Synopses & Reviews
Andre Malraux (1901-1976) was a swashbuckling character -- a self-invented adventurer, a onetime smuggler of artifacts, a fighter in the Spanish Civil War and the French Resistance, an artist and thinker. He has come to epitomize the committed writer, one who not only wrote about revolution but who, when necessary, laid down his pen to pick up a gun. In this incisive and evocative account, Jean-Francois Lyotard goes beyond the facts and legends about Malraux. Lyotard's project is to get under Malraux's skin, tracing the interactions among art, literature, politics, sexuality, and ideology that led to his emergence as a cultural icon.
Lyotard's Malraux is a man haunted by death -- not the existentialist dread of living in freedom, but the certainty that we are destined to die. Because he believed that only art is somewhat enduring, he concluded that we should turn our lives into works of art. In his title, Lyotard alludes to this idea: to sign one's life as one would a painting. Through this conceit, Lyotard draws from and then challenges conventional ideas of biography, blurring the difference between writing and acting, between words and deeds.
In Signed, Malraux, Lyotard provides both a compelling account of this fascinating figure and a new understanding of the man. In doing so, Lyotard not only explores all of Malraux's major themes -- art, the Far East, women, politics, communism, fascism -- he creates Malraux anew as an emblem of freedom of thought for our era.