Memoirs of a Revolutionary 1901-41

A New York Review Books Original Victor Serge is one of the great men of the 20th century and one of its great writers too He was an anarchist, an agitator, a revolutionary, an exile, a historian of his times, as well as a brilliant novelist, and in Memoirs of a Revolutionary he devotes all his passion and genius to describing this extraordinary and exemplary career.A New York Review Books Original Victor Serge is one of the great men of the 20th century and one of its great writers too He was an anarchist, an agitator, a revolutionary, an exile, a historian of his times, as well as a brilliant novelist, and in Memoirs of a Revolutionary he devotes all his passion and genius to describing this extraordinary and exemplary career Serge tells of his upbringing among exiles and conspirators, of his involvement with the notorious Bonnot Gang and his years in prison, of his role in the Russian Revolution, and of the Revolution s collapse into despotism and terror Expelled from the Soviet Union, Serge went to Paris, where he evaded the KGB and the Nazis before fleeing to Mexico Memoirs of a Revolutionary recounts a thrilling life on the front lines of history and includes vivid portraits not only of Trotsky, Lenin, and Stalin but of countless other figures who struggled to remake the world Peter Sedgwick s fine translation of Memoirs of a Revolutionary was abridged when first published in 1963 This is the first edition in English to present the entirety of Serge s book.
Memoirs of a Revolutionary A New York Review Books Original Victor Serge is one of the great men of the th century and one of its great writers too He was an anarchist an agitator a revolutionary an exile a historian of h

  • Title: Memoirs of a Revolutionary 1901-41
  • Author: Victor Serge Peter Sedgwick
  • ISBN: 9780192810373
  • Page: 194
  • Format: Paperback
  • 1 thought on “Memoirs of a Revolutionary 1901-41”

    1. "I have outlived three generations of brave men, mistaken as they may have been, to whom I was deeply attached, and whose memory remains dear to me. And here again, I have discovered that it is nearly impossible to live a life devoted wholly to a cause which one believes to be just; a life, that is, where one refuses to separate thought from daily action. The young French and Belgian rebels of my twenties have all perished; my syndicalist comrades of Barcelona in 1917 were nearly all massacred; [...]

    2. Even the footnotes in this book are heartbreaking. Their helpful mini-bios of the obscure Mensheviks and trade unionists who crossed paths with Serge almost invariably end with a matter-of-fact notation along the lines of: ‘shot by Cheka, 1920’ or ‘arrested, 1937. Disappeared’ (1937 was a very bad year to be a Russian). Serge himself will introduce some passing acquaintance into the narrative and then, as often as not, mention parenthetically that he was later executed or vanished into t [...]

    3. Today - after my first reading - I can best convey my experience of this book by describing a similar experience, that of my first viewing of "Russian Ark," the most stunningly powerful movie I've ever seen and one that, to my mind, fully justifies the invention of talking pictures. What is so remarkable and original about this movie is that 120 of its 123 minutes constitute a single tracking shot - not the first director's cut - none. The camera moves forward, looking backward as it progresses [...]

    4. With Memoirs of a Revolutionary, Victor Serge adapted the title of Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin's 1899 memoirs. In doing so, he tied himself to the colorful history of European radical activism and the Russian revolutionaries -- and carried that heritage well into the twentieth century. Victor Lvovich Kibalchich, writing under the nom de plume Victor Serge, was the Belgian-born son of expatriated Russian radicals. He labored most of his life as a militant in exile, a tireless worker for hum [...]

    5. La memoria es sesgada, selectiva; adorna, tamiza los hechos con el barniz del tiempo volcando las emociones e ideas del presente en los sucesos pasados. Como todo libro de memorias, éste de Víctor Serge es, con seguridad, un ejercicio de desmemoria. No siempre consciente, no por falta de honestidad; es el tiempo transcurrido, la perspectiva los que transforman los hechos recordados.Aún así, Serge nos ofrece unas estampas vívidas, por vividas, de la revolución rusa, de sus protagonistas (Le [...]

    6. Here is the person who combines the destiny of a professional revolutionary with the literary gift. I never understood how your profession could be a revolutionary like a carpenter or an artist. It is more clear after this book, I guess (Not that I would want to have such professional inclinations). During his life of the religious devotion to the common course he goes through almost all possible depravities without loosing his faith (although tainting it a bit in the process). It is interesting [...]

