PART ONE Search for the Father Intercessor: Widow Camus To you who will never be able to read this booka Above the wagon rolling along a stony road, big thick clouds were hurrying to the East through the dusk. Three days ago they had inflated over the Atlantic, had waited for a wind from the West, had set out, slowly at first then faster and faster, had flown over the phosphorescent autumn waters, straight to the continent, had unraveledb on the Moroccan peaks, had gathered again in flocks on the high plateaus of Algeria, and now, at the approaches to the Tunisian frontier, were trying to reach the Tyrrhenian Sea to lose themselves in it. After a journey of thousands of kilometers over what seemed to be an immense island, shielded by the moving waters to the North and to the South by the congealed waves of the sands, passing scarcely any faster above this nameless country than had empires and peoples over the millennia, their momentum was wearing out and some a. (add geological anonymity. Land and sea) b. Solferino. already were melting into occasional large raindrops that were beginning to plop on the canvas hood above the four travelers. The wagon was creaking over a route that was fairly well marked but had scarcely any surfacing. From time to time a spark would flash under a metal wheel rim or a horse's hoof, and a stone would strike the wood of the wagon or else would sink with a muted sound into the soft soil of the ditch. Meanwhile the two small horses moved steadily ahead, occasionally flinching a bit, their chests thrust forward to pull the heavy wagon, loaded with furniture, continuously putting the road behind them as they trotted along at different paces. One of them would now and then blow the air noisily from its nostrils, and would be thrown off its pace. Then the Arab who was driving would snap the worn* reins flat on its back, and the beast would gamely pick up its rhythm. The man who was on the front seat by the driver, a Frenchman about thirty, gazed with an impenetrable look at the two rumps moving rhythmically in front of him. He was of medium height, stocky, with a long face, a high square forehead, a strong jaw, and blue eyes. Though the season was well along, he wore a three-button duckcloth jacket, fastened at the neck in the style of that time, and a light pith helmeta over his close-cut hair.b When the rain began streaming across the * split from wear and tear a. or a kind of derby? b. wearing heavy boots. canvas above them, he turned toward the inside of the vehicle: "Are you all right?" he shouted. On a second seat, wedged between the first seat and a heap of old trunks and furniture, sat a woman who, though shabbily dressed, was wrapped in a coarse woolen shawl. She smiled feebly at him. "Yes, yes," she said, with a little gesture of apology. A small four-year-old boy slept leaning against her. She had a gentle look and regular features, a warm gaze in her brown eyes, a small straight nose, and the black wavy hair of a Spanish woman. But there was something striking about that face. Not only would fatigue or something similar momentarily mask its features; no, it was more like a faraway look, a look of sweet distraction, such as you always see on some simpletons, but which would burst out only fleetingly on the beauty of this face. The kindness of that gaze, which was so noticeable, would sometimes be joined by a gleam of unreasoning fear that would as instantly vanish. With the flat of her hand, already worn with work and somewhat gnarled at the joints, she tapped her husband's back: "It's all right, it's all right," she said. And immediately she stopped smiling to watch, from under the canvas top, the road where puddles were already beginning to shine. The man turned to the Arab, placid in his turban with its yellow cords, his body made stouter by baggy pants with a roomy seat gathered above the calf. "Do we have much farther to go?" The Arab smiled under his big white moustache. "Eight kilometers and you're there." The man turned to look at his wife, not smiling yet attentive. She had kept her eyes on the road. "Give me the reins," the man said. "As you wish," said the Arab. He handed him the reins, and the man stepped across while the old Arab slipped under him to the place just vacated. With two slaps of the flat of the reins the man took over the horses, who picked up their trot and suddenly were pulling straighter. "You know horses," the Arab said. The husband's reply was curt and unsmiling. "Yes," he said. The light had dimmed and all at once night settled in. The Arab took the square lantern from its catch at his left and, turning toward the back, used several crude matches to light the candle inside it. Then he replaced the lantern. Now the rain was falling gently and steadily. It shone in the weak light of the lamp, and, all around, it peopled the utter darkness with its soft sound. Now and then the wagon skirted spiny bushes; small trees were faintly lit for a few seconds. But the rest of the time it rolled through an empty space made still more vast by the dark of night. The smell of burned grass, or, suddenly, the strong odor of manure, was all that suggested they were passing by land under cultivation. The wife spoke behind the driver, who held his horses in a bit and leaned back. "There are no people here," the wife said again. "Are you afraid?" "What?" The husband repeated the question, but this time he was shouting. "No, no, not with you." But she seemed worried. "You're in pain," the man said. "A little." He urged his horses on, and once more all that filled the night were the heavy sounds of the wheels crushing ridges in the road and the eight shod hooves striking its surface. It was a night in the fall of 1913. Two hours earlier the voyagers had left the railroad station in Bone where they had arrived from Algiers after a journey of a night and a day on hard third-class benches. In the station they had found the wagon and the Arab waiting to take them to the farm located near a small village, about twenty kilometers into the interior of the country, where the husband was to take over the management. It had taken time to load the trunks and their few belongings, and then the bad road had delayed them still further. The Arab, as if aware of his companion's disquiet, said to him: "Have no fear. Here there are no bandits." "They're everywhere," the man said. "But I have the necessary." And he slapped his tight pocket. "You're right," said the Arab. "There's always madmen." At that moment, the woman called her husband. "Henri," she said. "It hurts." The man swore and pushed his horses a bit more.a "We're getting there," he said. After a moment, he looked at his wife again. "Does it still hurt?" a. The little boy. [In the course of this chapter, the author variously places the boy in the wagon (p. 5) or in Algiers (p. 14), Trans.] She smiled at him with a strangely absent air, yet she did not seem to be suffering. "Yes, a lot." He continued to gaze gravely at her. Again she apologized. "It's nothing. Maybe it's the train." "Look," the Arab said, "the village." Indeed they could see, to the left of the road and a little farther on, the lights of Solferino blurred by the rain. "But you take the road to the right," said the Arab. The man hesitated, then turned to his wife. "Should we go to the house or the village?" he asked. "Oh, to the house, that's better." A bit farther, the vehicle turned to the right toward the unfamiliar house that awaited them. "Another kilometer," said the Arab. "We're getting there," the man said, in the direction of his wife. She was bent over double, her face in her arms. "Lucie," the man said. She did not move. The man touched her with his hand. She was weeping silently. He shouted, stressing each syllable and acting out his words: "You are going to lie down there! I will go get the doctor!" "Yes. Go get the doctor. I think this is it." The Arab was watching them with surprise. "She's going to have a baby," the husband said. "Is there a doctor in the village?" "Yes. I'll get him if you wish." "No, you stay at the house. You keep watch. I'll go faster. Is there a small cart or a horse?" "There's a cart." Then the Arab said to the wife, "You will have a boy. Let him be a fine one." The wife smiled at him without seeming to understand. "She doesn't hear," the man said. "At the house, you'll have to shout out loud and make signs." Suddenly the wagon was rolling almost without sound over the chalky subsurface of tuff. The road was narrower now. It passed alongside some tiled sheds behind which could be seen the first rows of the vineyard. They were met by a strong smell of fermenting grapes. They passed some large buildings with high-pitched roofs, and the wheels flattened the slag of a yard where there were no trees. The Arab took the reins without speaking and pulled them in. The horses stopped, and one of them snorted.a With his hand the Arab indicated a small whitewashed house. A creeping vine ran around a low door with a frame stained blue by copper sulfate. The man jumped to the ground and ran through the rain to the house. He opened the door. It led to a dark room which smelled of an empty hearth. The Arab, who was following him, walked straight through the dark to the fireplace, and, scraping an ember, lit a kerosene lamp that hung in the middle of the room over a round table. The man barely took time to notice that he was in a whitewashed kitchen with a sink of red ceramic tile, an old sideboard, and a sodden calendar on the wall. Stairs finished with the same red tiles led to the second floor. "Light the fire," he said, and he returned to the wagon. a. Is it night? (He took the little boy?) The woman was waiting in silence. He took her in his arms to set her on the ground and, holding her close for a moment, he lifted her head. "Can you walk?" "Yes," she said, and she stroked his arm with her worn hand. He led her to the house. "Wait," he said. The Arab had already lit the fire, and with skillful and precise motions he was stoking it with shoots of vine. She was standing near the table, hands on her belly, and now her handsome face turned up to the lamplight was crossed by brief waves of pain. She seemed to notice neither the dampness nor the odor of neglect and poverty. The man was busy in the rooms upstairs. Then he appeared at the head of the stairs. "There's no fireplace in the bedroom?" "No," said the Arab. "Not in the other room either." "Come," said the man. The Arab joined him, then reappeared, walking backwards, carrying a mattress that the husband was holding by the other end. They placed it next to the fireplace. The man pulled the table to a corner, while the Arab went back upstairs and soon returned with a bolster and blankets. "Lie down there," the man said to his wife, and he led her to the mattress. She hesitated. Now they could smell the odor of damp hair rising from the mattress. "I can't undress," she said, looking around fearfully as if she were only now seeing the place. "Take off what you have underneath," the man said. And he repeated: "Take off your underwear." Then to the Arab: "Thanks. Unhitch a horse. I'll ride him to the village." The Arab went out. The wife went about her preparations, her back to her husband, who had also turned his back. Then she stretched out, and as soon she had done so, drawing the covers over her, she gave a single, long, full-throated howl, as if she wanted to rid herself at once of all the cries that pain had stored up in her. The man, standing by the mattress, let her cry; then, when she fell silent, he took off his pith helmet, put one knee to the ground, and kissed the fine forehead over her closed eyes. He put his hat on again and went out into the rain. The unhitched horse was turning its head, its front hooves planted in the slag. "I'll get a saddle," the Arab said. "No, leave the reins on. I'll ride him like this. Take the trunks and the other things into the kitchen. Do you have a wife?" "She died. She was old." "Do you have a daughter?" "No, God be thanked. But I have the wife of my son. "Tell her to come." "I'll do that. Go in peace." The husband looked at the old Arab motionless in the fine rain and smiling at him under his wet moustache. He himself was still unsmiling, but he watched the Arab with his direct attentive gaze. Then he extended his hand. The other man took his hand in the Arab fashion, with the ends of his fingers, then lifted it to his lips. The husband turned, making the cinders crunch, strode to the horse, vaulted onto it bareback, and rode off at a lumbering trot. As he left the property, the man headed toward the crossroads from which they had first seen the lights of the village. They were shining now with a more dazzling light, the rain had stopped falling and the road, to the right, that led toward the village was laid out straight through the vineyards where the trellis wires glistened here and there. About halfway, the horse slowed down to a walk. He was nearing a sort of rectangular shanty; one part was a room made of masonry, and a second, larger part was built of wooden planks. Projecting from this second part was a kind of counter with a big matting pulled down over it. On a door recessed in the masonry one could read: "Mme. Jacques's Farm Canteen." Light seeped under the door. The man stopped his horse right by the door, and knocked without dismounting. Immediately a firm resonant voice asked from inside, "What is it?" "I'm the new manager of the Saint-Apotre property. My wife is giving birth. I need help." No one answered. After a moment bolts were drawn, bars were lifted, then dragged away, and the door opened partway. He could make out the black curly head of a European woman with plump cheeks and a flattish nose above full lips. "My name is Henri Cor-mery. Can you go to be with my wife? I'm going to get the doctor." She gazed at him with the eye of one accustomed to weighing men and misfortune. He met her look squarely, but without adding a word of explanation. "I'll go," she said. "You hurry." He thanked her and kicked the horse with his heels. A few moments later he entered the village by passing between rampart-like walls made of dried mud. Stretching before him lay what seemed to be the only street, bordered with small one-story houses, all alike; he followed it to a small hard-surfaced square where, surprisingly, he found a metal-framed bandstand. The square, like the street, was deserted. Cormery was already headed toward one of the houses when the horse shied. An Arab, in a torn somber-colored burnoose, appeared from the shadows and came toward him. "The doctor's house," Cormery immediately asked. The Arab studied the horseman. "Come," he said after he had looked him over. They went back up the street. Written on a building with a raised ground floor reached by whitewashed stairs were the words: "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite." Next to it was a small garden surrounded by roughly finished walls; at its far end was a house, to which the Arab pointed. "That's it," he said. Cormery jumped down from the horse, and, at a pace that showed no sign of fatigue, he crossed the garden, where all he noticed was, at the exact center, a dwarf palm with withered leaves and a rotted trunk. He knocked at the door. No one answered.a He turned around. The Arab was waiting in silence. The husband knocked again. From inside could be heard footsteps that stopped behind the door. But the door did not open. Cormery knocked again and said, "I'm looking for the doctor." a. I fought against the Moroccans (with a cryptic look) Moroc-cans, they're no good. At once the bolts were drawn and the door was opened. A man appeared. His face was young and chubby, but his hair was almost white. He was tall and well built, and his legs were squeezed into leggings. He was putting on a sort of hunting jacket. "Well! Where did you come from? I've never seen you before," he said, smiling. The husband explained. "Oh yes, the mayor told me. But, you know, this is a strange place to come to have a baby." The husband said he had been expecting the event later and that he must have made a mistake. "Well, that happens to everyone. Go ahead, I'll saddle Matador and follow you." Halfway back, and through the rain that had begun to fall again, the doctor, mounted on a dappled gray horse, caught up with Cormery, who was now soaked through but still erect on his heavy farm horse. "Strange way to arrive," the doctor called out. "But you'll see, there's good in this place, not counting the mosquitoes and the bandits in the bush." He stayed alongside his companion. "About the mosquitoes, you know, you don't have to worry till spring. As for the bandits ..." He laughed, but the husband rode on without a word. The doctor looked at him with curiosity. "Have no fear," he said, "it will all go well." Cormery turned his straightforward gaze on the doctor, and, looking calmly at him, said with a touch of warmth: "I'm not afraid. I'm used to hard knocks." "Is this your first?" "No, I left a four-year-old boy in Algiers with my mother-in-law." They came to the crossroads and took the road to the property. Soon the cinders were flying under the horses' hooves. When the horses stopped and silence fell once more, they heard a loud cry from the house. The two men dismounted. Awaiting them was a shadowy figure sheltered under a vine that was dripping water. Drawing closer, they recognized the old Arab wearing an improvised hood made of a sack. "Greetings, Kaddour," said the doctor. "How is it going?" "I don't know, I especially don't go in where the women are," the old man said. "Good rule," said the doctor. "Particularly when women are crying." But no cries were coming now from inside. The doctor opened the door and went in, Cormery behind him. In front of them a big fire of vine branches flaming in the fireplace lighted the room more than did the kerosene lamp, with copper and bead trim, that hung from the middle of the ceiling. To their right, the sink was now all covered with towels and metal pitchers. The table in the middle of the room had been pushed over to the left, in front of a rickety sideboard made of unfinished wood. On it were an old traveling bag, a hatbox, and various bundles. Pieces of old luggage, including a big wicker trunk, filled all the corners of the room, leaving a space only in the middle, not far from the fire. In that space, on a mattress set at right angles to the fireplace, the wife lay stretched out, head laid back on a pillow without a case, her hair let down. The blankets now covered only half the mattress. The uncovered part of the mattress was hidden from sight by the owner of the canteen, who was on her knees to its left. She was wringing out, over a washbasin, a towel dripping reddish drops of water. To the right, sitting cross-legged, an unveiled Arab woman held out, as if making an offertory, a second, somewhat flaking enamel basin full of steaming hot water. The two women were on either side of a folded sheet that lay under the wife. The shadow and light of the fireplace rose and fell on the whitewashed walls, on the baggage that cluttered the room, and, still closer, glowed red on the faces of the two nurses and on the form of the wife, bundled up under the blankets. When the two men entered, the Arab woman glanced quickly at them, gave a brief laugh, then turned to the fire, her thin brown arms still offering the washbasin. The owner of the canteen looked at them and joyfully exclaimed: "No more need for you, Doctor. It happened by itself." She got to her feet and the two men saw, near the patient, something shapeless and bloody stirring with a sort of still movement and making a continuing, barely perceptible sound like a muffled screeching.a "So they say," said the doctor. "I hope you haven't touched the cord." "No," said the woman, laughing. "We had to leave you something to do." She got up and gave her place to the doctor, who again blocked the newborn from the sight of Cormery, a. like that of certain cells under the microscope. still at the door, his head uncovered. The doctor squatted and opened his case; then he took the basin from the hands of the Arab woman, who immediately withdrew from the circle of light and took refuge in the dark angle of the fireplace. The doctor washed his hands, his back still to the door, then poured on those hands some alcohol that smelled a bit like grape liquor; its odor at once filled the room. At that moment, the wife lifted her head and saw her husband. A marvelous smile transfigured that exhausted beautiful face. Cormery went over to the mattress. "He came," she said under her breath, and she reached out her hand to the infant. "Yes," said the doctor. "But stay still." The wife gave him a questioning look. Cormery, standing at the foot of the mattress, made a quieting gesture. "Lie down." She lay back down again. The rain began to come down twice as hard on the old tile roof. The doctor went to work under the blanket. Then he straightened up and seemed to shake something in front of him. A small cry was heard. "It's a boy," the doctor said. "And a good sturdy one." "There's one who's getting off to a good start," said the owner of the canteen. "By moving to a new home." The Arab woman in the corner laughed and clapped her hands twice. Cormery glanced at her and she turned away, embarrassed. "All right," said the doctor. "Now leave us for a moment." Cormery looked at his wife. But her face was still tilted back. Her hands, lying relaxed on the coarse blanket, were all there was to remind him of the smile that a while ago had filled and transfigured that wretched room. He put on his helmet and headed toward the door. "What are you going to name him?" the owner of the canteen called out. "I don't know, we haven't thought about it." He looked at her. "Since you were here, we'll call him Jacques." The woman burst out laughing and Cormery went out. The Arab, his head still covered with the sack, was waiting under the vine. He looked at Cormery, who said nothing to him. "Here," said the Arab, and held out an end of the sack. Cormery took shelter. He could feel the shoulder of the old Arab against him, and he smelled the smoke given off by his clothes; he felt the rain falling on the sack over their two heads. "It's a boy," he said without looking at his companion. "God be praised," answered the Arab. "You are a chief." The water that had come from thousands of kilometers away went on falling before them, on the cinders and the many puddles that pitted them, on the vineyards farther distant, and the trellis wires still gleamed under the raindrops. It would never get to the sea to the East, and now it was going to drench the whole country, the marshy land by the river and the mountains around them, the immense almost uninhabited territory whose powerful odor reached the two men huddled under the one sack, while behind them a feeble cry resumed from time to time. Late in the night, Cormery was lying stretched out, in long drawers and undershirt, on a second mattress by his wife, watching the flames dance on the ceiling. The room was now pretty well tidied. On the other side of his wife, in a laundry basket, the infant slept in silence except for an occasional weak gurgle. His wife was also sleeping, her face turned toward him, her mouth partly open. The rain had stopped. Tomorrow he would have to start work. Near him, his wife's hand, already so worn it almost seemed made of wood, also reminded him of work. He reached out his own hand, placed it gently on hers, and, laying his head back, closed his eyes. Saint-Brieuc aForty years later a man standing in the corridor of the Saint-Brieuc train was watching with an air of disapproval as the villages and ugly houses of the flat cramped countryside that stretches from Paris to the Channel marched past under the pale sun of an afternoon in spring. The meadows and fields of a land that for centuries had been cultivated to the last square meter passed, in turn, before him. With bare head and hair cut short, long face and delicate features, a direct gaze in his blue eyes, the man was of medium height, and despite his forty years he still looked slender in his raincoat. He stood with his hands firmly placed on the railing; leaning his weight on one hip, his torso at ease, he gave the impression of competence and vigor. Then the train slowed and finally stopped in a small shabby station. A moment later a rather elegant young woman passed by the window where the man was standing. She stopped a. From the beginning, should show the alien in Jacques more. to shift her suitcase from one hand to the other, and just then she noticed the traveler. He looked at her smiling, and she could not help smiling also. The man lowered the window, but the train was already leaving. "Too bad," he said. The young woman was still smiling at him. The traveler went to sit down in his third-class compartment, where he had a seat by the window. A man with sparse plastered hair,not as old as his swollen, blotchy face suggested,was sitting huddled across from him; his eyes were closed and he was breathing hard, obviously disturbed by his labored digestion. He cast an occasional quick* glance at the traveler. On the same seat, by the corridor, a peasant woman in her Sunday best, crowned by a peculiar hat adorned with a bunch of wax grapes, was blowing the nose of a redheaded child whose face looked dim and faded. The traveler's smile disappeared. He took a magazine from his pocket and absently read an article that made him yawn. A bit later the train stopped, and a small placard announcing "Saint-Brieuc" moved slowly into the frame of the window. The traveler immediately stood up, effortlessly lifted his suitcase with its expanding sides from the overhead rack, and, after nodding to his fellow travelers, who responded with seeming surprise, he left rapidly and hurried down the three steps of the car. On the platform, he looked at his left hand, dirty from the * dim soot that had accumulated on the railing he had just been holding, took out a handkerchief and carefully wiped it off. Then he headed toward the exit, where he was gradually joined by a group of somberly dressed travelers with blotchy faces. Under the shelter with its small posts he patiently waited his turn to hand over his ticket, waited again till the taciturn clerk returned it to him, crossed a waiting room with bare dirty walls, decorated only with old posters in which even the Riviera had taken on the colors of soot, and, striding at a lively pace through the slanting afternoon light, he went down the street that led from the station to the town. At the hotel he asked for the room he had reserved, refused the help of the potato-faced chambermaid who wanted to carry his bag, and, after she had shown him to his room, gave her nonetheless a tip that surprised her and brought a friendly look to her features. Then he washed his hands again, and went back downstairs, still at a lively pace, without locking his door. He found the chambermaid in the lobby, asked her where the cemetery was, was given too much explanation, listened amiably, then set out in the direction she had indicated. Now he was walking down streets that were narrow and depressing, bordered by commonplace houses with ugly red tiles. Here and there he could see the crooked slates of an old half-timbered house. The few passersby did not even stop before the shopwindows that displayed the glass products, the masterpieces in plastic and nylon, the wretched ceramics that are found in every town in the contemporary Western world. Only the food shops showed any opulence. High forbidding walls surrounded the cemetery. Near its gate, meager displays of flowers and marble-cutters' shops. The traveler stopped in front of one of these shops to watch a bright-looking child in a corner who was doing his homework on a marble slab that had yet to be inscribed. Then he entered the cemetery and went to the caretaker's house. The caretaker was not there. The traveler waited in the barely furnished little office, then noticed a map, which he was studying when the caretaker entered. He was a tall gnarled man, with a big nose, who smelled of the sweat under his thick high-necked jacket. The traveler asked for the location of those who died in the war of 1914. "Yes," the caretaker said. "That's called the square of French Remembrance. What name are you looking for?" "Henri Cormery," said the traveler. The caretaker opened a large book bound in wrapping paper and went down a list of names with his dirty finger. His finger came to a stop. "Cormery Henri," he said, "fatally wounded at the Battle of the Marne, died at Saint-Brieuc October 11, 1914." "That's it," said the traveler. The caretaker closed the book. "Come," he said. And he led the way to the first row of gravestones, some of them simple, others ugly and pretentious, all covered with that bead and marble bric-a-brac that would disgrace anyplace on earth. "Was he related to you?" he asked absently. "He was my father." "That's rough," the other man said. "No, it isn't. I was less than a year old when he died. So, you see." "Yes," said the caretaker, "but even so. Too many died." Jacques Cormery did not answer. Surely, too many had died, but, as to his father, he could not muster a filial devotion he did not feel. For all these years he had been living in France, he had promised himself to do what his mother, who stayed in Algeria, what she1 for such a long time had been asking him to do: visit the grave of his father that she herself had never seen. He thought this visit made no sense, first of all for himself, who had never known his father, who knew next to nothing of what he had been, and who loathed conventional gestures and behavior; and then for his mother, who never spoke of the dead man and could picture nothing of what he was going to see. But since his old mentor had retired to Saint-Brieuc and so he would have an opportunity to see him again, Cormery had made up his mind to go visit this dead stranger, and had even insisted on doing it before joining his old friend so that afterwards he would feel completely free. "It's here," said the caretaker. They had arrived at a square-shaped area enclosed by small markers of gray stone connected with a heavy chain that had been painted black. The gravestones,and they were many,were all alike: plain inscribed rectangles set at equal intervals row on row. Each grave was decorated 1. sic with a small bouquet of fresh flowers. "For forty years the French Remembrance has been responsible for the upkeep. Look, here he is." He indicated a stone in the first row. Jacques Cormery stopped at some distance from the grave. "I'll leave you," the caretaker said. Cormery approached the stone and gazed vacantly at it. Yes, that was indeed his name. He looked up. Small white and gray clouds were passing slowly across the sky, which was paler now, and from it fell a light that was alternately bright and overcast. Around him, in the vast field of the dead, silence reigned. Nothing but a muffled murmur from the town came over the high walls. Occasionally a black silhouette would pass among the distant graves. Jacques Cormery, gazing up at the slow navigation of the clouds across the sky, was trying to discern, beyond the odor of damp flowers, the salty smell just then coming from the distant motionless sea when the clink of a bucket against the marble of a tombstone drew him from his reverie. At that moment he read on the tomb the date of his father's birth, which he now discovered he had not known. Then he read the two dates, "1885,1914," and automatically did the arithmetic: twenty-nine years. Suddenly he was struck by an idea that shook his very being. He was forty years old. The man buried under that slab, who had been his father, was younger than he.a And the wave of tenderness and pity that at once filled his heart was not the stirring of the soul that leads a. Transition. the son to the memory of the vanished father, but the overwhelming compassion that a grown man feels for an unjustly murdered child,something here was not in the natural order and, in truth, there was no order but only madness and chaos when the son was older than the father. The course of time itself was shattering around him while he remained motionless among those tombs he now no longer saw, and the years no longer kept to their places in the great river that flows to its end. They were no more than waves and surf and eddies where Jacques Cormery was now struggling in the grip of anguish and pity.a He looked at the other inscriptions in that section and realized from the dates that this soil was strewn with children who had been the fathers of graying men who thought they were living in this present time. For he too believed he was living, he alone had created himself, he knew his own strength, his vigor, he could cope and he had himself well in hand. But, in the strange dizziness of that moment, the statue every man eventually erects and that hardens in the fire of the years, into which he then creeps and there awaits its final crumbling,that statue was rapidly cracking, it was already collapsing. All that was left was this anguished heart, eager to live, rebelling against the deadly order of the world that had been with him for forty years, and still struggling against the wall that separated him from the secret of all life, wanting to go farther, to go beyond, and to discover, discover before dying, dis- a. enlarge on war of 1914. cover at last in order to be, just once to be, for a single second, but forever. He looked back on his life, a life that had been foolish, courageous, cowardly, willful, and always straining toward that goal which he knew nothing about, and actually that life had all gone by without his having tried to imagine who this man was who had given him that life and then immediately had gone off to die in a strange land on the other side of the seas. At twenty-nine, had he himself not been frail, been ailing, tense, stubborn, sensual, dreamy, cynical, and brave? Yes, he had been all that and much else besides; he had been alive, in short had been a man, and yet he had never thought of the man who slept there as a living being, but as a stranger who passed by on the land where he himself was born, of whom his mother said that he looked like him and that he died on the field of battle. Yet the secret he had eagerly sought to learn through books and people now seemed to him to be intimately linked with this dead man, this younger father, with what he had been and what he had become, and it seemed that he himself had gone far afield in search of what was close to him in time and in blood. To tell the truth, he had gotten no help. In a family where they spoke little, where no one read or wrote, with an unhappy and listless mother, who would have informed him about this young and pitiable father? No one had known him but his mother and she had forgotten him. Of that he was sure. And he had died unknown on this earth where he had fleetingly passed, like a stranger. No doubt it was up to him to ask, to inform himself. But for someone like him, who has nothing and wants the world entire, all his energy is not enough to create himself and to conquer or to understand that world. After all, it was not too late; he could still search, he could learn who this man had been who now seemed closer to him than any other being on this earth. He could ... Now the afternoon was coming to its end. The rustle of a skirt, a black shadow, brought him back to the landscape of tombs and sky that surrounded him. He had to leave; there was nothing more for him to do here. But he could not turn away from this name, those dates. Under that slab were left only ashes and dust. But, for him, his father was again alive, a strange silent life, and it seemed to him that again he was going to forsake him, to leave his father to haunt yet another night the endless solitude he had been hurled into and then deserted. The empty sky resounded with a sudden loud explosion: an invisible airplane had crossed the sound barrier. Turning his back on the grave, Jacques Cormery abandoned his father. 3 : Saint-Brieuc and Malan (J.G.)a That evening at dinner, J.C. watched his old friend attack his second slice of leg of lamb with a sort of disturbing voracity; the wind that had come up was growling softly around the small low-ceilinged house in a district near the road to the beaches. On his arrival J.C. had noticed some small pieces of dry algae in the gutter bordering the sidewalk, which, with their odor of salt, were all that suggested the nearness of the sea. Victor Malan, who spent his entire career in customs administration, had retired to this small town; he had not chosen it, but he justified the choice after the fact by saying that nothing came along to distract him from solitary meditation, neither an excess of beauty nor an excess of ugliness, nor of solitude itself. The administration of things and the management of men had taught him a great deal, but first of all, apparently, that we know very little. Yet he was immensely cul- a. Chapter to be written and deleted. tivated and J.C. admired him unreservedly, for Malan, in a day when outstanding men are so banal, was the one person who had his own way of thinking, to the extent that that is possible. At any rate, under his deceptively accommodating exterior, he was free and uncompromisingly original in his opinions. "That's it, my son," Malan was saying. "Since you're going to see your mother, try to find out something about your father. And come back,at top speed,and tell me what happened next. I so seldom find anything to laugh about." "Yes, it's ridiculous. But now that my curiosity is aroused I might as well try to pick up some more information. It's a bit pathological that I've never concerned myself with it." "Not at all, it's wisdom in this case. I was married for thirty years to Marthe, whom you knew. A perfect woman and I still miss her. I always thought she liked her house."1 "No doubt you're right," Malan was saying, looking away, and Cormery waited for the objection that was bound to follow his approval. "Nonetheless," Malan resumed, "I myself, and I am surely mistaken, I would restrain myself from trying to learn more than life has taught me. But I am a bad example in this respect, am I not? When all is said and done, it's surely a fault in me that I would make no such 1. This and the two preceding paragraphs are crossed out. attempt. Whereas you",and his eyes lit up mischievously,"you are a man of action." Malan had a Chinese look, with his moon face, a somewhat flattened nose, scarcely any eyebrows, a bowl-cut hairdo, and a big moustache that failed to cover his thick, sensual lips. His soft, rounded body, the fleshy hand with pudgy fingers suggested a mandarin who disapproved of traveling by foot. When he half closed his eyes while eating heartily, you could not help seeing him in a silk robe holding chopsticks between his fingers. But the expression changed all that. The feverish dark-brown eyes, restless or suddenly intent, as if the mind was focused on a very specific point, were the eyes of an Occidental of great sensitivity and culture. The elderly maid brought a cheese tray, which Malan ogled out of the corner of his eye. "I knew a man," he said, "who after he had lived with his wife for thirty years . . ." Cormery paid close attention: whenever Malan began with "I knew a man who . . ." or "a friend . . ." or "an Englishman who was traveling with me . . ." you could be sure he was talking about himself . . . "who didn't like pastries and his wife never ate them either. Well, after twenty years of living together, he caught his wife in the pastry shop, and by keeping an eye on her he found out that she went there several times a week to stuff herself with coffee eclairs. Yes, he thought she didn't like sweets while in fact she loved coffee eclairs." "So," said Cormery, "we never know anyone." "If you will. But it might perhaps be more accurate, it seems to me, in any case I think I would prefer to say, but blame it on my inability to state anything positively, yes, suffice it to say that if twenty years of living together are not enough to know a person, then an inquiry that is bound to be superficial forty years after a man's death, runs the risk of bringing you only limited information, yes, one can say information with limited meaning about this man. Although, in another sense ..." He lifted a knife and, with a fatalistic air, brought it down on the goat cheese. "Excuse me. Won't you have some cheese? No? Still so abstemious! It's a hard job pleasing you!" Again there was a mischievous gleam in his half-closed eyes. Cormery had known his old friend for twenty years now (add here why and how), and he accepted his irony with good humor. "It's not a matter of pleasing me. Eating too much makes me heavy, and I sink." "Yes, and then you no longer soar over the rest of us." Cormery gazed at the handsome rustic furniture that filled the low-ceilinged dining room with its whitewashed beams. "My friend," he said, "you've always thought I was arrogant. I am, but not always or with everyone. With you, for example, I'm incapable of arrogance." Malan looked away, which in him was a sign of emotion. "I know that," he said. "But why is it?" "Because I love you," Cormery said quietly. Malan pulled the bowl of chilled fruit toward him. He said nothing. "Because," Cormery went on, "when I was very young, very foolish, and very much alone,you remember, in Algiers?,you paid attention to me and, without seeming to, you opened for me the door to everything I love in the world." "Oh, you were gifted." "Of course. But even the most gifted person needs someone to initiate him. The one that life puts in your path one day, that person must be loved and respected forever, even if he's not responsible. That is my faith!" "Yes, yes," Malan said blandly. "I know you find that hard to believe. Mind you, do not think that my affection for you is blind. You have great, very great faults, at least in my eyes." Malan licked his thick lips. Suddenly he seemed interested. "What faults?" "For example you are, let us say, thrifty. Not out of avarice, it's true, but out of fear, fear of going without, and so forth. All the same, it's a serious fault, one that I generally dislike. But, above all, you cannot help suspecting others of ulterior motives. You are instinctively unable to believe that anyone has disinterested opinions." "Look here," said Malan as he finished his wine, "I shouldn't have coffee, and yet. . ." But Cormery kept his self-possession.a "For example, I'm sure you couldn't bring yourself to believe me if I a. I often lend money that I know I'll never get back, to people I don't care about. It's just that I don't know how to say no, and that exasperates me. told you that if you were just to ask, I would immediately give you everything I have." Malan hesitated, and now he was looking at his friend. "Oh, I know. You're generous." "No, I am not generous. I'm stingy with my time and my energy, with anything that tires me, and that disgusts me. But what I said is true. You,you don't believe me, and that is a fault in you, that is where you are really helpless, even though you are a superior man. Because you're wrong. One word from you, right now, and everything I have is yours. You have no need of it and it's only an example. But I didn't choose it arbitrarily. Truly, everything I have is yours." "Thank you, really," Malan said, his eyes half closed. "I am very touched." "All right, I'm embarrassing you. You don't like people to speak too openly. I just wanted to tell you that with all your faults I love you. I love or revere very few people. As for the rest, I'm ashamed of my indifference to them. But for those I love, nothing and no one, neither I nor certainly they themselves, can ever make me stop loving them. It took me a long time to learn that; now I know it. That being said, let's go on with our conversation: you don't approve of my trying to find out about my father." "No,that is to say, I do approve. I was just afraid you'd be disappointed. A friend of mine who was very attracted to a young woman and wanted to marry her made the mistake of asking others about her." "A bourgeois," Cormery said. "Yes," Malan said, "I was the one." They both burst out laughing. "I was young. I collected such contradictory opinions about her that my own view of her became confused. I wasn't sure whether or not I loved her. In short, I married another woman." "I can't find myself a second father." "No, and luckily so. One is enough, if I can go by my own experience." "All right," said Cormery. "Anyhow, I have to go see my mother in a few weeks. That gives me an opportunity. I spoke to you about it particularly because I was disturbed a while back by that difference in age in my favor. Yes, in my favor." "Yes, I understand." Cormery looked at Malan. "Tell yourself he never grew old," Malan said. "He was spared that suffering, and it is long." "Along with a certain number of pleasures." "Yes, you love life. You have to, since that's all you believe in." Malan seated himself heavily in a cretonne-covered easy chair, and suddenly a look of inexpressible melancholy came over his face. "You're right," said Cormery. "I've loved life, I'm hungry for it. At the same time, life seems horrible to me, it seems inaccessible. That is why I am a believer, out of skepticism. Yes, I want to believe, I want to live, forever." Cormery fell silent. "At sixty-five, every year is a stay of execution," Malan said. "I would like to die in peace, and dying frightens me. I have accomplished nothing." "There are people who vindicate the world, who help others live just by their presence." "Yes, and they die," Malan said. They were silent, and the wind blew a little harder around the house. "You're right, Jacques," said Malan. "Go find out. You no longer need a father. You brought yourself up alone. Now you could love him as you know how to love. But. . ." he said, and he hesitated. "Come back to see me. I don't have much time left. And forgive me . .. "Forgive you?" said Cormery. "I owe everything to you. "No, you don't owe me very much. Just forgive me for sometimes not knowing how to respond to your affection." Malan gazed at the antique lamp hanging over the table, and his voice was hollow when he said what a few minutes later Cormery, alone in the wind in the deserted neighborhood, would keep on hearing over and over: "There is a terrible emptiness in me, an indifference that hurts . . ."a a. Jacques / I tried to find out for myself, from the start, when I was a child, what was right and what was wrong,because no one around me could tell me. And now that everything is leaving me I realize I need someone to show me the way and to blame me and praise me, by right not of power but of authority, I need my father. I thought I knew it, and that I had myself in hand, I don't [know?] any longer. 