Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
Pages: 640
Publication Date: January 15, 2019


by Victor Serge, translated from the French by Mitch Abidor and Richard Greeman

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An NYRB Classics Original

Victor Serge’s Notebooks provide an intensely personal account of the last decade of the legendary Franco-Russian writer and revolutionary. Begun after Serge was liberated from Stalin’s Russia, they evoke Popular Front France, the fall of Paris, the “Surrealist Château” in Marseille, 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, his preoccupation with earthquakes and volcanoes, and his sympathetic curiosity for the indigenous peasants. They also 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.
—Susan Sontag