Andre Malraux: An Age of Oppression by Roberta Newnham

By Roberta Newnham

Aimed to coincide with the centenary of Malraux's beginning, André Malraux: An Age of Oppression is the 1st translation/annotated version of Le Temps de mépris in a entire structure. the tale (with the emphasis upon the mental trauma suffered by way of a German political prisoner of the Nazis within the early Thirties) marks an important second in Malraux's literary oeuvre, and a prophetic perception into the historic implications of the placement triumphing in pre-World conflict II Nazi Germany.

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Darkness hugs the wintry ground, leaden with an oppressive presence which slowly invades the entire nocturnal landscape: processions inch their way slowly across it, appearing then disappearing from view behind a rocky escarpment, the moonlight glimmering on the false pearls of the Russian banners and Orthodox crosses being wielded aloft like cudgels as they file along. A wild boar trundles past, rustling through the leaves: one of the partisans is escaping, his mouth gaping wide open and his blank-looking eyes reflecting the glaucous moonlight; an Orthodox priest in full regalia appears on the hillock, clinging to one of the banners’ poles he has used to hoist himself up, letting it take his full weight, the material slapping wildly in the wind that has just got up.

Then, all of a sudden, as abruptly as it had materialised, the whole symbolic scene of brotherly feeling and solidarity was lost in darkness once again: another lorry loaded with policemen came along and shot down the street at full speed between the houses which were once more bathed in indifferent moonlight. Hour after hour went by, with numbers nibbling away at his mind like ants, and with the occasional sound of guards going past. Then, ever so slowly, almost by chance it seemed, as if he had had nothing whatsoever to do with it, the thought occurred to him that 5 might not mean that 1 was the fifth letter, but that the alphabet actually started with the sixth letter.

There was a rope now in every one of those dungeons and all Kassner could do was knock on the wall. Knock after knock. He hardly dared to listen. Yet, either he’d gone completely mad already, or someone was answering. From the same direction as the last time. Even while he was straining with all his might to listen for it, he was terrified of hearing it: the knocking might stop again, mightn’t it? He’d thought he’d heard the guard coming along once already, but had been mistaken. Hope itself had become a source of pain.

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