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Victor Serge

charlie mowbray

The Enforcer
Yes, he did take part in CNT activities in Barcelona. He was part of a group of French anarchists who began to "Bolshevise" and he then took the decision to go to Russia and to join the Bolsheviks.
as regards his involvement with Bonnot gang, yes he was trying to exculpate himself as articles praising "men of action" appeared in l'anarchie under one of his pen names whilst the Bonnot gang events were being reported on in the press.
His erstwhile companion and co-editor Rirette Maitrejean moved completely away from the individualist milieu after these events, but remained an anarchist unttil her death. Just reading her writings on the days of l'anarchie in French, a small book I've just bought.She comes over as a far more honourable character than Serge.
 

Random

Ethnic nalgocrat
Taxamo Welf said:
yes but he wrote that in 1930, long after his ultr-bolshevik phase...?
No, 'Year One' was written while he was still in the CPSU.

Charlie -- I've often thought that Rirette, and Serge's other lovers, get very little mention in his memoirs. Is your book in English? Where did you get it?
 

Random

Ethnic nalgocrat
butchersapron said:
It was written in the years 1929-30 following his 1928 expulsion and published in 1930.
Arse. I was sure he'd written it up before that. The main source he uses in it is PRAVDA, and the SWP love it, so I imagined it was while he was still a bolshevik... :oops:

What do you reckon about his CNT involvement, Butchers? Was he just summit hopping?
 

charlie mowbray

The Enforcer
Random said:
No, 'Year One' was written while he was still in the CPSU.

Charlie -- I've often thought that Rirette, and Serge's other lovers, get very little mention in his memoirs. Is your book in English? Where did you get it?
Read my message Random . It's in French. It's called Souvenirs d'anarchie and I bought it last week at Publico, the Federation Anarchiste bookshop in Paris.My presence in Paris at the start of the riots there is purely coincidental by the way!
I often thought that about Serge, that there was very little of the "personal" in his memoirs. This had something to do with the "hard" revolutionary outlook that characterised Russian activists of the period, I believe.
Rirette loved Serge deeply, and even though they had separated for many years she broke down in tears on hearing of his death.
As regards the "Bolshevising " group, this was an anarchist study group set up by interned revolutionaries in France who were rounded up. Serge had been interned on his return from Spain, just as he was preparing to go to Russia.
 

Random

Ethnic nalgocrat
charlie mowbray said:
It's in French. It's called Souvenirs d'anarchie and I bought it last week at Publico, the Federation Anarchiste bookshop in Paris.
It's your comradely duty to do a translation for the rest of us, then;)

charlie mowbray said:
I often thought that about Serge, that there was very little of the "personal" in his memoirs. This had something to do with the "hard" revolutionary outlook that characterised Russian activists of the period, I believe.
I think it's also a common reaction to the sheer trauma of the times. He writes of 'massacres in number to make one dizzy', and most of his freinds and comrades ended up dead, often in horrible circumstances. He also left most of the women in his life behind, in one way or another. There are, however, very warm pen-portraits of a number of his friends and acquaintances in his memoirs, which shows a keen a wareness of the personal, at least with regards to other people.
 

charlie mowbray

The Enforcer
If you speak French it's worth reading Jean Malaquais's book Planete sans visa , a novel about Serge and co as they took refuge in the south of France whilst preparing to flee to Latin America. The thinly disguised characters include the Victor Serge figure, cynical, bitter and bad-tempered. Malaquais fell out with him over his attitudes in real life. It's a great book and should really be translated into English too! Malaquais maintained revolutionary positions all his life (unlike Serge, I would argue.)
 

charlie mowbray

The Enforcer
Random said:
It's your comradely duty to do a translation for the rest of us, then;)


I think it's also a common reaction to the sheer trauma of the times. He writes of 'massacres in number to make one dizzy', and most of his freinds and comrades ended up dead, often in horrible circumstances. He also left most of the women in his life behind, in one way or another. There are, however, very warm pen-portraits of a number of his friends and acquaintances in his memoirs, which shows a keen a wareness of the personal, at least with regards to other people.
If you go through Serge's Memoirs you realise how many of the people he personally knew were shot down by the police, guillotined, killed by Fascists, the Cheka, died of starvation etc. A whole generation of revolutionaries was wiped out and he was one of the few survivors. Perhaps that explains his outlook in his final days.
 

888

seasol.net
Charlie mowbray, what would you say were the best untranslated French anarchist books worth reading?
 

charlie mowbray

The Enforcer
To start with Jean Maitron's 2 volume history of the French anarchist movement, Balkanski's history of the Bulgarian anarchist movement. More later.
 

charlie mowbray

The Enforcer
Yes, before David Widgery, there was Sedgwick, IS/SWP's pet "libertarian". Mind you he was a lot more entertaining and human than most of the SWP muppets around these days.
 
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