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Jean-François Lyotard  ? - 1998

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The Postmodern Condition : A Report on Knowledge
Signed, Malraus by Jean-Francois LyotardSigned, Malraux by Jean-Francois Lyotard, Robert Harvey (Translator).

Translated by: Robert Harvey. André Malraux (1901-1976) was a swashbuckling character—a 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. Lyotard’s project is to get under Malraux’s skin, tracing the interactions among art, literature, politics, sexuality, and ideology that led to his emergence as a cultural icon.

Lyotard’s Malraux is a man haunted by death—not 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 one’s 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 Malraux’s major themes—art, the Far East, women, politics, communism, antifascism—he 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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