LAZARUS by AndrÉ Malraux


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I am Lazarus, come from the dead, Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all T. S. Eliot, ""The Waste Land"" AndrÉ Malraux here tells of undergoing a mysterious disease, related to sleeping sickness, that almost felled him in 1973, three years before his actual death. (The book follows Anti-Memoirs, is second in a series to be named The Mirror of Limbo.) Malraux had twice before survived near-death; he had been rescued alive from a burning bomber in the Spanish Civil War, and had escaped, narrowly, from a German prison camp in World War II. This surprising illness found him, though frightened, in a reflective mood, willing, with the aid of drugs and a sympathetic psychotherapist, to attempt to set down his thoughts on mortality. The thoughts turn out to be sophomoric--""What does life mean?"" ""Why should life have a meaning?""--but his insights and perceptions are acute. In the latter mode, he remembers a Spanish mother of the Revolution licking the wounds of her son--because there was nothing else she could do for him. In the other: high references to death in what Malraux considers the nobler Eastern tradition. His elitism appears frequently. He who had the power to break the soldierly line to let a peasant woman into the church at Colombey for de Gaulle's funeral might not notice a woman strangled on a city street for the contents of her skinny purse. The fear of death, he seems to be saying, is more interesting for heroes than for common folk. Pace. The translation is always readable, and often lucid.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1977
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston