André Malraux : towards the expression of transcendence by David Bevan

By David Bevan

The primary axes of inquiry are Malraux's ongoing quest for a measurement of transcendence inside human lifestyles and, at lest as compelling, his look for the main applicable and powerful capacity through which to precise a altering wisdom of simply what that size can be. no longer unusually, in a global it sounds as if doomed to languish within the spectral shadow of demise, there are specific constants: a craving for a few fraternity to wrestle man's crucial solitude, a refusal to sink with no attempt into the vortex of the Absurd, a conviciton that existence is to be lived totally and extremely. The human is what it truly is. The ways that Malraux's characters, and naturally Malraux himself, take care of this display a transparent evolution, specially from the 1933 novel l. a. humaine onwards. The reader follows Malraux from playful early life throughout the dichotomy of affliction and glorification in his center years, in the direction of the essentially interrogative utterances of the mature guy. the customarily frivolous, occasionally sardonic, humour of stripling offers approach first to a painful reputation 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 finds the important steps wherein Malraux completed that equilibrium.

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Il s'agit d'etre homme - le plus possible. "10 In this guise, then, eroticism becomes the supreme act in a world now dominated by a very mortal, and therefore, physical man - or woman - for Malraux is struck too by the resoluteness with which Lawrence rejects the conventional, impoverishing, stylization of woman. "11 Certainly, it cannot be denied that Lawrence, already ravaged by disease to the point of imminent death, did choose to devote his last major work primarily to a woman's sensuality: "II 1'interroge par la 23 On Eroticism voix de tous ses personnages et lui consacre le livre qu'il e"crit lorsqu'il est d£ja fascine" par la mort,"12 writes Malraux, for whom it is undoubtedly Constance who subsumes even Mellors in her erotic itinerary: il fallait que les rapports entre elle et son nouvel amant fussent impersonnels, il fallait qu'elle devint sa maitresse avant de savoir qui il est, avant de lui avoir parle.

It is my contention that Malraux's reading of Lawrence, as evinced in his 1932 preface to the first French translation of Lady Chatterley's Lover, encouraged him to explore, along specific lines and more substantially than might otherwise have been the case, one particular avenue. His exploration is both exhaustive and exhausting. There is no solace in that direction, and eroticism will not reappear in any form in any of his subsequent writings. In this sense Malraux's reflective mating with Lawrence in 1932 is a perfect image of the erotic act itself, at least for Malraux.

For now the butterfly is no longer a cavorting mockery of man's absurd fate, but a solemn confirmation of a scheme of things which transcends life and death. A rhythm in which men are merely for Malraux "des papillons ... "28 Elsewhere in LeMiroir, too, the butterfly is always associated with the supra-logical. "29 A similar association with a divine, recast in human terms, is to be discovered in the references to "fetiches" and masks which furnish a common decor for the meditations and conversations of Le Miroir des limbes.

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