This autobiographical novel was written by revolutionary Serge shortly after his own imprisonment for anarchist activities in turn of the century France. It's part of a trilogy in a ""cycle of revolution"" which ""begins in defeat"" as the protagonist records his feelings in an inexhaustible interior monologue. Fear, elation, hope, apathy, dejection, obsessions -- impassioned musings and some acute observations on the nature of man and a society that can build a prison that is so ""proudly, insularly itself."" Our heroic victim finds his companionship in the writhings on the walls -- ""Only seven months more and I'll kill her!"" and in fleeting contacts with his doomed companions. And the guards -- like Latruffe, ""a mountain of pale, swollen flesh, with blueish cheeks."" Meanwhile there are echoes of war outside the walls as the prisoner joyously waits for destruction. It, s sharp experience with a certain relevance today, particularly for those who read Serge's Diary of a Revolutionary.