Memoirs of a Revolutionary

Memoirs of a Revolutionary

Paperback New York Review Books Classics

By (author) Victor Serge, Translated by Peter Sedgwick, Foreword by Adam Hochschild, Translated by George Paizis

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  • Publisher: NYRB Classics
  • Format: Paperback | 416 pages
  • Dimensions: 127mm x 201mm x 30mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 28 June 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1590174518
  • ISBN 13: 9781590174517
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 71,457

Product description

A New York Review Books Original. Victor Serge is one of the great men of the twentieth century, anarchist, revolutionary, agitator, theoretician, historian of his times, and a fearless truthteller. He was also a great writer, the author of dazzling works of fiction, including the novel The Case of Comrade Tulayev, perhaps the finest book to emerge from the crucible of Stalinist terror, and of these no less extraordinary memoirs. Here Serge describes his upbringing in Belgium, the child of a family of exiled Russian revolutionary intellectuals, his early life as an activist, his time in a French prison, the active role he played in the Russian Revolution, as well his growing dismay at the Revolutionary regime's ever more repressive and murderous character. Expelled from the Soviet Union, Serge went to Paris, and barely escaped the Nazis to find a final refuge in Mexico. Memoirs of a Revolutionary describes a thrilling life on the frontlines of history and includes brilliant portraits of politicians from Trotsky and Lenin and Stalin and of major writers like Alexander Blok and Andrey Bely. Above all, it captures the sensibility of Serge himself, that of a courageous and singularly appealing advocate of human liberation who remained undaunted in the most trying of times. Peter Sedgwick's fine translation of Serge's Memoirs of a Revolutionary was cut by a fifth when it was first published in 1963. This new edition is the first in English to present the entirety of Serge's book.

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Author information

VICTOR SERGE (1890-1947) was born Victor Lvovich Kibalchich to Russian anti-tsarist exiles, impoverished intellectuals living "by chance" in Brussels. A precocious anarchist firebrand, young Victor was sentenced to five years in a French penitentiary in 1912. Expelled to Spain in 1917, he participated in an anarcho-syndicalist uprising before leaving to join the Revolution in Russia. Detained for more than a year in a French concentration camp, Serge arrived in St. Petersburg early in 1919 and joined the Bolsheviks, serving in the press services of the Communist International. An outspoken critic of Stalin, Serge was expelled from the Party and briefly arrested in 1928. Henceforth an "unperson," he completed three novels (Men in Prison, Birth of Our Power, and Conquered City) and a history (Year One of the Russian Revolution), all published in Paris. Arrested again in Russia and deported to Central Asia in 1933, he was allowed to leave the USSR in 1936 after international protests by militants and prominent writers like Andre Gide and Romain Rolland. Using his insider's knowledge, Serge published a stream of impassioned, documented exposes of Stalin's Moscow show trials and machinations in Spain, which went largely unheeded. Stateless, penniless, hounded by Stalinist agents, Serge lived in precarious exile in Brussels, Paris, Vichy France, and Mexico City, where he died in 1947. His classic Memoirs of a Revolutionary and his great last novels, Unforgiving Years and The Case of Comrade Tulayev (both available as NYRB Classics), were written "for the desk drawer" and published posthumously. Adam Hochschild has written for The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine and The Nation. His books include King Leopold's Ghost, a National Books Critics Circle Award finalist and and winner of Mark Lynton History Prize, and Bury the Chains, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for history and the PEN USA Literary Award for Research Nonfiction. His most recent book is To End All Wars. He teaches at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California Berkeley. Peter Sedgwick (1934-1983) was a translator of Victor Serge, and author of a number of books including PsychoPolitics.

Review quote

This is a republication of the 1963 Oxford University Press edition prepared and translated by Peter Sedgwick from Serge's original French text, and the new edition retains Sedgwick's introduction, along with a post-Soviet essay on Serge by Adam Hochschild, a usefully expanded glossary of short biographies and a number of charming and accomplished pencil sketches of Serge and his friends by his artist son Vladimir. The Guardian

Table of contents

Contents: Introduction; World Without Escape: 1906-1912; Live To Prevail: 1912-1919; Anguish And Enthusiasm: 1919-1920; Danger From Within: 1920-1921; Europe At The Dark Crossroads: 1922-1926; Deadlock Of The Revolution: 1926-1928; The Years Of Resistance: 1928-1933; The Years Of Captivity: 1933-1936; Defeat In The West: 1936-1941; Looking Forward; Appendix: Victor Serge And The R.P.F.; Bibliography; Index