Thursday, May 31, 2012
Remembering Victor Serge
It is very nice to see the work of Victor Serge being reprinted by New York Review Book Classics. They have a literal treasure of trove of obscure titles, including those of Platonov and Yuri Olesha, among many others, and not just from Russia. But, Serge's work stands out, as noted by Christopher Hitchens in this article he wrote for The Atlantic in 2003. In Hitch's words,
After Dostoyevsky and slightly before Arthur Koestler, but contemporary with Orwell and Kafka and somewhat anticipating Solzhenitsyn, there was Victor Serge. His novels and poems and memoirs, most of them directed at the exposure of Stalinism, were mainly composed in jail or on the run. Some of the manuscripts were confiscated or destroyed by the Soviet secret police; in the matter of poetry Serge was able to outwit them by rewriting from memory the verses he had composed in the Orenburg camp, deep in the Ural Mountain section of the Gulag Archipelago.
A great place to start is with Memoirs of a Revolutionary.