripts cannot be read or is difficult to make out, archivists receive help from the staff of the Institute of Philosophy.

The catalogue of manuscripts is created according to international recommendations and the current practice of MTA KIK. As well as the catalogue records, the digitised version of the documents will be stored in the legacy system of REAL, the repository of MTA KIK. By default, every document of the Lukács legacy is publicly available on the repository webpage of MTAK; uploading is ongoing and, the increase of materials can be followed here. Currently, one manuscript and 925 letters are available from the system. There are certain documents whose authors are not available for copyright reasons, for example, letters written to György Lukács – while letters written by Lukács are free to read and download in PDF format.

After the description of every document is finished, MTA KIK will publish the catalogue in print. The compilation and publishing of the catalogue of books and manuscripts are especially important as no review involving such accuracy and dimensions has thus far been prepared regarding the legacy.

Agreement between the MTA and LANA

The flat used by György Lukács (2 Belgrád rakpart, Budapest) is the property of the Budapest 5th District Council. The Lukács Archive also used another flat in the same building. As a result of an agreement between the Academy and the local council, the parties have modified the lease in such a way as to be more favourable for the Academy. The major implications of the modification (signed on 28 July 2017, in the presence of a notary) are as follows:

  • The lease of the smaller flat (6th floor) was terminated by mutual consent; the real estate section was transferred to the local council, which was coordinated by MTA KIK, MTA Facility Management Centre (LGK) and Belváros-Lipótváros Vagyonkezelő Zrt.
  • The lease of the flat on the 5th floor (Lukács Archive) is maintained.
  • MTA KIK took the position of lessee (replacing the MTA Institute of Philosophy).
  • Lessee pays the contracted, reduced rental fee (135,667 HUF/month) as of 1 August 2017.

A partial renovation of the property took place in 1992; its documentation is stored in the Archives of MTA KIK. LGK reviewed the technical condition of the property and found that, besides aesthetic improvements, technical improvements are also needed, as the operational state of the flat has severely deteriorated. LGK estimates the costs of renovation to be approximately 14 million HUF. The improvements obviously can only be carried out in an empty flat. So long as LANA acquires resources and donations for the renovation, the Academy will make up for the missing amount. On completion of the renovation, the books of and related literature on György Lukács will be transported back to the flat.

For LANA to be able to receive donations, the concerned parties decided to sign a statement. This draft statement was created as a result of cooperation among the MTA Department of Legal and Administrative Affaires, MTA KIK, MTA BTK and LANA. The prepared statement has already been signed by the representatives of the Academy and its two budgetary authorities while representatives from LANA signed on 6 February 2018.

The permanent exhibition to be featured in the renovated flat will be jointly designed by the MTA Library and Information Centre and MTA BTK Institute of Philosophy. Visitors of the exhibition will be provided with multilingual guide booklets and informative brochures. At the same time, the Academy is expecting a professional conception, promised by LANA, aimed at utilising the flat for a wider range of users and arousing the interest of young researchers.

Update: specifying the professional duties of the MTA BTK Philosophical Institute is in progress.