Monday, January 23, 2012

A Different Kind of French Writer

To cleanse my palate from Gilles Deleuze I'm reading a novel by a very different kind of French author, The Conquerors by Andre Malraux. A novel about revolution. Malroux lived an amazing life. He wrote two novels about the Chinese revolution-- had lived in Southeast Asia as a young man. In the 1930's he was heavily involved on the Republican/Popular Front side during the Spanish Civil War. In the 1940's, a heroic member of the French Resistance. The genuine article. After the war Malraux was a Gaullist, later Minister of Culture. No knee-jerk ideologue, obviously.

Malraux believed that literature was an integral part of a nation's-- and the world's-- culture. Everything about Malraux's life and writings screamed out about the RELEVANCE of literature and writers.

The question: Why do American universities teach courses on French writers who are charlatans and quacks, the Deleuzes and Robbe-Grillets of French literature whose every ridiculous word is about making literature irrelevant to the world? The alternative of relevance , in the person of Andre Malraux, is easily found.

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