Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
by Victor Serge, translated from the French by Mitchell Abidor and Richard Greeman
An NYRB Classics OriginalVictor Serge’s Notebooks provide an intensely personal account of the last decade of the legendary Franco-Russian writer and revolutionary. They evoke Popular Front France, the fall of Paris, the “Surrealist Château” in Marseilles, and the flight to the New World. They are replete with vivid life portraits (Gide, Breton, Saint-Exupéry, Lévi-Strauss), and moving evocations of fallen revolutionary comrades (Gramsci, Nin, Radek, Trotsky) and of doomed colleagues among the Soviet writers (Fedin, Pilniak, Mandelstam, Gorky).
Serge’s Mexican notebooks provide a fascinating account of his exploration of pre-Columbian cultures and portray political and cultural figures in Mexico City, from the exiles’ psychoanalytic circle, to painters like Dr. Atl and Leonora Carrington and poets like Octavio Paz. These writings paint a vivid self-portrait and convey the intense loneliness Serge also felt in these years, cut off as he was from Europe, deprived of a political platform, prey to angina attacks, and anxiously in love with a younger woman.
Serge is one of the most compelling of twentieth-century ethical and literary heroes.
He was an eyewitness of events of world historical importance, of great hope and even greater tragedy. His political recollections are very important, because they reflect so well the mood of this lost generation...
He was in fact an unparalleled witness, at least to his time. But he was an unpopular man. It’s precisely what one might adore about him—the tolerance, the internationalism, the political sagacity, the ability to be both artist and doer, the attachment to the ideals of workers’ democracy and freedom of thought—that galled many of his contemporaries.
—Lorna Scott Fox, London Review of Books