By David Bevan

The significant axes of inquiry are Malraux's ongoing quest for a measurement of transcendence inside human existence and, at lest as compelling, his look for the main applicable and powerful capability in which to specific a altering information of simply what that measurement should be. no longer unusually, in a global it sounds as if doomed to languish within the spectral shadow of dying, there are specific constants: a craving for a few fraternity to strive against man's crucial solitude, a refusal to sink with out attempt into the vortex of the Absurd, a conviciton that existence is to be lived absolutely and extremely. The human situation is what it really is. The ways that Malraux's characters, and naturally Malraux himself, focus on this situation demonstrate a transparent evolution, in particular from the 1933 novel los angeles situation humaine onwards. The reader follows Malraux from playful formative years during the dichotomy of discomfort and glorification in his center years, in the direction of the basically interrogative utterances of the mature guy. the customarily frivolous, occasionally sardonic, humour of teen provides means first to a painful acceptance of the abyss, then to the invention of a really tentative equilibrium within the philosophy of metamorphosis espoused by means of an older Malraux. André Malraux: in the direction of the Expression of Transcendence unearths the relevant steps in which Malraux completed that equilibrium.

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A va sans dire' ... "10 The comic seems to require the withholding of an emotional commitment - "l'6pargne d'une depense affective" according to Freud, "une anesthetic momentanee du cceur" for Bergson;11 it elicits primarily a complicity between author and reader at the level of the intellect. As such it is far too restrictive, even distanciating, a mechanism for an author who seeks to express concern, let alone real anguish. Henceforth, apart from occasional humour within the dialogue, in Malraux the comic, drastically reduced, is about to become indistinguishable from the tragic - the amusement of the aesthete will become the rictus of mortal man.

There, the working out in novelistic form of what Malraux seems to have distilled from his meditation on Lawrence culminates in what may well be the most succinct and exemplary formulation of Malraux's tragic vision - I refer to the little discussed Tibetan banner which, towards the end of the novel, serves as a backcloth to the human coupling on the bed below: "II [Ferral] regarda la peinture thibetaine: sur un monde d£colore ou erraient des voyageurs, deux squelettes exactement semblables s'etreignaient en transe.

Kassner la voyait a 1'envers. 6 On occasion in this novel free indirect style is modified and becomes, in the present tense, more akin to free direct style7 as Kassner7 s imagination, increasingly vivid under the strain of incarceration and torture, is so presented to the reader: Les popes sortis du tertre commencent a avancer, dalmatiques et tiares, sous les croix et les bannieres, et une irr£alite sans limites anime ce tr£sor en marche, cette folie d'orfevre lachee dans les champs boueux, avec toutes les barbes blanches et ces tremblotants reflets de perles et d'argent sous la lune.

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André Malraux : towards the expression of transcendence by David Bevan
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