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André Malraux, French author, adventurer, and statesman
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André Malraux DSO (3 November 1901 – 23 November 1976) was a French author, adventurer and statesman.

Contents

Biography

Malraux was born in Paris during 1901, the son of Fernand-Georges Malraux and Berthe Lamy (Malraux). His parents separated during 1905 and eventually divorced. He was raised by his mother and maternal grandmother, Berthe and Adrienne Lamy in the small town of Bondy. His father, a stockbroker, committed suicide in 1930. Andre had Tourette's Syndrome during his childhood, resulting in motor and vocal tics.

At the age of 21, Malraux left for Cambodia with his new wife Clara Goldschmidt. In Cambodia, he undertook an exploratory expedition into the Cambodian jungle. On his return he was arrested by French colonial authorities for removing bas-reliefs from one of the temples he discovered. Banteay Srei (The French government itself had removed large numbers of sculptures and artifacts from already discovered sites such as Angkor Wat around this time). Malraux later incorporated the episode into his second novel La Voie Royale.

Malraux became very critical of the French colonial authorities in Indochina, and during 1925 helped to organize the Young Annam League and founded a newspaper Indochina in Chains.

On his return to France, he published The Temptation of the West (1926) which had the format of an exchange of letters between a Westerner and an Asian comparing aspects of the two cultures. This was followed by his first novel The Conquerors (1928), then by The Royal Way (1930) which was influenced by his Cambodian experience, and then by Man's Fate (La Condition Humaine). For La Condition Humaine, a novel about the 1927 failed Communist rebellion in Shanghai, written with obvious sympathy for the Communists, he won the 1933 Prix Goncourt.

During the 1930s, Malraux was active in the anti-Fascist Popular Front in France. At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War he joined the Republican forces in Spain, serving in, and helping to organize, their small air force. His squadron, called "Espana", became something of a legend after his claims of nearly annihilating part of the Nationalist army at Medellín. According to Curtis Cate, his biographer, he was slightly wounded twice during efforts to stop the Falangists' takeover of Madrid, but Hugh Tomas denies this. He also toured the United States to raise funds for the Spanish Republicans. A novel influenced by his Spanish war experiences, Man's Hope, (L'Espoir) was published during 1938.

The types of aircraft sent to Spain by France, through Malraux's acquaintances, were considered obsolete by the standards of 1936. This decision by the French Ministry of Defense was based on the fear that modern types would easily be captured by the Germans fighting for Franco. This has created the impression that Malraux acted actually as an agent of the Popular Front government and in particular, its minister P. Cot who was a strong anti-fascist but whose prime minister Leon Blum has chosen a cautious diplomatic manner. They were mainly Potez 540 bombers and Dewoitine D.372 fighters. The very slow Potez 540 rarely survived three months of air missions, moving some 80 knots against enemy fighters flying at more than 250 knots. Few of the fighters proved to be worthy, some even delivered intentionally without guns or gun-sights. They were surpassed by more modern types introduced by the end of 1936 on both sides. Malraux's efforts were the only attempt of the French government to support the Spanish Republic air force.

Pictures with Malraux standing next to some Potez 540 bombers — and even inside one of them in a pilot's costume — were circulated widely by the Republic government as proof that France was actually on their side, at a time when France and the United Kingdom had declared official neutrality concerning the Spanish conflict. It is known, however, that Malraux was not a pilot himself and had never flown a plane despite carrying the (apparently honorary) title of the Squadron Leader of 'Espana'.

Malraux, it is worth noting, never claimed at any time in his life to have piloted an aircraft. The allegation that he did is probably the result of careless, sensationalist journalism. He was, however, a very active participant within the Republican cause. His commitment to the Republicans was, like that of many other foreign volunteers, purely personal: there was never any suggestion that he was there somehow at the behest of the French Government. He was, of course, very aware of Republicans' inferior armaments — the outdated aircraft were just one aspect of the problem — and part of his activity included a journey to the U.S. to raise funds.

