By David Bevan
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Extra info for André Malraux : towards the expression of transcendence
There, the working out in novelistic form of what Malraux seems to have distilled from his meditation on Lawrence culminates in what may well be the most succinct and exemplary formulation of Malraux's tragic vision - I refer to the little discussed Tibetan banner which, towards the end of the novel, serves as a backcloth to the human coupling on the bed below: "II [Ferral] regarda la peinture thibetaine: sur un monde d£colore ou erraient des voyageurs, deux squelettes exactement semblables s'etreignaient en transe.
Fleeting, but so provocative, this curious little scene taken from Malraux's La Condition humaine seems to have gone largely unnoticed by critics and has never elicited to my knowledge an analysis of any depth. At best, readers point cursorily to the passage's prophetically morbid quality, the lack of genuine contact, the very mortal reality that the flesh momentarily couches. And yet it happens to occur at a most meaningful point in the novel immediately prior to the accelerated denouement which commences with Tchen's suicidal attack on Chang-Kai-Chek - and has been carefully prepared by the preceding philosophical discussion between Ferral and Gisors which conceptualizes erotic experience.
9 The change was observed by Nino Frank, who attests that Malraux, an erstwhile "farfelu applique," had largely thrust aside incidental humour by the time of Pontigny in late 1926. a va sans dire' ... "10 The comic seems to require the withholding of an emotional commitment - "l'6pargne d'une depense affective" according to Freud, "une anesthetic momentanee du cceur" for Bergson;11 it elicits primarily a complicity between author and reader at the level of the intellect. As such it is far too restrictive, even distanciating, a mechanism for an author who seeks to express concern, let alone real anguish.
André Malraux : towards the expression of transcendence by David Bevan
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