4 : The Child's Games A gentle short swell was making the ship roll in the July heat. Jacques Cormery, lying half naked in his cabin, watched the fragmented reflection of the sunlight on the sea dancing on the copper rim of the porthole. He jumped to his feet to turn off the fan that was drying the perspiration in his pores before it even began to trickle down his chest; it was better to sweat. Then he relaxed on his bunk, narrow and hard as he liked a bed to be. Now the dull sound of the engines rose from the depths of the ship in muffled vibrations, like an enormous army forever on the march. He liked the sound these big steamers made, night and day, and the sensation of walking on a volcano, while all around the immense sea offered its open reaches to his view. But it was too hot on the deck; after lunch, passengers besotted with food had collapsed in the deck chairs on the covered deck or had fled down the passageways belowdecks at siesta time. Jacques did not like to take a siesta. "A benidor," he thought bitterly: that was the bizarre expression his grandmother used when he was a child in Algiers and she was making him join her for the siesta. The three rooms of the small apartment in an Algiers neighborhood were enveloped in the striped shade of the carefully closed shutters.a Outside, the heat was baking the dry dusty streets, and, in the half-light of the rooms, one or two big energetic flies were buzzing around like airplanes as they searched tirelessly for a way out. It was too hot to read Pardaillan or L'Intrepide.b On rare occasions when his grandmother wasn't home or was chatting with the neighbor, the child would poke his nose through the shutters in the living room that faced the street. The street was deserted. The red and yellow canvas shades had been pulled down in front of the shoe and notions stores across the street, a curtain of multicolored beads masked the entrance to the tobacco shop, and Jean's cafe was empty except for the cat lying on the sill between the sawdust-covered floor and the dusty sidewalk, and sleeping as if it were dead. The child then turned back to the sparse whitewashed room, furnished with a square table in the middle, and, against the walls, a sideboard, a small desk that was scarred and spotted with ink, and, on the floor, a small mattress covered with a blanket where, after nightfall, his half-mute uncle slept; and five chairs.c In a a. Around his tenth year. b. Those big books printed on newsprint, with crudely colored covers on which the price was printed in bigger type than the title or the name of the author. c. extreme cleanliness. . A wardrobe, a wooden dressing table with a marble top. A bed- corner, on a mantelpiece of which only the shelf was made of marble, stood a small flowered vase with slender neck, of the kind one finds at a fair. The child, caught between the two deserts of sunlight and shade, started circling the table at a hurried pace, repeating like a litany: "I'm bored! I'm bored!" He was bored, yet in that boredom was a game, a delight, a kind of excitement, for rage would seize him as he heard his grandmother calling a benidor when at last she came home. But his protests were in vain. The grandmother had raised nine children in the bush, and she had her own ideas on upbringing. With a single shove she pushed him into the bedroom. It was one of two rooms that looked out onto the yard. The other had two beds, his mother's and the one he shared with his brother. His grandmother was entitled to a room of her own. But she would take the child in her big high wooden bed, often for the night and always for the siesta. He would take off his sandals and lift himself onto the bed. He had to take his place at the back, against the wall, ever since the day he slipped to the floor while his grandmother was sleeping, to resume circling around the table and reciting his litany. Once in his place, he would watch his grandmother take off her dress and drop her coarse linen shift, fastened at the top by a drawstring with a ribbon that she would undo. Then she in turn got up on the bed, and the child smelled beside him the odor of elderly flesh while he stared at the big blue veins and old-age spots that marred his grandmother's feet. "Go on," she would say. "A benidor." She went to sleep very quickly, while the child, his eyes open, followed the comings and goings of the tireless flies. Yes, he had hated that for years; and even later, as a grown man, and until he had been gravely ill, he could not bring himself to stretch out after lunch during the hot season. If he happened nonetheless to fall asleep, he would awaken nauseous and ill at ease. Only recently, since he had been suffering from insomnia, could he sleep for half an hour during the day and awaken fresh and alert. A benidor. . . The wind must have dropped, flattened by the sun. The ship had stopped its gentle rolling and now seemed to be proceeding in a straight line, the engines at full speed, the propeller boring directly through the depths of the water, and the sound of the pistons so steady that it could no longer be distinguished from the soft ceaseless murmur of the sunlight on the sea. Jacques was half asleep, and he was filled with a kind of happy anxiety at the prospect of returning to Algiers and the small poor home in the old neighborhood. So it was every time he left Paris for Africa, his heart swelling with a secret exultation, with the satisfaction of one who has made good his escape and is laughing at the thought of the look on the guards' faces. Just as, each time he returned to Paris, whether by road or by train, his heart would sink when he arrived, without quite knowing how, at those first houses of the outskirts, lacking any frontier of trees or water and which, like an ill-fated cancer, reached out its ganglions of poverty and ugliness to absorb this foreign body and take him to the center of the city, where a splendid stage set would sometimes make him forget the forest of concrete and steel that imprisoned him day and night and invaded even his insomnia. But he had escaped, he could breathe, on the giant back of the sea he was breathing in waves, rocked by the great sun, at last he could sleep and he could come back to the childhood from which he had never recovered, to the secret of the light, of the warm poverty that had enabled him to survive and to overcome everything. That fragmented reflection on the copper of the porthole, now almost motionless, came from the same sun that pressed with all its weight on the shutters of the dark room where the grandmother was sleeping and plunged a very slender sword into the darkness through the one opening that a sprung knot had left in the butt-strap of the shutters. The flies were missing, it was not they who were peopling and nourishing his reverie; there are no flies at sea, and besides they were dead, those flies the child had loved because they were noisy, the only living beings in that world chloroformed by the heat, and all the men and animals were lying inert on their flanks,except himself, it's true; he was turning over on the bed in the narrow space left to him between the wall and his grandmother, and he wanted also to live, and it seemed to him that the time for sleep was being subtracted from his time for living and playing. His playmates were waiting for him, that was certain, in rue Prevost-Paradol, with its small gardens that in the evening smelled of damp from their watering and of the honeysuckle that grew everywhere, whether or not it was watered. As soon as his grandmother awakened, he would dash out, down to the rue de Lyon, still deserted under its ficus trees, run as far as the fountain at the corner of Prevost-Paradol, quickly turn the cast-iron crank at the top of the fountain, putting his head under the faucet to receive the gushing stream that would fill his nostrils and his ears, run down the open neck of his shirt to his belly and down his legs under his shorts to his sandals. Then, happily feeling the water foam between his feet and the leather of the soles, he would run breathlessly to join Pierrea and the others who were sitting at the hall entrance of the only two-story house on the street, sharpening the cigar-shaped piece of wood they would soon be using to play canette vinga1 with the blue wooden racquet. As soon as they were all there, they went off, scraping the racquet along the rusty garden fences in front of the houses, which made enough noise to awaken the neighborhood and make the cats jump out of their sleep under the dusty wisteria. They ran, crossing the street, trying to catch each other, already covered with sweat, but always in the same direction, toward the "green field" not far from their school, four or five blocks away. But there was an obligatory stop at what was a. His friend Pierre was also the son of a war widow, who worked in the post office. 1. See the author's explanation below. known as the waterspout, an enormous round fountain on two levels in a rather large square, where the water never ran, but the basin, long since clogged up, would on occasion be filled to the brim by the country's torrential rains. Then the water, covered with old moss, melon rinds, orange peels, and all sorts of refuse, would stagnate until the sun sucked it up or the municipal authorities roused themselves and decided to pump it out, and a filthy dry cracking sludge remained for a long time at the bottom of the basin, waiting till the sun, pursuing its efforts, reduced it to dust and the wind or the brooms of the street sweepers blew it onto the shiny leaves of the ficus that surrounded the square. In summer, at any rate, the basin was dry, and its broad edge of shiny dark stone, made slippery by thousands of hands and trouser bottoms, was available to Jacques, Pierre, and the others to play at jousting, swiveling in their seats until the inevitable fall hurled them into the shallow basin that smelled of urine and sun. Then, still running, through the heat and the dust that covered their feet and their sandals with a single gray layer, they dashed on to the green field. It was a vacant lot behind a cooperage, where among rusted hoops and old rotting barrel bottoms bunches of anemic grass sprouted between patches of chalky tuff. There amidst loud cries they would draw a circle in the tuff. One of them would take up a position in the circle, racquet in hand, and the others would take turns hurling the wooden cigar into the circle. If the cigar landed in the circle, the thrower took the racquet, and then he defended the circle. The more skillful among thema would hit the cigar on the fly and drive it far away. In that case they had the right to go where it had landed, make the cigar jump in the air by hitting its end with the edge of the racquet, then drive it still farther, and so on until either they missed their swing or the others caught it on the fly, and they hurried back again to defend the circle from the cigar hurled quickly and expertly by the opponent. This poor man's tennis, which had a few more complex rules, would take up the whole afternoon. Pierre was the best player. He was thinner than Jacques, and smaller, almost frail; his hair was as much blond as brown hanging down to his eyebrows beneath which his blue eyes were direct and vulnerable, a bit hurt, astonished; though clumsy in his manner, in action he was sure and accurate. As for Jacques, he would make impossible parries and miss routine backhands. Because of the former, and the successes that caused his comrades to admire him, he thought he was the best player and often bragged about it. In fact, Pierre beat him all the time and never said a word. But after the game he would straighten up to his full height and smile to himself while he listened to the others.b When either the weather or their mood did not lend itself to running around the streets and vacant lots, they would first gather in the hall of Jacques's house. From a. put the skillful defender in the singular. b. The green field was where the donnades took place. [Fights between boys that followed a strict ritual. See pp. 153,54,Trans.] there they went out the back door and down into a small yard enclosed on three sides by the walls of houses. On the fourth side a big orange tree stretched its branches over a garden wall; when it was in flower, its scent rose alongside the wretched houses, drifting through the hall or down a small stone stairs to the yard. Along one side and half of another a small L-shaped building housed the Spanish barber whose shop was on the street, and an Arab householda where on some evenings the wife would be roasting coffee in the yard. On the third side, the tenants kept hens up in high dilapidated coops made of wood and wire screening. Finally, on the fourth side, the black maws of the building's cellars gaped on either side of the stairs: caverns without exit or lighting, cut into the earth itself, without any partitions, sweating with humidity, reached by four steps covered with green mold, where the tenants piled at random their surplus possessions, that is, almost nothing: old sacks were rotting there, scraps of chests, rusty old washbasins with holes in them, things you find lying around vacant lots that even the poorest have no use for. It was there, in one of those cellars, that the children would gather. Jean and Joseph, the two sons of the Spanish barber, were in the habit of playing there. Since it was at the door to their hovel, the cellar was their own territory. Joseph, plump and mischievous, was always laughing and would give away everything he had. The short and thin a. Omar is the son of this couple,the father is a city street sweeper. Jean was forever picking up even the smallest nail or screw that he found, and he was particularly stingy with his marbles and with the apricot pits that were necessary for one of their favorite games.a You could not imagine more opposite types than these inseparable brothers. With Pierre, Jacques, and Max, the last of the accomplices, they would plunge into the humid stinking cellar. They would take torn sacks that were rotting on the ground and, after ridding them of the gray cockroaches with jointed shells that they called guinea pigs, they would stretch them over rusty iron uprights. And under this vile tent, in their own place at last (when none of them had ever had a room or even a bed he could call his own), they would light a little fire that, confined in that damp air, would die out in smoke and drive them out of their den until they covered it over with some damp earth they had scraped up from the yard itself. Then they would share, not without an argument from little Jean, the big mint-flavored caramels, the dried and salted peanuts and chick-peas, the salted lupine seeds called "tramousses," and the barley sugar that came in loud colors, sold by the Arabs who displayed their wares in front of the nearby movie theatre on a fly-besieged stand made by mounting a plain wooden box on rollers. On days when it rained heavily, the excess water would a. You put one pit on top of a tripod of three other pits. Someone tries to knock this structure down by throwing another pit at it from a given distance. If he succeeds, he picks up the four pits. If he misses, his pit belongs to the owner of the pile. run off the saturated yard and flood the cellars, and the children, standing on old boxes, would play Robinson Crusoe far from the open sky and the sea breezes, triumphant in their kingdom of poverty.a But the best* days were those in summer when, under one pretext or another, the boys managed by a clever lie to escape the siesta. Then, since they never had money for the trolley, they would walk the long way to the experimental garden, through a succession of the neighborhood's yellow-and-gray streets, crossing the district of the stables, the big coachhouses belonging to businesses or individuals who supplied the regions of the interior with their horse-drawn trucks, then passing alongside big sliding doors behind which they heard the horses stamping, the sudden snorts that would make the animals' lips smack, the sound of the metal chains used as halters hitting against the wood of the manger, while the boys breathed with delight the odors of manure, of straw, and of sweat that came from these forbidden places that Jacques would still be dreaming about while he went to sleep. They lingered in front of an open stable where the horses were being groomed, heavyset big-hoofed animals that came from France; they were beaten down by the heat and the flies, and their eyes were those of exiles. Then, chased away by the teamsters, the children ran on to the huge garden where the rarest of species were raised. There, on the broad walk a. Galoufa. * biggest. that led past a great vista of pools and flowers to the sea, they were under the suspicious eyes of the guards, and they affected the manner of casual, worldly strollers. But at the first transverse path, they would head toward the eastern part of the garden, through rows of enormous mangroves so dense that in their shade it seemed almost night, then past the big rubber treesa where you could not tell the drooping branches from their multiple roots, which grew from the first branches to reach the ground; and still farther, to the real objective of their expedition, the big palms that bore at their tops tightly packed bunches of round orange fruits that they called "cocoses." Once there, they first had to reconnoiter in all directions to make sure no guards were nearby. Then began the search for ammunition,that is, stones. When they had all returned with their pockets full, they took turns firing stones at the bunches of fruit swaying gently in the sky above all the other trees. Each stone that struck home knocked down a few fruits, which belonged to the winning marksman. The others had to wait till he had picked up his loot before they fired in their turn. Jacques, who had a good arm, equaled Pierre at this game. But they both shared their booty with those who were less successful. The worst among them at this game was Max, who wore glasses and had poor eyesight. He was squat and solidly built, and the boys had respected him ever since the day they saw him fight. The others, and especially Jacques, who could not con- a. give the name of the trees. trol his violent temper, were in the habit during their frequent street fights of hurling themselves at the adversary in an attempt to inflict as much pain as quickly as possible, even at the risk of being hit hard in return. But when Max, whose name sounded German, was called a dirty Hun by the butcher's fat son, nicknamed "Gigot," he calmly removed his glasses, which he entrusted to Joseph, took up the boxer's stance they had seen pictured in the newspapers, and invited the other boy to repeat his insult. Then, not seeming to raise a sweat, he dodged each attack by Gigot, hit him several times without being even touched in return, and finally, the supreme glory, he gave Gigot a black eye. Since that day, Max's popularity in the little group had been assured. Now, with their hands and pockets sticky with fruit, they hurried out of the garden toward the sea, and once they were outside the boundary, they ate the cocoses stacked on their dirty handkerchiefs, chewing delightedly on fibrous berries that were nauseatingly sweet and rich, yet as light and savory as victory. Then they scurried off to the beach. To get there they had to cross what was called the sheep's trail, because in fact flocks of sheep often traveled it to or from the Maison-Carree market, east of Algiers. Actually it was a lateral road that divided the sea from the city spread out on its hills like the arc of an amphitheatre. Between the road and the sea lay factories, brickyards, and a gasworks separated by stretches of sand covered with patches of clay or lime dust where scraps of iron and wood were turning white. You crossed this barren land to reach the Sablettes beach. Its sand was somewhat dirty, and the water in the first waves was not always clear. To the right, the public baths offered cabins, and its hall, a big wooden box on pilings, was available for dancing on holidays. Every day, during the season, a french-fries peddler would start up his stove. Seldom did the little group have even the price of a single paper cornet of fried potatoes. If by chance one of them had the required coin,a he would buy his twist, march solemnly to the beach, followed respectfully by the retinue of his comrades, and, in the shade of an old derelict barge by the sea, he would set his feet in the sand and drop to a sitting position while holding his twist vertical in one hand and covered with the other, to make sure he did not lose a single one of the crusty fries. The custom was that he would then give his comrades one fry apiece, and they would reverently savor the single tidbit, hot and smelling of strong oil, that he permitted them. They would watch while the favored boy gravely relished the remaining fries one by one. There were always crumbs left at the bottom of the paper twist, which they would implore the glutted owner to share. Most of the time, unless it was Jean, he would unfold the oily paper, spread out the potato crumbs, and authorize them to take a single crumb each. All it took then was an eenie, meenie, minie, moe to decide who would go first and thus get the biggest crumb. When their feast was over, both pleasure and frustration immediately forgotten, they would race under the harsh a. 2 sous sun toward the western end of the beach, until they came to a half-destroyed masonry structure that must have been the foundation for a now vanished bungalow, behind which they could undress. In a few seconds they were naked, a moment later in the water, swimming with clumsy vigor, shouting,a drooling and spitting, daring each other to dive or vying as to who could stay underwater the longest. The sea was gentle and warm, the sun fell lightly on their soaked heads, and the glory of the light filled their young bodies with a joy that made them cry out incessantly. They reigned over life and over the sea, and, like nobles certain that their riches were limitless, they heedlessly consumed the most gorgeous of this world's offerings. They forgot the time as they ran back and forth between beach and sea, drying the salt water that made them sticky while they were on the sand, then in the water washing off the sand that clothed them in gray. They ran on and on, and the swifts with their quick cries were beginning to fly lower over the factories and the beach. The sky, emptied of the hot haze of the day, became clearer, then turned greenish, the light slackened, and on the other side of the bay, till now enveloped in a sort of fog, the sweep of houses and the city became more distinct. It was still day, but already lamps were being lit in preparation for Africa's brief twilight. Pierre was usually the first to sound the alarm: "It's a. If you drown, your mother'll kill you. Aren't you ashamed to let everything hang out like that. Where's your mother. late," and right away came the stampede, the quick farewell. Jacques with Joseph and Jean ran toward their homes without worrying about the others. They galloped till they were out of breath: Joseph's mother was quick with her hand. And as for Jacques's grandmother . . . They ran on through the rapidly falling night, panicked when the first gaslamp went on, the trolleys with their lights on receding before them; they ran faster, dismayed to see that night had already fallen, and parted on the doorstep without even a goodbye. On such evenings Jacques would stop on the dark stinking stairs, lean against the wall, and wait for his throbbing heart to quiet down. But he could not wait, and the knowledge made him gasp still more. In three strides he was on the landing; he passed by the door to the toilet for the floor, and he opened his door. There was a light in the dining room at the end of the hall, and, chilled, he heard the rattle of spoons against dishes. He entered. At the table his half-mute unclea went on noisily sucking up his soup; his mother, still young, her brown hair abundant, gazed at him with her lovely gentle look. "You know perfectly well," she began. But his grandmother, of whom he only saw the back, interrupted her daughter; she was erect in her black dress, her mouth firmly set, her eyes direct and stern. "Where were you?" she asked. "Pierre was showing me the arithmetic homework." The grandmother stood and came over to him. She a. the brother. sniffed his hair, then ran her hands over his ankles still covered with sand. "You were at the beach." "Then you're liar," the uncle managed to articulate. The grandmother passed behind him to get the crude whip, known as a bull's pizzle, that was hanging behind the door, and she gave him three or four lashes on his legs and buttocks that burned till he howled. A little while later, sitting with tears filling his mouth and throat before the plate of soup that the uncle, moved to pity, had served him, he strained every nerve to keep those tears from overflowing. And his mother, after a glance at the grandmother, would turn to him that face he so loved: "Eat your soup," she would say. "It's all over. It's all over." That was when he let go and wept. Jacques Cormery awakened. The sun was no longer reflected in the copper of the porthole, but had dropped to the horizon and was lighting up the wainscoting across the cabin. He dressed and went out on the deck. He would find Algiers at the end of the night. 5 : The Father. His Death The War. The Bombing He held her in his arms, right at the door, still out of breath from racing up the stairs four at a time, in a single surefooted dash not missing a step, as if his body still remembered the exact height of each stair. When he had gotten out of the taxi, the street was already lively and still sparkling in spots from the morning'sa sprinkling, which the burgeoning heat was beginning to disperse in mist; he saw her there where she had been long ago, on the apartment's single narrow balcony between the two rooms, over the barber's roof,but this barber was no longer the father of Jean and Joseph; he died of tuberculosis; it goes with the trade, his wife would say, always having to breathe hair,the corrugated-iron roof still carried the same load of ficus berries, bits of crumpled paper, and old cigarette butts. She was there, her hair still abundant but turned white years ago, still erect despite her seventy-two years; she looked ten years a. Sunday. younger because she was so slender and her strength was still evident,they were all like that in the family, a clan of lean people with a nonchalant manner whose energy was inexhaustible; old age did not seem to have any hold on them. At fifty his half-mute Uncle Emile1 looked like a young man. The grandmother had died without bowing her head. And as for his mother, toward whom he was now running, it seemed that nothing could erode her gentle endurance, since decades of exhausting labor had spared the young woman in her that Cormery as a child had admired with all his heart. When he arrived on the doorstep, his mother opened the door and threw herself in his arms. And there, as she did every time they were reunited, she kissed him two or three times, holding him against her with all her strength; and in his arms he felt her ribs, the hard jutting bones of her shoulders, trembling a bit, while he breathed the soft smell of her skin that made him remember the spot, under her larynx, between the two jugular tendons, that he no longer dared to kiss, but that as a child he had loved to nuzzle and fondle on those infrequent occasions when she took him on her knees and he pretended to sleep, his nose in the little hollow that to him had the scent of a tenderness all too rare in his young life. She embraced him, and then, having let go of him, she looked at him and took him again in her 1. Later called Ernest. arms to kiss him once more, as if she had measured in herself all the love she had or could express and found that one measure was still missing. "My son," she said, "you were far away."a And immediately she turned away, went back into the apartment, and seated herself in the dining room that faced the street; she no longer seemed to be thinking of him nor for that matter of anything, and she even looked at him from time to time with an odd expression, as if,or so at least it seemed to him,he were now in the way, were disturbing the narrow, empty, closed universe which she circled in her solitude. What was more, once he was seated by her, she seemed on this day to be seized with some sort of anxiety, and occasionally she would glance furtively out at the street with her lovely melancholy expression, her eyes feverish until she turned to Jacques and they became peaceful. The street was getting noisier, and the heavy red trolleys were rattling by more often. Cormery watched his mother, in her small gray blouse set off by a white collar, sitting in profile on the same uncomfortable chair [ ]1 by the window where she had always sat, her back a bit rounded by age, but still not seeking the support of the chair, her hands clasped around a small handkerchief that now and then she would roll into a ball with her stiffened fingers, then leave in the hollow of her dress between her motionless hands, her head turned a a. transition. 1. Two illegible marks. little toward the window. She was just as she had been thirty years ago, and behind the wrinkles he once more discovered the same miraculously young face, the arch of her brows as smooth and polished as if they had been cast with the forehead, her small straight nose, the mouth still clearly delineated despite the tension at the corners of her lips from her dentures. The neck itself, which is so soon laid waste, had kept its form although the tendons were knotty and the chin a bit slack. "You went to the hairdresser," Jacques said. She smiled with her look of a little girl caught in some misdeed. "Yes, you know, you were coming." She had always been coquettish in her almost invisible way. And, as plainly as she might be dressed, Jacques did not remember ever seeing her wear anything ugly. Even now, the grays and blacks in which she dressed were well chosen. That was the way of the clan, who were always wretched, or just poor, or occasionally, in the case of certain cousins, somewhat well off. But all of them, especially the men, insisted like all Mediterraneans on white shirts and pressed pants, finding it natural that this work of upkeep,constant, given their meager wardrobes,should be added to the labor of the women, whether mothers or spouses. As for his mother,a she had always reckoned that it was not enough to wash other people's laundry and do their housework, and as far back as he could remember, Jacques had a. the bony polished brow where the dark and feverish eye was shining. seen her ironing the single pair of pants that he and his brother each had, until he left to go off into the world of women who neither iron nor do laundry. "It's the Italian," his mother said. "The hairdresser. He does good work." "Yes," said Jacques. He was going to say: "You're very beautiful," and he stopped himself. He had always thought that of his mother and had never dared to tell her so. It was not that he feared being rebuffed nor that he doubted such a compliment would please her. But it would have meant breaching the invisible barrier behind which for all his life he had seen her take shelter, gentle, polite, complaisant, even passive, and yet never conquered by anyone or anything, isolated by her semi-deafness, her difficulty in expressing herself, beautiful surely but virtually inaccessible, and never more so than when she was full of smiles and when his own heart most went out to her,yes, all his life she had had the same manner, fearful and submissive, yet also distant, the same look she had thirty years ago when she watched without intervening while her mother beat Jacques with a whip, she who had never touched or even really scolded her children; there was no doubt that those blows wounded her too, but she could not intervene because she was exhausted, because she could not find the words, and because of the respect she owed her mother; she had not interfered, she had endured through the long days and the years, had endured those blows for her children, just as for herself she endured the hard days of working in the service of others, washing floors on her knees, living without a man and without solace in the midst of the greasy leavings and dirty linen of other people's lives, the long days of labor adding up one by one to a life that, by dint of being deprived of hope, had become also a life without any sort of resentment, unaware, persevering, a life resigned to all kinds of suffering, her own as well as that of others. He had never heard her complain, other than to say she was tired or that her back hurt after a big washday. He had never heard her speak ill of anyone, other than to say a sister or aunt had not been nice to her, or was "stuck up." But on the other hand, he had seldom heard her laugh wholeheartedly. She laughed a little more now that she was no longer working because her children were paying for all her needs. Jacques looked around the room, which had also remained unchanged. She had not wanted to leave this apartment where she had her own routines, this neighborhood where everything was easy for her, to go to a more comfortable place where everything would have become difficult for her. Yes, it was the same room. They had replaced the furniture; it was decent now, less wretched. But the pieces themselves were still bare, still pushed back against the wall. "You're always poking around," his mother said. Yes, he could not keep himself from opening the buffet, which still contained only the bare necessities, despite all his entreaties; its nakedness fascinated him. He also opened the drawers of the sideboard that housed the two or three medications with which this household made do, mixed in with two or three old newspapers, bits of string, a little cardboard box filled with odd buttons, an old identification photo. Here even the unnecessary was shabby, because they never had anything superfluous. And Jacques was well aware that had his mother been put in a standard household where objects were as plentiful as they were in his present home, she would only have made use of what was strictly necessary. He knew that in the next room, his mother's, furnished with a small wardrobe, a narrow bed, a wooden dressing table, and a straw-bottomed chair, its one window hung with a crocheted curtain, he would find no articles at all, except, now and then, the small rolled-up handkerchief that she would leave on the bare wooden top of the dressing table. That was just what had struck him when he first saw other households, those of his classmates at the lyc?