Cover image for Signed, Malraux
Signed, Malraux
Lyotard, Jean-François, 1924-1998.
Uniform Title:
Signé Malraux. English
Publication Information:
Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 326 pages ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PQ2625.A716 Z696613 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Traces the life and career of the French novelist, describing his participation in the Spanish Civil War, command of a World War II resistance brigade, and his position as a government minister.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Working a typically playful vein, French philosopher Lyotard (d. 1998), one of the foremost theorists of postmodernism, has written an idiosyncratic depreciation of Andr‚ Malraux (1901-1976), the self-publicizing professional intellectual who was enshrined in the Pantheon in 1996 as a hero of culture. Beginning as an anarchist and then a Communist-leaning adventurer, Malraux became an esteemed novelist (Man's Fate, Man's Hope) and ended up as Charles de Gaulle's minister of culture. Lyotard's ambiguous attitude toward his subject is captured in the term farfeluÄhe uses it dozens of times, but it is left untranslatedÄan all-purpose term for harebrained, eccentric or even senseless. Lyotard, no respecter of mere chronology, whipsaws the reader in time from one decade to another, granting Malraux his grudging admiration for creating a personal "fantasy machine" and for "signing his life as if it were one of his works" (hence the title). The Malraux he presents is, in a series of farfelu images, "a bit of a punk" and an "odd bird" who "loathed himself as a little boy whose diurnal stupidities would by evening be absolved by the leniency of women." The translationÄin attempting to capture Lyotard's self-consciously "pomo" styleÄveers between triteness ("rubbed shoulders"; "beaten track"; "happy camper") and opacity ("ubuesque"; "acephalous"; "paraph"). While Lyotard's disciples may enjoy his gambols, those seeking a straightforward introduction to the subject will be better served by Curtis Cate's more workmanlikeÄand balancedÄAndr‚ Malraux (Forecasts, Jan. 27, 1997). (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The highest honor bestowed on Andr‚ Malraux was, arguably, the transfer of his remains to the Pantheon, France's famous place of honor, in November 1996 amid a solemn ceremony. That belated recognition is significant in that it shows how far an individual of humble origins had come to emerge as his nation's cultural icon. The celebrated French writer, art critic, political activist, and adventurer used his writings, and especially his novels, to express what became the existentialist view that people can give significance to their life through engagement and dedication to a cause. He wrote about revolution, but when needed he joined the French Resistance and fought in the Spanish Civil War. In this unconventional biography, French philosopher Lyotard does not conceal his deep affinity with, and admiration for, the famous French existentialist. The 17 chapters of the book provide not only incisive accounts of this celebrated personality but also an outstanding analysis of his life and a thoughtful reading of his work. Demonstrating that biography is an act of inference, Lyotard's book audaciously and successfully creates a new Malraux, that of the post-World War II era, symbolized by freedom of thought and renewed faith in existentialism. Highly recommended for all larger libraries and essential for those with serious literary collections.ÄAli Houissa, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Any book about a famous artistic and intellectual genius by another famous intellectual is going to be of literary interest. But this, French philosopher Lyotard's last book before his death in 1998, is a singular work. Of Malraux--the provocative but formidable French literary giant, author of more than 30 books of fiction and nonfiction, including Man's Fate--Lyotard wrote: "Sounding the depths of his truth as a writer . . . he drives to despair his most loyal and hardened readers." As biography, this volume is decidedly uneven; as a meditation on a monumental life by an incomparable postmodern thinker, it is an accomplished convergence of intellectual gifts. Lyotard pursues aspects of Malraux's early family life and his youthful peregrinations in Asia; his endlessly self-analytical mind; his heightened sense of the artistic, literary, and lofty, which fed exclusively and daily on the masterpieces that inspired his pen; and his diminished capacity for emotional bonds with others, including family. Harvey struggles to wrest meaning from a difficult text until the last chapter, when, magically, translator, subject, and biographer seem to truly collaborate on their conclusions. For upper-division undergraduates through faculty. C. P. Hill; University of Massachusetts at Amherst