    7. Great memoirs of one of the most literate revolutionaries I have come across. In this book, Serge chronicles his life from his early idealistic Anarchist days when he was involved with the Bonnot Gang, to his exile in Mexico after he was hounded out of Russia for supporting the Trotskyist Oppostion. I think Serge makes his position quite clear in relation to what he supported about 1917; he supported the Bolsheviks up to a point, but did frown quite severely over its bureaucracy and events such [...]

    8. ‘Memoirs of a Revolutionary’ is slightly mis-named, as it doesn’t read like a memoir. Instead, it reads like a piece of extended, on-the-ground reportage and analysis from the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, chronicling the civil war and subsequent slide into totalitarianism and terror. As such, it’s absolutely fascinating. Serge writes compellingly and the French has been well translated. I enjoyed phrases like, ‘pot-bellied peace’ and this anecdote about buying arms for the Re [...]

    9. Although not born in Russia, Serge's story is quintessentially Russian. By page 7, someone is starving to death. By page 10, Serge is throwing down lines like, "His second wife, worn out from childbearing and poverty, underwent terrible crises of hysteria." Before long you are knee-deep in this catalog of suicides and guillotine-ing and vanishings and failed revolutions and the sordid taint of money and power. Yet Serge never loses his faith in the transformative power of the will of the people. [...]

    10. Ottima lettura, alternativa alle versioni di regime degli eventi del 17 e successiviVictor, memore della sua esperienza anarchica, capisce da subito la deriva burocratica/totalitaria del leninismoOttimo anche lo stile puramente letterario- Lettura consigliata

    11. Great for the occasionally interjected commentary, the description of the Left Opposition from the ground, and the portraits of people like Trotsky and Lenin. As probably expected, these were only sporadically placed in the narrative as the reader is left constantly (at least in the first half) flipping to the name index reading about people where that mostly appear only once or twice. But the second half is much more engaging, and I won't argue with the importance of this memoir in documenting [...]

    12. Η μεταφράστρια του βιβλίου, Ρεββέκα Πέσσαχ, μιλά γι' αυτό και για τον Βίκτορ Σερζ στη συνέντευξή της στο δεύτερό μας τεύχος: marginalia/arthro/revekka-

    13. Although I believe that communism and anarchy are incompatible political beliefs, and it is impossible to reason with a Marxist, I can admire Serge’s consistency in thought, his quest for the truth, and respect for every man through liberty and democracy. This book was heavy with historical facts (names, dates etc) of his “fellow travelers” which made for an interesting picture of a time and place that needs more attention to help guide us in the present. A great book for explaining how ro [...]

    14. I was both inspired and saddened by this book. Inspired by Serge's dedication to a democratic socialism, and by his ability to stay true to his principles despite the best efforts of several regimes to break him down. Depressed by the rapidity with which the Russian revolution descended into brutality and complete suppression of thought and criticism: a process that began within 2 years of Red October, and that was begun without any help from Stalin.Serge was imprisoned for 10 of his 50 years fo [...]

    15. This is one of the most remarkable books I have ever read, a first witness account of some of the most important world events of the first half of the twentieth century, a rich period for revolutionary events and the author, Victor Serge, a Belgian born Russian, is perfectly poised to give detailed personal encounters with many of the key protagonists. Serge is a revolutionary, who participates in the Russian Revolution from 1919 as a core Bolshevik. He meets and works with Lenin and Trotsky and [...]

    16. Pensé que iba a tomarme más tiempo para finalizar su lectura, pero de repente me atrapó y no pude dejar de leerlo hasta el final. Serge es un protagonista y testigo privilegiado de sucesos fundamentales de la primera mitad del siglo XX. Anarquista, revolucionario, escritor, intelectual. Su ejercicio de la memoria va recreando una época convulsa y decisiva. Se puede apreciar el compromiso del autor con el establecimiento de un mundo más humano, justo, libre, solidario, pero le toca vivir en [...]

    17. Victor Serge has written a wonderful history of what went wrong with the Russian Revolution. He wrote as an insider who saw what went right and how Lenin and then Stalin hijacked the revolution and went into despotism. The important part is how they did this. First they took over education and convinced the masses that their program was the only answer. After that they destroyed the free press by just shutting down any thought or op/ed that was critical of the ruling party. After both the press [...]

