Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
by Victor Serge, edited by Claudio Albertani and Claude Rioux, translated from the French by Mitchell Abidor and Richard Greeman
An NYRB Classics Original
In 1936, Victor Serge—poet, novelist, and revolutionary—left the Soviet Union for Paris, the rare opponent of Stalin to escape the Terror. In 1940, after the Nazis marched into Paris, Serge fled France for Mexico, where he would spend the rest of his life. His years in Mexico were marked by isolation, poverty, peril, and grief; his Notebooks, however, brim with resilience, curiosity, outrage, a passionate love of life, and superb writing. Serge paints haunting portraits of Osip Mandelstam, Stefan Zweig, and “the Old Man” Trotsky; argues with André Breton; and, awaiting his wife’s delayed arrival from Europe, writes her passionate love letters. He describes the sweep of the Mexican landscape, visits an erupting volcano, and immerses himself in the country’s history and culture. He looks back on his life and the fate of the Revolution. He broods on the course of the war and the world to come after. In the darkest of circumstances, he responds imaginatively, thinks critically, feels deeply, and finds reason to hope.
Serge’s Notebooks were discovered in 2010 and appear here for the first time in their entirety in English. They are a a message in a bottle from one of the great spirits, and great writers, of our shipwrecked time.greeman
[Serge was] 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
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...