The Countermarch

The Word Remains

In the beginning was the Word. 
(Not the picture. Or the number.)

—John Lukacs,
The Reality of Written Words,”
Chronicles (January 1999)

The last time I visited John Lukacs at Pickering Close, his home just outside of Phoenixville, Penn., he greeted me in Hungarian. My knowledge of that language is confined to goulash and paprikash and the proper pronunciation of Budapest, so I was a bit unsettled as we made our way to his library, and John offered me a chair, still in Hungarian. He finally noticed my bewilderment and shook his head slightly. “Of course—you don’t know Hungarian,” he said, smiling, in his lugubrious cadence. “We’ll speak in English.” And we did for hours, except for moments when we simply sat and enjoyed each other’s company.

I first met John Lukacs in 1992, two years after I had devoured The Passing of the Modern Age (1970), Confessions of an Original Sinner (1989), and his magnum opus, Historical Consciousness (1968). I brought him in to speak at The Catholic University of America, as part of a lecture series I had put together that also included Russell Kirk, and I used my connections with both men to convince Kirk to...

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