    18. Victor Serge was a remarkable man, a committed socialist and revolutionary, but also committed to human dignity and liberty. He soon became a member of the opposition in Soviet Russia, which led to internal exile and eventually deportation. Luckily, his friends, including the wonderful Dwight MacDonald, managed to eventually get him to Mexico during World War II. But whether his memoir has relevance in this post Soviet era is open to doubt.

    19. From Serge's "Mexican Notebooks":"With the book finished, I've come to a dead end. Is it publishable? It's dense and hard to read, because I wanted to make it a precise, considered testimony, not an emotional story of the adventures of the Ego, which would have been required for a best-seller."A fair self-assessment. Parts read rapidly because of the intensity (and frequent beauty) of the prose while other parts get bogged down in the relation of facts. For those interested in following his stor [...]

    20. Victor Serge just earned a place with just a few others on my hypothetical list of answers to “If you could have lunch (or go drinking) with any historical figure who would it be?” His memoir is a guide through the Russian Revolution like no other. Up close and personal Serge gives us the good and the bad that he experienced with Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin. Even closer and more complex are his relations with another big three—Kamenev, Zinoviev, and Bukharin. Krupskaya and Kollontai and Lux [...]

    21. Victor Serge is my new hero. This book is absolutely jampacked with the Revolutionary people and events of the first part of the 20th century. And though I had studied it a bit at school, this book again reminds one of what an amazing time it was. Although historians of today can (and do) argue that the socialist revolution was doomed to favor (particularly in Russia) and the memory and even acceptance of these movements has faded (no disrespect OWS, but you got a long way to go), reading this b [...]

    22. I rate Memoirs as one of the top five books I’ve ever read. One thing that struck me about Memoirs was its similarity to Orwell’s 1984, especially as Serge described in great detail the seemingly infinite layers of totalitarian bureaucracy and repression that existed in the USSR and of which Serge was often subjected to after Stalin’s rise to power. On the other hand, early Soviet Russia was a huge influence in Orwell’s 1984, so these similarities should not be surprising. But even durin [...]

    23. full-stop/2012/07/20/rReview by Jake BlumgartIs there any 20th century political regime, besides Nazi Germany, that has been as endlessly chronicled as Soviet Russia? Every year seems to bring fresh biographies of Stalin or Lenin, new litanies of terror, ineptitude, and economic disaster. The USSR’s literary footprint is greater even than that of the Third Reich. Whose high school or college didn’t require a reading of 1984, Animal Farm, Darkness at Noon, or A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisov [...]

    24. Fascinating, unflinching, sometimes harrowing first-hand account of the Bolshevik revolution and events such as the Nazi invasion of France by one-time anarchist, early Bolchevik, and long-term left oppositionalist. Victor Serge typically found himself between camps as a staunch communist who regarded the totalitarian turn of the Soviet experiment as avoidable, counter-productive and in fact, counter revolutionary. As a party member fluent in several languages, Serge worked as a journalist, edit [...]

    25. In thinking of how I feel about this book, my mind keeps bringing up a list of superlatives I picked up from Susan Sontag and Adam Hochschild: ethical and literary hero, moral insight, political conscience and so on. Really, what's amazing about Memoirs is how Serge lived such a deeply ethical political life, so deep he barely mentions his children or wives in his memoir, but still kept a sense of wonderment at daily lived experience. His ability to stop and think of the paleness of Petersburg's [...]

    26. Wow. Beautifully written, the words scraped raw from their exposure to, and formation within, an unflinching honesty; drenched in the tones of regret and hues of violence, what with the vast majority of Serge's friends and acquaintances having been sent to the grave during those long years of Soviet Communist entrenchment; yet ever burnished with a hope the man deeply felt, even if that vein of optimism seemed (as it surely must have) something whose very insubstantiality bespoke of its nigh imp [...]

    27. I think any reader of this book would have to be more well-versed in the history of the Russian Revolution than I am in order to enjoy it. Lots of names are dropped. Lots of stuff is said about socialism. The book has the feel of recording what is "important" in the historical sense rather than the personal sense--quite a difference from contemporary memoirs. As a reader weaned on contemporary memoirs, I'm left mostly concerned with what happened to the second wife and daughter, who Serge left b [...]

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