André Malraux

Malraux, André (äNdrāˈ mälrōˈ) [key], 1901–76, French man of letters and political figure. An intellectual with a broad knowledge of archaeology, art history, and anthropology, Malraux led a remarkably adventurous life. He traveled to Indochina looking for Khmer statuary and later visited such locales as Russia, Persia, Afghanistan, Burma, Malaysia, and the United States. He witnessed the struggle in China (1927) between the Communists and Nationalists, described in his novel The Conquerors (1928), helped to organize the Republican air force and commanded a squadron of volunteers in the Spanish civil war, and was a founder of the World League against Anti-Semitism. A French tank commander during World War II, he was captured by the Germans but escaped and became a resistance leader. Malraux served (1945, 1958) as minister of information under Charles de Gaulle. An enthusiastic adherent of de Gaulle, Malraux was later (1959–68) his minister of cultural affairs; as such he was largely responsible for the restoration of many Parisian landmarks, the establishment of the Orchestre de Paris, the funding of various literary works, and the creation of regional art centers. His writings on de Gaulle include Fallen Oaks (1971, tr. 1972).

Malraux's outstanding social novels, which reflect the tumult of his time, include La Condition humaine (1933; tr. Man's Fate, 1934), concerning the Shanghai uprisings, and L'Espoir (1938; tr. Man's Hope, 1938), set in Spain during the civil war. Amid violence and political chaos, his heroes struggle to maintain their dignity and humanity. Among his writings on art and civilization are Les Voix du silence (1951; tr. The Voices of Silence, 1953); The Metamorphosis of the Gods (tr. 1960), drawn from several of his works, including Le Musée imaginaire de la sculpture mondiale (3 vol., 1953–54); and Le Triangle noir (1970), studies of Goya, Laclos, and Saint-Just. In these works Malraux portrays art as an outgrowth of past art rather than a reaction to contemporary stimuli.

See his Anti-memoirs (1967, tr. 1968); memoir by C. Malraux (1967); biographies by R. Payne (1970), P. Galante (1971), J. Lacouture (1973, tr. 1976), C. Cate (1997), and O. Todd (2001, tr. 2005); studies by V. M. Horvath (1969), T. J. Kline (1973), W. M. Frohock (1974), H. Bloom, ed. (1988), G. T. Harris (1996), and J. F. Lyotard (2001).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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