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Raging towards Utopia

Neal Ascherson: Koestler, 22 April 2010

Koestler: The Indispensable Intellectual 
by Michael Scammell.
Faber, 689 pp., £25, February 2010, 978 0 571 13853 1
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... in The Mandarins. In the world outside Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the bars of Montparnasse, André Malraux disdained Koestler’s project to found a ‘League for the Rights of Man’, while the French Communist Party assailed ‘Judas Koestler’ for his ‘intolerable insults to France and its courageous people’. The fact was that ...

Au revoir et merci

Christopher Tayler: Romain Gary, 6 December 2018

The Roots of Heaven 
by Romain Gary, translated by Jonathan Griffin.
Godine, 434 pp., $18.95, November 2018, 978 1 56792 626 2
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Promise at Dawn 
by Romain Gary, translated by John Markham Beach.
Penguin, 314 pp., £9.99, September 2018, 978 0 241 34763 8
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... consciousness. As a celebrity Gary functioned, in one writer’s words, as ‘a sort of Polish André Malraux’, a public servant and man of action as well as a novelist. Born Roman Kacew to Jewish parents in Vilnius, then part of the Russian empire, in 1914, he grew up under Polish rule before moving to Nice with his mother in the late 1920s. After ...

No Beast More Refined

James Davidson: How Good Was Nureyev?, 29 November 2007

Rudolf Nureyev: The Life 
by Julie Kavanagh.
Fig Tree, 787 pp., £25, September 2007, 978 1 905490 15 8
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... the dancers of the Paris Opéra and in particular with Clara Saint, the fiancée of the son of André Malraux, then the minister of culture. As the dancers gathered at the airport to fly to London for the next leg of the tour, Nureyev was taken to one side and told that he would be flying back to Moscow instead. One by one the dancers came to say ...

Picasso and Tragedy

T.J. Clark, 17 August 2017

... to stick a finger in them, they react.’ ‘I think that everything is unknown,’ he said to André Malraux, ‘everything’s the enemy! Everything! Not just some things! – women, babies, animals, tobacco, games … Everything!’ It is this combination of domesticity and paranoia – of trust in the room and deep fear of the forces the room may ...

Too Much Gide

Douglas Johnson: French writers (1940-53), 15 November 2001

La Guerre des écrivains 1940-53 
by Gisèle Sapiro.
Fayard, 807 pp., frs 220, September 1999, 2 213 60211 5
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Correspondance: Marcel Arland – Jean Paulhan 1936-45 
edited by Jean-Jacques Didier.
Gallimard, 397 pp., frs 140, March 2000, 2 07 075789 7
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Dialogue des ‘vaincus’: Prison de Clairvaux, janvier-décembre 1950 
by Lucien Rebatet and Pierre-Antoine Cousteau, edited by Robert Belot.
Berg, 285 pp., frs 120, March 2000, 2 911289 22 6
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The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach 
by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 320 pp., £9.50, December 2000, 0 226 42415 4
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... and Arland tactfully less so; in 1939 there is mention of Saint Exupéry’s dislike of Malraux and hence his disapproval of Arland, Malraux’s close friend, while in 1945 Paulhan finds it ridiculous that Malraux should become a member of the Académie and Arland reports ...

Blumsday

Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, 3 November 1983

Léon Blum 
by Jean Lacouture, translated by George Holoch.
Holmes & Meier, 571 pp., $39.50, October 1982, 0 8419 0775 7
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... slating from L’Humanité, like the other bêtes noires of the French Communist Party, among them André Gide, whom the PCF never forgave for his Retour d’URSS, any more than it forgave Blum’s L’Echelle Humaine. It is worth noting that throughout this career – the most stylish touch – ambition never reared its head (which does not mean that it was ...

A City of Sand and Puddles

Julian Barnes: Paris, 22 April 2010

Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris 
by Graham Robb.
Picador, 476 pp., £18.99, April 2010, 978 0 330 45244 1
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The Invention of Paris: A History in Footsteps 
by Eric Hazan, translated by David Fernbach.
Verso, 384 pp., £20, February 2010, 978 1 84467 411 4
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... the haute-couture boutiques nearby’) might idly thank Haussmann for taxi-friendly boulevards and Malraux for having the city’s monuments scraped and cleaned while he was minister of culture. Hazan knows that Haussmann destroyed what was left of old Paris and drove politically dangerous communities out to the periphery of the city; while ...

The Ribs of Rosinante

Richard Gott, 21 August 1997

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life 
by Jon Lee Anderson.
Bantam, 814 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 593 03403 1
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Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara 
by Jorge Castañeda, translated by Marina Castañeda.
Bloomsbury, 480 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 7475 3334 2
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... the scale may even have had its own attraction. At least the damage was not so extensive. When André Malraux was asked in 1967 whether Debray was not doing the same things he had done in the Thirties, the old French minister replied with disdain: ‘The places I felt called to held the future of the world. I went to Asia; if not I would have gone to ...

Bravo, old sport

Christopher Hitchens, 4 April 1991

Critical Crossings: The New York Intellectuals in Post-War America 
by Neil Jumonville.
California, 291 pp., £24.95, January 1991, 0 520 06858 0
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... atheist and the unapologetic Jew; the author of Literature and Revolution and co-signatory, with André Breton, of the Surrealist Manifesto; the companion of Frida Kahlo; the defender of embattled Einsteinians and Freudians; the founder of the Red Army and the pitiless opponent of Great Russian chauvinism. What do we have here but the ideal-type, of the ...

The Castaway

Jeremy Harding: Algeria’s Camus, 4 December 2014

Algerian Chronicles 
by Albert Camus, edited by Alice Kaplan, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 224 pp., £11.95, November 2014, 978 0 674 41675 8
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Camus brûlant 
by Benjamin Stora and Jean-Baptiste Péretié.
Stock, 109 pp., €12.50, September 2013, 978 2 234 07482 8
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Meursault, contre-enquête 
by Kamel Daoud.
Actes Sud, 155 pp., €19, May 2014, 978 2 330 03372 9
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... Camus problem is very much worse. He has never been a national treasure in the style of Sartre or Malraux. The Bibliothèque nationale has put on shows about Sartre (safe) and Guy Debord (charming), but nothing comparable for Camus, who can still stir up primitive sentiments or – like all good humanists – suddenly find himself on the guest list at an ...

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