From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
By 1924 he was working with Paul Nizan, Norbert Guterman and others in the Philosophies group seeking a "philosophical revolution". This brought them into contact with the Surrealists and other groups, before they moved towards the French Communist Party (PCF). Lefebvre joined the PCF in 1928 and later published attacks on opponents of its line such as Nizan.
From 1930 - 1940 Lefebvre was a professor of philosophy; in 1940 he joined the French resistance. From 1944 - 1949 he was the director of Radiodiffusion Française, a French radio broadcaster in Toulouse.
His criticism of everyday life, first published in 1947, was among the major intellectual motives behind the founding of COBRA and, eventually, of the Situationist International. He later commented that
- "The book is an "allusive" one - allusive to culture, "leisure" and urban reality... Its ambiguity enabled conflicting interpretations to be made, both extremist ones (the revolution in and through everyday life, everything all at once) and reformist ones (improve the status of the everyday, the "quality of life")."
In 1958 Lefebvre was expelled from the PCF. During the following years he was involved in the editorial group of Arguments, a New Left magazine whose
- "chief merit lay in having enabled the French public to become familiar with the experiments in revisionism carried out in Central Europe in the twenties and thirties"
- "the most prolific of French Marxist intellectuals, died during the night of 28-29 June 1991, less than a fortnight after his ninetieth birthday. During his long career, his work has gone in and out of fashion several times, and has influenced the development not only of philosophy but also of sociology, geography, political science and literary criticism."
Definitions of space
In The Production of Space (1974), Henri Lefevre contends that there are different levels of space, from very abstract, crude, natural space ('absolute space') to more complex spatialities whose significance is socially produced ('social space').
The (social) production of space
Lefebvre's argument in The Production of Space is that space is a social product, or a complex social construction (based on values, and the social production of meanings) which affects spatial practices and perceptions. As a marxist philosopher (but highly critical of the economicist structuralism that dominated the academic discourse in his period), Lefebvre argues that this social production of urban space is fundamental to the reproduction of society, hence of capitalism itself. Therefore, the notion of hegemony as proposed by Antonio Gramsci is used as a reference to show how the social production of space is commanded by a hegemonic class as a tool to reproduce its dominance. Social space is a social product - the space produced in a certain manner serves as a tool of thought and action. It is not only a means of production but also a means of control, and hence of domination/power. Lefebvre argued that every society - and therefore every mode of production - produces a certain space, its own space. The city of the ancient world cannot be understood as a simple agglomeration of people and things in space - it had its own spatial practice, making its own space (which was suitable for itself - Lefebvre argues that the intellectual climate of the city in the ancient world was very much related to the social production of its spatiality). Then if every society produces its own space, any "social existence" aspiring to be or declaring itself to be real, but not producing its own space, would be a strange entity, a very peculiar abstraction incapable of escaping the ideological or even cultural spheres. Based on this argument, Lefebvre criticized Soviet urban planners, on the basis that they failed to produce a socialist space, having just reproduced the modernist model of urban design (interventions on physical space, which were insufficient to grasp social space) and applied it onto that context:
- "Change life! Change Society! These ideas lose completely their meaning without producing an appropriate space. A lesson to be learned from soviet constructivists from the 1920s and 30s, and of their failure, is that new social relations demand a new space, and vice-versa“.
- 1925 Positions d'attaque et de défense du nouveau mysticisme, Philosophies 5-6 (March). pp. 471-506. (Philosophy. Pt. 2 of the 'Philosophy of Consciousness' project on being, consciousness and identity originally proposed as a thesis topic to Leon Brunschvicg)
- 1934 with Norbert Guterman, Morceaux choisis de Karl Marx, Paris: NRF. (numerous reprintings).
- 1936 with Norbert Guterman, La Conscience mystifiée, Paris: Gallimard (new ed. Paris: Le Sycomore, 1979).
- 1937 Le nationalisme contre les nations, (Preface by Paul Nizan) Paris: Editions sociales internationales. (Reprinted, Paris: Méridiens-Klincksliek 1988, Collection Analyse institutionnelle, Présentation M. Trebitsch, Postface Henri Lefebvre).
- 1938 Hitler au pouvoir, bilan de cinq années de fascisme en Allemagne, Paris: Bureau d'Editions.
- 1938 with Norbert Guterman, Morceaux choisis de Hegel, Paris: Gallimard (3 reprintings 1938-*1939, reprinted Collection Idées, 2 Vols. 1969).
- 1938 with Norbert Guterman, Cahiers de Lénine sur la dialectique de Hegel , Paris: Gallimard.
- 1939a Nietzsche, Paris: Editions sociales internationales.
- 1946 L'Existentialisme, Paris: Editions du Sagittaire.