(c)e or later those of a more well-to-do world: the number of vases, bowls, statuettes, paintings that crowded those rooms. In his home, his family said "the vase that's on the mantelpiece"; the pot, the soup dishes, and the few articles you might find had no names. At his uncle's, on the other hand, one was made to admire the glazed earthenware from the Vosges and you ate off the Quim-per dinner service. Jacques had grown up in the midst of a poverty naked as death, among things named with common nouns; it was at his uncle's that he discovered those proper nouns. And still today, in this room with freshly washed tiles, on this plain shiny furniture, there was nothing except an Arab ashtray made of chased copper, there because he was coming, and a post office calendar on the wall. There was nothing to see here, and little to say, and that was why he knew nothing about his mother except what he learned from his own experience. Nor about his father. "Papa?" She looked at him, and now she was paying attention.a "Yes." "His name was Henri, and what else?" "I don't know." "Didn't he have any other name?" "I think he did, but I don't remember." Suddenly distracted, she gazed at the street where the sun was now beating down with all its force. "He looked like me?" "Yes, he was your spitting image. He had blue eyes. And his forehead was like yours." "What year was he born?" "I don't know. I was four years older." "And you, what year were you born?" "I don't know. Look in the family book." Jacques went into the bedroom and opened the wardrobe. Among the towels, on the top shelf, were the family record book, a pension book, and some old documents in Spanish. He came back with the papers. "He was born in 1885 and you in 1882. You were three years older." "Ah! I thought it was four. It was a long time ago." a. The father,interrogation,war of 14,Attack. "You told me he lost his father and mother when he was very young, and his brothers put him in an orphanage." "Yes. His sister too." "His parents had a farm?" "Yes. They were Alsatians." "At Ouled-Fayet." "Yes. And we were at Cheragas. It's right nearby." "How old was he when he lost his parents?" "I don't know. Oh, he was young. His sister left him. That wasn't right. He didn't want to see them anymore." "How old was his sister?" "I don't know." "And his brothers? Was he the youngest?" "No. He was the second one." "But then his brothers were too young to look after him." "Yes, that's it." "Then it wasn't their fault." "No, he held it against them. After the orphanage, when he was sixteen, he went to his sister's farm. They made him work too much. It was too much." "He came to Cheragas." "Yes, to our place." "That's where you met him?" "Yes." Again she turned her head away, toward the street, and he felt himself unable to continue along that line. But she herself went in another direction. "You have to understand, he didn't know how to read. They didn't learn anything in the orphanage." "But you showed me postcards he sent you from the war. "Yes, he learned from M. Classiault." "At Ricome." "Yes. M. Classiault was the boss. He taught him to read and write." "How old was he?" "Twenty, I think. I don't know. All that was long ago. But when we were married, he had learned about wines and he could work anywhere. He had a good head on his shoulders." She looked at him. "Like you." "And then?" "And then? Your brother came. Your father was working for Ricome, and Ricome sent him to his farm at Saint-Lapotre." "Saint-Apotre?" "Yes. And then there was the war. He died. They sent me the shell splinter." The shell fragment that had split his father's skull was in a little biscuit can behind those same towels in that same wardrobe, with the dry and terse cards written from the front that he could recite by heart. "My dear Lucie. I'm well. We're changing quarters tomorrow. Take good care of the children. I kiss you. Your husband." Yes, in the depths of the night when he was born during their move, an emigrant, child of emigrants, Europe was already tuning its cannons that would go off in unison several months later, chasing the Cormerys from Saint-Apotre, he to his army corps in Algiers, she to her mother's little apartment in that wretched neighborhood, carrying in her arms the baby swollen with mosquito bites from the Seybouse. "Don't trouble yourself, Mother. We'll leave when Henri comes back." And the grandmother, erect, white hair pulled back, her eyes bright and hard: "Daughter, you'll have to go to work." "He was in the Zouaves." "Yes. He was in the war in Morocco." It was true. He had forgotten. In 1905 his father was twenty years old. He had been on active duty, as they say, against the Moroccans.a Jacques recalled what M. Levesque, the principal of his school, had told him when he ran into him on the streets of Algiers several years earlier. M. Levesque had been called up at the same time as his father. But they spent only a month in the same unit. According to him, he did not know Cormery well, for the latter had little to say. Hardened to fatigue, closemouthed, but easygoing and fair-minded. On just one occasion, Cormery had seemed beside himself. It was at night, after a scorching day, someplace out in the Atlas Mountains where the detail had made camp at the top of a hill protected by a rocky pass. Cormery and Levesque were supposed to relieve the sentinel at the bottom of the pass. No one answered their call. And, at the foot of a hedge of prickly pears, they found their comrade with his head back, bizarrely facing toward the moon. And at first they did not recognize his head because of its strange shape. But it was very simple. His a. 14 throat had been cut and that ghastly swelling in his mouth was his entire sexual organ. That was when they saw the body, with the legs spread wide, the Zouave's pantaloons slashed, and, in the middle of the gap, that swampy puddle, which they could see by the now indirect light of the moon.a A hundred meters farther on, this time behind a large rock, the second sentinel was displayed in the same position. The alarm was sounded, the number of sentries doubled. At dawn, when they had gone back up to the camp, Cormery said their enemies were not men. Levesque, who was thinking about it, answered that for them that was how men should act, that we were in their country, that they fought by any and all means. Cormery's face was dead set. "Maybe. But they're wrong. A man doesn't do that." Levesque said that according to the other side, there were certain circumstances in which a man was supposed to do anything and [destroy everything]. But Cormery had shouted as if crazed with anger: "No, a man doesn't let himself do that kind of thing! That's what makes a man, or otherwise . . ." Then he calmed down. "As for me," he said in a low voice, "I'm poor, I came from an orphanage, they put me in this uniform, they dragged me into the war, but I wouldn't let myself do that." "There are Frenchmen who do do it," [said] Levesque. a. Croak with it or without it, you're still dead, the sergeant said. "Then they too, they aren't men." And suddenly he cried out: "A filthy race! What a race! All of them, all of them . . ." And, white as a sheet, he went into his tent. When he thought about it, Jacques realized that the most he had learned about his father was from this old teacher, of whom he had now lost track. But it was no more, except in the details, than what he had been able to surmise from his mother's silences. A hard man and a bitter one, who had worked all his life, had killed on command, had submitted to everything that could not be avoided, but had preserved some part of himself where he allowed no one to trespass. A poor man, after all. For poverty is not a choice one makes, but a poor person can protect himself. And Jacques tried, with the little he knew from his mother, to picture the same man nine years later, married, father of two, who had achieved a somewhat better position in life and then was summoned back to Algiers to be mobilized,a the long journey by night with the patient wife and the unbearable children, the parting at the station and then, three days later, at the little apartment in Belcourt, his sudden appearance in the Zouave regiment's handsome red-and-blue uniform with its baggy pantaloons, sweating under the thick wool in the July* heat, a straw hat in his hand because he had neither tarboosh nor helmet, after he had sneaked out of the depot under the arches of the docks and run to kiss his wife and children a. 1814 newspapers in Algiers. [Sic,Ed.] * August. before shipping out that night for the France he had never seen,a on the sea that had never before carried him; and he embraced them, strongly and quickly, and he left at the same pace, and the woman on the little balcony waved to him and he responded on the run, turning to wave the straw hat, before once more racing down the street that was gray with dust and heat, and then he disappeared in front of the movie theatre, farther on, into the radiant light of the morning from which he would never return. Jacques would have to imagine the rest. Not through what could be told to him by his mother, who had no idea what history and geography might be, who knew only that she lived on land near the sea, that France was on the other side of that sea which she too had never traveled, France in any case being an obscure place lost in a dim night which one reached through a port named Marseilles, which she pictured like the port of Algiers, where there was a shining city they said was very beautiful and that was called Paris, where there was also a region named Alsace that her husband's family came from,it was a long time ago, they were fleeing enemies called Germans to settle in Algeria, and now that same region had to be taken back from those same enemies who were always evil and cruel, especially with the French, and for no reason at all. The French were always obliged to defend themselves against these quarrelsome, implacable men. It was there, along with Spain, which she could a. He had never seen France. He saw it and was killed. not locate but in any case it was not far away, from where her own family, natives of Mahon, had emigrated as long ago as her husband's family to come to Algeria, because they were dying of hunger in Mahon, and she did not even know that it was on an island, not knowing anyway what an island was, for she had never seen one. About other countries, she might sometimes be struck by the names without always being able to pronounce them correctly. And in any case she had never heard of Austria-Hungary nor of Serbia, Russia,like England,was a difficult name, she did not know what an archduke was, and she could never have articulated the four syllables of Sarajevo. The war was there, like an evil cloud thick with dark menace, but you could not keep it from invading the sky, no more than you could stop the locusts or the devastating storms that would swoop down on the high plains of Algeria. The Germans were forcing France into war once again, and we were going to suffer,there were no causes for it, she did not know the history of France, nor what history was. She knew a little of her own history, barely knew the history of those she loved, and those she loved had to suffer as she did. Into the night of the world she could not imagine, and the history she did not know, a still darker night had just come; mysterious orders had arrived, brought out into the bush by a sweating, weary constable, and they had to leave the farm where they were just getting ready to harvest the grapes,the parish priest was at the station in Bone for the draftees' departure: "We must pray," he said to her, and she had answered, "Yes, Monsieur Cure," but actually she had not heard him, for he had not spoken loudly enough, and besides the idea of praying would never have entered her mind, she never wanted to bother anyone,and now her husband was gone away in his handsome multicolored outfit; he would come back soon, that was what everyone was saying, the Germans would be punished, but in the meantime she had to find work. Luckily, a neighbor had told the grandmother that they needed women in the cartridge factory at the armory and that they would give preference to the wives of men in service, especially if they had family responsibilities, and she would have the good fortune to work ten hours a day arranging little cardboard tubes according to their thickness and color; she would be able to bring money home to the grandmother, the children would have enough to eat until the Germans were punished and Henri came home. Of course, she did not know there was a Russian front, nor what a front was, nor that the war could spread to the Balkans, to the Middle East, to the planet; everything was going on in France, where the Germans had entered without giving warning and were attacking children. Actually everything over there was happening with the troops from Africa, among them H. Cormery, transported as quickly as possible, led as they were to a mysterious region people were talking about, the Marne, and there was no time to find them helmets; the sun was not strong enough to erase colors as it did in Algeria, so that waves of Arab and French Algerians, dressed in smart shining colors, straw hats on their heads, red-and-blue targets you could see for hundreds of meters, went over the top in droves into the fire, were destroyed in droves, and began to fertilize a narrow stretch of land where for four years men who came from all over the world, crouching in muddy lairs, would struggle for each meter under a sky bristling with flares, with shells screaming while great artillery barrages proclaimed their futile assaults.a But for the moment there were no dugouts, only the African troops who melted away under fire like multicolored wax dolls, and each day hundreds of new orphans, Arab and French, awakened in every corner of Algeria, sons and daughters without fathers who would now have to learn to live without guidance and without heritage. A few weeks passed and then on a Sunday morning, on the small indoor landing of the only upper floor, between the stairs and the two unlit toilets, black holes dug Turkish-style through the masonry, constantly being cleaned with cresyl and always stinking,Lucie Cormery and her mother were sitting on two low chairs picking over lentils by the light of the window at the top of the stairs, and the baby in a small laundry basket was sucking a carrot covered with his drool, when a grave and well-dressed gentleman appeared on the stairs with a sort of envelope. The two surprised women put down the dishes they were sort- a. to develop ing lentils into, from a pot set between them, and were wiping off their hands when the gentleman, who had stopped on the next to last step, bade them not to disturb themselves, and asked for Mme. Cormery. "There she is," the grandmother said, "I'm her mother," and the gentleman said he was the district mayor, that he was bearing painful news, that her husband had died on the field of honor, and that France mourned him and at the same time was proud of him. Lucie Cormery had not heard him, but got to her feet and very respectfully offered him her hand; the grandmother stiffened, hand over her mouth, and was saying "My God" in Spanish again and again. The gentleman held Lucie's hand in his, then squeezed it between both his hands, and murmured his words of condolence; then he handed her his envelope, turned, and descended the stairs at a heavy gait. "What did he say?" Lucie asked. "Henri is dead. He was killed." Lucie had stared at the envelope without opening it, neither she nor her mother could read; she turned it over, without a word, without a tear, unable to imagine this death, so far away in the depths of a mysterious night. And then she put the envelope in the pocket of her apron, passed by the baby without looking at him, went into the bedroom she shared with her two children, closed the door and the shutters of the window that looked out on the yard, and stretched out on her bed, where she remained for many hours silent and without tears, squeezing the envelope in her pocket and staring into the dark at the misfortune she did not understand.a "Maman," said Jacques. She was still gazing at the street, in her same manner, and she did not hear him. He touched her thin wrinkled arm, and she turned smiling to him. "Papa's cards, you know, the ones from the hospital." "Yes." "You received them after the mayor came?" "Yes." A shell fragment had split open his skull and he had been transported in one of those ambulance trains dripping blood, scattered with straw and bandages, that shuttled between the slaughterhouse and the evacuation hospitals at Saint-Brieuc. There he was able to scrawl two cards, by guesswork since he could no longer see: "I'm wounded. It's nothing. Your husband." Then after a few days he died. The nurse wrote: "It was better this way. He would have been left blind or insane. He was very brave." And then she received the shell fragment. A patrol of three armed parachutists was passing by in single file on the street, looking in all directions. One of them was black; he was tall and supple and he a. she thinks shells explode by their own volition. looked like a splendid animal in the spotted skin of his camouflage. "It's for the bandits," she said. "And I'm glad you went to his grave. As for me, I'm too old and besides it's far. Is it beautiful?" "What, the grave?" "Yes." "It's beautiful. There are flowers." "Yes. The French are good people." She said it and she believed it, but without giving any further thought to her husband, forgotten now, along with the misfortune of long ago. And nothing was left, neither in her nor in this house, of that man who was consumed in a cosmic fire and of whom there remained only a memory as imperceptible as the ashes of a butterfly wing incinerated in a forest fire. "The stew is going to burn, wait a minute." aShe had gotten up to go to the kitchen and he had taken her place, gazing down in his turn at the street, unchanged after so many years, with the same stores, their colors faded and flaked by the sun. Only the tobacconist across the street had put up long strips of multicolored plastic in place of the curtain of little hollow reeds that made a special sound,which today Jacques could still hear,when he used to go through it to penetrate into the exquisite odor of newsprint and tobacco and to buy L 'Intrepide where he would thrill to tales of a. changes in the apartment honor and courage. Now the street was experiencing the liveliness of a Sunday morning. Workingmen in freshly washed and ironed white shirts were chatting on their way to the three or four cafes, which smelled of cool shade and anise. Some Arabs were passing by, poor also but decently dressed, their wives still veiled but wearing Louis XV shoes. Now and then entire Arab families went by in their Sunday best. One of these families had three children in tow, one of them dressed up as a parachutist. And just then the patrol of parachutists came back along the street, relaxed and seemingly indifferent. The explosion resounded at the very moment Lucie Cormery came back to the room. It sounded very close, enormous, as if it would never stop reverberating. It seemed that they had long since stopped hearing it, but the bulb in the dining-room light was still shaking behind its glass shell. His mother had recoiled to the back of the room, pale, her dark eyes full of a fear she could not control, and she was unsteady on her feet. "It's here. It's here," she was saying. "No," Jacques said, and he ran to the window. People were fleeing in the street, he did not know where to; an Arab family had gone into the notions store across the street, hurrying their children inside, and the shopkeeper let them in, closed the door and removed the door handle, then stood behind the window watching the street. At that moment the parachute patrol came back, running at top speed in the opposite direction. Cars pulled up hastily on the sidewalk and stopped. The street had emptied in a few seconds. But by leaning for- ward, Jacques could see a big crowd in motion farther away, between the Musset movie theatre and the trolley stop. "I'm going to go see," he said. At the corner of the rue Prevost-Paradol,a 1a group of men were shouting. "That filthy race," a short worker in an undershirt said, looking in the direction of an Arab standing as if glued in a gateway near the cafe. "I didn't do anything," the Arab said. "You're all in it together, all you fucking sons of bitches," and he started toward him. The other men held him back. Jacques said to the Arab: "Come with me," and he took him into the cafe, which was now run by Jean, his childhood friend, the son of the barber. Jean was there, still the same, but wrinkled, short and thin, his face sly and alert. "He didn't do anything," said Jacques. "Take him into your home." Jean looked the Arab over while he wiped off the counter. "Come," he said, and they disappeared out the back. Jacques went outside, and the worker scowled at him. "He hasn't done anything," Jacques said. "We should kill them all." a. ,He saw it before coming to see his mother? ,Rework the Kessous bombing in the third part, and in that case only mention it here. ,Farther along. 1. This entire section up to "you could not tell which" is circled with a question mark. "That's what you say when you're angry. Think it over." The worker shrugged. "Go over there and see what you say after you've seen the mess." Ambulance sirens were rising, rapid, urgent. Jacques ran to the trolley stop. The bomb had exploded by the line pole close to the stop. A lot of people, all in their Sunday dress, had been waiting for the trolley. The little cafe nearby was full of cries of anger or suffering, you could not tell which. He went back to his mother. She was standing erect now and very pale. "Sit down," and he led her to the chair close to the table. He sat by her and took her hands. "Twice this week," she said. "I'm afraid to go out." "It's nothing," Jacques said. "It'll stop." "Yes," she said. She looked at him with an odd air of indecision, as if she were divided between her faith in her son's intelligence and her conviction that life in its entirety was a misfortune you could not struggle against but could only endure. "You see," she said, "I'm old. I can't run anymore." Now the blood was returning to her cheeks. In the distance could be heard the sirens of the ambulances, urgent, rapid. But she did not hear them. She breathed deeply, calmed herself a little more, and smiled at her son with her beautiful brave smile. Like all her people, she had grown up with danger, and danger might wring her heart but she would endure it as she did everything else. It was he who could not bear that pinched look of a dying person he had suddenly seen on her face. "Come with me to France," he said to her, but she shook her head with resolute sorrow: "Oh no, it's cold over there. I'm too old now. I want to stay home." 6 : The Family "Ah!" his mother said to him, "I'm glad when you're here.a But come in the evening, I'll be less bored. It's the evenings especially, in winter it gets dark early. If only I knew how to read. I can't knit either in this light, my eyes hurt. So when Etienne's not here, I lie down and wait till it's time to eat. It's a long time, two hours like that. If I had the little girls with me, I'd talk with them. But they come and they go away. I'm too old. Maybe I smell bad. So it's like that, and all alone . . ." She spoke all at once, in short simple sentences that followed each other as if she were emptying herself of thoughts that till then had been silent. And then, her thoughts run dry, she was again silent, her lips tight, her look gentle and dejected, gazing through the closed dining-room shutters at the suffocating light coming up from the street, still at her same place on the same un- a. She never used a subjunctive. comfortable chair and her son going around the table in the middle of the room as he used to do.a She watched him as once more he circled the table.b "Solferino, it's pretty?" "Yes, it's spotless. But it must have changed since the last time you saw it." "Yes, things change." "The doctor sends you his greetings. You remember him?" "No. It was long ago." "No one remembers Papa." "We didn't stay long. And besides, he didn't say much." "Maman?" She looked at him, unsmiling, with a mild and vacant expression. "I thought you and Papa never lived together in Algiers." No, no. "Did you understand me?" She had not understood; he could guess as much from her slightly frightened manner, as if she were apologizing, and he articulated the words as he repeated the question: "You never lived together in Algiers?" "No," she said. "But how about the time Papa went to see them cut off Pirette's head?" He hit his neck with the side of his hand to make himself understood. But she answered immediately: "Yes, he got up at three o'clock to go to Barberousse." a. Relations with brother Henri: the fights. b. what they ate: stew of innards, codfish stew, chick-peas, etc. "So you were in Algiers?" "Yes." "But when was it?" "I don't know. He was working for Ricome." "Before you went to Solferino?" "Yes." She said yes, maybe it was no; she had to reach back in time through a clouded memory, nothing was certain. To begin with, poor people's memory is less nourished than that of the rich; it has fewer landmarks in space because they seldom leave the place where they live, and fewer reference points in time throughout lives that are gray and featureless. Of course there is the memory of the heart that they say is the surest kind, but the heart wears out with sorrow and labor, it forgets sooner under the weight of fatigue. Remembrance of things past is just for the rich. For the poor it only marks the faint traces on the path to death. And besides, in order to bear up well one must not remember too much, but rather stick close to the passing day, hour by hour, as his mother did, somewhat by necessity no doubt, since that childhood illness (by the way, according to his grandmother, it was typhoid. But typhoid does not have such aftereffects. Typhus perhaps. Or else? Here again, all was darkness) since that childhood illness had left her deaf and speaking with difficulty, then prevented her from learning what is taught to even the most wretched, so her mute resignation was forced on her, but it was also the only way she had found to face up to her life, and what else could she have done, who in her place could have found another way? He wanted her to be fascinated by describing for him a man who had died forty years earlier and whose life she had shared (and had she really shared it?) for five years. She could not do that; he did not even know if she had passionately loved that man, and in any case he could not ask it of her, for in her presence he too was in his own way mute and crippled; at heart he did not even want to know what there had been between them, and so he had to give up on learning anything from her. Even the one circumstance that had made such an impression on him as a child, had pursued him throughout his life and even into his dreams, his father getting up at three o'clock to attend the execution of a notorious criminal,even that he had learned from his grandmother. Pirette was an agricultural laborer on a farm in the Sahel, quite close to Algiers. He had killed his employers and the three children in the house with a hammer. "To rob them?" Jacques asked as a child. "Yes," said Uncle Etienne. "No," said his grandmother, but without any further explanation. They found the disfigured corpses, the house splattered with blood right up to the ceiling, and, under one of the beds, the youngest child still breathing; he died also, but he had found the strength to write on the whitewashed wall with his blood-soaked finger: "It's Pirette." They searched for the murderer and found him, dazed, out in the countryside. Horrified public opinion demanded the death penalty; it was readily granted, and the execution took place before Bar-berousse prison in the presence of a considerable number of spectators. Jacques's father had gotten up in the night and gone to attend the exemplary punishment of a crime that, according to the grandmother, had outraged him. But they never knew what had happened. Apparently the execution had taken place without incident. But Jacques's father was livid when he came home; he went to bed, then got up several times to vomit, and went back to bed. He never wanted to talk about what he had seen. And on the night he heard the story, Jacques himself, when he was lying huddled on the side of the bed to avoid touching his brother, with whom he slept, choked back his nausea and his horror as he relived the details he had heard and those he imagined. And throughout his life those images had followed him even into his sleep when now and then, but regularly, a recurrent nightmare would haunt him, taking many forms, but always having the one theme: they were coming to take him, Jacques, to be executed. And for a long time when he awakened he would shake off his fear and anguish and return to that soothing reality where there was absolutely no chance that he would be executed. Then, by the time he had come of age, world events around him were such that his execution was no longer so unlikely a possibility, and reality no longer assuaged his dreams, but on the contrary was fed during a very [precise] number of years by the same dread that so distressed his father and that he had left to his son as his only clear and certain legacy. But it was a mysterious bond that connected him to the dead stranger of Saint-Brieuc (who, after all, had not thought he would die a violent death either), a bond beyond the reach of his mother, who had known that story, had seen his vomiting, and had forgotten that morning, just as she had not realized later on that times had changed. For her the times were always the same: disaster could emerge at any moment without calling out a warning. His grandmother,a on the other hand, had a more accurate picture of things. "You'll end up on the gallows," she would often tell Jacques. Why not? It was no longer unusual. She did not know that but, being the person she was, nothing would have surprised her. Erect in her long black robe of a prophetess, uninformed and stubborn, she at least had never known resignation. And she more than anyone else had dominated Jacques's childhood. Raised by her parents from Mahon on a small farm in the Sahel, she was very young when she married a slender and delicate man, also of Mahon origin, whose brothers had already settled in Algeria by 1848, after the tragic death of the paternal grandfather, a sometime poet who composed his verses mounted on a donkey and riding around the island between stone walls that bordered vegetable gardens. It was during the course of one of these outings that a scorned husband shot poetry in the back, in the belief that he was punishing a lover but misled by the silhouette and the broad-brimmed black hat, thus killing a model of familial virtue, who, however, left nothing to his children. The eventual result of this tragic misunderstanding in which a poet found his death was the settling on the Algerian shore of a nest of illiterates who multiplied, far from any school, harnessed to a life of exhausting labor under a a. Transition. ferocious sun. But the husband of Jacques's grandmother, judging by his photos, had kept something of his poet grandfather's inspiration, and his thin face with its clear-cut features under a lofty brow, and his dreamer's expression, did not suggest that he could hold his own against his young, beautiful, and vigorous spouse. She gave him nine children, of whom two died in infancy, another was saved only at the price of being handicapped, and the last was born deaf and partly mute. She raised her brood on that somber little farm while doing her share of their hard common labor; she sat at the end of the table with a long stick at hand that spared her any superfluous speech, the guilty one being immediately hit over the head. She held sway, demanding respect for herself and her husband, whom the children had to address in the polite form of speech, according to Spanish practice. Her husband would not long enjoy this respect: he died prematurely, worn out by sun and labor, and perhaps by his marriage, without Jacques ever being able to discover what disease he died of. Left alone, the grandmother disposed of the little farm and went to live in Algiers with her younger children, the others having been sent out to work as soon as they were old enough to be apprenticed. When Jacques had grown up enough to observe her, she was impaired by neither poverty nor adversity. Only three children were still with her. Catherine,1 who 1. On page 8 Jacques Cormery's mother is given the name Lucie. From here on, she is named Catherine. did housework for others; the youngest, the handicapped one, who had become an energetic cooper; and Joseph, who had not married and who worked for the railroad. All three earned paltry wages that, combined, had to support a family of five. His grandmother managed the household's money, and that is why the first thing that struck Jacques about her was her penny-pinching,not that she was a miser except in the sense that we are miserly with the air we breathe that keeps us alive. It was she who bought the children's clothes. Jacques's mother came home late in the day, and was satisfied to watch and listen to what was said, overwhelmed by the energy of the grandmother, to whom she relinquished everything. Thus it was that Jacques, throughout his life as a child, had to wear raincoats that were too long, for his grandmother bought them to last and counted on nature for the child's size to catch up with that of the clothing. But Jacques grew slowly, not really deciding to sprout till he was fifteen, and his raincoat would wear out before he grew into it. Another would be bought on the same thrifty principle, and Jacques, whose classmates mocked his dress, had no recourse but to puff out his raincoat at the waist in order to make what was ridiculous look original. Anyway, these brief episodes of shame were quickly forgotten in the classroom, where Jacques regained the upper hand, and on the playground, where soccer was his kingdom. But that kingdom was prohibited, because the playground was made of cement and soles would be worn out so quickly that his grandmother had forbidden Jacques to play soccer during recess. She herself bought her grandsons thick solid boots that she hoped would prove immortal. In order to stretch out their longevity, she would also have the soles studded with enormous cone-shaped nails, which were doubly useful: you had to wear out the studs before wearing out the sole, and they enabled her to detect infractions of the ban on playing soccer. Running on the cement yard did in fact quickly wear down the studs and give them a shine that betrayed the guilty one. Every day when he got home, Jacques had to report to the kitchen, where Cassandra presided over the black pots, and, with knee bent and sole facing up, in the posture of a horse being shod, he would have to show her his soles. Of course he could not resist the call of his friends and the lure of his favorite sport, and he would apply himself not to attempting an impossible virtue but to disguising the resulting sin. So on leaving school, and later the lyc?(c)e, he would spend a good deal of time rubbing his soles in damp earth. Sometimes this ruse was successful. But the time would come when the wear on the studs was glaringly obvious, or sometimes the sole itself would be damaged, or,the worst of catastrophes,the upper sole would be detached from the lower by an awkward kick against the ground or the grille that protected the trees, and Jacques would come home with a string tied around his shoe to hold it together. Those were nights for the leather whip. The only consolation his mother offered the weeping Jacques was: "You know they're expensive. Why can't you be more careful?" But she herself never laid a hand on her children. The next day, they put Jacques in espadrilles and took his shoes to the shoemaker. Two or three days later he would get them back dotted with new studs, and once more he would have to learn to keep his balance on his slippery unstable soles. The grandmother was capable of going still further, and even after so many years Jacques could not recall this story without a shiver of shame and disgust.* He and his brother were given no pocket money, except occasionally when they would agree to go visit a shopkeeper uncle or an aunt who had married well. It was easy in the case of the uncle because they liked him. But the aunt had a way of rubbing in her comparative wealth, and, rather than feel humiliated, the two children preferred to go without money and the pleasures it would procure them. In any event, and although the pleasures of the sea, the sun, and the neighborhood games were free, fries, caramels, Arab pastries, and in Jacques's case certain soccer matches required a little money, at least a few centimes. One evening Jacques was coming home after doing errands, holding at arm's length the dish of potatoes and cheese that he had taken to the neighborhood baker to be baked (they had neither gas nor range in their home, and they cooked on an alcohol stove. So there was no oven, and when they had something to bake they would take it all prepared to the baker, who for a few centimes would put the dish in the oven and keep an eye on it), the dish before him steam- * where shame and disgust mingle ing through the dishtowel that protected it from the dust of the street and made it possible for him to hold it around the edges. The string bag filled with provisions bought in very small quantities (a half-pound of sugar, a quarter-pound of butter, twenty-five centimes' worth of grated cheese, etc.) did not weigh heavily in the crook of his right arm and Jacques sniffed the good smell of potatoes and cheese as he made his way nimbly through the working-class crowd that at this hour was milling around on the sidewalks of the neighborhood. At that moment a two-franc piece slipped through a hole in his pocket and fell clinking on the sidewalk. Jacques picked it up, counted his change, which was all there, and put it in his other pocket. "I could have lost it," he thought suddenly. And the next day's match, which till then he had banished from his thoughts, now returned to his mind. No one had actually taught the child what was right and what was wrong. Some things were forbidden and any infraction was severely punished. Others were not. Only his teachers would sometimes talk about morality, when the curriculum left them the time, but there again the prohibitions were more explicit than the reasons for them. All that Jacques had been able to see and experience concerning morality was daily life in a working-class family where it was evident no one had ever thought there was any way other than the hardest kind of labor to acquire the money necessary to their survival. But that was a lesson in courage, not morals. Nonetheless, Jacques knew it was wrong to hide those two francs. And he didn't want to do it. And he would not do it; maybe he could do what he'd done before, squeeze between two boards to get in the old stadium at the parade grounds and see the match free. That was why he himself did not understand why he did not immediately give back the change, and why, a little later, he came from the toilet and declared that a two-franc piece had fallen in the hole when he dropped his pants. Even "toilet" was too exalted a term for the small space that had been improvised in the masonry of the landing of the one upper floor. A Turkish-style hole had been drilled in a mid-size pedestal jammed between the door and the back wall. The place was without air, without electric light, without faucet, and they had to pour jerry cans of water in the hole after each use. But nothing could keep the stink from overflowing into the stairs. Jacques's explanation was plausible.a It saved him from being sent back out on the street to look for the lost coin, and it cut short any further action. Yet Jacques felt a pang as he announced his bad news. His grandmother was in the kitchen chopping garlic and parsley on an old board that was green and pitted with use. She stopped and looked at Jacques, who was waiting for her to explode. But she remained silent and studied him with her icy-clear eyes. "You're sure?" she said at last. "Yes, I felt it drop." She was still studying him. "Very well," she said. "We shall see." a. No. It was because he had already claimed to have lost the coin in the street that he had to find another explanation. And Jacques, horrified, saw her roll up her right sleeve, baring her knotty white arm, and go out on the landing. He dashed into the dining room, on the verge of throwing up. When she summoned him, he found her at the washbasin. Her arm was covered with gray soap, which she was rinsing off in a gush of water. "There was nothing there," she said. "You're a liar." He stammered: "But it could have been washed down." She hesitated. "Maybe. But if you're lying, it'll be your tough luck." Yes, it was his tough luck, for in that instant he understood it was not avarice that caused his grandmother to grope around in the excrement, but the terrible need that made two francs a significant amount in this home. He understood it, and now he clearly saw, with a spasm of shame, that he had stolen those two francs from his family's labor. Even today, watching his mother at the window, Jacques could not explain how he could have failed to return those two francs and yet have enjoyed going to the match the next day. His grandmother was also linked with other shameful memories for which there was less legitimate cause. She had wanted Henri, his older brother, to have violin lessons. Jacques had dodged this by claiming he could not continue to do so well in school with this extra work. So his brother had learned to scrape a few horrible sounds from a frigid violin, he could play popular songs with a few false notes. For fun, Jacques, whose voice was quite true, had learned the same songs, without any idea of the calamitous consequences of this innocent pastime. Sure enough, on Sunday, when his grandmother's married daughters,a two of whom were war widows, would call on her, or her sister, who still lived on a farm in the Sahel and spoke the Mahon dialect more readily than Spanish, would come to visit, after she had served big bowls of black coffee on the oilcloth-covered table, his grandmother summoned her grandchildren to give an impromptu concert. The dismayed boys brought the metal music stand and the two-page scores of well-known tunes. They had to perform. Jacques followed the zigzags of Henri's violin as best he could, singing "Ramona," "I had a wonderful dream, Ramona, we'd gone away just you and I," or "Dance, O my Djalme, this night it's you I want to love," or else, staying in the Orient, "Nights of China, nights of caresses, night of love, night of ecstasy, of tenderness ..." On other occasions the grandmother would make a special request for more true-to-life songs. So Jacques would sing: "Is it really you my man, you whom I so loved, you who vowed, God knows you did, never to make me cry." As it happened, this was the only song Jacques could sing with real feeling, for at the end its heroine repeats its touching refrain in the middle of a crowd watching the execution of her wayward lover. But the grandmother's favorite song was one she no doubt loved for its melancholy and tenderness, which one would seek in vain in her own nature. It was Toselli's "Serenade," which Henri and Jacques brought out with quite a bit of brio, a. Her nieces. although the Algerian accent was not really suited to the enchanted hour evoked by the song. On a sunny afternoon, four or five women dressed in black, all of whom except the grandmother had put aside the black mantillas that Spanish women wear, were seated in a row around the poorly furnished room with its rough-cast white walls, and were nodding gently in approval of the outpouring of the music and the lyrics,until the grandmother, who had never been able to tell a do from a si, and for that matter did not even know the names of the notes of the scale, would break the spell with a curt "You made a mistake," which took the wind out of the performers' sails. We were there, the grandmother would say when the thorny passage had been gotten through in a way satisfying to her taste; once again the women would rock in time to the music, and at the end they applauded the two virtuosi, who hastily packed up their equipment and went out to join their comrades in the street. Only Catherine Cormery had remained silent in a corner. And Jacques still remembered that Sunday afternoon when, as he was about to leave with his music, his mother had said, in reply to one of the aunts who complimented her about him, "Yes, that was good. He's intelligent," as if there were any connection between the two statements. But when he had looked back, he understood the connection. Her face was quivering, her gentle eyes feverish, and she gazed at him with an expression that made him recoil, hesitate, then flee. "She loves me, then she loves me," he said to himself in the staircase, and at the same time he realized how desperately he loved her, that he had craved her love with all his heart, and that until that moment he had always doubted whether she loved him. Performances at the movies held other pleasures in store for the child . . . The ritual took place on Sunday afternoon and sometimes on Thursday. The neighborhood movie house was just down the street from their building and bore the name of a Romantic poet, as did the street alongside it. Before going in, you had to pass an obstacle course of Arab peddlers' stands bearing helter-skelter displays of peanuts, dried salted chick-peas, lupine seeds, barley sugar coated in loud colors, and sticky sourballs. Others sold gaudy pastries, among them a pyramid of creamy swirls sprinkled with pink sugar, and still others displayed Arab fritters dripping with oil and honey. A swarm of flies and children, both attracted by the same sweets, buzzed and shouted as they chased each other around the stands amidst the curses of the peddlers, who feared for the stability of their goods and who brushed both flies and children away with a single gesture. Some of the peddlers had found shelter under the marquee that extended over one side, others had put their gummy riches out under the strong sunlight and the dust raised by the children's games. Jacques would escort his grandmother, who had sleeked back her white hair for the occasion and fastened her eternal black dress with a silver brooch. She would sedately part the howling kids who blocked the entrance and present herself at the one ticket window to buy "reserved" seats. Actually the only choice was between these "reserved" seats, uncomfortable folding chairs that opened noisily, and the benches toward which the children surged at the last moment, bickering over their places, when a side door was opened for them. At each end of the benches was stationed an usher, armed with a leather whip, who was responsible for keeping order, and it was not unusual to see him expel an overly boisterous child or adult. In those days the theatre showed silent films, the newsreel first, then a short comedy, the main feature, and finally a serial shown at the rate of one episode per week. The grandmother particularly liked these serials, where each episode ended in suspense. For