I’m pleased to be able to share the news that Henri Lefebvre’s book Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche or the Realm of Shadows is forthcoming in English translation with Verso in early 2020. It’s not yet up on the Verso site [update Nov 2019 – it is now], but their US distributors have it listed, and it’s in some online stores.
I’ve known about this book for quite some time now – it’s in a very fine translation by David Fernbach, and it has an introduction by me. The cover is interesting too. I’m really pleased that this book will finally be available in English. It’s one of my favourite books by Lefebvre, and along with Metaphilosophy, one of his key philosophical works. It was published in 1975, immediately after The Production of Space, and just before his epic four-volume De l’État.
With the translation of Lefebvre’s philosophical writings, his stature in the English-speaking world continues to grow. Though certainly within the Marxist tradition, he consistently saw Marx as an ‘unavoidable, necessary, but insufficient starting point’. Unsurprisingly, Lefebvre always insisted on the importance of Hegel to understanding Marx. But the imposing Metaphilosophy also suggested the significance he ascribed to Nietzsche, in the ‘realm of shadows’ through which philosophy seeks to think the world. Lefebvre proposes here that the modern world is at the same time Hegelian in terms of the state; Marxist in terms of the social and society; and Nietzschean in terms of civilization and its values. As early as 1939, Lefebvre pioneered a French reading of Nietzsche that rejected the philosopher’s appropriation by fascism, bringing out the tragic implications of Nietzsche’s proclamation that ‘God is dead’ long before this approach was followed by such later writers as Foucault, Derrida and Deleuze. Forty years later, in the last of his philosophical writings, Lefebvre juxtaposes the contributions of the three great thinkers, in a text whose themes remain surprisingly relevant today.
I’ve also updated my guide – Where to start with reading Henri Lefebvre?