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George Molnar


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This is a loose collection of anecdotes about a Sydney philosopher who was also a leading personality of the city's demimonde in the second half of the last century. The book is a comprehensive and kaleidoscopic guide to this complex and still mysterious man who died exactly 20 years ago and this celebratory, sharply divergent compendium of sketches is as it should be: George Molnar had myriad passions and for an as-yet-unexplained reason had compartmentalized them in hermetically sealed mental boxes; hence, often his fellow enthusiasts in those disparate fields were not part of the same 'scene' and he knowingly kept them apart. Fortunately this book may trip off some explanation for this. Taken together, the stories give a fascinating insight into this intellectual, radical, counter culturalist, philosopher, Holocaust survivor, passionate raconteur, obsessive gambler, ardent amant, eclectic music enthusiast - from Gyorgi Ligeti to Bob Dylan - and paradoxically, a highly effective public servant in his later years.by Jack RozyckiAmong the threadbare intelligentsia of the 1950s University of Sydney, George Molnar stood out for his libertarian contrary views on everything. He was a frequent contributor to the student newspaper honi soit, expounding in long essays his views and, in particular, the reasons why just about everyone else (Freud, Anderson, Ryle, Jung etc etc) had got things wrong.The book Remembering George Molnar is a collection of 20 short pieces by people who knew (and sometimes loved) George up to the time he died at the age of 65, fittingly in the University Library. Unusually for books of this kind, while affectionate, the writers are frank, even unsparing, of George as a thinker and as a person. As a lens focussed on a critical section of Australian university life and Sydney Bohemia at that time, it is hard to think of or even imagine a better set of insights.In addition, however, the book gives us a picture of an extraordinarily protean mind, with sections on George's contributions to philately (considerable), chess and cricket (not so spectacular), and his career as a public servant looking after the needs of war veterans. The great unknown for those who knew him was the dramatic history of his rescue with his mother from a Nazi death march by (probably) Raoul Wallenberg and their subsequent escape from Soviet colonised Hungary in 1949. This is an engrossing piece of reading. It has all the makings of a good film even this late in history.George was even then outshone by youths who would go on to become world figures in literature, criticism and art, especially Robert Hughes and Clive James. However he himself was a formative influence for several major figures in world and Australian letters and cinema - Germaine Greer and Albie Thoms among them.by Graham Mcdonald At a time when we shudder at governments that keep pushing for ever tougher measures to prevent any effective scrutiny of their assaults on human rights, social justice and our cultural and natural environments, we welcome the publication of Remembering George Molnar: Politics and Passions of a Sydney Philosopher (Beaujon Press, Tascott, 2019). Compiled and edited by Carlotta McIntosh, this engrossing collection of memoirs brings together marvellous writers like David Armstrong, Stephen Mumford, Nadia Wheatley, Jean Curthoys and Susan Varga to celebrate the life and work of a brilliant, feisty, charismatic and occasionally wicked public intellectual and ratbag activist who didn't mind getting arrested in support of radical causes. There is much to inspire us in this collection of voices from those who knew, worked with and loved George Molnar.by Alison Lyssa

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