example, the muscular hero carrying the wounded blond girl in his arms would start out on a vine bridge over a canyon torrent. And the last frame of the weekly episode would show a tattooed hand severing the vines of the bridge with a crude knife. The hero would continue proudly on his way despite the warnings shouted by the spectators in the benches.a The question then was not whether the couple would escape,no doubt on that score being permitted,but only how they would extricate themselves, which explains why so many spectators, both Arab and French, would come back the next week to see the lovers stopped in their mortal plunge by a providential tree. The show was accompanied throughout on the piano by an old maiden lady, who met the jeers of the benches with the calm stillness of her thin back shaped like a bottle of mineral water capped with a lace collar. At the time, Jacques thought it a mark of distinction that this a. Riveccio. impressive lady wore her fingerless gloves during the most torrid hot spells. Nor was her job as easy as one might have thought. Providing musical commentary to the news, in particular, required her to change melodies according to the nature of the events being shown on the screen. She would go without transition from a lively quadrille accompanying the spring fashion shows to Chopin's Funeral March for a flood in China or the funeral of a personage important on the national or international scene. Whatever the piece, it was always imperturbably performed, as if ten little mechanical instruments were executing precise maneuvers on the old yellowed keyboard that had been ordained once and for all by clockwork. In that hall with bare walls, its floor littered with peanut shells, the smell of cresyl mingled with a strong odor of humanity. It was the pianist, in any case, who silenced the deafening racket by launching with full pedal into the prelude that was supposed to set the mood for the matinee show. A great throbbing sound announced that the projector was starting, and that was when Jacques's ordeal began. Since they were silent, the films would project a certain amount of written text intended to clarify the plot. As his grandmother was illiterate, it was Jacques's job to read these texts to her. Despite her age, his grandmother was not at all hard of hearing. But first of all he had to make himself heard over the sound of the piano and that of the audience, whose vocal responses were plentiful. Furthermore, though the texts were extremely simple, his grandmother was not very familiar with some words and others were completely unknown to her. Jacques, for his part, did not want to disturb their neighbors and was especially anxious not to tell the entire hall that his grandmother did not know how to read (sometimes she herself would be embarrassed enough to say, raising her voice, at the beginning of the show: "You'll have to read to me, I forgot my glasses"), so he would not read the text as loudly as he might have. The result was that the grandmother only half understood, and would insist that he read it again and louder. Jacques would try to raise his voice, the shushes would plunge him into a vile shame, he stammered, the grandmother scolded him, and soon another text appeared, all the more mysterious to the poor old woman because she had not understood the preceding one. Confusion would only compound until Jacques found enough presence of mind to sum up in a few words a crucial moment in, for example, The Mark of Zorro, with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. "The villain wants to take the girl away from him," Jacques would firmly articulate, taking advantage of a pause in the sound of the piano or the audience. It all became clear, the film went on, and the child could breathe easier. Usually that was the extent of his worries. But some films on the order of Les Deux Orphe-lines were really too complicated, and, caught between his grandmother's demands and the ever-angrier reprimands of their neighbors, Jacques would end by remaining completely silent. He still remembered one of these performances when the grandmother, beside herself, had finally walked out, while he followed her in tears, distressed at the thought that he had spoiled one of the poor woman's rare pleasures and that it had been paid for out of their meager funds.a As for his mother, she never came to these performances. She could not read either, and she was half deaf besides. Beyond that, her vocabulary was even more limited than her mother's. Even today, her life was without distractions. In forty years she had been to the movies two or three times, had understood nothing, and it was only in order not to displease those who invited her that she would say the dresses were pretty or that the one with the moustache looked like a very bad man. Nor could she listen to the radio. And as to the newspapers, sometimes she would leaf through those that were illustrated, would get her sons or granddaughters to explain the pictures, would decide that the Queen of England seemed sad, and close the pages to gaze once more out the same window and watch the activity on the same street that she had been contemplating through half her lifetime.b a. add symptoms of poverty,unemployment,holiday camp summer in Miliana,blowing the bugle,expelled,Doesn't dare tell her. Speak up: well we'll drink coffee tonight. From time to time it changes. He looks at her. He's often read stories of poverty where the woman is valiant. She didn't smile. She left to go in the kitchen, valiant,Not resigned. b. Bring on Uncle Ernest old, before,his portrait in the room where Jacques and his mother were. Or have him come after. ?tienne In a sense, she was less involved in life than her brother Ernest,1 who lived with them; he was stone deaf, and he expressed himself as much by onomatopoeic sounds and gestures as with the hundred-odd words at his disposal. But Ernest, who could not be put out to work whenhe was young, had haphazardly attended school and learned to make out the letters of the alphabet. He did go to the movies sometimes, and he would come home with an account of the film that astounded those who had already seen it, as the wealth of his imagination would make up for what he had missed. Moreover, he was shrewd and crafty, and a sort of native intelligence enabled him to make his way in a world and among people who nonetheless remained obdurately silent to him. Thanks to that same intelligence, he would bury himself every day in the newspaper, where he could 1. Sometimes named Ernest, sometimes Etienne, it is always the same person: Jacques's uncle. make out the headlines and so have at least a nodding acquaintance with world affairs. "Hitler," he would say, for example, to Jacques when he had come of age, "no good, eh." "No, that wasn't good." "The Huns, always the same," the uncle added. "No, it wasn't that." "Yes, there're some good ones," his uncle acknowledged. "But Hitler that's no good," and right after, his love of a joke gaining the upper hand: "Levy" (that was the mercer across the street) "he's scared." And he guffawed. Jacques would try to explain. His uncle would become serious again: "Yes. Why he wants to hurt the Jews? They're like other people." He always loved Jacques, in his fashion. He admired his success in school. He would rub the child's skull with his hard hand on which tools and manual labor had left a hornlike callus. "Got a good head, this one. Hard",and he tapped his own head with his big fist, "but good." Sometimes he added: "Like his father." One day Jacques took the opportunity to ask if his father had been intelligent. "Your father, hard head. Did what he wanted, always. Your mother always yes yes." Jacques was unable to get any more out of him. In any case, Ernest would often take the child with him. His energy and vitality, finding no outlet in speech or in the complex relations of social life, would explode in his physical life and its sensations. Even on awakening, when someone shook him out of the hermetic sleep of the deaf, he would rear up wild-eyed, bellowing "huhn huhn!" like a prehistoric beast that wakens each day to a strange and hostile world. But once he was awake, his body and its functioning made him secure on his feet. Despite the hard labor of his job as a cooper, he liked to go swimming and hunting. When Jacques was still a child,a his uncle would take him to Sablettes beach, make him get up on his back, and immediately set out to sea with a rudimentary but powerful stroke, making inarticulate sounds that translated first his surprise at the coldness of the water, then his pleasure at being there or his anger at an errant wave. "You not scared," he would say from time to time to Jacques. Yes, he was afraid but did not say so; he was spellbound by the solitude where they were, between the sky and the sea, one as vast as the other; when he glanced back, the beach seemed like an invisible line, and an acid fear would grip his stomach and, with the beginnings of panic, he pictured the immense dark depths below where he would sink like a stone if ever his uncle should let him loose. Then the child would clutch the swimmer's neck a little tighter. "You scared," his uncle said right away. "No, but go back." Docile, the uncle turned, took a few breaths, and set off again as confidently as if he were on terra firma. On the beach, and hardly out of breath, he rubbed Jacques vigorously, with great gusts of laughter, turned aside to urinate with a loud splash, still laughing, then would a. 9 years congratulate himself on the fine functioning of his bladder, slapping his belly with the "Good, good" that accompanied all his enjoyable sensations, among which he made no distinction, whether they were of excretion or of nutrition, stressing in each case and with the same innocence the pleasure they gave him, and always wanting his family to share his pleasure, which at the dining-room table would provoke a protest from the grandmother, who accepted that these things were discussed, and even spoke of them herself, but, as she would say, "Not while we're eating," though she put up with his watermelon act; the fruit had a great reputation as a diuretic; Ernest adored it and he would begin his consumption of it by laughing, by mischievous winks at the grandmother, by an assortment of sounds of inhaling, regurgitating, and slurping, and after the first few mouthfuls that he would bite right down to the skin, he would perform a whole pantomime in which with his hand he would repeatedly demonstrate the journey the handsome rose and white fruit was supposed to make from his mouth to his penis, while he made faces and rolled his eyes to illustrate how spectacularly he was enjoying himself, all this accompanied by: "Good, good. Washes you out. Good, good",until it was so irresistible that everyone would burst out laughing. This Adam-like innocence caused him to attach exaggerated importance to a series of fleeting ailments he would complain of, frowning, his gaze turned inward as if he were scrutinizing the mysterious night of his organs. He claimed to be suffering from a "stitch," its location varying widely, or a "lump" that wandered all over the place. Later, when Jacques was attending the lyc?(c)e, his uncle would question him, in the belief that there was one science that applied equally to everyone, showing him the small of his back: "Right there, it pulls," he would say. "That's bad?" No, it was nothing. And Ernest would go out relieved, descending the stairs with his small hurried steps to join his comrades in the neighborhood cafes, with their wood furnishings and zinc bar, smelling of anisette and sawdust, where Jacques sometimes had to go fetch him at dinnertime. It was not the least of the child's surprises to find this deaf-mute at the bar surrounded by his comrades and talking his head off while they all laughed, laughter in which there was no mockery, for his friends adored Ernest for his good nature and his generosity.a b c d a. the money he'd set aside and gave to Jacques. b. Of medium height, a bit bowlegged, his shoulders somewhat stooped under a thick shell of muscle, he gave the impression despite his slender build of an extraordinarily virile strength. And yet his face was and for a long time would remain that of an adolescent, delicate regular features, a bit [ ] [a word crossed out,Ed.] with his sister's beautiful chestnut eyes, a very straight nose, bare eyebrows, regular chin, and beautiful thick hair,no, a little wavy. His physical beauty in itself was why despite his handicap he had had several adventures with women, which could not lead to marriage and were necessarily brief, but at times had the appearance of what is usually called love, like that affair he'd had with a married shopkeeper in the neighborhood, and sometimes he would take Jacques to the Saturday night concert in Bresson Square that looked out on the sea, and the military orchestra on the bandstand played The Bells of Corneville or tunes from Lakm?(c), while in the (continued) Jacques would be well aware of that when his uncle took him hunting with his comrades, all of whom were coopers or workers at the port or on the railroad. They got up at dawn. Jacques was responsible for awakening his uncle, whom no alarm could rouse from his sleep. Jacques himself responded to the ringing, his brother turned over in bed grumbling, and his mother, in the other bed, stirred softly without awakening. He got up groping his way, struck a match, and lit the small kerosene lamp on the night table that stood between the two beds. (Ah! the furnishings in that room: two iron beds,one single, where the mother slept, the other double, where the two children slept,a night table between the two beds, and, across from the night table, a wardrobe with a mirror. At the foot of the mother's bed was a window that faced the yard. Below that window was a cane trunk covered with a crocheted blanket. While he was still small, Jacques had to kneel on the trunk to close the shutters of the window. And no chair.) Then he would go to the dining room, shake his uncle, who bellowed, looked up in terror at the lamp over his eyes, and finally came to his senses. They (continued) midst of the crowd that was moving around the [ ], Ernest in his Sunday best would make sure his path crossed that of the cafe owner's wife dressed in raw silk, and they would exchange smiles of friendship, the husband occasionally saying a few amicable words to Ernest, whom he surely never saw as a potential rival. c. the la mouna laundry [words circled by the author,Ed.] d. the beach pieces of bleached wood, corks, sea-worn fragments of glass ... reeds from cork trees. dressed. And Jacques heated leftover coffee on the little alcohol burner while his uncle packed sacks with provisions: a cheese, sobrasada sausages, tomatoes with salt and pepper, and a half loaf of bread cut in two where a big omelet made by the grandmother had been inserted. Then the uncle for the last time checked the double-barreled shotgun and the cartridges, over which a great ceremony had taken place the night before. After dinner they had cleared the table and carefully cleaned its oilcloth cover. The uncle had seated himself at one side of the table and gravely set before him, by the light of the big kerosene lamp lifted down from its hanging position, the pieces of the disassembled gun that he had painstakingly greased. Sitting at the other side, Jacques waited his turn. So did the dog Brillant. For there was a dog, a mongrel setter, boundlessly good-natured, who couldn't hurt a fly, the proof of that being that if he happened to catch one on the wing, he would spit it out with a disgusted look accompanied by a great display of outstretched tongue and smacking of his chops. Ernest and his dog were inseparable, and there was a perfect understanding between them. You could not help thinking of them as a couple (and only one who neither knew nor loved dogs would see that as ridiculous). And the dog owed the man obedience and love, while the man agreed to have only this single responsibility. They lived together and never left each other, sleeping together (the man on the dining room couch, the dog on a skimpy bedside rug that was threadbare), went to work together (the dog would lie on a bed of wood shavings, made just for him, under a workbench in the shop), went out to cafes together, the dog waiting patiently between his master's legs until his performance had come to an end. They spoke in onomatopoeia and relished each other's smells. One must never tell Ernest that his seldom-washed dog gave off a strong odor, especially after it had rained. "Him," he would say, "no smell," and he would lovingly sniff the inside of the dog's big quivering ears. Hunting was a spree for both of them, their night on the town. Ernest had only to bring out the knapsack for the dog to race madly around the little dining room, setting the chairs to dancing by bumping them with his rear, and thumping his tail against the sideboard. Ernest would laugh. "He understands, he understands," and he would calm the animal, who would then place his muzzle on the table and watch their minute preparations, yawning discreetly from time to time but never leaving the delightful spectacle until it was over.a b When the shotgun was once more assembled, his uncle handed it to him. Jacques received it reverently, and he shined its barrels with an old linen rag. Meanwhile the uncle was preparing his cartridges. He had before him some brightly colored cardboard tubes with copper bases in a sack from which he also removed gourd-shaped metal flasks containing the powder and a. the hunt? could be cut. b. the book should be heavy with things and flesh. shot and brown felt wadding. He carefully filled the tubes with powder and wadding. The tubes would be fitted into a small machine he also took from the sack. A little crank worked a cap that crimped the tops of the tubes down to the level of the wadding. When the cartridges were ready, Ernest handed them one by one to Jacques, who devoutly placed them in the cartridge belt he had in front of him. In the morning one knew they were leaving when Ernest put the heavy cartridge belt around his belly, which had already been augmented by two layers of sweaters. Jacques buckled the belt behind his back. And Brillant, who since waking had been coming and going in silence, trained to control his delight so as not to awaken anyone, but who was breathing his fe-verishness on every object within his reach, would now rear up against his master, paws on his chest, and try by stretching his back and neck to give that beloved face a good strong licking. They hurried toward the Agha station under a sky that was already growing light, the fresh smell of the ficus trees floating in the air, with the dog racing at full speed ahead of them on a zigzagging course that sometimes ended with him sliding on sidewalks still wet from the night's humidity, then coming back just as fast, visibly terrified that he had lost them, Etienne carrying the shotgun muzzle-down in its heavy canvas case, as well as a sack and a game bag, Jacques with his hands in the pockets of his shorts and a big knapsack on his back. Their friends were at the station with their dogs, who did not leave their masters except to make quick inspections under their fellows' tails. There were Daniel and Pierre,a brothers who worked in the shop with Ernest, Daniel always laughing and full of optimism, Pierre more contained, more methodical, full of opinions and words of wisdom about people and things. Also there was Georges, who was employed at the gasworks but who would earn some extra pay by boxing an occasional match. And often two or three others besides, all good fellows, at least for this occasion, happy to have escaped for a day from the workshop, from small overcrowded apartments, sometimes from their wives also, uninhibited and in a mood of amused tolerance that is peculiar to men when they have gotten together among themselves for some brief violent pleasure. They climbed cheerfully into one of those cars where every compartment opens to the platform, they handed each other the knapsacks, they made the dogs get in, and they settled down, happy now to feel themselves sitting side to side sharing the same warmth. On these Sundays Jacques learned that the company of men was good and could nourish the soul. The train started out, then picked up speed with short puffs and an occasional brief sleepy whistle. They were crossing one end of the Sahel, and on reaching the first fields these loud sturdy men fell oddly silent and watched the day dawn over carefully cultivated fields where morning mists trailed like scarves on the hedges of big dry reeds that separated the fields. Now and then clumps of trees would slip past the window with the whitewashed farmhouse they pro- a. careful, change the names. tected, where everyone was sleeping. A bird that was flushed out of the ditch alongside the embankment came suddenly up to their level, then flew in the same direction as the train, as if trying to race it, until it abruptly set off at a right angle to the course of the train, and now it seemed as if it had been pulled away from the window and hurled to the rear of the train by the wind of their passage. The green horizon turned pink, then all at once red, and the sun appeared and rose visibly in the sky. It sucked the mists off all the expanse of fields, kept on rising, and suddenly it was hot in the compartment; the men took off one sweater after another, made the fidgety dogs lie down, traded some jokes, and already Ernest was telling stories in his manner about food, about sickness, and also [about] fights in which he always had the upper hand. Sometimes one of the comrades would ask Jacques about his school; then they talked of other things or called him to witness one of Ernest's charades. "He's tops, your uncle!" The countryside was changing, becoming more rocky, the orange trees gave way to oaks, and the little train chugged harder and harder and gave off great blasts of steam. Suddenly it was colder, for the mountain had come between the sun and the travelers, and then they realized it was still only seven o'clock. At last the train gave a final whistle, reduced its speed, slowly rounded a tight curve, and arrived at a small station that was alone in the valley, deserted and silent, for it only served some distant mines; it was planted with big eucalyptuses whose sickle-shaped leaves shivered in the morning breeze. They left the train with the usual hubbub, the dogs tumbling out of the compartment, missing the two steep steps down, the men again lining up to pass each other the sacks and guns. But at the exit of the station, where the first slopes began immediately, the silence of wild nature bit by bit drowned out their exclamations and shouts; the little troop finished climbing the hill in silence, while the dogs circled in endless figure eights. Jacques would not let his vigorous companions leave him behind. Daniel, his favorite, had taken his knapsack, over his objections, but he still had to take two steps for one of theirs to keep up, and the sharp morning air was scorching his lungs. After an hour they at last came to the edge of a vast and gently undulating plateau wooded with dwarf oaks and junipers, over which a fresh and softly sunlit sky stretched its immense space. This was their hunting terrain. The dogs came back, as if they already knew, and gathered around the men. They agreed to meet for lunch at two o'clock in the afternoon at a pine thicket, where a small spring was conveniently located at the edge of the plateau and where they could see over the valley and far out on the plain. They synchronized their watches. The hunters grouped themselves in pairs, whistled to their dogs, and set out in different directions. Ernest and Daniel were paired. Jacques was given the game bag, and he put it carefully over his shoulder. Ernest, from a distance, announced to the others that he would bring back more rabbits and partridges than anyone else. They laughed, waved, and disappeared. Now for Jacques began a time of ecstasy that he would always cherish nostalgically with wonder in his heart: the two men two meters apart but staying abreast, the dog in front, himself always kept at the rear, his uncle, whose eye was suddenly wild and cunning, always checking to make sure he kept his distance, and the interminable walking in silence, through bushes from which a bird they passed up would sometimes fly with a piercing cry, going down small ravines full of scents where they would follow the bottom ground, going back up toward the sky, radiant and warmer and warmer, the rising heat rapidly drying soil that was still damp when they set out. Gunshots across the ravine, the sharp clacking of a covey of dust-colored partridges flushed out by the dog, the double report repeated almost immediately, the dog's dash ahead, his return with eyes madly flashing and holding in his blood-covered jaws a bundle of feathers that Ernest and Daniel took from him, and that Jacques received a moment later with mingled excitement and horror; the search for more victims, and when they saw them fall, Ernest's yelping that you sometimes could not distinguish from Brillant's; and again the progress forward, Jacques sagging now under the sun despite his little straw hat, while the plateau around them was beginning to vibrate heavily like an anvil under the hammer of the sun, and occasionally a gunshot or two, but never more, for only one of the hunters had seen the hare or rabbit scurry off, it was doomed if it was in Ernest's line of fire, he was always as agile as a monkey and now he was running almost as fast as his dog, baying like him, to pick up the dead creature by its hind legs and display it from far away to Daniel and Jacques, who arrived jubilant and out of breath. Jacques opened wide the game bag to receive the new trophy before setting off again, staggering under the sun his master, and so, for hours without end on a land without boundaries, his head lost in the unremitting light and the immense space of the sky, Jacques felt himself to be the richest of children. As the hunters returned toward the place where they were to meet for lunch, they kept an eye out for any opportunity, but their hearts were no longer in it. They were dragging their feet, they were mopping their brows, they were hungry. They arrived two by two, showing their prizes to each other from a distance, deriding the empty game bags, declaring that the same ones were always empty, all recounting their catches at the same time, each having some special detail to add. But the great braggart was Ernest, who finally got the floor and mimed, with an accuracy that Jacques and Daniel were well placed to judge, the way the partridges took off, and the scurrying rabbit zigzagged twice then rolled on his back like a rugby player making a try from behind the goal. Meanwhile the methodical Pierre poured anisette in the metal goblets he had collected from each person and went to fill them with fresh water at the spring trickling by the edge of the pines. They improvised a makeshift table with dish-towels, and each one brought out his provisions. But Ernest, who was talented as a cook (summertime fishing expeditions always began with a bouillabaisse that he would put together on the spot and that he spiced so generously it would have burned the tongue off a tortoise), whittled some sticks until they were sharp, speared pieces of the sobrasada he had brought, and grilled them over a little wood fire till they burst and a red liquid dripped on the embers where it sizzled and caught fire. He put the scorching hot and fragrant sausages between two pieces of bread and handed them to the others, who greeted them with exclamations and devoured them, washed down with rose wine they had cooled in the spring. Then there was laughter, and stories about their jobs, and jokes, but Jacques, who was dirty and worn out, his mouth and hands sticky, was barely listening because he was falling asleep. But, in fact, all of them were sleepy, and for some time they drowsed, gazing vacantly at the distant plain under its haze of heat, or else, like Ernest, they went sound asleep, each with a handkerchief covering his face. However, at four o'clock they had to start down to catch the train, which would come at half past five. Now they were in their compartment, crammed together in fatigue, the worn-out dogs under the seats or between the men's legs, bloodthirsty dreams running through their heavy sleep. The day was beginning to fade at the edges of the plain; then it was the brief African twilight, and the night, always disturbing on those wide-open spaces, would fall without transition. Later on, in the station, they were in a hurry to get home to eat and go to bed early for the next day's work, so they parted quickly in the dark, almost without words but with great friendly backslapping. Jacques heard them moving away, he listened to their warm rough voices, he loved them. Then he fell in step with Ernest, whose pace was still spirited, while his own feet were dragging. Near their home, Ernest turned to him in the dark street: "You happy?" Jacques did not answer. Ernest laughed and whistled to his dog. But, a few steps farther, the child slipped his small hand in the hard calloused hand of his uncle, who squeezed it very hard. And so they went home in silence. a bErnest was, however, subject to an anger as immediate and wholehearted as his pleasures. The impossibility of reasoning or even talking with him made his rages seem like a natural phenomenon. You see a storm gathering, you wait for it to break. Nothing else to do. Like many deaf people, Ernest had a very well-developed sense of smell (except when it concerned his dog). This privileged condition brought him great delights, as when he inhaled the odor of split-pea soup or those dishes he loved above all others, squid in its ink, sausage omelet, or the stew of innards made with beef heart and lung, the bourguignon of the poor, which was the grandmother's great success, and often appeared on their table because it was cheap; or on Sundays when he would sprinkle himself with cheap eau de cologne or the lotion known as [Pompero] (that Jacques's mother also used), its mild and lemony bergamot-based scent always lingered in the dining room and in Ernest's hair, and he would sniff deeply at the bottle with an air of rap- a. Tolstoy or Gorki (I) The Father From that background came Dostoevsky (II) The Son which returning to its origins gives the writer of the period (III) The Mother b. M. Germain,the lyc?(c)e,religion,death of the grandmother,End with Ernest's hand? ture .. . But his sensitivity in this regard also caused him trouble. He would not tolerate certain odors that could not be detected by the normal nose. For example, he had gotten in the habit of sniffing his plate before beginning his meal, and he would turn red with anger when he discovered what he claimed was the smell of egg. The grandmother would then take the suspect plate, sniff it, declare that she smelled nothing there, and hand it to her daughter for her opinion. Catherine Cormery would pass her delicate nose over the porcelain, and, without even sniffing, say softly that no, it didn't smell. They sniffed the other plates in order better to form a definitive judgment, except those of the children, who ate from iron dishes. (The reasons for that matter were a mystery, lack of china perhaps, or, as the grandmother once stated, to save breakage, though neither he nor his brother was clumsy with his hands. But family traditions are often no more soundly based, and ethnologists certainly make me laugh when they seek the reasons for so many mysterious rituals. The real mystery, in many cases, is that there is no reason at all.) Then the grandmother would pronounce the verdict: it did not smell. In truth she never would have decided otherwise, especially if it was she who did the dishes the night before. She would not have given an inch on her honor as a housekeeper. But that was when Ernest's real anger exploded, and all the more so because he could not find the words to express his conviction.a One had to let the a. microtragedies tempest run its course, whether he sulked instead of eating, or picked with a disgusted air at his plate, though the grandmother had changed it, or even left the table and stormed out declaring that he was going to a restaurant; in fact he had never set foot in that kind of place, nor had anyone in their home, although when any dissatisfaction was expressed at the table, the grandmother would never fail to pronounce the fateful line: "Go to a restaurant." From that time on the restaurant appeared to all to be one of those sinful and falsely alluring places where everything seems easy provided you can afford it, but where the very first guilty delights it dispenses will one day or another be dearly paid for by your stomach. In any event the grandmother never responded to her youngest child's anger. On the one hand because she knew it was useless, on the other because she had always had an odd weakness for him, which Jacques, once he had done some reading, attributed to the fact that Ernest was handicapped (though we have so many examples of parents who, despite our preconceptions, will turn away from the handicapped child), and which he better understood one day much later when, catching a tenderness he had never seen in his grandmother's usually hard eyes, he turned to see his uncle putting on the jacket of his Sunday outfit. The dark cloth made him look even more slender, his features were delicate and youthful, he was freshly shaved and his hair carefully combed, and for once he was wearing a fresh collar and a tie,he had the look of a Greek shepherd in holiday dress,and Jacques saw his uncle as he really was, which was very handsome. And then he understood that his grandmother's love for her son was physical, that, like everyone, she was in love with the grace and strength of Ernest, and her weakness for him that had seemed unusual was after all very common; it softens us all more or less, and delightfully so besides, and helps make the world bearable,it is our weakness for beauty. Jacques also remembered another of Uncle Ernest's rages, this one more serious since it almost ended in a fistfight with Uncle Josephin, the one who worked for the railroad. Josephin did not sleep at his mother's home (and indeed where would he have slept?). He had a room in the neighborhood (where he had never actually invited any of the family and which Jacques, for example, had never seen) and took his meals with his mother, to whom he paid a small amount for his board. Josephin was as different from his brother as he could be. Ten years older, with a short moustache and a crew cut, he was also more stolid, more reserved, and especially more calculating. Ernest often accused him of avarice. Actually he expressed it more simply: "He Mzabite." To him the Mzabites were the neighborhood grocers; they did in fact come from Mzab, and for many years they would live behind their shops, which smelled of oil and cinnamon, living without wives on next to nothing in order to support their families in the five towns of Mzab, out in the desert, where this tribe of heretics, puritans of Islam, persecuted unto death by the orthodox, had landed centuries ago, in a place they had chosen because they were quite sure no one would fight them for it, there being nothing there but stone,it was as far from the half-civilized world of the coast as a lifeless cratered planet might be from the earth; there they did in fact settle and build five towns around stingy waterholes, and conceived this strange ascetic life of sending their able-bodied men to the coast to engage in business in order to support this creation of the spirit and the spirit alone, until those men could be replaced by others and return to their earth-and-mud-fortified towns to enjoy the kingdom they had at last won for their faith. Thus the sparse lives and the avarice of these Mzabites could only be judged in the light of their profound aims. But the working-class people of the neighborhood, who knew nothing of Islam and its heresies, saw only the surface. And for Ernest, or anyone else, to call his brother a Mzabite was the same as comparing him to Harpagon.1 Josephin was in fact pretty close with his money, in contrast to Ernest, who, according to the grandmother, was "openhanded." (It is true that when she was in a fury with him, she would accuse him of letting money run through the fingers of that same hand.) But beyond their different natures was the fact that Josephin earned a little bit more than Ernest and it is always easier to be extravagant when you have nothing. Few indeed are those who continue to be openhanded after they have acquired the means for it. Such as these are princes among men, before whom one must bow down. Certainly Josephin was not rolling in money, but in addition to his salary, which he managed 1. Protagonist of Moliere's The Miser,Trans. with care (he practiced the so-called envelope system, but, too cheap to buy real envelopes, he would make them out of newspapers or grocery bags), he made extra money with some small well-calculated deals. Working for the railroad, he was entitled to travel free once every two weeks. So every other Sunday he would take the train into what was called the "interior",that is, the bush,and he would go around the Arab farms buying eggs, scrawny chickens or rabbits at low cost. He would bring back this merchandise and sell it to his neighbors at a fair profit. His life was well ordered in every aspect. He was not known to have a woman. In any case, between his week of work and his Sundays devoted to trade, he lacked the time needed to pursue sensual pleasures. But he had always proclaimed that at forty he would marry a well-placed woman. Until then he would stay in his room, amassing money and continuing to live part time at his mother's. Strange as it seemed, given his lack of charm, he nonetheless carried out his plan as he had said, and married a piano teacher who was far from ugly and who, with her furniture, brought him at least a few years of bourgeois bliss. It is true that Josephin ended up keeping the furniture and not the wife. But that was another story, and all Josephin had not foreseen was that after his quarrel with Ernest he would not be able to take his meals with his mother but would have to resort to the costly delights of the restaurant. Jacques no longer remembered the origin of the drama. Obscure feuds sometimes would divide his family, and in truth no one could sort out their causes, especially because all of them were so lacking in memory that no one could recall the reasons for the feud but would confine themselves to keeping alive consequences they had accepted and digested once and for all. About that day, all he could remember was Ernest standing at the table in the middle of the meal shouting insults, incomprehensible other than "Mzabite," at his brother, who remained seated and went on eating. Then Ernest struck his brother, who got up and fell back before coming at him. But the grandmother was already hanging on to Ernest, and Jacques's mother, white with emotion, was pulling at Josephin from behind. "Let him be, let him be," she was saying, and the two children, their faces pale and their mouths open, watched motionless and listened to the flood of enraged curses that were all flowing in one direction until Josephin said sullenly, "He's a dumb animal. You can't do anything to him," and circled the table while the grandmother held on to Ernest, who wanted to run after his brother. Ernest was still struggling after the door had slammed. "Let me go, let me go," he said to his mother. "I'll hurt you." But she had seized him by the hair and was shaking him: "You, you, you'd hit your mother?" And Ernest dropped into his chair sobbing, "No, no, not you. You like the good Lord for me!" Jacques's mother went to bed without finishing her meal, and the next day she had a headache. From that day on, Josephin never returned home, except once in a while when he was sure Ernest was not there, to visit his mother. aThere was another rage Jacques did not like to recall because he himself did not want to know its cause. For quite a while a certain M. Antoine, with whom Ernest was vaguely acquainted,a fishmonger in the market, of Maltese origin, quite handsome in bearing, slender and tall, who always wore a strange dark derby and at the same time a checkered bandanna that he rolled and knotted around his neck inside his shirt, would come by their home regularly before dinner. Thinking about it later, Jacques saw what had not struck him at the time, that his mother was dressing a bit more smartly; she was wearing brightly colored aprons, and you could even see a hint of rouge on her cheeks. This was also the time when women were beginning to cut their hair, which until then they had worn long. Jacques liked to watch his mother or his grandmother perform the ceremony of combing and fixing her hair. With a napkin around the shoulders and a mouth full of hairpins, they would comb their waist-length hair for a long time, then put it up, pull a headband very tight around the bun at the nape of the neck, riddle it with hairpins that they would withdraw one at a time from the mouth, their lips parted and teeth clenched, and would stick one by one in the thick mass of the bun. The new style seemed both ridiculous and shameful to the grandmother, who, underestimating the true power of fashion, declared without bothering a. The household of Ernest, Catherine after the death of the grandmother. about logic that only women who "walked the streets" would let themselves so be made ridiculous. His mother had taken that for granted, and yet a year later, at about the time Antoine was calling, she came home one evening with her hair cut, looking fresh and rejuvenated; she said, outwardly cheerful but behind it one could sense her anxiety, that she had wanted to give them a surprise. It was a surprise indeed to the grandmother, who, eyeing her from head to foot and contemplating this irremediable disaster, merely said to her, in front of her son, that now she looked like a whore. Then she went back to her kitchen. Catherine Cormery stopped smiling, and all the sorrow and weariness of the world appeared on her face. Then she saw her son's intent expression, and tried to smile again, but her lips trembled and she dashed weeping to her bedroom, to the bed that was her only refuge for rest, for solitude, and for sorrow. Jacques, bewildered, went to her. She had buried her face in the pillow; her neck, exposed by her short curls, and her thin back were shaking with sobs. "Maman, maman, " Jacques said, touching her timidly with his hand. "You're very beautiful like this." But she had not heard him, and with her hand she asked him to leave her. He retreated to the doorway and, leaning against the jamb, he too began to weep with helplessness and love.