André Malraux, committed writer

André Malraux, committed writer

  • André Malraux in 1933

    ANONYMOUS

  • André Malraux during the Spanish Civil War around 1936

    ANONYMOUS

  • André Malraux dedicating his book La Condition humaine after receiving the Goncourt Prize

    ANONYMOUS

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Title: André Malraux in 1933

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1933

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Storage location: Roger-Viollet collection website

Contact copyright: © Roger-Viollet Collection

© Roger-Viollet Collection

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Title: André Malraux during the Spanish Civil War around 1936

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1936

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Storage location: Eyedea - Keystone website

Contact copyright: © L'Humanité / Keystone / Eyedea

André Malraux during the Spanish Civil War around 1936

© L'Humanité / Keystone / Eyedea

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Title: André Malraux dedicating his book La Condition humaine after receiving the Goncourt Prize

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1933

Date shown:

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Storage location: Eyedea - Keystone website

Contact copyright: © Keystone / Eyedea - "reproduction and exploitation prohibited without prior written agreement from the agency"

André Malraux dedicating his book La Condition humaine after receiving the Goncourt Prize

© Keystone / Eyedea - "reproduction and exploitation prohibited without prior written agreement from the agency"

Publication date: October 2003

Historical context

Born in 1901 and died in 1976, the writer and politician André Malraux is considered by many to be the greatest conscience of the 20th century.e century. His youth was placed under the sign of adventure and imagination, facets among others of the "eccentric", a term that Malraux used all his life to designate the mental universe of his youthful years. He became an editor at the age of nineteen. In 1923, a dubious and unfortunate expedition to Cambodia, from where he tried to bring back Khmer bas-reliefs, made him discover the corruption of the colonial world and the misery of the Indochinese natives. From 1924 to 1925, he ran a newspaper in Indochina that virulently denounced the pillars of the colonial system and he rubbed shoulders with young activists for Vietnam's independence. The elements collected during this Asian stay provide the backdrop for a novel, The human condition, which, published in 1933, now ensures him international fame. In these years of the rise of fascism - Hitler has been Chancellor of Germany since January 30, 1933 - Malraux sees in communism the only possibility of effective struggle against what he considers to be a “closed” ideology, exalting the difference in the face of the community: if he did not join the Communist Party, he became an active and eloquent traveling companion from 1933. In 1936, the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War was an opportunity for him to put his work into practice. conception of the engagement: he proposed to the Spanish government to organize the republican aviation - then non-existent - and founded the España squadron, of which he became the colonel. Returning to France at the beginning of 1937, Malraux worked on the novel inspired by the experience of combat in Spain, Hope, and witnessed the debacle of the Spanish Republic: the pre-war years saw the posture of engagement run up against the experience of failure.

Image Analysis

These three photographs in which Malraux appears very few years apart reveal quite well the diversity of the character's facets. In the first, which dates from 1933, Malraux poses the esthete next to a magnificent statue he brought back from Afghanistan. It is a famous statue from Gandhara, a province in the north-west of India, which the armies of Alexander the Great conquered at the end of their eastern advance. It symbolizes better than any other the meeting of East and West, easily discernible through the mixture of characters: the pose is that of a Buddha, the eyes stretched to infinity those of the statues of Angkor, while the drape of the garment and the hairstyle in graceful curls are in every way similar to those of the Hellenic statues!
The second photograph, taken the same year, shows Malraux the writer in the middle of a signing session for The human condition, a work published in December 1933, which won the unanimously awarded Goncourt Prize and which has been published in many languages. Account of the Communist uprising in Shanghai against the Kuo-min-tang militias [1], The human condition is above all a metaphysical questioning of the meaning of human action.
In the third photograph (we are in 1936 in Spain), Malraux the squadron colonel poses in aviator's outfit, flat beret and jacket with a fur collar. His gaze, where the will seems to dispute it with the lyricism, reveals the two contradictory aspirations of the future character of the commander in Hope, Magnin.

Interpretation

The apparent diversity of these "characters" should not lead one to think that Malraux wanted to take in turn existential postures intended to reveal to him the meaning of human destiny. The proximity of the dates on which these photographs were taken prevents us from thinking so. His life was indeed marked by the persistence of the same idea. This idea is fully understood in Malraux's conception of art as the recreation of man by himself, the only possible response to the absurdity of a world without God. Art - in the consubstantial union that it requires between an idea and a doing - is what gives form to the formless and which simultaneously invents a system of representations in which man can recognize himself at the same time as himself. transcend. This thought underlies an understanding of existence where action is not only the application of ideas, but the very possibility of the emergence of the idea: hence the need for engagement in action as a condition of the possibility of this creation, which is realized for Malraux through writing. The famous line of one of the characters in Hope, "To transform into consciousness the greatest possible experience", expresses quite well the vision which was that of writing and of life for Malraux. It is however in Voices of Silence (1951) that the latter fully unveiled his metaphysical conception of art.

  • writers
  • war in spain
  • literature
  • commitment
  • the human condition
  • Goncourt
  • engaged art
  • Malraux (André)

Bibliography

Fançoise BRUNELThermidor, the fall of RobespierreParis, Complex, 1989.

Notes

1. Or Guomindang, “party of the people of the country”.

To cite this article

Hermine VIDEAU, "André Malraux, committed writer"


Video: Radioscopie: André Malraux 1974