Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Understanding Henri Lefebvre (by Stuart Elden)

Lefebvre had an extraordinary life. It stretched from the very beginning of
the century until a decade before its end. It is no surprise that his French
biographer has accordingly called his work the adventure of the century!
Born eighteen years after Marx's death, and only six after Engels', Lefebvre
was a youth of sixteen at the Russian Revolution, in his late thirties at the
outbreak of World War Two, 60 at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, and
still writing at the fall of the Berlin Wall. He obtained his licence in philosophy
the year Althusser was born, and published his first articles two years
before Foucault's birth, yet outlived both of them.

In 1950, introducing his work to a French audience in a survey volume of
contemporary thought, he wrote the following biographical note:

Born in 1901, of a family belonging to the middle class. A strongly religious
(Catholic) education. Youth tormented, rebellious, anarchistic. Found balance
around his thirtieth year in and through Marxism. Has not followed a regular
career, either University or otherwise. Currently in charge of research in the
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, sociology section. Sees philosophy as a
critical conscience on real life. Places theatre above philosophy (as he conceives it,
not as it is!) Has only accomplished a small part of the programme of life and
work that he has planned. Doesn't hope to arrive at the end.

Click here to download this book in pdf.