* For the next several days the grandmother did not * tears of helpless love speak a word to her daughter. At the same time, An-toine was received more coolly when he called. Ernest, especially, kept a distant manner. Though he was a swell and a smooth talker, Antoine could certainly sense something. What was going on? Several times Jacques saw signs of tears in his mother's beautiful eyes. Ernest would usually remain silent and would scuffle with Bril-lant. One summer evening, Jacques noticed that his uncle seemed to be watching something from the balcony. "Is Daniel coming?" the child asked. His uncle grunted. And suddenly Jacques saw Antoine arrive after not having come for several days. Ernest rushed out, and a few seconds later muffled sounds came up the stairs. Jacques dashed out and saw the two men fighting silently in the dark. Ernest, heedless of the blows he was taking, was striking and striking with fists hard as iron, and a moment later Antoine rolled down the stairs, got up with his mouth bloody, and took out a handkerchief to wipe off the blood, all the while keeping his eyes on Ernest, who went off like a madman. When he went back inside, Jacques found his mother sitting in the dining room, not moving, her face still. He also sat down without speaking.a And then Ernest came back, grumbling curses, and darted a furious look at his sister. Dinner took place as usual, except that his mother did not eat; she simply said "I'm not hungry" when her mother insisted. Once the meal was over, she went to a. bring on much earlier,fight not Lucien. her room. During the night, Jacques woke up and heard her turn over in her bed. Starting the following day, she went back to her black or gray dresses, nothing but the clothing of the poor. Jacques found her just as beautiful, even more beautiful for being more distant and absent in spirit, now that she was settled forever in poverty, in solitude, and in old age soon to come.a For a long time Jacques held a grudge against his uncle, without knowing just what he was blaming him for. But, at the same time, he knew he could not hold him to blame, and that if the poverty, the infirmities, the elemental need in which all his family lived did not excuse everything, in any case they made it impossible to pass judgment on those who were its victims. They hurt each other without wanting to, just because each represented to the others the cruel and demanding necessity of their lives. And, in any event, he could not doubt his uncle's animal-like devotion first of all to the grandmother and then to Jacques's mother and her children. He had felt that devotion to himself the day of the accident at the cooperage.b Jacques went to the cooperage every Thursday. If he had any homework, he would dash it off rapidly, and then run very fast to the workshop, going as gaily as he would on a. for old age would come,at the time Jacques thought his mother was old and she was barely the age he was now, but youth is above all a collection of possibilities, and for him to whom life had been generous .. . [passage crossed out,Ed.] b. put cooperage before rages and maybe even at beginning profile Ernest. other days when he went to meet his playmates of the streets. The barrel works was near the parade grounds. It was a yard cluttered with rubbish, old hoops, slag, and extinguished fires. At one side had been erected a sort of roof of bricks supported at regular intervals by pillars made of rubble. The five or six artisans worked under that roof. Each one was supposed to have his own area: a workbench against the wall and in front of it a space where the barrels and wine casks could be assembled, and, separating it from the next area, a sort of bench with a rather large slot cut in it into which the barrelhead was slid and then shaped by hand with a tool that resembled a chopping knife,* but with the sharp side facing the man who held it by its two handles. Actually this layout was not evident at first glance. Certainly that was how it had been originally designed, but little by little the benches were moved around, hoops piled up between the workbenches, cases of rivets lay here and there, and it took lengthy observation or, which amounted to the same thing, a long stay to see that everything each artisan did took place in his separate area. Before he reached the shop carrying his uncle's snack, Jacques could recognize the sound of hammering on the hoop-drivers that drove the metal hoops down around the barrel after the staves had been put in place, and the worker pounded one end of the driver while deftly moving its other end all around the * look up the name of the tool hoop,or else Jacques would guess from a louder, less frequent sound that someone was riveting a hoop fastened in the shop's vise. When he arrived in the midst of the hammering racket, he was greeted joyfully and the dance of the hammers would resume. Ernest, dressed in old patched blue pants, espadrilles covered with sawdust, a sleeveless gray flannel shirt, and a faded old tarboosh that protected his handsome hair from dust and shavings, would embrace him and suggest that he help out. Sometimes Jacques would hold the hoop in place on the anvil where it was wedged while his uncle would drive the rivets in with mighty blows. The hoop vibrated in Jacques's hands, and with each blow of the hammer would dig into his palms,or else while Ernest seated himself astride one end of the bench, Jacques sat the same way at the other end, holding the bottom of the barrel while Ernest shaped it. But what he liked best was bringing the staves out to the middle of the yard for Ernest to assemble roughly, keeping them in place with a hoop. In this barrel, open at both ends, Ernest would place a pile of shavings that it was Jacques's responsibility to set on fire. The fire caused the iron to expand more than the wood, and Ernest would take advantage of that to drive the hoop down with great blows of his hammer and driver, while the smoke brought tears to their eyes. When the hoop had been driven in place, Jacques would bring big wooden buckets he had filled with water at the pump at the end of the yard, then move aside while Ernest threw the water hard against the barrel, thus chilling the hoop, which shrank so it bit deeper into the wood, softened by the water, all amidst a great blowing of steam.a At the break they left things as they were to have their snack, and the workers would gather, in winter around a fire of wood and shavings, in summer in the shade of the roof. There was Abder, the Arab laborer who wore Arab pantaloons, the seat hanging in folds and the legs ending in mid-calf, a tarboosh, and an old jacket over a tattered sweater, and who in an odd accent called Jacques "my colleague" because when he helped his uncle he was doing the same work as the Arab. The boss, M. [ ],1 was actually an old barrelmaker who with his helpers filled orders for a bigger, nameless cooperage. An Italian worker who was always sad and always had a cold. And especially the joyful Daniel, who always took Jacques aside to joke and play with him. Jacques would make his escape, wander around the shop,his black apron covered with sawdust, bare feet in worn-out sandals if it was hot, covered with earth and shavings,savoring the smell of sawdust, the fresher smell of the shavings, then come back to the fire to smack his lips over its delicious smoke, or else cautiously to try out the tool used to edge the barrel bottoms on a piece of wood he wedged in the vise, and he would delight in his manual skill, for which the workers would praise him. It was during one of these breaks that he foolishly a. finish the barrel 1. An illegible name. stood up on the bench with wet soles. Suddenly he slid forward while the bench tipped over backwards, and he fell with all his weight on the bench, his right hand squeezed under it. Immediately he felt a dull pain in his hand, but he stood up laughing for the workers who had come running over. But even before he had stopped laughing Ernest rushed to him, picked him up in his arms, and dashed out of the shop, running as fast he could and stammering: "To doctor, to doctor." Then Jacques saw the middle finger of his right hand had been completely squashed at the end into a shapeless dirty pulp that was dripping blood. His heart skipped a beat and he fainted. Five minutes later they were at the Arab doctor's who lived across the street from their home. "It's nothing, Doctor, nothing, eh?" said Ernest, white as a sheet. "Go wait next door," the doctor said. "He's going to be brave." He had to be; his strangely patched-up finger bore witness to that even today. But once the staples were inserted and it was bandaged, the doctor gave him a sweet drink and awarded him a badge for courage. Even so, Ernest wanted to carry him across the street and, in the stairs of their building, he embraced the child, sobbing and hugging him close till it hurt. "Maman," Jacques said, "someone's knocking at the door." "It's Ernest," his mother said. "Go open it for him. I lock it now because of the bandits." When he discovered Jacques on the doorstep, Ernest gave an exclamation of surprise, something that sounded like the English "how," and he straightened up and embraced him. Despite hair that was now entirely white, his face was surprisingly youthful, his features still regular and harmonious. But he was even more bowlegged, his shoulders completely rounded, and he walked swinging wide his arms and legs. "How are you?" Jacques said. Not so good, he had stitches, rheumatisms, it was going badly; and Jacques? Yes, all was well, he was in good shape, she (and he pointed to Catherine) was glad to see him. Since the grandmother had died and the children had left home, brother and sister had been living together and could not do without each other. He needed someone to look after him, and from that standpoint she was his wife, preparing meals, doing his laundry, caring for him when necessary. What she needed was not money, for her sons paid for her needs, but a man's companionship, and Ernest had been watching over her in his fashion for the years they had lived together; yes, like man and wife, not in the flesh but in the blood, helping each other to survive when their handicaps made life so difficult, carrying on a mute dialogue lit up from time to time by scraps of sentences, but more connected and better informed about each other than many normal couples. "Yes, yes," said Ernest. "Jacques, Jacques, always she's saying." "Well, here I am," said Jacques. And here he was indeed, he was with the two of them as he used to be; he was never able to talk to them and he had never stopped loving them, them above all, and he cherished them all the more for his ability to love them when he had failed to love so many who deserved it. "And Daniel?" "He's all right, he's old like me. Pierrot his brother in prison." "What for?" "He says the union. Me, I think he's with the Arabs." And suddenly worried: "Say, the bandits, that's all right?" "No," said Jacques, "the other Arabs yes, the bandits no." "Right, I said to your mother the bosses too tough. It's crazy but bandits too much." "That's it," said Jacques. "But we have to do something for Pierrot." "Good, I'll tell Daniel." "And Donat?" (That was the man at the gasworks who boxed.) "He's dead. Cancer. We're all old." Yes, Donat was dead. And Aunt Marguerite, his mother's sister, was dead; that was where his grandmother would drag him on Sunday afternoons, and he was horribly bored, except when Uncle Michel, a teamster,who was also bored by these conversations in the dark dining room, over bowls of black coffee on the oilcloth table covering,would take him to his nearby stable, and there, in the shadowy light, while the afternoon sun was still warming the streets outside, first Jacques would smell the good smell of horsehair, of straw and manure, hear the harness chains rattle against the wooden manger, the horses turning their long-lashed eyes to him, and Uncle Michel, tall and spare with a long moustache, who himself smelled of straw, would lift him onto one of the horses that would placidly plunge his nose back into the manger and crunch his oats, while his uncle gave the child some carobs, which he chewed and sucked with delight, full of friendship for this uncle who in his mind was always associated with horses, and it was with him that they went with the whole family on Easter Monday for a mouna treat to the Sidi-Ferruch forest, and Michel rented one of those horse-drawn trams that ran between the district where they lived and downtown Algiers, a big sort of latticework cage equipped with back-to-back benches, to which the horses were harnessed, the lead horse chosen by Michel from his stable, and early in the morning they loaded the tram with big laundry baskets filled with the coarse brioches called "mounas" and the light crumbly pastries called "oreil-lettes" that all the women of the house made at Aunt Marguerite's over the two days before the outing, flattening out the dough with a rolling pin on the oilcloth dusted with flour till it covered almost the entire cloth, then, with a small boxwood cutter, cutting out the pastries that the children would carry on plates to be dropped into big copper basins full of boiling oil, then to be carefully set in rows in the big laundry baskets, from which would come the exquisite odor of vanilla that accompanied them all the way to Sidi-Ferruch, mingling with the smell of the surf that rose from the sea to the shore road, vigorously inhaled by the four horses over which Michela would crack his whip, which he handed occasionally to Jacques beside him. Jacques was fascinated by the four enormous rumps rocking before him with a great noise of bells or else opening as the tail went up and he would see the savory dung form then drop to the ground while the horseshoes sparked and the bells rang faster as the horses tossed their heads. In the forest, while the others settled the baskets and dishtowels under the trees, Jacques helped Michel rub down the horses and fasten around their necks the gray-brown canvas nose bags, in which the horses chomped their jaws, opening and closing their large brotherly eyes or chasing away a fly with an impatient hoof. The forest was full of people; they ate side by side while here and there people were dancing to the sound of an accordion or a guitar, and the sea was rumbling nearby,it was never hot enough to swim, but always enough to go barefoot in the shallowest waves,while others were taking their siesta, and the imperceptible softening of the light made the reaches of the sky still more vast, so vast that the child felt tears coming to his eyes along with a great cry of joy and gratitude for this wonderful life. But Aunt Marguerite was dead, she was so beautiful, and always stylish,too coquettish, people said,but she had not been wrong, for diabetes would soon nail her to her armchair, and she would begin to swell up in that neglected apartment a. bring Michel back during the Orleansville earthquake. until she was so enormous, so bloated she could hardly breathe, so ugly it was frightening, and around her were her daughters and her lame son who was a cobbler, all watching sick at heart to see whether her breath would fail her.a b She grew fatter still, stuffed with insulin, and at the end her breath did give out.c But Aunt Jeanne was dead too, the grandmother's sister, the one who attended the Sunday afternoon concerts and who held out for a long time in her whitewashed farmhouse with her three war-widowed daughters, always talking about her husband, who had died long since.d Uncle Joseph, who only spoke the Mahon dialect and whom Jacques admired for the white hair topping his handsome pink face and the black sombrero he wore, even at the dinner table, with an inimitably noble air, a real peasant patriarch, who nonetheless would occasionally lift himself slightly during the meal to let loose an incongruous sound, for which he would courteously excuse himself in response to his wife's resigned reproaches. And his grandmother's neighbors, the Massons, they were all dead, the old woman first and then the older sister, the tall Alexandra and [ ]1 the a. Book six in the second part. b. And Francis was dead too (see latest notes) c. Denise leaves home at eighteen to be a prostitute,Comes back rich at twenty-one, sells her jewels, does over her father's whole stable,killed by an epidemic d. the daughters? 1. Illegible name. brother with the ears that stuck out, who was a contortionist and sang at the matinees at the Alcazar movie house. All of them, yes, even the youngest daughter, Marthe, whom his brother Henri had courted and more than courted. No one never ever talked about them. Neither his mother nor his uncle ever spoke of the departed relatives. Nor of the father whose traces he was seeking, nor of the others. They went on living in poverty, though they were no longer in need, but they were set in their ways, and they looked on life with a resigned suspicion; they loved it as animals do, but they knew from experience that it would regularly give birth to disaster without even showing any sign that it was carrying it.a And then, the way these two were with him, silent and drawn in on themselves, empty of memories and only holding on to a few blurred images; they lived now in proximity to death,that is always in the present. Never would he learn from them who his father had been, and even though by their presence alone they reopened springs within him reaching back to his poor and happy childhood, he could not be sure whether these very rich memories gushing out of him were really faithful to the child he had been. It was far more certain, on the contrary, that he was left with two or three favorite pictures that joined him to them, made him one with them, that blotted out what he had tried to be for so many years a. but are they after all aliens? (no, he was the a.) and reduced him to the blind anonymous being that for so many years had survived through his family and that made him truly distinctive. The picture, for example, of those hot evenings when after dinner the whole family would take chairs down to the sidewalk in front of the door to the building, where the air coming down from the dust-covered ficus trees was hot and dusty, while the people of the neighborhood came and went in front of them, and Jacques,a with his head on his mother's thin shoulder, leaning back a little in his chair, would gaze up through the branches at the stars of the summer sky; or that other picture of the Christmas night when, coming home from Aunt Marguerite's after midnight without Ernest, they saw a man lying in front of the restaurant near their door, with another man dancing around him. The two men had been drinking and had wanted to drink some more. The owner, a frail young blond man, had told them to leave. They had kicked his pregnant wife. And the owner fired a shot. The bullet lodged in the man's right temple. Now on the sidewalk that head was resting on the wound. Drunk on alcohol and fright, the other man had started dancing around him, and while the restaurant closed up, everyone fled before the police arrived. And in that out-of-the-way corner of the neighborhood where they stood squeezed together, the two women holding the children tight against them, a rare beam of light gleaming on the street slick with re- a. humble and proud sovereign of the beauty of the night. cent rainfall, the long wet tracks of cars, the occasional arrival of the noisy brightly lit trolleys full of joyous travelers indifferent to this scene from another world, all this engraved on Jacques's terrified heart an image that until now had survived all others: the sweet and persistent image of the neighborhood where he reigned all day long, innocent and eager, but which the ending of the days would turn suddenly mysterious and disturbing, when the streets would begin to be peopled with shadows,or rather, a single anonymous shadow would sometimes emerge, accompanied by soft footsteps and the indistinct sound of voices, and be bathed in the blood-red splendor a pharmacy's globe light, and the child would be suddenly filled with dread and would run to his wretched home to be back among his own. 6A : School1 aThis man had never known his father, but he often spoke to Jacques of him in a rather mythological way, and in any case at a critical time he knew how to take the father's role. That is why Jacques had never forgotten him, as if, having never really felt the lack of a father he had never known, he had nonetheless subconsciously recognized, first as a child, then during the rest of his life, the one paternal act,both well thought out and crucial,that had affected his life as a child. For M. Bernard, his teacher for the year of the certificat d'etudes,2 had at a given moment used all his weight as a man to change the destiny of this child in his charge, and he had in fact changed it. Right now M. Bernard was facing Jacques in his small 1. See appendix, sheet II, pp. 286,87, that the author inserted between pages 68 and 69 of the manuscript. a. Transition from 6? 2. The last year of elementary school, and at the time the last year of compulsory public education,Trans. apartment in the winding streets of the Rovigo, almost at the foot of the Casbah, a district that overlooked the city and the sea, occupied by small shopkeepers of all races and all religions, where the homes smelled at once of spices and of poverty. He was there, grown old, his hair more sparse, old-age splotches under the now glassy tissue of his cheeks and hands, moving more slowly than in the old days, and visibly glad when he could sit back down in his rattan armchair, by the window that faced the street of shops, where a canary was chirping; age had also softened him and he let his feelings show, which he had not done before, but he was still erect, his voice strong and firm, as it had been back when, standing before his class, he would say: "In line two by two. By two! I didn't say by five!" And the scrambling would stop; the pupils, who both feared and adored M. Bernard, would line up along the wall outside the classroom, in the second-floor corridor, until, when the rows were at last still and straight, and the children quiet, a "Come in now, you bunch of tramousses " would liberate them and give them the signal to move but at a more subdued pace, which M. Bernard, robust, elegantly dressed, his strong face with its regular features crowned by hair that was thinning but still smooth, smelling of cologne, would watch over with good-natured strictness. The school was located in a relatively new part of that old neighborhood, among two- and three-story houses built not long after the war of 1870 and more recent warehouses that eventually connected the main street of the neighborhood, where Jacques's home was, to the inner harbor and the coaling docks. So Jacques went on foot twice a day to that building he had begun attending at the age of four, when he went to nursery school, about which he remembered nothing except a dark stone lavatory that took up one whole end of the covered playground where he landed one day headfirst, got up all bloody with a cut eyebrow, amidst the panic of teachers, and it was then he became acquainted with medical staples and, in fact, his had hardly been removed when they had to put one on his other eyebrow, his brother having conceived the idea of dressing him up at home in an old bowler that blinded him and an old coat that hobbled his feet, with the result that he wound up with his head hitting a loose tile and was covered with blood once again. But now he was going to nursery school with Pierre, who was a year or almost so older, who lived in a nearby street with his mother, also a war widow and now working in the post office, and two of his uncles who worked on the railroad. Their families were vaguely friends, or,the way people are in these neighborhoods,they valued one another but hardly ever exchanged visits, and they were firmly resolved to help each other out but almost never had the occasion to do so. Only the children had really become friends, from that first day when Jacques was still wearing a dress and was entrusted to Pierre, who was aware that he was wearing pants and had responsibilities as the older boy, the two children went together to nursery school. They then went through every grade together up to the year of the certificat d'etudes, which Jacques entered at the age of nine. For five years they made the same journey four times a day, one blond, the other brown-haired, one placid, the other hot-blooded, destined from the beginning to be friends, good students both and also tireless at play. Jacques shone more in some subjects, but his conduct, his flightiness, and his desire to show off were forever leading him into all sorts of foolish behavior, and this gave the advantage back to the more sober and discreet Pierre. So they alternated at the head of the class, but, in contrast to their families, they did not think to take pride in this. Their pleasures were different. Each morning, Jacques would wait for Pierre outside his house. They would leave before the passage of the scavengers,or more precisely a cart drawn by a broken-kneed horse driven by an old Arab. The sidewalk was still moist from the humidity of the night, the air coming from the sea tasted of salt. Pierre's street, which led to the market, was dotted with garbage cans that famished Arabs or Moors, or sometimes an old Spanish tramp, had pried open at dawn to see if there was still something to be retrieved from what poor and thrifty families had so disdained they would throw it away. The lids of these cans were usually off, and by this hour of the morning the neighborhood's thin vigorous cats had taken the place of the ragged people. The idea was for the two children to creep up to the garbage can so noiselessly that they could suddenly slap the lid down on the cat inside. This exploit was not easy, for cats born and raised in a poor district were as vigilant and agile as animals used to fighting for their right to live. But sometimes, hypnotized by an appetizing find that was hard to extract from the pile of garbage, a cat would let itself be caught unawares. The lid would slam noisily down, the cat would give a terrified howl, convulsively arch its back and claws, and manage to raise the roof of its zinc prison, then scramble out, its hair standing on end with fear, and tear off as if there were a pack of hounds at its heels,to bursts of laughter from its tormentors, who were hardly aware of their cruelty.a To tell the truth, these tormentors were also inconsistent, for they directed their hatred at the dogcatcher, nicknamed "Galoufa"1 (which in Spanish . . .) by the neighborhood children. This municipal employee operated at about this same time of day, but if necessary he would also come around in the afternoon. He was an Arab in European dress who was usually stationed at the rear of a strange cart drawn by two horses and driven by an impassive old Arab. The body of this cart consisted of a kind of cube made of wood, with a double row of cages with strong bars installed along each side. It included a total of sixteen cages that could each hold a dog, that would then find itself squeezed between the bars and the back of the cage. Since the dogcatcher was perched on a little running board at the back of the cart, his nose was even with the roof of the cages and thus he would survey his hunting grounds. The cart rolled slowly through wet streets that were beginning to be peopled by children on their way to school, housewives in flannelette housecoats decorated with garish flowers a. Exoticism pea soup. 1. The name originated with the first person to take this position and who was in fact named Galoufa. going for their bread or milk, and Arab peddlers returning to the market, their little folded stands over one shoulder, holding in the other hand enormous hampers of braided straw that contained their merchandise. And suddenly, at a word from the dogcatcher, the old Arab would pull back on the reins and the cart would stop. The dogcatcher had spotted one of his wretched victims digging feverishly in a garbage can, glancing back frantically at regular intervals, or else trotting rapidly along a wall with the hurried and anxious look of an undernourished dog. Galoufa then seized from the top of the cart a leather rod with a chain that ran through a ring down the handle. He moved toward the animal at the supple, rapid, and silent pace of a trapper, and when he had caught up with the beast, if it was not wearing the collar that proves membership in a good family, he would run at it, in a sudden burst of astonishing speed, and put his weapon around the dog's neck, so that it served as an iron and leather lasso. Suddenly strangled, the animal struggled wildly while making inarticulate groans. But the man quickly dragged [it] to the cart, opened one of the cage doors, lifted the dog, strangling it more and more, and shoved it into the cage, making sure to put the handle of his lasso through the bars. Once the dog was captured, he loosened the iron chain and freed the neck of the now imprisoned animal. At least that is how things happened when the dog was not under the protection of the neighborhood children. For they were all in league against Galoufa. They knew the captured dogs were taken to the municipal pound, kept for three days, after which, if no one claimed them, the animals were put to death. And if they had not known it, the pitiful spectacle of that death cart returning after a fruitful journey, loaded with wretched animals of all colors and sizes, terrified behind their bars and leaving behind the vehicle a trail of cries and mortal howls, would have been enough to rouse the children's indignation. So, as soon as the prison van appeared in the area, the children would alert each other. They would scatter throughout the streets of the neighborhood, they too hunting down the dogs, but in order to chase them off to other parts of the city, far from the terrible lasso. If despite these precautions the dogcatcher found a stray dog in their presence, as happened several times to Pierre and Jacques, their tactics were always the same. Before the dogcatcher could get close enough to his quarry, Jacques and Pierre would start screaming "Galoufa! Galoufa!" in voices so piercing and so terrifying that the dog would flee as fast as he could and would soon be out of reach. Now it was the children's turn to prove their skill as sprinters, for the unfortunate Galoufa, who was paid a bounty for each dog he caught, was wild with anger, and he would chase them brandishing his leather rod. The grown-ups usually helped them escape, either by hindering Galoufa or by stopping him outright and telling him to stick to his dogs. The workingmen of the neighborhood were all hunters and as a rule liked dogs; they had no respect for this strange occupation. As Uncle Ernest would say: "He loafer!" The old Arab who drove the cart presided silent and impassive over all the fuss, or, if the arguments stretched out, would calmly start rolling a cigarette. Whether they had captured cats or saved dogs, the children would then hasten,wearing short capes for the wind if it was winter, their leather sandals (known as "mevas") flapping if it was summer,toward school and work. While crossing the market, they would glance quickly at the displays of fruit, mountains of oranges and tangerines, of medlars, apricots, peaches, tangerines,1 melons, and watermelons rushing past them, of which they would get to taste only the least expensive, and that in small quantities; two or three turns at jousting on the broad shiny rim of the basin at the waterspout, and they would go alongside the warehouses on Boulevard Thiers, where they would be hit in the face with the smell of oranges coming from factories that peeled them to make liqueurs with their rinds; up a small street of gardens and villas, and they would come out finally on rue Aumerat into a swarm of children who, while chattering away at each other, were waiting for the doors to open. Then came class. With M. Bernard, this class was always interesting for the simple reason that he loved his work with a passion. Outside, the sun might blare on the tawny walls while the heat crackled in the classroom itself, though it was shaded by awnings with big yellow and white stripes. Or the rain might fall, as it does in Algeria, in endless deluges, making a wet dark well of the street, but the class was hardly distracted. Only the flies during a storm could sometimes divert the children's at- 1. sic tention. They would be captured and grounded in the inkwells, where they suffered a hideous death, drowned in the purple ink that filled the little cone-shaped wells that were set in holes in the table. But M. Bernard's method, which consisted of strict control on behavior while at the same time making his teaching lively and entertaining, would win out over even the flies. He always knew the right moment to bring from his treasure chest the mineral collection, the herbarium, the mounted butterflies and insects, the maps or ... to revive his pupils' flagging interest. He was the only person in the school to have obtained a magic lantern, and twice a month he would do projections on some subject in natural history or geography. In arithmetic, he instituted a contest in mental calculation that forced the students to think quickly. He would put forth a problem to the class, all sitting with their arms folded, in division, or multiplication, or sometimes a somewhat complex addition. How much is 1,267 + 691? The first one to give the correct answer was awarded a plus that counted toward the monthly ranking. Besides, he used the textbooks with competence and accuracy . . . The texts were always those used in France. And these children, who knew only the sirocco, the dust, the short torrential cloudbursts, the sand of the beaches, and the sea in flames under the sun, would assiduously read,accenting the commas and periods,stories that to them were mythical, where children in hoods and mufflers, their feet in wooden shoes, would come home dragging bundles of sticks along snowy paths until they saw the snow-covered roof of the house where the smoking chimney told them the pea soup was cooking in the hearth. For Jacques, these stories were as exotic as they could possibly be. He dreamed about them, filled his compositions with descriptions of a world he had never seen, and was forever questioning his grandmother about a snowfall lasting one hour that had taken place in the Algiers area twenty years earlier. For him these stories were part of the powerful poetry of school, which was nourished also by the smell of varnished rulers and pen cases; the delicious taste of the strap on his satchel that he would chew on at length while laboring over his lessons; the sharp bitter smell of purple ink, especially when his turn came to fill the inkwells from a huge dark bottle with a cork through which a bent glass tube had been pushed, and Jacques would happily sniff the opening of the tube; the soft feel of the smooth glossy pages in certain books, which also gave off the good smell of print and glue; and, finally, on rainy days, the smell of wet wool that emanated from the wool coats at the back of the classroom and seemed to be a harbinger of that Garden of Eden where children in wooden shoes and woolen hoods ran through the snow to their warm homes. Only school gave Jacques and Pierre these joys. And no doubt what they so passionately loved in school was that they were not at home, where want and ignorance made life harder and more bleak, as if closed in on itself; poverty is a fortress without drawbridges. But it was not just that, for Jacques considered himself the most unfortunate of children when, to get rid of this tireless brat during vacations, his grandmother would send him to a holiday camp, with fifty or so other children and a handful of counselors, at Miliana in the Zaccar Mountains; there they lived in a school that had dormitories, ate and slept comfortably, played or wandered around all day long, watched over by some nice nurses, and despite all that, when evening came,when shadows rose so rapidly on the mountain slopes and from the neighboring barracks the bugle began to throw the melancholy notes of curfew into the enormous silence of this small town lost in the mountains, a hundred kilometers from any really traveled location,the child felt a limitless despair rising in him and in silence he cried for the destitute home of his entire childhood.a No, school did not just provide them an escape from family life. At least in M. Bernard's class, it fed a hunger in them more basic even to the child than to the man, and that is the hunger for discovery. No doubt they were taught many things in their other classes, but it was somewhat the way geese are stuffed: food was presented to them and they were asked to please swallow it. In M. Germain's1 class, they felt for the first time that they existed and that they were the objects of the highest regard: they were judged worthy to discover the world. And even their teacher did not devote himself just to what he was paid to teach them; he welcomed them with simplicity into his personal life, he lived that life with them, told them about his childhood and the a. stretch out and exalt secular school. 