Malraux's motivations for his involvement in the Spanish Civil War are questioned by Antony Beevor in The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. Quoting from the Russian State Military Archive, Beevor raises suspicions that "he had recruited the pilots and technicians himself in France. Most of them have come here in order to make good money." In Beevor's own words, "Malraux stands out, not just because he was a mythomaniac in his claims of martial heroism — in Spain and later in the French Resistance — but because he cynically exploited the opportunity for intellectual heroism in the legend of the Spanish Republic."

Other biographical sources, including those who knew Malraux personally in Spain, would however cast serious doubt on these opinions. Here, as in many other instances, accounts of Malraux's life tend to vary considerably. His active involvement in major historical events brought him determined adversaries as well as strong supporters. The resultant polarization of opinion has unfortunately affected the objectivity and reliability of much that has been written about his life. For example, the Russian Military State Archive would be a very doubtful source for reliable comment about Malraux's activity in Spain since he had been very critical of some of the policies of the Stalinist regime of the time.

At the beginning of the Second World War, Malraux joined the French Army. He was captured in 1940 during the Battle of France but escaped and later joined the French Resistance. He was captured by the Gestapo during 1944 and underwent a mock execution. He later commanded the tank unit Brigade Alsace-Lorraine in defence of Strasbourg and in the attack on German Stuttgart. He was awarded the Médaille de la Résistance, the Croix de Guerre. He was also awarded the British Distinguished Service Order for his work with British liaison officers in Corrèze, Dordogne and Lot, and after Dordogne had been liberated, leading a battalion of former resistance fighters to Alsace-Lorraine where they fought alongside the First Army.[1]

During the war he worked on a long novel, The Struggle with the Angel based on the story of the Biblical Jacob. The manuscript was destroyed by the Gestapo after his capture in 1944. A surviving first part titled The Walnut Trees of Altenburg, was published after the war. He would never write another novel.

Malraux and his first wife divorced during the 1940s. His daughter from this marriage, Florence (b.1933), married the filmmaker Alain Resnais.

Malraux had two sons by his second wife Josette Clotis: Pierre-Gauthier (1940-1961) and Vincent (1943-1961). During 1944, while Malraux was fighting in Alsace, Josette died when she slipped while boarding a train. His two sons were killed during 1961 in an automobile accident.

After the war, General Charles de Gaulle appointed Malraux as his Minister for Information (1945-1946). During this post-war period, Malraux also worked on the first of his books on art, The Psychology of Art which was published in three volumes over the period 1947 to 1949. The work was subsequently re-published in one volume, somewhat revised, as The Voices of Silence (Les Voix du Silence). Malraux became a Minister of State in De Gaulle's 1958-1959 government and France's first Minister of Cultural Affairs from 1959 to 1969, serving during all of De Gaulle's presidency. Among many other initiatives, he created maisons de la culture in a number of provincial cities and worked to preserve France's national heritage. During 1960 Malraux began, as editor, the series Arts of Mankind, an ambitious survey of world art that spans more than thirty large illustrated volumes.

U.S. President John F. Kennedy, Marie-Madeleine Lioux, André Malraux, U.S. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and U.S. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson at an unveiling of the Mona Lisa at National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

During 1948, Malraux married Marie-Madeleine Lioux, a concert pianist and the widow of his half-brother, Roland Malraux. They separated in 1966.

During the 1960s, Malraux published the first volume of a trilogy on art entitled The Metamorphosis of the Gods, with the second two volumes (not yet translated into English) appearing shortly before he died. He also began publishing a series of semi-autobiographical works, the first of which was Antimémoires. One of these, Lazarus, is a reflection on death after one of his own final illnesses. Malraux died in Créteil, near Paris, on 23 November 1976, and was buried in the Verrières-le-Buisson (Essonne) cemetery. In honor of his contributions to French culture, his ashes were moved to the Panthéon in Paris during 1996, on the twentieth anniversary of his passing.

An international Malraux Society was founded in the United States in 1968. It produces the journal Revue/Malraux/Review. There is also an active association based in Paris, the Amitiés internationales André Malraux. In addition there is a very useful academic website of research and information dedicated to André Malraux and topics such as literature, art, religion, history and culture.

