Robert Harvey (Translator).
by: Robert Harvey. André Malraux (1901-1976) was a
swashbuckling charactera self-invented adventurer, a onetime
smuggler of artifacts, a fighter in the Spanish Civil War and
the French Resistance, an artist and thinker. He has come to
epitomize the committed writer, one who not only wrote about
revolution but who, when necessary, laid down his pen to pick up
a gun. In this incisive and evocative account, Jean-François
Lyotard goes beyond the facts and legends about Malraux.
Lyotards project is to get under Malrauxs skin, tracing
the interactions among art, literature, politics, sexuality, and
ideology that led to his emergence as a cultural icon.
Lyotards Malraux is a man haunted by
deathnot the existentialist dread of living in freedom, but
the certainty that we are destined to die. Because he believed
that only art is somewhat enduring, he concluded that we should
turn our lives into works of art. In his title, Lyotard alludes
to this idea: to sign ones life as one would a painting.
Through this conceit, Lyotard draws from and then challenges
conventional ideas of biography, blurring the difference between
writing and acting, between words and deeds.
In Signed, Malraux, Lyotard provides both a
compelling account of this fascinating figure and a new
understanding of the man. In doing so, Lyotard not only explores
all of Malrauxs major themesart, the Far East, women,
politics, communism, antifascismhe creates Malraux anew as an
emblem of freedom of thought for our era.
Jean-François Lyotard (1925-1998) was one of
the principal French philosophers and intellectuals of the
twentieth century. His works include Postmodern Fables
(1997), The Postmodern Condition - A Report on Knowledge (Theory and History of Literature, Vol 10)
(1984), The Differend - Phrases in Dispute (Theory and History of Literature, Vol 46)
(1988), Heidegger and 'the Jews'(1990), and
The Postmodern Explained (1992),
all published by the University of Minnesota Press.
Signed, Malraux, the last and probably the
most unanticipated book to come from the hand of the late French
philosopher Lyotard, is also the most unexpected biopsy of André
Malraux, the man who thought he could sign his own life. The
result is dazzling. It constitutes the first substantial attempt
by a thinker of the postmodern age to come to grips with one of
the towering literary figures of the generation that had just
preceded him. In doing so, Lyotard is also the first to break a
silence that, retrospectively, can be read as the most
spectacular, most clearly Oedipal case of the anxiety of
influence." Denis Hollier, New York University
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