1. Here the author uses the teacher's real name. lives of children he had known, shared with them his philosophy but not his opinions, for though he was for example anti-clerical, like many of his colleagues, he never said a word against religion in class, nor against anything that could be the object of a choice or a belief, but he would condemn with all the more vigor those evils over which there could be no argument,theft, betrayal, rudeness, dirtiness. But most of all he talked to them about the war that was still recent, which he had fought for four years, and about the suffering of the soldiers, their courage and their endurance, and the joy of the armistice. At the end of each term, before sending them home for vacation, and from time to time when the schedule allowed him to, he would read them long excerpts from Dorgeles's Les Croix de Bois.a For Jacques these readings again opened the door to the exotic, but this time an exotic world stalked by fear and misfortune, although he never made any but a theoretical connection with the father he never knew. He just listened with all his heart to a story that his teacher read with all his heart and that spoke to him again of snow and his cherished winter, but also of a special kind of men, dressed in heavy cloth stiff with mud, who spoke a strange language and lived in holes under a ceiling of shells and flares and bullets. Pierre and he awaited each reading with ever-increasing impatience. That war everyone was still talking about (and Jacques listened silent but with ears wide open when a. see the book. [A novel of the First World War,Trans.] Daniel would tell in his own way about the Battle of the Marne, where he fought and he still did not know how he had come out alive when they, the Zouaves, he said, they were put out in front and then at the charge down a ravine they charged and there was no one ahead of them and they were advancing and all of a sudden the machine gunners when they were halfway down they were dropping one on top of the other and the bed of the ravine was all full of blood and the ones crying for maman it was awful) that the survivors could not forget and that cast its shadow over everything in the children's world and shaped all the ideas they had for fascinating stories more extraordinary than the fairy tales read in other classes, and that would have disappointed and bored them if M. Bernard had taken it into his head to change his curriculum. But he went on with it, funny scenes alternating with terrifying descriptions, and little by little the African children made the acquaintance . . . of x y z, who became part of their world; they talked about them among themselves as if they were old friends who were right there and so much alive that Jacques at least could not for a moment imagine that though they were living in the war, there was any chance they could be victims of it. And on the day at the end of the year when, as they arrived at the end of the book,* M. Bernard read them the death of D. in a subdued voice, when he closed the book in silence, facing his own memories and emotions, then raised his eyes to his silent, overwhelmed * novel class, he saw Jacques in the first row staring at him with his face bathed in tears and shaking with sobs that seemed as if they would never end. "Come come, child," M. Bernard said in a barely audible voice, and he stood up to return the book to the case, his back to the class. "Wait a minute, kiddo," M. Bernard said. Now he stood up with difficulty, ran his index finger over the bars of the cage, so that the canary chirped all the more: "Ah! Casi-mir, we're hungry, we're asking our father," and [got himself] to his little schoolboy's desk on the other side of the room, near the fireplace. He rummaged in a drawer, closed it, opened another, pulled out something. "Here," he said, "this is for you." Jacques received a book bound in grocery-store paper with no writing on its cover. Before he even opened it, he knew it was Les Croix de Bois, the very copy M. Bernard had read to the class. "No, no," he said, "it's . . ." He wanted to say: "it's too beautiful." He could not find the words. M. Bernard shook his old head. "You cried that last day, you remember? Since that day the book's belonged to you." And he turned away to hide his suddenly reddened eyes. He went back again to his desk, turned to Jacques with his hands behind his back, then, brandishing a short solid red ruler* in his face, he said, laughing, "You remember the 'sugar cane'?" * The punishments. "Oh, M. Bernard," said Jacques, "so you kept it! You know it's forbidden now." "Pooh, it was forbidden then too. But you're a witness that I used it!" Jacques was indeed a witness, for M. Bernard was in favor of corporal punishment. True, the everyday punishment only consisted of minus marks that he would deduct at the end of the month from the number of points accumulated by the pupil, thus bringing him down in his overall ranking. But in more serious cases M. Bernard did not bother to send the offender to the principal's office, as did many of his colleagues. He followed an unalterable ritual. "My poor Robert," he would say, calmly and still with good humor, "we shall have to resort to the 'sugar cane.' " No one in the class reacted (except to snicker behind his hand, according to the eternal rule of the human heart that the punishment of one is felt by the others as pleasure).a The child would stand, pale but in most cases trying to put a good face on it (some were already swallowing their tears when they left their table and headed toward the desk that M. Bernard was standing beside, in front of the blackboard). Still conforming to the ritual, and here there was a touch of sadism, Robert or Joseph had to go to the desk himself to get the "sugar cane" and present it to the sacrificer. The "sugar cane" was a red wood ruler, short and thick, spotted with ink, marred with nicks and slashes, a. or, what punishes one makes the others rejoice. that M. Bernard had long ago confiscated from some forgotten pupil; the boy would now hand it to M. Bernard, who usually received it with a mocking air, then held his legs apart. The child had to put his head between the knees of the teacher, who by tightening his thighs would hold him firmly. And on the buttocks thus presented, M. Bernard would inflict some solid blows with the ruler, the number varying according to the offense and equally divided between the two cheeks. Reactions to this punishment differed according to the pupil. Some began sobbing even before being hit, and the unfazed teacher would observe that they were getting ahead of themselves; others would naively try to protect their bottom with their hands, which M. Bernard would slap aside with a casual blow. Still others, smarting under the blows of the ruler, would buck desperately. There were also those, among them Jacques, who took the blows without a word, shivering, and returned to their places holding back a flood of tears. On the whole, however, this punishment was accepted without bitterness: first, because almost all these children were beaten at home and so physical punishment seemed to them a natural method of upbringing; then too because the teacher was absolutely fair, they all knew in advance which infractions, always the same ones, would result in the ceremony of atonement, and those who went beyond the limit of actions that resulted only in minus points knew the chance they were taking; and finally because the sentence was imposed with hearty impartiality on the best students as well as the worst. Jacques, whom M. Bernard obviously loved very much, suffered it like the rest, and he even had to undergo it the day after M. Bernard had publicly shown his preference for him. When Jacques at the blackboard had given a good answer and M. Bernard had patted his cheek and a voice in the classroom whispered, "teacher's pet," M. Bernard had pulled him close and said with a kind of solemnity: "Yes, I am partial to Cormery as I am to all those among you who lost their fathers in the war. I fought the war with their fathers and I survived. I try at least here to take the place of my dead comrades. And now if someone wants to say I have 'pets,' let him speak up!" This speech was received in absolute silence. At the end of the day, Jacques asked who had called him "teacher's pet." To take such an insult without responding would have meant a loss of honor. "I did," said Munoz, a big blond boy, rather flabby and insipid, who though undemonstrative had always shown his antipathy to Jacques. "All right," said Jacques. "Then your mother's a whore."a That too was a ritual insult that led immediately to battle, for to insult mothers and the dead had been from time immemorial the most serious of affronts known to the shores of the Mediterranean. Even so, Munoz hesitated. But a ritual is a ritual, and others spoke for him: "Come on, it's the green field." The green field was a sort of vacant lot, not far from the school, where sickly grass grew in scabby bunches, littered with old hoops, tin cans, and rotting barrels. This a. and your ancestors are whores. was where the donnades took place. A donnade was just a duel, with the fist taking the place of the sword, but obeying the same ceremonial rules, at least in spirit. Its aim was to settle a quarrel where the honor of one of the adversaries was at stake, either because someone had insulted his parents or his ancestors, or had belittled his nationality or his race, or had been informed on or had accused another of informing, had stolen or been accused of it, or else for the more obscure reasons that come up every day in a society of children. When a pupil reckoned, or especially when others reckoned for him (and he was aware of it), that he had been insulted in such a way that the offense must be compensated, the ritual statement was: "Four o'clock, at the green field." Once the declaration had been made, provocation ceased and all discussion ended. The two adversaries withdrew, followed by their friends. During the classes that followed, the news sped from bench to bench with the names of the principals, whom their classmates would watch out of the corner of their eyes and who therefore affected the calm and resolution appropriate to manliness. Inside it was another story, and even the most courageous were distracted from their work by the dread of seeing the moment approach when they would have to face violence. But the members of the enemy camp must not be given cause to snicker and to accuse the protagonist, according to the time-honored expression, of being "scared shitless." Jacques, having done his duty as a man by challenging Munoz, was certainly scared enough, as he was every time he put himself in a situation where he had to face violence and to deal it out. But he had made his decision, and in his mind there was never for an instant any question of backing out. This was the nature of things, and he knew also that the touch of nausea that would grip his heart beforehand would vanish at the moment of combat, swept away by his own violence, which in any event would hurt him tactically as much as it helped him .. . and had earned him at1 On the afternoon of the fight with Munoz everything took place according to ritual. The fighters were the first to arrive at the green field, followed by their supporters turned into seconds and already carrying the principals' satchels, and they in turn were followed by all those attracted to the fight, who closed a circle around the adversaries on the battlefield. The principals took off their short capes and jackets and handed them to their seconds. This time Jacques's impetuousness worked to his advantage. He attacked first, not very confidently, forcing Munoz to retreat; Munoz backed up in confusion, clumsily parrying his antagonist's fists, then landed a painful blow on Jacques's cheek that aroused a blind rage in him intensified by the shouts, the laughter, the encouragement of the crowd. He hurled himself at Munoz, rained blows on him with his fists, bewildering him, and was lucky enough to land a furious hook on the right eye of his unfortunate opponent, 1. The sentence ends there. who, completely off balance, fell pitifully on his back, one eye weeping and the other immediately swelling. The black eye, a crowning blow much sought after because for several days it would visibly confirm the winner's triumph, brought a roar from the audience worthy of the Sioux. Munoz did not get to his feet immediately, and Pierre, Jacques's closest friend, quickly stepped in and authoritatively declared Jacques the winner, then helped him on with his jacket and put his cape on his shoulders, and led him away surrounded by a retinue of admirers, while Munoz got up, still crying, and dressed in his small circle of dismayed supporters. Jacques, dizzy with the rapidity of a victory he had not even hoped would be so complete, could hardly hear the congratulations around him and the already embellished accounts of the fight. He wanted to be glad, and he was glad, somewhere in the vanity of his ego, and yet, when he looked back at Munoz as he was leaving the green field, a bleak sadness suddenly seized his heart at the sight of the crestfallen face of the boy he had struck. And then he knew that war is no good, because vanquishing a man is as bitter as being vanquished. To round out his education, he was taught without delay that the Tarpeian Rock is near the Capitol.1 The next day, in fact, he thought he should swagger and show off in response to the backslapping admiration of his classmates. When, at the beginning of class, Munoz 1. In Rome, traitors were thrown to their death from the Tarpeian Rock. The meaning is: Pride goeth before a fall,Trans. did not answer to his name, Jacques's neighbors commented on his absence with ironic snickers and winks to the victor, and Jacques gave in to temptation, puffed out his cheeks, and showed the others a half-closed eye; without realizing that M. Bernard was watching him, he was indulging in a grotesque mimicry that vanished in the blink of an eyelid when the master's voice resounded in the suddenly still classroom: "My poor teacher's pet," he said, deadpan, "you have as much right as the others to the 'sugar cane.' " The conqueror had to stand up, fetch the instrument of torture, and, amidst the fresh smell of cologne that surrounded M. Bernard, assume the ignominious position to be punished. The Munoz affair was not to end on this lesson in applied philosophy. The boy's absence lasted two days, and Jacques was vaguely worried despite his swaggering air when, on the third day, an older student came in the room to inform M. Bernard that the principal was asking for the pupil Cormery. They were only summoned to the principal's office in serious cases, and the teacher, raising his bushy eyebrows, simply said: "Hurry up, kiddo. I hope you haven't done anything foolish." Jacques, his legs unsteady under him, followed the older pupil down the length of the corridor over the cement courtyard with its ornamental peppertrees that the dappled shade did not protect from the torrid heat, to the principal's office at the other end of the corridor. The first thing he saw as he entered, in front of the principal's desk, was Munoz flanked by a scowling woman and man. Although his classmate was disfigured by an eye that was swollen and completely shut, Jacques was relieved to find him still alive. But he did not have time to enjoy that relief. "Was it you who hit your classmate?" asked the principal, a small bald man with a pink face and an energetic voice. "Yes," Jacques said in a toneless voice. "I told you so, Monsieur," said the woman. "Andre is no hooligan." "We had a fight," said Jacques. "I don't need to know about it," said the principal. "You know I forbid all fighting, even outside school. You injured your classmate and could have injured him even more severely. By way of a first warning, you will stand in the corner at every recess for a week. If you do it again, you will be expelled. I will inform your parents of your punishment. You may return to your class." Jacques, thunderstruck, did not move. "Go on." "Well, Fantomas?" said M. Bernard when Jacques returned to his class.1 Jacques was weeping. "Go ahead, I'm listening." With a catch in his voice, the child first announced the punishment, then that Munoz's parents had complained and he had told about the fight. "Why did you fight?" "He called me 'teacher's pet.' " "Again?" "No, here, during class." 1. Fantomas was the masked hero of a series of pulp novels, Trans. "Ah! He was the one. And you thought I hadn't sufficiently defended you." Jacques gave M. Bernard a heartfelt look. "Oh no, oh no! You ..." And he burst out in real sobs. "Go sit down," said M. Bernard. "It's not fair," said the child through his tears. "Yes, it is," gently told him1 The next day, at recess, Jacques took his place in the corner at the end of the playground, his back turned to the yard and to the happy cries of his classmates. He shifted his weight from one leg to the other;a he was dying to run around with them. From time to time he glanced back and saw M. Bernard strolling in a corner of the yard with his colleagues and not looking at Jacques. But, the second day, he did not see M. Bernard come up behind him and tap him lightly on the back of his neck: "Why such a long face, shrimp? Munoz is in the corner too. Here, I give you permission to look." Munoz was indeed on the other side of the playground, alone and morose. "Your accomplices refuse to play with him for the whole week you're in the corner." M. Bernard laughed. "So you see, you're both being punished. That's the way it should be." And he leaned over the child to say to him, with an affectionate laugh that caused the heart of the convict to overflow with love: "You know, moustique, to look at you, you wouldn't think you could throw such a punch!" 1. The sentence ends there. a. M'sieur he tripped me This man who today was talking to his canary and who called Jacques "kiddo" though he was forty years old,Jacques had never stopped loving him, even when the years, distance, and finally the Second World War had partly, then completely cut him off from his teacher, of whom he had no news, and he was as happy as a child when in 1945 an elderly Territorial in a soldier's greatcoat rang his doorbell in Paris, and it was M. Bernard, who had enlisted again: "Not for the war," he said, "but against Hitler, and you too, kiddo, you fought, oh I knew you were made of the right stuff, you haven't forgotten your mother either I hope, that's good, your mother's the best thing in the world,and now I'm going back to Algiers, come see me," and Jacques had been going to' see him for fifteen years, and each time it was the same: before leaving he would embrace the deeply moved old man who clung to his hand on the doorstep, and this man had launched Jacques in the world, taking on himself alone the responsibility for uprooting him so that he could go on to still greater discoveries.a The school year was drawing to a close when M. Bernard summoned Jacques, Pierre, Fleury, a kind of prodigy who did equally well in all subjects,"he has a polytechnic brain," the teacher said,and Santiago, a handsome boy who was less gifted but succeeded by virtue of diligence: "Now," said M. Bernard when the classroom was empty. "You're my best students. I've a. The scholarship decided to nominate you for secondary-school scholarships. If you pass the examination, you'll have scholarships and you can continue your studies at the lyc?(c)e through the baccalaureate. Elementary school is the best of schools. But it leads to nothing. The lyc?(c)e opens all doors. And I would rather see poor boys like you go through those doors. But for that, I need your parents' authorization. Off with you!" They left in amazement and did not even discuss it before they parted. Jacques found his grandmother at home alone picking over lentils on the oilcloth cover of the dining-room table. He hesitated, then decided to wait for his mother to arrive. She came home visibly tired, put on an apron, and came to help the grandmother sort the lentils. Jacques offered to help, and they gave him the thick white porcelain bowl where it was easier to separate the pebbles from the good lentils. Staring into his plate, he announced his news. "What's this all about?" said the grandmother. "At what age do you do this baccalaureate?" "In six years." His grandmother pushed her plate away. "Did you hear that?" she asked Catherine Cormery. She had not heard. Jacques slowly repeated the news. "Ah!" she said. "It's because you're intelligent." "Intelligent or not, we were going to apprentice him next year. You know perfectly well we have no money. He'll bring home his pay." "That's true," said Catherine. Outside, the day and the heat were beginning to fade. At that time of day, with the factories all working, the neighborhood was empty and silent. Jacques gazed out at the street. He did not know what he wanted, only that he wanted to obey M. Bernard. But, at nine, he could not disobey his grandmother, nor would he know how to. Still, she was obviously hesitating. "What would you do afterwards?" "I don't know. Maybe be a teacher, like M. Bernard." "Yes,in six years!" She was sorting the lentils more slowly. "Ah!" she said. "No, after all, we're too poor. You tell M. Bernard we can't do it." The next day the three others told Jacques their families had agreed. "How about you?" "I don't know," he said, and the thought that he was even poorer than his friends left him sick at heart. The four of them stayed after school. Pierre, Fleury, and Santiago gave their answers. "And you, moustique?" "I don't know." M. Bernard gazed at him. "All right," he said to the others. "But you'll have to work with me afternoons after school. I'll arrange it, you can go." When they had left, M. Bernard sat himself in his armchair and drew Jacques close. "Well?" "My grandmother says we're too poor and that I have to go to work next year." "And your mother?" "It's my grandmother who decides." "I know," said M. Bernard. He thought a moment, then put his arm around Jacques. "Listen: you can't blame her. Life is hard for her. The two of them alone, they've brought you up, your brother and you, and made you the good boys you are. So she's bound to be afraid. You'll need a little money besides the scholarship, and in any case you won't bring home any money for six years. Can you understand her?" Jacques nodded without looking at his teacher. "Good. But maybe we can explain it to her. Get your satchel, I'm coming with you!" "To our place?" said Jacques. "Yes, it will be a pleasure to see your mother again." Minutes later M. Bernard was knocking on their door in front of a bewildered Jacques. The grandmother came to the door, wiping her hands on her apron; the strings were tied too tightly, making her old woman's paunch protrude. When she saw the teacher, she made a gesture as if to comb her hair. "So it's the grandmom," said M. Bernard, "hard at work as usual? Ah! You're a worthy woman." The grandmother invited him into the room that you had to cross to get to the dining room, seated him near the table, brought out glasses and a bottle of anisette. "Don't put yourself out, I came to have a little talk with you." He began by asking about her children, then her life on the farm, her husband; he talked about his own children. At that moment Catherine Cormery came in, panicked, called M. Bernard "Monsieur le Ma?tre," went to her room to comb her hair and put on a clean apron, and returned to perch on the edge of a chair a little away from the table. "You," M. Bernard said to Jacques, "go out on the street and see if I'm there. You understand," he said to the grandmother, "I'm going to speak well of him and he's liable to think it's the truth." Jacques left, dashed down the stairs, and stationed himself by the door to the building. He was still there an hour later, and the street was already coming to life, the sky through the ficus trees was turning green, when M. Bernard emerged from the stairs at his back. He scratched Jacques's head. "Well!" he said. "It's all settled. Your grandmother's a good woman. As for your mother . . . Ah!" he said. "Don't you ever forget her." "Monsieur," the grandmother suddenly said. She was coming out of the hall. She was holding her apron in her hand and wiping her eyes. "I forgot . . . you told me you would give Jacques extra lessons." "Of course," said M. Bernard. "And it won't be any picnic for him, believe me." "But we won't be able to pay you." M. Bernard studied her carefully. He was holding Jacques by his shoulders. "Don't worry about that," he said, shaking Jacques. "He's already paid me." Then he was gone, and the grandmother took Jacques by the hand to go back to the apartment, and for the first time she squeezed his hand, very hard, with a kind of hopeless love. "My child," she said. "My dear child." For a month M. Bernard kept the four children after school every day and made them work for two hours. Jacques would go home both tired and exhilarated, and then have to start on his homework. His grandmother would look at him with mingled pride and sadness. "He got a good head," Ernest said with conviction, tapping his own head with his fist. "Yes," the grandmother would say. "But what's to become of us?" One evening she gave a start: "What about his First Communion?" Actually religion had no part in their lives.1 No one went to Mass, no one invoked or taught the Ten Commandments, nor did anyone refer to the rewards and punishments of the hereafter. When someone's death was reported in the grandmother's presence, "Well," she would say, "he'll fart no more." If it was someone for whom she was deemed to have at least some liking, "Poor man," she would say, "he was still young," even if the deceased had long since been old enough to die. It was not a matter of ignorance on her part. For she had seen many die around her. Two of her children, her husband, her son-in-law, and all her nephews in the war. But that was just it: she was as familiar with death as she was with work or poverty, she did not think about it but in some sense lived it, and besides, the needs of the moment were even more urgent for her than they were for Algerians as a whole, who by their daily cares and their common lot were denied the funerary piety that flourishes in civilizations at their height.a Death for them was an ordeal to be faced, as they had faced those that preceded it, which they never spoke of, where they tried to show the courage that for them was a man's principal virtue; but meanwhile one tried to forget it or push it aside. (Hence the comic air that all interments would assume. Cousin Maurice?) If to that general inclination is added the 1. Three illegible lines in the margin, a. La Mort en Algerie. harsh work and struggle of daily life, not to mention, in the case of Jacques's family, the awful wear and tear of poverty, it becomes hard to find a place for religion. For Uncle Ernest, who lived by his senses, religion was what he saw; that is, the priest and the ritual. Calling on his gift for comedy, he never missed an opportunity to mimic the ceremony of the Mass, accompanying it with a [sustained] onomatopoeia to represent the Latin words, and to conclude he would play both the faithful bowing their heads at the sound of the bells and the priest seizing the opportunity offered by their bowed heads to take a surreptitious drink of the Communion wine. As for Catherine Cormery, only she with her gentleness might have suggested faith, but in fact that gentleness was her faith. She neither dissented nor agreed, laughed a little at her brother's jokes, but would call the priests she met "Monsieur Cure." She never spoke of God. In fact, that was a word Jacques never heard spoken throughout his childhood, nor did he trouble himself about it. Life, so vivid and mysterious, was enough to occupy his entire being. With all that, if a civil burial was mentioned in the family, it was not unusual for his grandmother or even his uncle paradoxically to deplore the absence of a priest: "like a dog," they would say. This because for them, as for most Algerians, religion was part of their civic life and that alone. They were Catholic as they were French; it entailed a certain number of rituals. Actually those rituals numbered exactly four: baptism, First Communion, marriage (if they were married), and funeral rites. Between these ceremonies, which necessarily were far apart in time, they were occupied with other things, and most of all with surviving. So it was taken for granted that Jacques would make his First Communion like Henri, who had kept a most unpleasant memory not of the ceremony itself but of its social consequences and especially the visits he was obliged to make over several days, the armband on his arm, to friends and relatives, who had to present him with a small amount of cash, which the child was embarrassed to take; the grandmother would then appropriate the entire sum, returning only a very small proportion to Henri, because Communion "cost good money." But this ceremony did not take place until around the child's twelfth year, after he had spent two years being taught the catechism. So Jacques would not have to make his First Communion until his second or third year at the lyc?(c)e. But it was that prospect that caused the grandmother to give a start. She had a dark and somewhat frightening picture of the lyc?(c)e as a place where you had to work ten times as much as at the neighborhood school, because these studies led to better jobs and because, to her way of thinking, no improvement in material circumstances could be gotten except by more work. She wished for Jacques to succeed with all her heart on account of the sacrifices she had just agreed to in advance, and she calculated that the time taken by catechism would be subtracted from the time for work. "No," she said, "you can't be in the lyc?(c)e and at catechism at the same time." "Fine. I won't make my First Communion," said Jacques, who was hoping above all to escape the ordeal of the visits and what for him was the unbearable humiliation of accepting money. The grandmother stared at him. "Why? It can be arranged. Get dressed. We're going to see the priest." She stood up and went with a resolute air into her bedroom. When she returned, she had taken off her camisole and her work skirt, had put on her one going-out dress [ ]1 buttoned to the neck, and she had knotted her black silk scarf around her head. The strands of white hair at the edge of her scarf, her sharp eyes and firm mouth made her the very picture of determination. At the sacristy of the church of Saint-Charles, a dreadful pile of modern Gothic, she seated herself, holding Jacques's hand while he stood beside her, before the parish priest, a fat sixty-year-old with a round, rather soft face, a big nose, and a good smile on his thick lips, under a crown of silvery hair; he was clasping his hands on his robe stretched by his parted knees. "I want this child to make his First Communion," said the grandmother. "Very well, Madame, we'll make a good Christian of him. How old is he?" "Nine." "You're right to have him start the catechism very early. In three years he'll be perfectly prepared for the big day." "No," the grandmother said curtly. "He must do it right away." 1. An illegible word. "Right away? But the Communions will be a month from now, and he can only approach the altar after at least two years of catechism." The grandmother explained their situation. But the priest was not at all convinced that it was impossible to take religious instruction while doing secondary-school studies. With patience and kindness, he cited his own experience, gave examples . . . The grandmother stood up. "In that case he won't make his First Communion. Come, Jacques," and she pulled the child toward the exit. But the priest hurried after them. "Wait, Madame, wait." He led her gently back to her seat, tried to reason with her. But the grandmother shook her head like a stubborn old mule. "It's right away or he'll do without it." At last the priest gave in. It was agreed that Jacques would make his First Communion in one month after an accelerated course of religious instruction. And the priest, shaking his head, accompanied them to the door, where he patted the child's cheek. "Listen carefully to what you're told," he said. And he looked at him with a sort of sadness. So Jacques added the catechism classes on Thursdays and Saturday afternoons to his supplementary lessons with M. Bernard. The examination for the scholarship and the First Communion were both drawing near, and his days were overloaded, leaving no time for play, even and especially on Sundays, when, if he could put down his notebooks, his grandmother would impose domestic tasks and errands on him, citing the future sacrifices the family had agreed to for his education and the many years thereafter when he would no longer do anything for the household. "But," said Jacques, "I might fail. The exam is hard." And in a certain sense he sometimes would wish for just that, finding that his young pride could not bear the weight of the sacrifices they were always talking to him about. His grandmother looked at him in astonishment. She had never thought of that possibility. Then she shrugged and, not worrying about the contradiction, "Go ahead and fail," she said. "And I'll warm your ass for you." The catechism course was given by the second priest of the parish: tall, almost endlessly so in his black robe, thin, with hollow cheeks and a nose like an eagle's beak, as hard as the old priest was gentle and good. His method of teaching was recitation, and, though it was primitive, it was perhaps the only method suited to the rough, obdurate children to whom it was his mission to give their spiritual training. They had to learn the questions and responses: "Who is God?"a . . . These words meant absolutely nothing to the young catechumens, and Jacques, who had an excellent memory, recited them imperturbably without ever understanding them. When another child was reciting, he would let his thoughts wander, daydream, or make faces with the others. One day the tall priest caught him making one of those faces, and, believing the grimace was a. See catechism aimed at him, thought it right to enforce respect for the sacred character of his office; he called Jacques up before the whole assembly of children, and there, with his long bony hand, without further explanation, he hit him with all his strength. Jacques almost fell under the force of the blow. "Now go back to your place," the priest said. The child stared at him, without a tear (and for all his life it would be kindness and love that made him cry, never pain or persecution, which on the contrary only reinforced his spirit and his resolution), and returned to his bench. The left side of his face was smarting, the taste of blood was in his mouth. With the tip of his tongue, he discovered the inside of his cheek was cut by the blow and was bleeding. He swallowed his blood. Throughout the rest of the sacramental preparation, his mind was elsewhere, and he was looking quietly at the priest, without reproach as without friendship when he spoke to him, flawlessly reciting the questions and responses about the divine nature and sacrifice of Christ; and, a hundred leagues away from the place where he was reciting, he was dreaming of that double examination that now had come to seem a single one. Immersed in his work as he was in that persisting dream, he was moved only, and in an obscure way, by the evening Masses, more and more of them in that dreadful cold church, but the organ made him listen to a music he was hearing for the first time, having until then heard nothing but stupid tunes; dreaming richer, deeper dreams featuring sacerdotal objects and vestments glistening in the semi-darkness, to meet at last the mystery, but it was a nameless mystery where the divine personages named and rigorously defined in the catechism played no role at all, they were simply an extension of the bare world where he lived; but the warm, inward, and ambiguous mystery that now bathed him only deepened the everyday mystery of his mother's silence or her small smile when he entered the dining room at evening and, alone in the apartment, she had not lit the kerosene lamp, letting the night invade the room step by step, herself a darker denser form gazing pensively out the window, watching the brisk,but, for her, silent, activity of the street; and the child would stop on the doorsill, his heart heavy, full of a despairing love for his mother, and for something in his mother that did not belong or no longer belonged to the world and to the triviality of the days. Then it was the First Communion, of which Jacques remembered little except confession the day before, when he had admitted the only acts he had been told were sinful,very few, that is,and to "Have you had sinful thoughts?" he said, "Yes, Father," at a guess, though he did not know how a thought could be sinful, and till the next day he lived in fear that he would unwittingly let out a sinful thought or, and this was clearer to him, one of those objectionable words that populated his schoolboy vocabulary, and as best he could he held back the words at least until the morning of the ceremony when, dressed in a sailor suit with an armband, equipped with a small prayerbook and a chaplet of little white beads, all supplied by the least poor among their relatives (Aunt Marguerite, etc.), holding a taper in the center aisle in a line of other children carrying tapers under the ecstatic eyes of their families standing in the pews, and the thunder of the music that exploded now chilled him, filled him with dread and with an extraordinary exaltation where for the first time he could feel his strength, his boundless ability to prevail and to live, an exaltation that stayed with him throughout the ceremony, taking him away from everything that was happening, including the instant of Communion, and lasting through their return home and the meal to which their relatives had been invited, around a [richer] than usual table, and which bit by bit excited the guests who were accustomed to eat and drink sparingly, so that an enormous gaiety gradually filled the room, destroying Jacques's elation and so shaking him that when dessert came, at the peak of the general excitement, he burst out sobbing. "What's the matter with you?" his grandmother said. "I don't know, I don't." And his exasperated grandmother slapped him. "That way you'll know why you're crying," she said. But in truth he did know why when he looked across the table at his mother, who was giving him her small sad smile. "That's well over with," said M. Bernard. "Well, now we get to work." A few more days of hard work, with the last lessons at M. Bernard's (describe the apartment?), and then, one morning at the trolley stop near Jacques's home, the four pupils were grouped around M. Bernard, each equipped with writing pad, ruler, and pen case, and Jacques could see his mother and grandmother waving energetically to them from their balcony. The lyc?(c)e where the examination was given was all the way across town, at the other end of the arc the city makes around the bay, in a district that had once been rich and dull, but, thanks to Spanish immigrants, had become one of the most crowded and lively parts of Algiers. The lyc?(c)e itself was a huge square building that dominated the street. You entered it by steps at either side and, in front, large monumental steps flanked on both sides by meager gardens planted with banana trees and1 protected from student vandalism by wire fencing. The central steps led to an arcade connecting the steps at the two sides; from the arcade opened the monumental door used on major occasions, to one side of which, for everyday use, was a much smaller door that led to the glassed-in cabin of the concierge. It was in that arcade,among the first students to arrive, who on the whole were able to hide their nervousness under a casual manner, except a few whose anxiety was betrayed by their pale countenances and their silence,that M. Bernard and his pupils were waiting in front of the closed door, in the early morning when the air was still cool and the street still damp before the sun covered it with dust. They were a good half hour early, huddled silently around their teacher, who found nothing to say to them and then left, saying he would return. 1. No word appears here in the manuscript. Indeed they saw him come back in a few minutes, elegant in the felt hat and spats he had put on for the occasion, holding in each hand a package of tissue paper wrapped and twisted at the top to make a handle, and as he approached, they saw that the paper was spotted with grease. "Here are some croissants," said M. Bernard. "Eat one now and save the other for ten o'clock." They thanked him and ate, but the heavy dough once chewed was difficult to swallow. "Don't lose your head," the teacher kept saying. "Carefully read the wording of the problem and the subject of the composition. Read them over several times. You'll have time." Yes, they would read it over several times, they would obey him, with him there were no obstacles in life, it was enough to let themselves be guided by him. Now there was a hubbub by the smaller door. The students, numbering about sixty, headed in that direction. An attendant had opened the door and was reading a list. Jacques's name was one of the first to be read. He clutched his teacher's hand, he hesitated. "Go, my son," said M. Bernard. Jacques, trembling, went to the door, and, as he was going through it, he turned back to his teacher. He was there, big, solid; he was smiling calmly at Jacques and nodding reassuringly.a At noon M. Bernard was waiting for them at the exit. They showed him their work papers. Santiago was the only one who had made a mistake in a problem. "Your composition is very good," he said tersely to Jacques. a. check scholarship program. At one o'clock he accompanied them back. At four o'clock he was still there, and he looked over their work. "Come on," he said, "we have to wait." Two days later the five of them were again in front of the small door at ten o'clock in the morning. The door opened and the attendant again read a list of names, this one much shorter, of the successful candidates. In the clamor Jacques did not hear his name. But he received a joyful slap on the back and heard M. Bernard say to him, "Bravo, moustique. You passed." Only the nice Santiago had failed, and they gazed at him with a sort of absentminded sadness. "It doesn't matter," he said, "it doesn't matter." And Jacques no longer knew where he was, or what was happening, they were coming back all four on the trolley; "I'll go see your parents," M. Bernard said, "I'll go to Cormery's first because he's the closest," and in the poor dining room full now of women,there were his grandmother, his mother, who had taken the day off for the occasion (?), and their neighbors the Masson women,he stayed close to his teacher's side, breathing one last time the odor of cologne, pressing against the hearty warmth of that solid body, while the grandmother beamed in front of her neighbors. "Thank you, M. Bernard, thank you," she said, and he patted the child's head. "You don't need me anymore," he said, "you'll have teachers who know more. But you know where I am, come see me if you need me to help you." He went out, and Jacques was left alone, lost among the women; then he dashed to the window and looked out at his teacher, who waved at him one last time and who was leaving him alone henceforth, and, instead of the joy of success, a child's immense anguish wrung his heart, as if he knew in advance that this success had just uprooted him from the warm and innocent world of the poor,a world closed in on itself like an island in the society, where poverty took the place of family and community,to be hurtled into a strange world, one no longer his, where he could not believe the teachers were more learned than the one whose heart was all-knowing, and from now on he would have to learn, to understand without help, and become a man without the aid of the one man who had rescued him; would have to grow up and bring himself up alone, and it would be at the highest cost. 7 : Mondovi: The Settlement and the Father aNow he was grown up . . . On the road from Bone to Mondovi the car that J. Cormery was in passed slow-moving jeeps bristling with guns ... "M. Veillard?" "Yes." Framed in the doorway of his small farmhouse, the man gazing at Jacques Cormery was short but stocky, with rounded shoulders. With his left hand he held the door open, with his right he firmly gripped the jamb, so that while opening the way to his house he was at the same time barring the way. He must have been about forty, judging by the sparse graying hair that gave him a Roman look. But his tanned face with its regular features and bright eyes, his legs in khaki pants, a bit stiff but without fat or belly, his sandals and blue shirt with pockets made him seem much younger. He stood still listening to Jacques's explanation. Then: "Come in," he a. Horse-drawn vehicle train ship plane. said, and stepped aside. As Jacques went along the small whitewashed hallway, furnished with only a brown chest and a curved wooden umbrella stand, he heard the farmer laugh behind him. "So it's a pilgrimage! Well, frankly, you're just in time." "Why?" asked Jacques. "Come into the dining room," the farmer answered. "It's the coolest room." The dining room was half veranda, with blinds of pliable straw, all but one of them lowered. Except for the table and buffet, both of blond wood and modern in style, the room was furnished with rattan chairs and deck chairs. When he turned around, Jacques saw that he was alone. He went to the veranda, and, through the space between the blinds, he saw a yard planted with ornamental peppertrees among which glittered two bright-red tractors. Beyond that, under a sun that at eleven was still bearable, began the rows of the vineyard. A moment later the farmer returned with a tray on which he had lined up a bottle of anisette, glasses, and a bottle of ice water. The farmer raised his glass of milky liquid. "If you'd waited any longer, you might have found nothing here. And in any case not a single Frenchman to tell you about it." "It's the old doctor who told me your farm is the one where I was born." "Yes, it was part of the Saint-Apotre property, but my parents bought it after the war." Jacques looked around. "You were certainly not born here," Veillard said. "My parents rebuilt everything." "Did they know my father before the war?" "I don't believe so. They had settled right by the Tunisian border, then they wanted to move closer to civilization. For them Solferino was civilization." "They didn't hear about the former manager?" "No. Since you're from here, you know how it is. We don't preserve anything here. We tear down and we rebuild. We think about the future and forget the rest." "Well," said Jacques, "I took your time for noth-ing. "No," the other man said, "it's a pleasure." And he smiled at him. Jacques finished his drink. "Did your parents remain near the border?" "No, it's the forbidden zone. Near the dam. And it's obvious you don't know my father." He too swallowed the rest of his drink, and, as if he found an extra stimulus in it, he burst out laughing: "He's a real settler. Of the old school. You know, the ones they're bad-mouthing in Paris. And it's true he's always been a hard man. Sixty years old. But long and thin like a puritan with his [horse's] head. A kind of patriarch, you see. He sweated his Arab workers, and, in all fairness, his sons also. Then, last year, when they had to evacuate, it was a real free-for-all. Life in that region had become intolerable. You had to sleep with a gun. When the Raskil farm was attacked, you remember?" "No," said Jacques. "Yes, the father and his two sons had their throats cut, the mother and daughter raped over and over, then killed ... In short . . . The prefect was unfortunate enough to tell a meeting of farmers that they would have to reconsider [colonial] issues, how they treated the Arabs, and that now a new day had come. Then he had to listen to the old man tell him no one on earth was going to lay down the law about his property. But from that day on he didn't open his mouth. Sometimes at night he would get up and go out. My mother would watch him through the blinds and she'd see him walking around his land. When the order to evacuate came, he said nothing. His grape harvest was over, his wine was in the vats. He opened the vats, and he went to a spring of brackish water that he'd diverted long ago, and he turned it back to run into his fields, and he equipped a tractor with a trench plow. For three days, at the wheel, bareheaded, saying not a word, he uprooted the vines all over his property. Think of it, that skinny old man bouncing around on his tractor, pushing the accelerator lever when the plow wasn't getting a vine that was bigger than the others, not stopping even to eat, my mother bringing him bread, cheese, and [sobrasada], which he ate calmly, the way he had done everything, throwing away the last chunk of bread and accelerating some more, all this from sunrise to sunset, without even looking at the mountains on the horizon, nor at the Arabs who'd soon found out and were watching him from a distance,they weren't saying anything either. And when a young captain, informed by who knows who, arrived and demanded an explanation, he said to him, 'Young man, since what we made here is a crime, it has to be wiped out.' When it was all finished, he headed toward the farmhouse, crossed the yard that was soaked with wine pouring out of the vats, and began to pack his bags. The Arab workers were waiting for him in the yard. (There was also a patrol the captain had sent, no one knew just why, with a nice lieutenant who was waiting for orders.) " 'Boss, what are we going to do?' " " 'If I were in your shoes,' the old man said, 'I'd go join the guerrillas. They're going to win. There're no men left in France.' " The farmer laughed: "That was blunt, eh?" "Are they with you?" "No, he didn't want to hear a word about Algeria. He's in Marseilles, in a modern apartment . . . Maman writes me that he walks around his room in circles." "And you?" "Oh, me, I'm staying, and to the end. Whatever happens, I'm staying. I've sent my family to Algiers, and I'll croak here. They don't understand that in Paris. Besides us, you know who're the only ones who can understand it?" "The Arabs." "Exactly. We were made to understand each other. Fools and brutes like us, but with the same blood of men. We'll kill each other for a little longer, cut off each other's balls and torture each other a bit. And then we'll go back to living as men together. The country wants it that way. An anisette?" "Light," said Jacques. A little later they went out. Jacques had asked if there was anyone left in the area who might have known his parents. No, said Veillard; besides the old doctor who had brought him into the world and who had retired right there in Solferino, there was no one. The Saint-Apotre property had changed hands twice, many of the Arab workers had died in the two wars, many others had been born. "Everything changes here," Veillard kept saying. "It happens fast, very fast, and people forget." But maybe old Tamzal . . . He was caretaker for one of the Saint-Apotre farms. In 1913 he must have been around twenty. In any case, Jacques would see the place where he was bom. Except to the north, the country was surrounded by distant mountains, their outlines fuzzy in the noonday heat, like enormous blocks of stone and luminous fog, with the once-swampy Seybouse plain extending between them north to the sea under a sky white with heat, its vineyards in straight lines, the leaves bluish from copper sulfate and the grapes already dark, interrupted occasionally by a row of cypresses or clumps of eucalyptus trees sheltering houses with their shade. They were following a farm path where each of their steps kicked up red dust. Ahead of them, all the way to the mountains, the air was quivering and the sunlight was throbbing. By the time they arrived at a small house behind a cluster of plane trees, they were dripping sweat. An unseen dog greeted them with angry barking. The mulberry-wood door of the rather dilapidated house was carefully closed. Veillard knocked. The dog barked twice as hard. The sound seemed to come from a small enclosed yard on the other side of the house. But no one stirred. "See how trusting we all are," the farmer said. "They're there. But they're waiting. "Tamzal!" he shouted. "It's Veillard. "Six months ago they came to get his son-in-law, they wanted to know if he was supplying the guerrillas. They never heard another word about him. A month ago they told Tamzal that probably he'd been killed trying to escape." "Ah," said Jacques. "And was he supplying the guerrillas?" "Maybe yes, maybe not. What can you expect, it's war. But it explains why doors are slow to open in this land of hospitality." Just then the door opened. Tamzal, small, with [ ]1hair, a wide-brimmed straw hat on his head, wearing patched blue overalls, smiled at Veillard, looked at Jacques. "He's a friend. He was born here." "Come in," said Tamzal. "You will drink tea." Tamzal did not remember anything. Yes, perhaps. He had heard one of his uncles talk about a manager who had stayed a few months, it was after the war. "Before," said Jacques. Or before, that was possible, he was very young at the time, and what became of his father? He was killed in the war. "Mektoub,"2 said Tamzal. "But war is bad." 1. Two illegible words. 