Quotations

Man is dead, after God”. Malraux, The Temptation of the West. (1926)

‘The artist is not the transcriber of the world, he is its rival.’ Malraux, L'Intemporel (3rd volume of The Metamorphosis of the Gods.)

'In a world in which everything is subject to the passing of time, art alone is both subject to time and yet victorious over it'. Malraux in a television program about art, 1975.

"Art is an object lesson for the gods." Malraux, The Voices of Silence

From La condition humaine [Man's Fate] (1933)

  • If a man is not ready to risk his life, where is his dignity?
  • The great mystery is not that we should have been thrown down here at random between the profusion of matter and that of the stars; it is that from our very prison we should draw, from our own selves, images powerful enough to deny our own nothingness.

"The art museum is one of the places that give us the highest idea of man.” ("The Voices of Silence")

"There is always a need for intoxication: China has opium, Islam has hashish, the West has woman."

"What is man? A miserable little pile of secrets." Anti-Memoirs (1968), pp. 6, 24

Selected biography of works about Malraux

  • Art and the Human Adventure: André Malraux's Theory of Art (Amsterdam, Rodopi: 2009) Derek Allan
  • Andre Malraux (1960) by Geoffrey H. Hartman
  • André Malraux: The Indochina adventure (1960) by Walter Langlois (New York Praeger).
  • Malraux (1971) by Pierre Galante (SBN 40212441-3)
  • Andre Malraux: A Biography (1997) by Curtis Cate (ISBN 208066795)
  • Malraux ou la Lutte avec l'ange. Art, histoire et religion (2001) by Raphaël Aubert (ISBN 2-8309-1026-5)
  • Malraux : A Life (2005) by Olivier Todd (ISBN 0375407022)
  • Dits et écrits d'André Malraux : Bibliographie commentée (2003) by Jacques Chanussot and Claude Travi (ISBN 2-905965-88-6)
  • The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936 - 1939 (Second edition 2006) by Anthony Beevor (ISBN 0-2978-4832-1)
  • André Malraux (2003) by Roberta Newnham (ISBN 9781841508542)

Partial bibliography of Malraux's works

  • Lunes en Papier, 1923 (Paper Moons, 2005)
  • La Tentation de l'Occident, 1926 (The Temptation of the West, 1926)
  • Royaume-Farfelu, 1928 (The Kingdom of Farfelu, 2005)
  • Les Conquérants, 1928 (The Conquerors, 1928)
  • La Voie royale, 1930 (The Royal Way or The Way of the Kings, 1930)
  • La Condition humaine, 1933 (Man's Fate, 1934)
  • Le Temps du mépris, 1935 (Days of Wrath, 1935)
  • L'Espoir, 1937 (Man's Hope, 1938)
  • Les Noyers de l'Altenburg, 1948. (The Walnut Trees of Altenburg)
  • La Psychologie de l'Art, 1947-1949 (The Psychology of Art)
  • Le Musée imaginaire de la sculpture mondiale (1952-54) (The Imaginary Museum of World Sculpture (in three volumes))
  • Les Voix du silence, 1951 (The Voices of Silence, 1953)
  • La Métamorphose des dieux (English translation: The Metamorphosis of the Gods, by Stuart Gilbert):
    • Vol 1. Le Surnaturel, 1957
    • Vol 2. L'Irréel, 1974
    • Vol 3. L'Intemporel, 1976
  • Antimémoires, 1967 (Anti-Memoirs, 1968 - autobiography)
  • Les Chênes qu'on abat, 1971 (Felled Oaks or The Fallen Oaks)
  • Lazare, 1974 (Lazarus, 1977)

For a more complete biography, see the site of the Amitiés internationales André Malraux.

References

  1. ^ "Recommendations for Honours and Awards (Army)—Malraux, Andre" (fee usually required to view full pdf of original recommendation). DocumentsOnline. The National Archives. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/details-result.asp?Edoc_Id=7792088. Retrieved 23 September 2009.  

External links

Preceded by
None
Minister of Culture
1959-1969
Succeeded by
Edmond Michelet

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The attempt to force human beings to despise themselves… is what I call hell.

André Georges Malraux (November 3, 1901November 23, 1976) was a French novelist, adventurer, art historian and statesman. He served as Minister for Cultural Affairs from 1958 to 1969.

