Midnight in the Century by Victor Serge (Translated by Richard Greeman) - review by Antony Beevor

Antony Beevor

The Victims of Thermidor

Midnight in the Century

By

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In 1935 at the Congress for the Defence of Culture in Paris, fellow-travelling writers became involved in their first disagreement with Communist policy. Several Party sympathisers including Andre Gide, Romain Rolland and Andre Malraux appealed to the Soviet government to release the Left Oppositionist Victor Serge, whose novels Men in Prison, Birth of Our Power and Conquered City had been published in France while banned in Russia. Ilya Ehrenburg and Louis Aragon were among the foremost of the Party’s intellectuals to oppose this move. (The whole episode is well described in Herbert Lottman’s recent book, The Left Bank.)

Serge had been expelled from the Party in 1928 for criticising Stalin’s policy in China, (the subject matter of Malraux’s La Condition Humaine). In 1933 he was arrested and deported to Orenburg in Central Asia. There he would have remained had not the Soviet authorities, at that time urgently seeking

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