2. In Arabic: "It was written" (in his destiny). "There's always been war," said Veillard. "But people quickly get accustomed to peace. So they think it's normal. No, war is what's normal."a "Men are crazy in wartime," said Tamzal as he went to take a platter of tea from the hands of a woman in the next room, who had turned her head away. They drank the scorching tea, thanked him, and went back along the stifling hot path through the vineyards. "I'm going back to Solferino with my taxi," said Jacques. "The doctor invited me for lunch." "I'm inviting myself along. Wait a moment. I'll get some food." Later, on the plane taking him back to Algiers, Jacques was trying to sort out the information he had collected. Actually he had only gotten a little, and nothing that directly concerned his father. The night seemed strangely to rise from the earth at an almost measurable speed until at last it swallowed the plane that was pushing straight ahead, steadily, like a screw driven into the thickness of the night. But the night added to Jacques's discomfort, for he felt himself doubly confined, by the plane and by the dark, and he was breathing with difficulty. Again he saw the register of births and the names of the two witnesses, real French names like those [you] see on signs in Paris, and the old doctor, after telling him the story of his father's arrival and his own birth, had said the witnesses were local shopkeepers, the first to happen by, who agreed to do his father a a. to develop favor; they had names from the outskirts of Paris, yes, but that was no surprise, since Solferino was founded by "forty-eighters."1 "Oh yes," Veillard had said, "my great-grandparents were among them. That's why my old man had revolution in his genes." He went on to say that the first of his great-grandparents to come were a carpenter from Faubourg Saint-Denis and a fine-linen laundress. There was a lot of unemployment in Paris, there was unrest, and the Constituent Assembly had voted fifty million francs to send a colony of settlers.a They promised everyone a house and 2 to 10 hectares. "You can imagine how they applied. More than a thousand. And all of them dreaming of the Promised Land. Especially the men. The women, they were afraid of the unknown. Not the men! They hadn't made the revolution for nothing. They were the kind who believe in Santa Claus. And their Santa Claus wore a burnoose. Well, they got some kind of Santa Claus. They left in '49, and the first house was built in the summer of '54. Meanwhile ..." Jacques was breathing more easily now. The first darkness had finished flowing; it had ebbed like a tide, leaving behind it a cloud of stars, and now the sky was filled with stars. Now only the deafening sound of the motors was oppressing him. He tried to summon the face of the old dealer in carob and fodder who had known his father, who vaguely remembered him, and 1. Veterans of the Revolution of 1848,Trans. a. 48 [numerals circled by the author,Ed.} kept repeating: "No talker, he was no talker." But he was stupefied by the noise, it plunged him into a nasty sort of torpor where he tried in vain to evoke his father, to imagine him, but he disappeared behind this immense and hostile land, he melted into the anonymous history of the village and the plain. Details from their conversation at the doctor's came back to him on the same wave as those barges that, according to the doctor, had brought the Parisian settlers to Solferino. On the same wave, and there was no train at the time, no, no,yes, but it only went to Lyon. Then, six barges hauled by draft horses, with the "Marseillaise" and the "Chant du Depart," of course, played by the city's brass band, and the benediction by the clergy on the banks of the Seine with a flag on which was embroidered the name of the village that did not yet exist but which the passengers would create by magic. The barge was already under way, Paris was slipping away, becoming fluid, was going to disappear,may God bless your undertaking,and even the strongest of spirits, the tough ones from the barricades, they fell silent, sick at heart, their frightened wives clinging to their strength, and in the hold they had to sleep on rustling straw with the dirty water at eye level, but first the women undressed behind bedsheets that they held up in turn. Where was his father in all this? Nowhere, and yet those barges hauled a hundred years ago along the canals at the end of autumn, drifting for a month on streams and rivers covered with the last dead leaves, escorted by hazel trees and willows, bare under the gray sky, greeted in the towns by official fanfare and sent on their way with a cargo of new vagrants toward a strange country,they taught him more about the young dead man of Saint-Brieuc than the [senile] and disordered recollections that he had gone to seek. The motors now changed speed. Those dark masses, those sharp-edged dislocated chunks of the night, that was Kabylia, the wild and bloody part of the country,it had long been wild and bloody; that was where they were headed a hundred years ago, the workers of '48 piled up in a paddle-wheeler. "The Labrador" said the old doctor, "that was its name; can you imagine that, the Labrador to go to the mosquitoes and the sun?" Anyway, the Labrador with all its blades paddling, churning the icy water that the mistral was whipping up in a storm, its decks swept for five days and five nights by a polar wind, and the conquerors at the bottom of the hold, deathly ill, vomiting on each other and wanting to die, until they arrived at the port of Bone, with the whole population on the docks to greet the greenish adventurers with music; they had come so far, having left the capital of Europe with their wives and children and possessions to stagger ashore, after five weeks of wandering, on this land with its distant bluish background, where they encountered uneasily its strange odor compounded of fertilizer, spices, and [].1 Jacques turned in his seat; he was half asleep. He saw his father, whom he had never seen, whose very height he did not know, he saw him on the dock at Bone 1. An illegible word. among the emigrants, while the pulleys hoisted off the poor possessions that had survived the voyage and disputes broke out about those that were lost. He was there, resolute, somber, teeth clenched, and, after all, was this not the same road he had taken from Bone to Solferino, almost forty years earlier, on the wagon, under the same autumn sky? But the road did not exist for the migrants: the women and children piled onto the army's gun carriages, the men on foot, cutting by guesswork across the swampy plain or the spiny brush, under the hostile eyes of occasional groups of Arabs watching them from a distance, accompanied almost constantly by a howling pack of Kabyle dogs, until at the end of the day they reached the same country his father had forty years earlier,flat, surrounded by distant heights, without a dwelling, without a single plot of cultivated land, only a handful of earth-colored military tents on it, nothing but bare empty space; to them it was the end of the world, between the deserted sky and the dangerous land,* and then the women cried into the night, from exhaustion, and fear, and disappointment. The same arrival by night in a wretched hostile place, the same men, and then, and then . . . Oh! Jacques did not know about his father, but for the rest, that was how it was, they had to pull themselves together in front of the laughing soldiers and settle into their tents. The houses would come later, they would be built and the land would be portioned out, and work, blessed work, * unknown would save them all. "But they couldn't have it right away, that work ..." said Veillard. The rain, the Algerian rain, enormous, brutal, unending, had fallen for eight days; the Seybouse had overflowed. The water came up to the tents, and they could not go out, brother-enemies in the filthy promiscuity of the great tents resonating under the interminable downpour, and to escape the stench they cut pieces of hollow reed so they could urinate from the inside out, and as soon as the rain stopped, they at last went to work building flimsy huts under the orders of the carpenter. "Ah! Those good people," said Veillard, laughing. "They finished their little shacks in the spring, and then they were entitled to cholera. If I can believe my old man, that's how our ancestor the carpenter lost his daughter and his wife,they were right to be reluctant about the journey." "Well yes," said the old doctor, striding up and down, still erect and proud in his leggings; he could not sit still. "They died ten a day. The hot season came early, they were roasting in the huts. And as for hygiene ... In short, ten of them would die a day." His colleagues in the military were overwhelmed. Peculiar colleagues, incidentally. They had exhausted all their remedies. Then they had an idea. You had to dance to stir up the blood. And every night after work the settlers would dance between two burials to the sound of a violin. Well, it was not so badly thought out. With the heat those good people sweated out everything they had, and the epidemic stopped. "It's an idea to explore." Yes, it was an idea. In the hot humid night,between the huts where the sick were sleeping, the violinist sitting on a crate, a lantern by him with mosquitoes and insects buzzing around it,the conquerors in long dresses and wearing sheets would dance, sedately sweating around a big fire of branches, while at the four corners of the encampment sentinels were on watch to defend the besieged people against black-maned lions, cattle thieves, Arab bands, and sometimes also raids by other French settlers who were in need of distraction or supplies. Later on, they finally gave them land, scattered plots far from the shantytown. Later on, they built the village with earthen walls. But two-thirds of the emigrants were dead, there as everywhere in Algeria, without having laid hands on a spade or a plow. The others remained Parisian in the fields, plowing in top hats, gun on the shoulder, a pipe between their teeth,and only pipes with covers were allowed, never cigarettes, because of fires,and quinine in their pockets, quinine sold in the cafes in Bone and in the canteen in Mondovi as an ordinary drink, to your health, accompanied by their wives in silk dresses. But always the gun and the soldiers around, and even to do the laundry in the Sey-bouse an escort was needed for those who in the old days would hold a peaceful salon while working at the washhouse in the rue des Archives; and the village itself was often attacked at night, as in '51 during one of the uprisings when hundreds of cavalrymen in burnooses circling the walls fled seeing the stovepipes the besieged people aimed at them to simulate cannons, building and working in an enemy land that refused to be occupied and took its revenge on whatever it found, and why was Jacques thinking about his mother while the plane rose and now was coming down? Picturing that wagon bogged down on the road from Bone, where the settlers had left a pregnant woman to go for help and found her with her belly slit and her breasts cut off. "It was war," said Veillard. "Let's be fair," added the old doctor. "We shut them up in caves with their whole brood, yes indeed, yes indeed, and they cut the balls off the first Berbers, who themselves . . . and so on all the way back to the first criminal,you know, his name was Cain,and since then it's been war; men are abominable, especially under a ferocious sun." And after lunch they had walked through the village, similar to hundreds of other villages all over the country, a few hundred small houses in the simple style of the end of the nineteenth century, laid out on several streets that met at right angles where the larger buildings were,the cooperative, the farm bank, the recreation hall,and everything led to the metal-framed bandstand, looking like a carousel or a large Metro entrance, where for years the village men's choir or the military band had given concerts on holidays, while couples in their Sunday best strolled around it, in the heat and the dust, shelling peanuts. Today was also a Sunday, but the army's psychological warfare branch had installed loudspeakers in the bandstand, the crowd was mostly Arab, and they were not strolling around the square; they were standing still and listening to the Arab music that alternated with speeches, and the French people lost in the crowd all had the same look, somber and turned to the future, like those who long ago had come here on the Labrador, or those who landed other places in the same circumstances, with the same suffering, fleeing poverty or persecution, finding sorrow and stone. Such were the Spaniards of Mahon, ancestors of Jacques's mother, or those Alsatians who in '71 had rejected German rule and chosen France, and they were given the land of the Arab rebels of '71, who were dead or imprisoned,dissidents taking the places kept warm by insurgents, persecuted-persecutors from whom his father descended, who, forty years later, arrived in this place, with the same somber and determined manner, his thoughts only on the future, like those who have no love for their past and renounce it; an emigrant himself like those who lived and had lived on this land without leaving a trace except on the worn and greened-over slabs in the small settler cemeteries such as the one Jacques had visited with the old doctor at the end of the day after Veillard had left. On one side, hideous new construction in the latest funerary fashion, embellished by the cheap religious art on which contemporary piety is expended. On the other, under the old cypresses, between paths covered with pine needles and cypress cones, or else by damp walls with the oxalis and its yellow flowers growing at their feet, old tombstones, hardly distinguishable from the earth, that had become illegible. Whole mobs had been coming here for more than a century, had plowed, dug furrows, deeper and deeper in some places, shakier and shakier in others, until the dusty earth covered them over and the place went back to its wild vegetation; and they had procreated, then disappeared. And so it was with their sons. And the sons and grandsons of these found themselves on this land as he himself had, with no past, without ethics, without guidance, without religion, but glad to be so and to be in the light, fearful in the face of night and death. All those generations, all those men come from so many nations, under this magnificent sky where the first portent of twilight was already rising, had disappeared without a trace, locked within themselves. An enormous oblivion spread over them, and actually that was what this land gave out, what fell from the sky with the night over the three men returning to the village, their hearts made anxious by the approach of night, filled with that dread* that seizes all men in Africa when the sudden evening descends on the sea, on the rough mountains and the high plateaus, the same holy dread that has the same effect on the slopes of Delphi's mountain, where it makes temples and altars emerge. But on the land of Africa the temples have been destroyed, and all that is left is this soft unbearable burden on the heart. Yes, how they died! How they were still dying! In silence and away from everything, as his father had died in an incomprehensible tragedy far from his native land, after a life without a single free choice,from the orphanage to the hospital, the inevitable marriage along the way, a life that grew around him, in spite of him; until the war killed and buried him; from then and forever unknown * anxiety to his people and his son, he too was returned to that immense oblivion that was the ultimate homeland of the men of his people, the final destination of a life that began without roots,and so many reports in the libraries of the time about the use of foundlings for this country's settlement, yes, all these found and lost children who built transient towns in order to die forever in themselves and in others. As if the history of men, that history that kept on plodding across one of its oldest territories while leaving so few traces on it, was evaporating under the constant sun with the memory of those who made it, reduced to paroxysms of violence and murder, to blazes of hatred, to torrents of blood, quickly swollen and quickly dried up, like the seasonal streams of the country. Now the night was rising from the land itself and began to engulf everything, the dead and the living, under the marvelous and ever-present sky. No, he would never know his father, who would continue to sleep over there, his face forever lost in the ashes. There was a mystery about that man, a mystery he had wanted to penetrate. But after all there was only the mystery of poverty that creates beings without names and without a past, that sends them into the vast throng of the nameless dead who made the world while they themselves were destroyed forever. For it was just that that his father had in common with the men of the Labrador. The Mahon people of the Sahel, the Alsatians on the high plateaus, with this immense island between sand and sea, which the enormous silence was now beginning to envelop: the silence of anonymity; it enveloped blood and courage and work and instinct, it was at once cruel and compassionate. And he who had wanted to escape from the country without name, from the crowd and from a family without name, but in whom something had gone on craving darkness and anonymity,he too was a member of the tribe, marching blindly into the night near the old doctor who was panting at his right, listening to the gusts of music coming from the square, seeing once more the hard inscrutable faces of the Arabs around the bandstands, Veillard's laughter and his stubborn face,also seeing with a sweetness and a sorrow that wrung his heart the deathly look on his mother's face at the time of the bombing,wandering through the night of the years in the land of oblivion where each one is the first man, where he had to bring himself up, without a father, having never known those moments when a father would call his son, after waiting for him to reach the age of listening, to tell him the family's secret, or a sorrow of long ago, or the experience of his life, those moments when even the ridiculous and hateful Polonius all of a sudden becomes great when he is speaking to Laertes; and he was sixteen, then he was twenty, and no one had spoken to him, and he had to learn by himself, to grow alone, in fortitude, in strength, find his own morality and truth, at last to be born as a man and then to be born in a harder childbirth, which consists of being born in relation to others, to women, like all the men born in this country who, one by one, try to learn to live without roots and without faith, and today all of them are threatened with eternal anonymity and the loss of the only consecrated traces of their passage on this earth, the illegible slabs in the cemetery that the night has now covered over; they had to learn how to live in relation to others, to the immense host of the conquerors, now dispossessed, who had preceded them on this land and in whom they now had to recognize the brotherhood of race and destiny. Now the plane was descending to Algiers. Jacques was thinking about the little cemetery of Saint-Brieuc where the soldiers' graves were better kept than those in Mondovi.* The Mediterranean separates two worlds in me, one where memories and names are preserved in measured spaces, the other where the wind and sand erases all trace of men on the open ranges. He had tried to escape from anonymity, from a life that was poor, ignorant, and mulish; he could not live that life of blind patience, without words, with no thought beyond the present. He had traveled far and wide, had built, had created, had loved people and abandoned them, his days had been full to overflowing. And yet now he knew from the bottom of his heart that Saint-Brieuc and what it represented had never been anything to him, and he thought of the worn and green-encrusted gravestones he had just left, acknowledging with a strange sort of pleasure that death would return him to his true homeland and, with its immense oblivion, would obliterate the memory of that alien and ordinary man who had * Algiers grown up, had built in poverty, without help or deliverance, on a fortunate shore and in the light of the first mornings of the world, and then alone, without memories and without faith, he had entered the world of the men of his time and its dreadful and exalted history. PART TWO The Son or The First Man 1 : Lycee aWhen, on October 1st of that year, Jacques Cor-meryb,unsteady on his thick new shoes, bundled up in a new shirt that still had its stiffening in it, weighed down with a satchel that smelled of varnish and leather,saw the motorman, next to whom Pierre and he were standing at the front of the motorcar, pull his crank back to first gear and the heavy vehicle leave the Belcourt stop, he turned back to try to catch a glimpse of, a few meters away, his mother and grandmother still leaning out the window to keep him company for a bit longer on this first journey to the mysterious lyc?(c)e, but he could not see them because the man next to him was reading the inside pages of La Depeche Algerienne. So he turned to the front and gazed at the steel rails that the a. Begin either by going to school and the rest in order, or else by introducing the adult alien and then return to the period from going to school to the illness. b. physical description of the child. motorcar was steadily swallowing and above them the trolley wires vibrating in the cool of the morning, turning his back, his heart somewhat heavy, on his home, on the old neighborhood that he had never really left except for a few expeditions (they said "go to Algiers" when they went downtown), traveling faster and faster now and, despite Pierre's brotherly shoulder practically glued to his, with a sense of solitude, uneasy about a strange world where he did not know how he would have to behave. Actually no one could have given them advice. Pierre and he realized very soon that they were on their own. M. Bernard himself, whom they in any case would not dare disturb, could tell them nothing about this lyc?(c)e he did not know. At home ignorance was still more complete. For Jacques's family, Latin, for example, was a word that had absolutely no meaning. That there had been (besides primitive times, which they on the other hand could imagine) times when no one spoke French, that civilizations (and the word itself meant nothing to them) had succeeded each other with such different customs and languages,these truths had not reached them. Neither the images, nor things written, nor word of mouth, nor the veneer of culture acquired in everyday conversation had reached them. In this home where there were no newspapers, nor, until Jacques brought them in, any books, no radio either, where there were only objects of immediate utility, where no one but relatives visited, a home they rarely left and then only to meet other members of the same ignorant family,what Jacques brought home from the lyc?(c)e could not be assimilated, and the silence grew between him and his family. At the lyc?(c)e itself, he could not speak of his family; he sensed their peculiarity without being able to articulate it, even if he could have overcome the insuperable reticence that sealed his lips on the subject. It was not even differences of class that set them apart. In this country of immigration, of quick fortunes and spectacular collapses, the boundaries between classes were less clear-cut than between races. If the children had been Arab, their feeling would have been more painful and bitter. Besides, though they had Arab classmates in school, there were few in the lyc?(c)e, and they were always sons of wealthy notables. No, what set them apart, and Jacques even more than Pierre, because their peculiarity was more pronounced in his home than in Pierre's family, was that it was impossible for him to connect his family to traditional values and stereotypes. To the questions asked at the beginning of the year, he could of course answer that his father was killed in the war, that after all was a position in society, and that he was a "pupil of the nation,"1 which everyone understood. But after that the difficulties began. In the printed forms they were given, he did not know what to put under "parents' occupation." At first he put "home-maker" while Pierre put "post office employee." Pierre explained to him that homemaker was not an occupation but was said of a woman who kept her own home and did her own housework. 1. Children of men killed in the war, who were entitled to a small stipend for school supplies,Trans. "No," said Jacques, "she takes care of other people's houses, especially the shopkeeper across the street." "Well," Pierre said hesitantly, "I think you have to put down 'domestic' " That idea had never occurred to Jacques, for the simple reason that this all-too-rare word was never spoken in his home,and this for the reason that no one there had the feeling that she was working for others; she was working first of all for her children. Jacques started to write the word, stopped, and all at once he knew shame and all at once1 the shame of having been ashamed. A child is nothing by himself; it is his parents who represent him. It is through them that he defines himself, that he is defined in the eyes of the world. He feels it is through them that he is truly judged,judged, that is, without right of appeal, and this judgment by the world was what he had just discovered, and, with it, his own judgment on the hard heart that was his. He could not know that once become a man, one is less deserving for not recognizing these evil feelings. For one is judged, for better or for worse, by what one is and much less on one's family, since it even happens that the family is judged in its turn by the child become a man. But it would have taken a heart of rare and heroic pureness for Jacques not to suffer from the discovery he had just made, just as it would have taken an impossible humility for him not to react with anger and shame to what his suffering had revealed to him about his own nature. He 1. sic had none of those qualities; instead there was a hard and nasty arrogance that helped him at least on this occasion, making him write the word "domestic" on the form with a firm hand and take it, his face expressionless, to the monitor, who did not even notice it. Along with all that, Jacques had not the slightest desire to have a different family or station in life, and his mother as she was remained what he loved most in the world, even if that love was hopeless. Besides, how can it be made clear that a poor child can sometimes be ashamed without ever being envious? On another occasion, when he was asked his religion, he answered: "Catholic." Asked if he should be enrolled in the course in religious instruction, and remembering his grandmother's fears, he said no. "In short," the monitor said deadpan, "you are a non-practicing Catholic." Jacques could explain nothing of what went on in his home, nor could he say the bizarre way his people dealt with religion. So he firmly answered, "Yes," which made people laugh and won him a reputation for stubbornness at the very moment he felt himself most at sea. Another day, the literature teacher, having handed out to the students a form concerning some internal matter, asked them to bring it back signed by their parents. The form, which enumerated the things students were forbidden to bring to school, from weapons to magazines and including playing cards, was written in such choice language that Jacques had to summarize it in simple terms for his mother and grandmother. His mother was the only one able to put a crude signature at the bottom of the form.a Because, after her husband's death, she received* her war widow's pension every quarter, and because the government, in this case the Treasury,but Catherine Cormery just said she was going to the treasure, for to her it was just a name, void of any meaning; to the children, on the other hand, it suggested a mythic place with limitless resources where their mother was admitted from time to time to draw small amounts of money,asked for her signature each time, after the first time when she had problems, a neighbor (?) had taught her to copy a sample of the signature "Widow Camus,"1 and she managed to do this more or less well, but anyway it was always accepted. However, the next morning Jacques discovered that his mother, who left long before him to clean a store that opened early, had forgotten to sign the form. His grandmother did not know how to sign. She managed to keep her accounts with a system of circles that, according to whether they were crossed once or twice, represented ones, tens, and hundreds. Jacques had to return the form unsigned, saying that his mother had forgotten, was asked if no one in his home could sign, answered no, and discovered from the teacher's surprised look that this circumstance was more unusual than he had believed. He was even more disconcerted by the French boys a. the reminder. * collect 1. sic brought to Algiers by the vagaries of their father's careers. The one who gave him the most to think about was Georges Didier;a their common liking for French classes and reading drew them into a very close friendship, of which Pierre moreover was jealous. Didier was the son of a very devout Catholic. His mother "made music," his sister (whom Jacques never saw, but he dreamed delightfully about her) did embroidery, and Didier, according to what he said, intended to enter the priesthood. Extremely intelligent, he was uncompromising on questions of faith and of morals, where his convictions were dogmatic. He was never heard to utter a dirty word, nor to refer, as other children did with endless self-satisfaction, to the body's natural functions or to those of reproduction, which in any case were not as clear in their minds as they liked to say. The first thing he sought from Jacques, once their friendship was established, was that he give up dirty words. Jacques had no difficulty giving them up with him. But with others those words would easily slip back into his conversation. (Already taking shape in him was the many-faceted nature that would make so many things easy for him, would make him adept at talking anyone's language, at getting along in any surroundings, at playing any role, except . . . ) With Didier, Jacques understood what it was to be a middle-class French family. His friend had a family home in France where he went on vacations; he was forever talking or writing to Jacques a. come back to him at his death. about it, that house with an attic full of old trunks, where they saved the family's letters, souvenirs, photos. He knew the history of his grandparents and his great-grandparents, also an ancestor who was a sailor at Trafalgar, and this long history, vivid in his imagination, also provided him with examples and precepts for everyday behavior. "My grandfather would say . . . Papa thinks that ..." and in that way he would justify his sternness, his imperious purity. When he spoke of France, he would say "our country" and he accepted in advance the sacrifices that country might demand ("your father died for our country," he would say to Jacques . . . ), whereas this notion of country had no meaning to Jacques, who knew he was French, and that this entailed a certain number of duties, but for whom France was an abstraction that people called upon and that sometimes laid claim to you, a bit like that God he had heard about outside his home, who evidently was the sovereign dispenser of good things and bad, who could not be influenced, but who on the other hand could do anything with the people's destiny. And this impression of his was even stronger among the women who lived with him. "Maman, what is our country?"a he asked one day. She looked frightened as she did each time she did not understand. "I don't know," she said. "No." "It's France." "Oh, yes." And she seemed relieved. a. discovery of the Fatherland in 1940. Whereas Didier did know what it was; the family through its generations was a potent presence to him, and the country where he was born through its history,he called Joan of Arc by her first name,and so were good and evil denned for him as was his present and future destiny. Jacques, and Pierre also, though to a lesser degree, felt themselves to be of another species, with no past, no family home, no attic full of letters and photos, citizens in theory of a nebulous nation where snow covered the roofs while they themselves grew up under an eternal and savage sun, equipped with a most elementary morality that, for example, forbade them to steal, enjoined them to protect their mothers and women, but was silent on a great number of questions concerning women, and relations with their superiors . . . (etc.),children, in short, unknown to and ignorant of God, unable to imagine a future life when this life seemed so inexhaustible each day under the protection of the indifferent deities of sun, of sea, or of poverty. And in truth, if Jacques was so devoted to Didier, no doubt it was because of the boy's heart that was so smitten with the absolute, so utterly loyal to his passions (the first time Jacques heard the word "loyalty," which he had read a hundred times, was from Didier) and capable of a charming tenderness, but it was also because he was so different, in Jacques's eyes, his charm being truly exotic, and attracting him all the more, just as Jacques later on, when he was grown, would feel himself irresistibly drawn to foreign women. The child of the family, of tradition, and of religion had the allure for Jacques of some tanned adventurers who return from the tropics guarding a strange and incomprehensible secret. But the Kabyle shepherd who, on his mountain that the sun has scaled and eroded, watches the storks go by while dreaming of the North from which they came after a long voyage,he may dream all day long, in the evening he still goes back to the dish of mastic leaves, to the family in long robes, to the wretched hut where he has his roots. In the same way, while Jacques might be intoxicated with the foreign potions of bourgeois (?) tradition, he remained devoted to the one who was most like him, and that was Pierre. Every morning at quarter after six (except Sunday and Thursday), Jacques would go down the stairs of his building four at a time, running in the mugginess of the hot season or the violent rain of winter that made his short cape swell up like a sponge; then at the fountain he would turn in to Pierre's street, and, still on the run, climb the two stories to knock softly at the door. Pierre's mother, a handsome woman with an ample build, would open the door that led directly to the sparsely furnished dining room. At the other end of the dining room a door on either side led to a bedroom. One was Pierre's, which he shared with his mother, the other was his two uncles', rough railroad men who smiled a lot and said little. As you entered the dining room, to the right was a room without air or light that served as both kitchen and bathroom. Pierre was chronically late. He would be sitting at the table with its oilcloth cover, the kerosene lamp lit if it was winter, holding a big brown bowl of glazed clay in both hands, and trying to swallow the scorching coffee his mother had just poured him without burning himself. "Blow on it," she would say. He blew on it, he sucked it in and smacked his lips, and Jacques shifted his weight from foot to foot while he watched him.a When Pierre had finished, he still had to go to the candlelit kitchen, where, at the zinc sink, a glass of water awaited him and, lying across it, a toothbrush spread with a thick ribbon of a special kind of toothpaste, for he suffered from pyorrhea. He slipped on his short cape, his cap, and his satchel, and, all rigged out, gave his teeth a long and vigorous brushing, then spat loudly in the sink. The pharmaceutical odor of the toothpaste mingled with the smell of the coffee. Jacques, a bit disgusted and at the same time impatient, would let that be known, and it was not unusual for this to result in one of those sulks that are the cement of a friendship. Then they would go down the stairs to the street in silence and walk unsmiling to the trolley stop. But other times they would chase each other, laughing, or while running they would pass one of the satchels back and forth like a rugby ball. At the stop they waited, watching for the red trolley to see with which of two or three motor-men they were going to ride. For they always scorned the two trailer cars and climbed up into the motorcar to work their way to the front, with difficulty, since the trolley was packed with workers going downtown and their satchels hindered their progress. At the front, they took advantage of each a. schoolboy's cap. departing passenger to press closer to the motorman's iron and glass cab and the high narrow controller, on the flat top of which a gearshift handle moved around a circle with a big steel notch to mark neutral, three other marks for the forward gears, and a fifth for reverse. Only the motormen had the right to work the gearshift, and they enjoyed the prestige of demigods in the eyes of the children, who were forbidden by a sign overhead to speak to them. They wore an almost military uniform, with a cap with molded leather visor, except the Arab drivers, who wore a tarboosh. The children told them apart by their appearance. There was the "nice little young one," who looked like a leading man and had thin shoulders; the "brown bear," a big sturdy Arab with thick features who always stared straight ahead; the "friend of the animals," an old Italian with clear eyes in a drab face, all bent over his gearshift, who owed his nickname to the fact that he once almost stopped his trolley to avoid hitting an absentminded dog and another time to avoid a dog that was nonchalantly relieving himself between the rails; and "Zorro," a tall fellow with the face and small moustache of Douglas Fairbanks.a The friend of the animals was dear to the children's hearts. But they ardently admired the brown bear; imperturbable, solidly fixed on his legs, he would drive his noisy vehicle at top speed, holding the wooden handle firmly in his enormous left hand and pushing it into third gear as soon as traffic permitted, his right hand a. The cord and the bell. vigilant on the big brake wheel to the right of the gearbox, ready to give the wheel a few vigorous turns while he moved his gearshift to neutral, and then the motorcar would skid heavily on the rails. It was with the brown bear that, on curves or switches, the trolley pole attached with a spiral spring to the roof of the motorcar was most likely to leave the electric wire overhead, which it was fitted to by a small wheel with a hollow rim, and then stand straight up with a great racket of vibrating wires and flying sparks. The conductor would jump down from the motorcar, seize the long trolley-catcher wire, attached to the end of the pole that was automatically unrolled from a cast-iron box at the back of the vehicle, and, pulling with all his strength to overcome the resistance of the steel spring, would bring the trolley pole back and, letting it up slowly, try to insert the wire once more into the hollow rim of the wheel, all in the midst of flaring sparks. Leaning out of the motorcar, or, if it was winter, with their noses pressed against the windows, the children followed the action, and when it was crowned with success, they would announce it in a stage whisper to inform the motorman without committing the infraction of speaking directly to him. But the brown bear was unmoved: he waited, according to regulation, until the conductor gave him the departure signal by pulling on the cord that hung at the back of the motorcar and activated a bell at the front. He would then set the trolley in motion again, without further precaution. Clustered together in front, the children would watch the metallic tracks race past under and over them, on a rainy or sparkling morning, rejoicing when the trolley, going full speed, would pass a horse-drawn cart or for a time would keep pace with a wheezing automobile. At each stop the trolley would unload part of its cargo of Arab and French workmen, take on a clientele that got better dressed the closer they were to downtown, then start off again at the clang of the bell and so would travel from one end to the other of the arc along which the city lay, until the moment when they suddenly emerged at the port before the immense space of the bay that stretched out to the big blue mountains at the end of the horizon. Three stops more and it was the end of the line, the place du Gouvernement, where the children got off. This square, bordered on three sides by trees and buildings with arcades, opened out to the white mosque and, beyond it, the expanse of the port. In its center stood the statue of the Duke of Orleans on a prancing horse, all verdigris under the dazzling sky; but in bad weather the bronze turned black and dripped rainwater (and they told the inevitable story that the sculptor committed suicide, having forgotten to put a curb chain on the harness), while from the horse's tail water trickled endlessly into the little garden protected by the railing that framed the monument. The rest of the square was surfaced with small shiny paving stones, which the children, jumping off the trolley, would fling themselves across, in long skids, toward the rue Bab-Azoun that brought them to the lyc?