Contents

Sourced

The human mind invents its Puss-in-Boots and its coaches that change into pumpkins at midnight because neither the believer nor the atheist is completely satisfied with appearances.
If a man is not ready to risk his life, where is his dignity?
Freedom is not an exchange — it is freedom.
  • No one can endure his own solitude.
    • Author's commentary, serialized version of La condition humaine in the Nouvelle revue française (1933)
  • The human mind invents its Puss-in-Boots and its coaches that change into pumpkins at midnight because neither the believer nor the atheist is completely satisfied with appearances.
    • Antimémoires, preface (1967)
  • What is man? A miserable little pile of secrets.
    • Antimémoires, preface (1967)
  • Our civilization … is not devaluing its awareness of the unknowable; nor is it deifying it. It is the first civilization that has severed it from religion and superstition. In order to question it.
    • Picasso's Mask (1976)

La condition humaine [Man's Fate] (1933)

  • If a man is not ready to risk his life, where is his dignity?
  • The great mystery is not that we should have been thrown down here at random between the profusion of matter and that of the stars; it is that from our very prison we should draw, from our own selves, images powerful enough to deny our own nothingness.
  • The attempt to force human beings to despise themselves… is what I call hell.
    • Section 2
  • "Why do you fight?" ... He kept his wife, his kid, from dying. That was nothing. Less than nothing. If he had had money, if he could have left it to them, he would have been free to go and get killed. As if the universe had not treated him all his life with kicks in the belly, it now despoiled him of the only dignity he could ever possess — his death.
  • The sons of torture victims make good terrorists.
  • La liberté n'est pas un échange, c'est la liberté.
    • Freedom is not an exchange — it is freedom.

L'espoir [Man's Hope] (1938)

  • One cannot create an art that speaks to me when one has nothing to say.
  • Il n'y a pas cinquante manières de combattre, il n'y en a qu'une, c'est d'être vainqueur. Ni la révolution ni la guerre ne consistent à se plaire à soi-même.
    • There are not fifty ways of fighting, there is only one, and that is to win. Neither revolution nor war consists in doing what one pleases.
      • Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 12

Les voix du silence [Voices of Silence] (1951)