- 1947 Logique formelle, logique dialectique Vol. 1 of A la lumière du matérialisme dialectique Written in 1940-41 (2nd volume censored). Paris: Editions sociales
- 1947 Descartes, Paris: Editions Hier et Aujourd'hui.
- 1950b Knowledge and Social Criticism, Philosophic Thought in France and the USA Albany N.Y.: N.Y.; State University of New York Press. pp. 281-300. (2nd ed. 1968).
- 1958a Problèmes actuels du marxisme, Paris: Presses universitaires de France; 4th edition, 1970, Collection 'Initiation philosophique'
- 1958b (with Lucien Goldmann, Claude Roy, Tristan Tzara) Le romantisme révolutionnaire, Paris: La Nef.
- 1961 Critique de la vie quotidienne II, Fondements d'une sociologie de la quotidienneté, Paris: L'Arche
- 1963 La vallée de Campan - Etude de sociologie rurale, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France
- 1965a Métaphilosophie, foreword by Jean Wahl, Paris: Editions de Minuit, Collection 'Arguments'
- 1965b La Proclamation de la Commune, Paris: Gallimard, Collection Trente Journées qui ont fait la France
- 1968a Le Droit à la ville, Paris: Anthropos (2nd ed.) Paris: Ed. du Seuil, Collection Points
- 1968b La vie quotidienne dans le monde moderne, Paris: Gallimard, Collection Idées
- 1968c Dialectical Materialism, J. Sturrock trans., London: Cape. ISBN 0-224-61507-6
- 1968d Sociology of Marx, N. Guterman trans. of 1966c, New York: Pantheon.
- 1969 The Explosion: From Nanterre to the Summit, Paris: Monthly Review Press. Originally published 1968.
- 1970 La révolution urbaine Paris: Gallimard, Collection Idées
- 1971a Le manifeste différentialiste, Paris: Gallimard, Collection Idées
- 1971b Au-delà du structuralisme, Paris: Anthropos.
- 1974 with Leszek Kolakowski Evolution or Revolution, F. Elders ed. Reflexive Water: The Basic Concerns of Mankind, London: Souvenir. pp. 199-267. ISBN 0-285-64742-3
- 1975a Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, ou le royaume des ombres, Paris: Tournai, Casterman. Collection Synthèses contemporaines. ISBN 2-203-23109-2
- 1975b Le temps des méprises: Entretiens avec Claude Glayman, Paris: Stock. ISBN 2-234-00174-9
- 1978a with Catherine Régulier La révolution n'est plus ce qu'elle était, Paris: Editions Libres-Hallier (German trans. Munich, 1979). ISBN 2-264-00849-0
- 1978b Les contradictions de l'Etat moderne, La dialectique de l'Etat, Vol. 4 of 4 De 1'Etat, Paris: UGE, Collection '10/18'.
- 1980 La présence et l'absence, Paris: Casterman. ISBN 2-203-23172-6
- 1981a Critique de la vie quotidienne, III. De la modernité au modernisme (Pour une métaphilosophie du quotidien) Paris: L'Arche
- 1981b De la modernité au modernisme: pour une métaphilosophie du quotidien, Paris: L'Arche Collection 'Le sens de la marché'.
- 1985 with Catherine Régulier-Lefebvre, Le projet rythmanalytique Communications 41. pp. 191-199.
- 1988 Toward a Leftist Cultural Politics: Remarks Occasioned by the Centenary of Marx's Death, D. Reifman trans., L.Grossberg and C.Nelson eds. Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, Urbana: University of Illinois Press.; New York: Macmillan. pp. 75-88. ISBN 0-252-01108-2
- 1991a The Critique of Everyday Life, Volume 1, John Moore trans., London: Verso. Originally published 1947. ISBN 0-86091-340-6
- 1991b with Patricia Latour and Francis Combes, Conversation avec Henri Lefebvre P. Latour and F. Combes eds., Paris: Messidor, Collection 'Libres propos'. ISBN 2-209-06518-6
- 1991c The Production of Space, D. Nicholson-Smith trans., Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Originally published 1974. ISBN 0-631-14048-4
- 1992 with Catherine Regulier-Lefebvre Eléments de rythmanalyse: Introduction à la connaissance des rythmes, preface by René Lorau, Paris: Ed. Syllepse, Collection Explorations et découvertes. ISBN 2-907993-11-9
- 1995 Introduction to Modernity: Twelve Preludes September 1959-May 1961, J. Moore, trans., London: Verso. Originally published 1962. ISBN 1-85984-961-X
- 1996 Writings on Cities, E. Kofman and E. Lebas trans. and eds., Oxford: Basil Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19187-9