Once the masterpiece has emerged, the lesser works surrounding it fall into place; and it then gives the impression of having been led up to and foreseeable, though actually it is inconceivable — or, rather, it can only be conceived of once it is there for us to see it.
All great religions stake a claim on eternity, but not necessarily on man's eternal life.
A religious civilization that regarded what it revered as a mere hypothesis is inconceivable.
History may clarify our understanding of the supreme work of art, but can never account for it completely; for the Time of art is not the same as the Time of history.
Art is a revolt against fate.
  • Could we bring ourselves to feel what the first spectators of an Egyptian statue, or a Romanesque crucifixion, felt, we would make haste to remove them from the Louvre. True, we are trying more and more to gauge the feelings of those first spectators, but without forgetting our own, and we can be contented all the more easily with the mere knowledge of the former, without experiencing them, because all we wish to do is put this knowledge to the work of art.
    • Part I, Chapter III
  • A large share of our art heritage is now derived from peoples whose idea of art was quite other than ours, and even from peoples to whom the very idea of art meant nothing.
    • Part I, Chapter V
  • Though man's feeling for the other-worldly often has recourse to solitude, solitude does not foster its development; rather, it is nourished by communion, to which the church is more propitious than the cemetery.
    • Part II, Chapter III
  • The ordinary man puts up a struggle against all that is not himself, whereas it is against himself, in a limited but all-essential field, that the artist has to battle.
    • Part III, Chapter III
  • The present age delights in unearthing a great man's secrets; for one thing because we like to temper our admiration and also perhaps we have a vague hope of finding a clue to genius in such "revelations."
    • Part III, Chapter VI
  • If modern painters feel qualms about applying the term "masterpiece" to describe a work of capital importance, this is because it has come to convey a notion of perfection: a notion that leads to much confusion when applied to artists other than those who made perfection their ideal.
    • Part III, Chapter VI
  • Once the masterpiece has emerged, the lesser works surrounding it fall into place; and it then gives the impression of having been led up to and foreseeable, though actually it is inconceivable — or, rather, it can only be conceived of once it is there for us to see it. It is not a scene that has come alive, but a latent potentiality that has materialized. Suppose that one of the world's masterpieces were to disappear, leaving no trace behind it, not even a reproduction; even the completest knowledge of its maker's other works would not enable the next generation to visualize it. All the rest of Leonardo's oeuvre would not enable us to visualize the Mona Lisa; all Rembrandt's, the Three Crosses or The Prodigal Son; all Vermeer's, The Love Letter; all Titian's, the Venice Pietà; all medieval sculpture, the Chartres Kings or the Naumburg Uta. What would another picture by the Master of Villeneuve look like? How could even the most careful study of The Embarkation for Cythera, or indeed that of all Watteau's other works conjure up L'Enseigne de Gersaint, had it disappeared?
    • Part III, Chapter VI
  • Athirst for personal salvation, the West forgets that many religions had but a vague notion of the life beyond the grave; true, all great religions stake a claim on eternity, but not necessarily on man's eternal life.
    • Part IV, Chapter I
  • Surely that little pseudo-gothic church on Broadway, hidden amongst the skyscrapers, is symbolic of the age! On the whole face of the globe the civilization that has conquered it has failed to build a temple or a tomb.
    • Part IV, Chapter I
  • An individualism which has got beyond the stage of hedonism tends to yield to the lure of the grandiose. It was not man, the individual, nor even the Supreme Being, that Robespierre set up against Christ; it was that Leviathan, the Nation.
    • Part IV, Chapter I
  • Each form of the sacrosanct was regarded by members of the culture which gave rise to it as a revelation of the Truth; at Byzantium it was not a mere hypothesis that was sponsored by the majesty of the Byzantine style. To us, however, these forms make their appeal as forms alone — in other words, as they would be were they the work of a contemporary (and, since this actually is unthinkable, they affect us in a puzzling manner); or else as so many grandiose vestiges of a faith that has died out. We look at them from outside; they are still emotive, but they are no longer true. Thus we deprive them of what was their most vital element; for a religious civilization that regarded what it revered as a mere hypothesis is inconceivable.
    • Part IV, Chapter V
  • The great Christian art did not die because all possible forms had been used up; it died because faith was being transformed into piety. Now, the same conquest of the outside world that brought in our modern individualism, so different from that of the Renaissance, is by way of relativizing the individual. It is plain to see that man's faculty of transformation, which began by a remaking of the natural world, has ended by calling man himself into question.
    • Part IV, Chapter VI
  • In ceasing to subordinate creative power to any supreme value, modern art has brought home to us the presence of that creative power throughout the whole history of art.
    • Part IV, Chapter VI
  • History may clarify our understanding of the supreme work of art, but can never account for it completely; for the Time of art is not the same as the Time of history.
    • Part IV, Chapter VI
  • Our art culture makes no attempt to search the past for precedents, but transforms the entire past into a sequence of provisional responses to a problem that remains intact.
    • Part IV, Chapter VII
  • Our characteristic response to the mutilated statue, the bronze dug up from the earth, is revealing. It is not that we prefer time-worn bas-reliefs, or rusted statuettes as such, nor is it the vestiges of death that grip us in them, but those of life. Mutilation is the scar left by the struggle with Time, and a reminder of it — Time which is as much a part of ancient works of art as the material they are made of, and thrusts up through the fissures, from a dark underworld, where all is at once chaos and determinism.
    • Part IV, Chapter VII
  • L'art est un anti-destin.
    • Art is a revolt against fate.
      • Part IV, Chapter VII

Quotes about Malraux

  • Malraux's career begins in mystery with the expedition to Indo-China, the obscure affair of the missing statues, a short term of imprisonment, and a plunge into Eastern politics. The details of these matters are still unknown to us, but it is their resonance that counts. With all their shadow and uncertainty they nevertheless suggest a purity of adventure. Malraux entered the European consciousness not as a writer but as an event, as a symbolic figure somehow combining the magical qualities of youth and heroism with a sense of unlimited promise.

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