(c)e in five minutes. Bab-Azoun was a narrow street made still more narrow by the arcades on both sides that stood on enormous square pillars, leaving just enough room for the trolley tracks, used by another company, that connected this area to the higher districts of the city. On hot days the thick blue sky lay over the street like a steaming lid, and the shade was cool under the arcades. On rainy days the whole street was nothing but a deep trench of wet shiny stone. Under the arcades were rows of shops: wholesale textile dealers, their facades painted in dark colors, piles of light-colored cloth glowing softly in the shade; groceries that smelled of clove and coffee; small shops where Arab tradesmen sold pastries dripping with oil and honey; dark deep-set cafes where the coffeemak-ers were percolating at that time of day (whereas in the evening, lit up by glaring lamps, they were full of noise and voices, a crowd of men trampling the sawdust on the floor, pushing up to the bar where there were glasses of opalescent liquid and little saucersful of lupines, anchovies, cut-up celery, olives, fries, and peanuts); and, finally, bazaars for tourists where they sold hideous Eastern glass trinkets, displayed in windows framed by postcards in rotating racks, and Moorish scarves in garish colors. One of these bazaars, in the middle of the arcades, was run by a fat man who was always sitting behind his windows, in the shade or under an electric light; he was huge and pale, with bulging eyes, like those creatures you find by lifting stones or in old tree trunks, and, above all, he was absolutely bald. Because of this feature the lyc?(c)e students nicknamed him "the flies' skating rink" and "the mosquitoes' bicycle racetrack," and they would claim that when the insects traveled across the bare surface of that skull, they would miss the turn and be unable to keep their balance. Often in the evening the children would dash by his shop like a flight of starlings, shouting the unfortunate man's nicknames and imitating the flies' supposed skids with a sound of "zzzzz." The fat shopkeeper cursed them; once or twice he was presumptuous enough to try to chase them, but had to give it up. Then all at once he remained silent before the volley of shouts and scoffing, and for several evenings he let the children grow bolder, until they came right up and yelled in his face. And suddenly, one evening, some young Arabs, paid by the shopkeeper, emerged from behind the pillars where they had been hiding and set out in pursuit of the children. That evening Jacques and Pierre escaped punishment only because of their exceptional speed. Jacques took a single blow on the back of his head, then, once recovered from his surprise, was able to outrun his adversary. But two or three of their schoolmates took a severe beating. The students plotted to sack the shop and physically destroy its owner, but the fact is they never acted on their dark plans; they stopped persecuting their victim, and they adopted the habit of passing by angelically on the other side of the street. "We chickened out," Jacques said bitterly. "After all," Pierre answered, "we were in the wrong." "We were in the wrong and we were afraid of being beaten up." Later on, he would remember that incident when he came (truly) to understand that men pretend to abide by what is right and never yield except to force.a Halfway up the rue Bab-Azoun the street widened and on one side the arcade gave way to the church of Sainte-Victoire. This little church occupied the site of a vanished mosque. A kind of offertory (?), always full of flowers, had been carved in its whitewashed facade. Flower sellers had set up on the open sidewalk and were already displaying their wares by the time the children passed by; they offered enormous bunches of iris, carnations, roses, or anemones, according to the season, set in tall tin cans, the rims always rusted by the water that was always being sprinkled on the flowers. On the same side of the street there was also a little shop selling Arab fritters; it was really a nook that would hardly hold three men. A fireplace had been dug out at one side of this nook. Its sides were lined with blue-and-white earthenware, and a huge basin of boiling oil was bubbling on its surface. A strange person sat cross-legged in front of the fireplace. He wore Arab pantaloons, his chest was half naked during the summer and in the heat of the day; on other days he wore a European jacket closed at the top of the lapel with a safety pin; and with his shaved head, thin face, and toothless mouth he looked like a Gandhi without glasses. With a red enamel skimmer in his hand, he watched over the cooking of the fritters browning in the oil. When a fritter was ready,that is, when the outside was golden while a. himself like the rest. the very fine dough inside had become both translucent and crisp (like a transparent fried potato),he would carefully reach under the fritter with his ladle and lift it deftly out of the oil, drain it over the basin by shaking the ladle three or four times, then put it in front of him in a glassed-in stand with several perforated shelves on which already prepared fritters were lined up, on one side the long honey fritters, on the other, flat and round, the plain fritters.a Pierre and Jacques were mad about these pastries, and on those rare occasions when one or the other had a bit of money, they took a moment to stop and get a plain fritter on a piece of paper immediately made transparent by the oil, or the long fritter that the seller before giving it to them had dipped in a nearby jar, alongside the stove, full of dark honey speckled with fritter crumbs. The children would take these splendid things and bite into them as they ran to the lyc?(c)e, head and shoulders bent over to avoid dirtying their clothes. The departure of the swallows took place each year, soon after the opening of school, in front of the church of Sainte-Victoire. Electrical wires and even high-power lines, used at one time to drive the trolleys, now abandoned but never taken down, stretched over the street where it had been widened. The swallowsb usually flew over the waterfront boulevards, on the square in front of the lyc?(c)e, or in the sky over the poor neigh- a. Zlabias, Makroud. b. See the sparrows of Algeria mentioned by Grenier. borhoods, sometimes picking with piercing cries at a ficus fruit, some floating garbage, or fresh manure; but at the first cold weather,only relatively cold since there was never a frost; still you could feel it after the enormous weight of the hot months,the swallows would appear one by one in the corridor of rue Bab-Azoun, flying low toward a trolley, then abruptly veering up to disappear in the sky over the houses. Suddenly one morning they appeared by the thousands on all the lines over the little square at Sainte-Victoire, on top of the houses, squeezed in next to each other, nodding their heads over their little black-and-white necks, shaking their tails and moving their feet a bit to make room for a newcomer, covering the sidewalk with their tiny ashlike droppings, all together making what was a single constant chirp, punctuated with brief cackles, a continuing confidential dialogue that had been going on above the street all morning, and would get gradually louder and become almost deafening by evening, when the children were running to the homeward-bound trolleys; then the chirp would stop suddenly, on an invisible command, and thousands of sleeping birds would bow their little heads and their black-and-white tails. For two or three days, coming from every corner of the Sahel, and sometimes even farther, they would arrive in feathery little bands, trying to find room between the first arrivals, and, little by little, they would settle on all the cornices along the street on both sides of the main place of assembly, the sound of their wings beating and their chirping over the passersby growing louder and louder until it became deafening. And then one morning, just as abruptly, the street was empty. In the night, just before dawn, the birds had left all together for the South. For the children that was when winter began, well before its date, since they had never known a summer without the shriek of the swallows in the still warm sky of evening. The rue Bab-Azoun ended at a big square where the lyc?(c)e, on the left, faced the barracks on the right. The steep damp streets of the Arab city began their uphill climb behind the lyc?(c)e. The barracks faced away from the sea. Beyond the lyc?(c)e was the Marengo gardens; beyond the barracks, the poor, half-Spanish Bab-el-Oued district. A few minutes past quarter after seven, Pierre and Jacques, having climbed the stairs at full speed, would enter with a flood of children through the concierge's small entrance next to the monumental door. They started up the main stairs, with the honor rolls posted on either side, still running at top speed, and arrived at the main floor, where the stairs to the upper floors began on the left; it was separated from the main courtyard by a glassed-in arcade. There, behind one of the main floor columns, they spotted the Rhinoceros watching for latecomers. (The Rhinoceros was a chief supervisor, a small nervous Corsican who owed his nickname to his curled moustache.) Another life began. Pierre and Jacques had received scholarships that included half-board because of their "family situation." So they spent all day at the lyc?(c)e and had their lunch in the dining hall. Classes began at eight or nine o'clock, according to the day, but breakfast for the boarding students was served at 7:15, and the half-boarders were entitled to it. The families of the two children could not imagine that anyone would give up anything to which he was entitled, they who were entitled to so little; thus Jacques and Pierre were among the few half-boarders to arrive at 7:15 in the big white circular dining hall, where sleepy boarding students were already seating themselves at long zinc-covered tables, before big bowls and huge baskets with thick slices of dry bread, while the waiters swaddled in long aprons made of crude canvas, most of whom were Arab, went along the rows carrying big coffeepots with curved spouts that had once been shiny, and poured into the bowls a boiling liquid that contained more chicory than coffee. Having used their prerogative, the children could go a quarter of an hour later to the study hall, where, presided over by a monitor who was himself a boarding student, they could review their homework before classes began. The great difference here from the neighborhood school was the number of teachers. M. Bernard knew everything and taught everything he knew in the same way. At the lyc?(c)e, the teacher changed with the subject, and the method changed with the man.a Now you could compare; you had to choose, that is, between those you liked and those you did not. From this point of view a teacher in the school is more like a father: he takes over his role almost entirely; he is as inevitable and he is part of what is necessary in your life. So the question of lov- a. M. Bernard was loved and admired. At best the fycee teacher could only be admired and you did not dare love him. ing or not loving him does not really arise. Usually you love him because you are absolutely dependent on him But if it happens that the child likes him little or not at all, dependence and necessity remain, and that is not far from resembling love. At the lyc?(c)e, on the other hand the teachers were like those uncles you are entitled to choose among. That is, you could dislike them, and so there was a certain physics teacher, who was very elegant in his attire, authoritarian and crude in his speech, whom neither Jacques nor Pierre could stomach, though they had him two or three times over the years. The literature teacher, whom the children saw more often than the others, was the one they would have been most likely to love, and in fact Jacques and Pierre clung to him in almost all those classesa without however being able to depend on him, since he knew nothing about them and since, once class was over, he went off to a different life and so did they, leaving for that distant neighborhood where there was no possibility a lyc?(c)e teacher would settle, so different that they never met anyone, neither teachers nor students, on their trolley line,only red cars served the lower districts (the C.F.R.A.), while the upper sections, reputed to be more elegant, were served by a line with green cars, the T.A. Furthermore, the T.A. went right to the lyc?(c)e, whereas the C.F.R.A. line ended at the place du Gouvernemenl, you [ ]1 the lyc?(c)e from below. So it was that when their a. say which? and develop? 1. An illegible word. day was over, the children felt their separateness at the very door to the lyc?(c)e, or only a bit farther, at the place du Gouvernement, when, leaving the merry group of their schoolmates, they headed toward the red trolleys that went to the poorest neighborhoods. And it was just their separateness they felt, not inferiority. They were from somewhere else, that was all. During the school day, on the other hand, there was no such difference. Their smocks might be more or less elegant, they all looked alike. The only rivalries were those of intelligence in class and physical agility in sports. In these two sorts of competitions, the two children were far from being the last. The solid instruction they had received in the neighborhood school had given them an advantage that, from the first year, put them in the top group of the class. Their sure spelling, their reliable arithmetic, their trained memory, and most of all the respect[ ]1 inculcated in them for all kinds of knowledge were major assets, at least at the beginning of their studies. If Jacques had not been so rambunctious, which repeatedly kept him off the honor roll, and if Pierre had taken more to Latin, their success would have been complete. At any rate, they were encouraged by their teachers and they were respected. As for sports, it was above all soccer, and from the first recesses Jacques found what would be his love for so many years. Their matches were played during the recess after lunch at the dining hall and the one-hour recess that, for boarders 1. An illegible word. and half-boarders and day students in detention, came before the last class at four o'clock. An hour recess at that time gave the children the opportunity to eat their snack and relax before the two-hour study hall, when they could do their homework for the following day.a For Jacques a snack was out of the question. Obsessed with soccer, he would dash out to the cement courtyard, which was surrounded on its four sides by arcades supported by thick pillars (under which the studious and well-behaved boys strolled and chatted), with four or five green benches at its sides, and big ficus trees protected by an iron railing. Two teams took their sides of the yard, the goalies assumed their positions between the pillars at each end, and a big foam-rubber ball was placed at the center. No referee, and at the first kick the shouting and sprinting began. It was on this field that Jacques, who already could meet the best students in the class on equal terms, made himself respected and liked also by the worst, some of whom fate had endowed, for want of a strong mind, with sturdy legs and inexhaustible lungs. This was where for the first time he parted company with Pierre, who did not play, though he was naturally well coordinated; he had become more frail, growing faster than Jacques, and becoming more blond, as if being transplanted had not worked as well with him.b Jacques's growth was delayed, which earned him the delightful nicknames "shrimp" and "short-ass," but a. the yard less crowded because the day students were gone. b. to develop. he paid no attention, and running madly, dribbling the ball between his feet, dodging first a tree and then an opponent, he felt himself king of the field and king of the world. When the drum sounded the end of recess and the beginning of study hall, he really fell from the sky, stopped short on the cement, panting and sweating, furious that the hours were so short; then bit by bit he returned to the present, hurried to line up with the others, mopped the sweat off his face with both his sleeves,and suddenly took fright at the thought of the wear on the studs in the soles of his shoes, which he anxiously examined at the beginning of study hall, trying to evaluate the difference in their shininess from the previous day, and was reassured by the very difficulty he had in discerning how worn they were. Except when some irreparable damage,a detached sole, or torn upper, or twisted heel,left no doubt as to how he would be received when he went home, and then he would swallow his saliva, his stomach queasy, during the two hours of the study hall, trying to redeem his sin by devoting himself more strenuously to his work, from which however, and despite his best efforts, he was inevitably distracted by the fear of being beaten. This last study hall was also the one that seemed the longest. To begin with, it lasted two hours. And besides it took place at night or when night was falling. The high windows looked out on the Marengo gardens. The students around Jacques and Pierre, sitting side by side, were quieter than usual, tired from work and play, absorbed in their last assignments. Especially at the end of the year, night would fall on the big trees, the flower beds, and the clusters of banana trees in the park. The sky became greener and greener; it seemed to swell as the sounds of the city grew fainter and more distant. When it was very hot and one of the windows was half open, they heard the cries of the last swallows over the little garden, and the scent of seringas and of the big magnolias came in to drown the more acid and bitter smells of ink and ruler. Jacques would daydream, his heart strangely heavy, until he was called to order by the young monitor, who was himself doing his assignments for the University. They had to wait for the last drum. aAt seven o'clock came the rush out of the lyc?(c)e; they ran in noisy groups the length of the rue Bab-Azoun, where all the stores were lit up and the sidewalk under the arcades was so crowded that sometimes they had to run in the street itself, between the rails, until a trolley came in sight and they had to dash back under the arcades; then at last the place du Gouverne-ment opened up before them, its periphery illuminated by the stalls and stands of the Arab peddlers lit by acetylene lamps giving off a smell the children inhaled with delight. The red trolleys were waiting, already jammed,whereas in the morning there were fewer passengers,and sometimes they had to stand on the running board of a trailer car, which was both forbidden and tolerated, until some passengers got off at a stop, and then the two boys would press into the human mass, separated, unable in any case to talk to each other, and a. the homosexual's assault. could only work their way slowly with elbows and bodies to get to one of the railings where they could see the dark port with its big steamers outlined by lights that seemed, in the night of the sea and the sky, like skeletons of burned-out buildings where the fire had left its embers. The big brightly lit trolleys rode with a great racket over the water, then forged a bit inland and passed between poorer and poorer houses to the Bel-court district, where the children had to part company and Jacques climbed the never lighted stairs toward the circle of the kerosene lamp that lit the oilcloth table cover and the chairs around the table, leaving in the shadow the rest of the room, where Catherine Cormery was occupied at the buffet preparing to set the table, while his grandmother was in the kitchen reheating the stew from lunch and his older brother was at the corner of the table reading an adventure novel. Sometimes he had to go to the Mzabite grocer for the salt or quarter-pound of butter needed at the last minute, or go get Uncle Ernest, who was holding forth at Gaby's cafe. Dinner was at eight, in silence unless Uncle Ernest recounted an incomprehensible adventure that sent him into gales of laughter, but in any event there was no mention of the lyc?(c)e, except if his grandmother would ask if he had gotten good grades, and he said yes and no one said any more about it, and his mother asked him nothing, shaking her head and gazing at him with her gentle eyes when he confessed to good grades, but always silent and a bit distracted; "Sit still," she would say to her mother, "I'll get the cheese," then nothing till the meal was over, when she stood up to clear the table. "Help your mother," his grandmother would say, because he had picked up Pardaillan and was avidly reading it. He helped out and came back to the lamp, putting the big volume that told of duels and courage on the slick bare surface of the oilcloth, while his mother, pulling a chair away from the lamplight, would seat herself by the window in winter, or in summer on the balcony, and watch the traffic of trolleys, cars, and passersby as it gradually diminished.a It was, again, his grandmother who told Jacques he had to go to bed because he would get up at five-thirty the next morning, and he kissed her first, then his uncle, and last his mother, who gave him a tender, absentminded kiss, then assumed once more her motionless position, in the shadowy half-light, her gaze lost in the street and the current of life that flowed endlessly below the riverbank where she sat, endlessly, while her son, endlessly, watched her in the shadows with a lump in his throat, staring at her thin bent back, filled with an obscure anxiety in the presence of adversity he could not understand. a. Lucien,14 EPS,16 Insurance. The Chicken Coop and Cutting the Hen's Throat That dread of death and the unknown, which he always felt when coming home from the lyc?(c)e, was already taking hold of him at the end of the day, as fast as the darkness that rapidly devoured the light and the earth, and would not cease until his grandmother lit the suspension lamp, setting the glass chimney down on the oilcloth, her [stance] up a bit on the balls of her feet, her thighs pressed against the edge of the table, her body leaning forward, her head twisted so she could better see the burner of the lamp under the shade, one hand holding the copper key that regulated the wick under the lamp, the other scraping the wick with a lit match until it stopped smoldering and gave a beautiful clear light; and then the grandmother would replace the chimney, which would squeak a little against the chiseled tabs of the copper gallery into which she pressed it, and, again standing erect at the table, one arm raised, she adjusted the wick until the hot yellow light was cast evenly on the table in a large and perfect circle, and, as if reflected by the oilcloth, it lit with a gentler glow the faces of the woman and the child who was watching the ritual from the other side of the table,and his heart gradually grew easy as the light grew brighter. It was the same dread he tried sometimes to overcome out of pride or vanity when his grandmother would on certain occasions order him to go get a hen from the yard. It was always in the evening, before a major holiday,Easter or Christmas,or else before a visit from better-off relatives whom they wished as much to honor as to deceive, for the sake of propriety, about the family's actual circumstances. In one of his first years at the lyc?(c)e, the grandmother had asked Uncle Josephin to bring her some Arab hens from his Sunday trading expeditions, and had drafted Uncle Ernest to build her a crude chicken coop on the sticky damp earth at the far end of the yard, where she kept five or six fowls that gave her their eggs and at times their lives. The family was at dinner the first time the grandmother decided to conduct an execution, and she asked the older of the boys to go get her the victim. But Louis1 said he couldn't; he said point-blank that he was afraid. The grandmother sneered, and railed against these children of the rich, not like those in her time, out in the depths of the bush, they were afraid of nothing. "Jacques is braver than that, I'm sure of it. Go ahead, you." To tell the truth, Jacques did not feel at all braver. But once it had been said, he could not back down, and so he went to it on that first evening. He had 1. Jacques's brother is sometimes called Henri, sometimes Louis. to feel his way in the dark down the stairs, turn left in the hall that was always dark, and find the door to the yard and open it. The night outside was less dark than the hall. You could make out the four slippery greenish steps down to the yard. To the right, a weak light trickled through the blinds of the small building occupied by the barber and the Arab family. Across the yard he could see the whitisha splotches of the animals asleep on the ground or on their manure-splattered perches. Once he had reached the coop, as soon as he touched the unsteady coop, squatting with his fingers above his head in the big mesh of the cage, a soft cackling began to rise with the warm nauseating smell of the droppings. He opened the little lattice door at ground level, bent over to reach his hand and arm in, was disgusted at the touch of the earth or of a dirty stick, and hastily withdrew his hand, gripped with fear as the coop exploded in a turmoil of wings and feet, the birds fluttering and running all over the place. Yet he had to make up his mind to it, since he had been designated as the more courageous one. But he was horrified by this commotion among the animals in the dark, in this dim and filthy place,it turned his stomach. He waited, gazing up at the immaculate night above him, the :y full of calm clean stars; then he threw himself forward, grabbed the first claw within reach, dragged the crying terrified animal to the little door, took hold of the second foot with his other hand and roughly yanked the hen out of the coop, al- a. distorted. ready tearing off some of its feathers against the door-jamb, while the whole coop burst into piercing panic-stricken cackling, and the old Arab, vigilant, appeared framed in a sudden rectangle of light. "It's me, M. Tahar," the child said in a toneless voice. "I'm getting a hen for my grandmother." "Oh, it's you. All right, I thought it was robbers," and he went back inside, leaving the yard dark again. Now Jacques ran, while the hen struggled desperately and he bumped it against the wall of the hallway or the rungs of the stairs, sick with fear and disgust at the feel of its cold, thick, scaly claws in his hand, ran still faster on the landing and in the hall of the building, and victoriously entered the dining room. The victor stood framed in the doorway, hair mussed, knees green from the moss in the yard, holding the hen as far as possible from his body, his face white with fear. "You see," the grandmother said to the older boy. "He's younger than you are, but he puts you to shame." Jacques waited to preen with justified pride until the grandmother had taken a firm grip on the feet of the hen, which suddenly grew quiet as if understanding that from now on it was in the hands of the inexorable. His brother ate his dessert without looking at him, except to make a scornful face that made Jacques even more satisfied with himself. However, that satisfaction was brief. Glad to have found she had a manly grandson, his grandmother invited him to the kitchen to take part in cutting the hen's throat. She was already wearing a big blue apron and, still holding the hen's feet in one hand, she put a deep earthenware dish on the floor, with the long kitchen knife that Uncle Ernest sharpened periodically on a long black stone, so that the blade, worn till it was very thin and narrow, was no more than a shining edge. "You go over there." Jacques went to the designated place, across the kitchen, while the grandmother placed herself in the doorway, blocking the exit to the hen as well as to the child. His back to the sink, his [left] shoulder against the wall, he watched in horror the sure movements of the sacrificer. The grandmother pushed the plate just into the light shed by the little kerosene lamp set on a wooden table, to the left of the doorway. She laid the animal on the floor, and, putting her knee to the ground, trapped the hen's feet, pressed it flat with her hands to keep it from struggling, then seized the head with her left hand and pulled it back over the plate. With the razor-sharp knife she slowly cut its throat at the place where a man has his Adam's apple, opening the wound by twisting the head while the knife cut with a dreadful sound more deeply into the cartilage, holding still the animal that was shaking all over with terrible twitches while the blood ran bright red into the white dish; and Jacques watched, his legs trembling, as if it were his own blood he felt draining away. "Take the dish," the grandmother said after an interminable time. The animal was no longer bleeding. Jacques carefully placed the dish on the table, with the blood already turning dark. The grandmother tossed the hen down next to the dish; its plumage was already dim, and the round creased lid was closing over its glassy eye. Jacques stared at the motionless body, the toes of its feet drawn together and hanging limp, the crest faded and flaccid, death, in short,then he went out to the dining room.a "Me, I can't watch that," his brother said with suppressed anger that first night. "It's disgusting." "No, it's not," Jacques said uncertainly. Louis was looking at him with an expression that was both hostile and inquisitorial. And Jacques straightened up. He subdued his fear, the panic that took hold of him in the face of night and that appalling death, and he found in pride, only in pride, a will to courage that finally served as courage itself. "You're scared, that's all," he said at last. "Yes," said the grandmother, coming back in the room. "It's Jacques who'll go to the chicken coop in the future." "Good, good," said Uncle Ernest, beaming, "he got courage." Jacques, rooted to the spot, looked at his mother, who was sitting a bit apart from the others, darning socks stretched over a wooden egg. His mother gazed at him. "Yes," she said, "that's good, you're brave." And she turned back to the street, and Jacques, seeing nothing but her, felt unhappiness swelling once more in his heavy heart. "Go to bed," said the grandmother. Jacques, without lighting the small kerosene lamp, undressed in the bedroom by the light from the dining room. He lay down on the side of the double bed, to avoid having to touch a. The next day, the smell of raw chicken on the fire. his brother, or disturb him. He went right to sleep, worn out with fatigue and emotion, awakened at times by his brother, who climbed over him to sleep by the wall because he got up later than Jacques, or by his mother, who sometimes bumped into the wardrobe while undressing in the dark, and who climbed softly into her bed and slept so lightly you could think she was lying awake, and Jacques did sometimes think so; he felt like calling her but he told himself she would not hear him anyway, then forced himself to stay awake as long as she did, just as quietly, motionless, and making no sound, until sleep overcame him as it had already overcome his mother after a hard day of laundry or housework. Thursdays and Vacations Only on Thursdays and Sundays could Jacques and Pierre get back to their own world. (Except on some Thursdays when Jacques was in detention,as stated in a note from the chief monitor's office, which Jacques would ask his mother to sign after summarizing its contents with the word "punishment",and had to spend two hours, from eight to ten o'clock, sometimes four in serious cases, at the lyc?(c)e, in a special room with other offenders, under the supervision of a monitor who usually was furious at being drafted on that day, doing some particularly unrewarding task.)a Pierre, in eight years of lyc?(c)e, never suffered detention. But Jacques was too rambunctious, and also too vain, and he played the fool for the sake of showing off, and so he collected detentions. Try as he might to explain to the grandmother that these punishments were for conduct, she could not see the difference between stupidity and bad a. At the lyc?(c)e it was called a castagne not a donnade. behavior. To her, a good student would of necessity be virtuous and well behaved; accordingly, virtue led straight to knowledge. So Thursday's punishment was made worse, at least in the first years, by Wednesday's beating. On Thursdays when there was no punishment, and on Sundays, mornings were devoted to errands and work around the home. And in the afternoon Pierre and Jean1 could go out together. During the summer there was the Sablettes beach, and the parade grounds, a big vacant lot that included a roughly laid out soccer field and several areas for boules players. Usually they played soccer with a ball made of rags, and teams of Arab and French boys that were put together on the spot. But during the rest of the year the two children went to the Home for Disabled Veterans at Kouba,a where Pierre's mother, who had left the post office, was chief laundress. Kouba was the name of a hill to the east of Algiers, at the end of a trolley line.b In fact, the city ended there, and the gentle countryside of the Sahel began, with its symmetrical knolls, its relatively abundant waters, meadows that seemed practically opulent, and fields of savory red soil, separated here and there by hedges of tall cypress or reeds. Grapevines, fruit trees, corn grew in abundance and without too much effort. Also, for those who came from the city and its damp and 1. The reference is to Jacques. a. Is that its name? b. the fire. hot lower districts, the air was bracing and believed to be good for the health. For those people from Algiers who, once they had some wealth or income, would flee the Algiers summer for a more temperate France, it was enough if the air they breathed someplace was just slightly cool, for them to dub it "French air." So in Kouba they breathed the air of France. The old soldiers' home, started for crippled veterans soon after the war, was five minutes from the end of the trolley line. It was a former convent, vast, complex in its architecture, and spread out over several wings, with very thick whitewashed walls, covered arcades, and big cool halls with arched ceilings where the dining rooms and the various services had been set up. The laundry, headed by Mme. Marlon, Pierre's mother, was in one of these big halls. That was where she first greeted the children, amidst the smell of hot irons and damp linen, with the two employees, one Arab the other French, who were under her orders. She would give them each a piece of bread and chocolate; then, rolling up the sleeves on her lovely arms, so strong and youthful: "Put that in your pocket for four o'clock and go out in the garden, I have work to do." First the children would wander through the arcades and the inside courtyards, and most often they ate their snack right away to be rid of the cumbersome bread and the chocolate that melted between their fingers. They would encounter the disabled veterans, some missing an arm or a leg, others installed in little carts with bicycle wheels. There were no disfigured or blind men, only cripples; they were neatly dressed, often wearing a medal, the sleeve of the shirt or jacket, or the pantsleg, carefully taken up and fastened with a safety pin around the invisible stump, and it was not gruesome, there were so many of them. Once past the surprise of the first day, the children looked on them as they did on everything new they discovered and immediately incorporated into their view of the world. Mme. Marlon had explained to them that these men had lost an arm or a leg in the war, and as it happened that the war was part of their universe and they heard about it all the time, it had influenced so many things around them that they had no difficulty understanding that you could lose an arm or a leg to it, and even that it could be defined as a time of life when legs and arms were lost. That was why this world of cripples was in no way sad for the children. Some of the men were closemouthed and somber, it is true, but most were young, smiling, and even joked about their disability. "I only have one leg," one of them would say,he was blond, with a strong square face, and radiantly healthy; they often saw him prowling around the laundry,"but I can still give you a kick in the ass," he would tell the children. And, leaning on the cane in his right hand with his left hand on the parapet of the arcade, he would pull himself erect and swing his one foot in their direction. The children laughed with him, then fled as fast as they could. It seemed normal to them that they were the only ones who could run or use both arms. On just one occasion the thought occurred to Jacques, who had sprained his ankle playing soccer and was limping for a few days, that the Thursday cripples would for all their lives be unable, as he was now, to run and catch a moving trolley, or kick a ball. Suddenly he was struck by the miraculous nature of the body's mechanics, along with an unreasoning fear at the idea that he too might be mutilated, and then he forgot about it. They* would wander alongside the dining halls with their shutters half closed, the big tables entirely surfaced with zinc glowing faintly in the shade, then the kitchens with their huge containers, caldrons, and casseroles, from which a persistent smell of meat scraps drifted. In the last wing they saw bedrooms with two or three beds covered with gray blankets, and blond-wood closets. Then they went down an outside stairs to the garden. The soldiers' home was surrounded by a big park that was almost entirely neglected. A few residents had taken on the task of caring for some clumps of rosebushes and flower beds around the building, not to mention a small vegetable garden enclosed by big hedges of dry reeds. But beyond that the park, which had once been superb, had gone back to nature. Huge eucalyptuses, royal palms, coconut palms, rubber treesa with great trunks and low branches that took root farther off, thus making a labyrinth of vegetation full of shade and secrets, thick solid cypresses, vigorous orange trees, clumps of extraordinarily tall pink and white laurels, all these overshadowed the secluded paths where clay had swallowed the gravel; nibbling at the paths' edges * the children a. the other big trees. were odorous tangles of syringas, jasmines, clematis, passionflowers, bushes of honeysuckles, and they in turn were invaded at ground level by an energetic carpet of clover, oxalis, and wild grasses. To wander in this fragrant jungle, to crawl in it, to snuggle your face in the grass, to cut a passage through grown-over paths with a knife and come out with mud streaked legs and water all over your face,this was rapture. But the manufacture of frightful poisons also took up a large part of the afternoon. Under an old stone bench that backed on a section of wall, the children had piled up a whole assortment of tin aspirin tubes, medicine jars, old inkwells, fragments of dishes, and chipped cups that constituted their laboratory. There, hidden in the densest part of the park, away from all eyes, they would prepare their mysterious potions. Their base was oleander, simply because they had often heard it said around them that its shadow was deadly and that anyone so imprudent as to go to sleep at the foot of an oleander would never awaken. So they ground up oleander leaves, and flowers in season, between two stones, to make an evil (unhealthy) pulp, the mere sight of which promised a terrible death. This pulp was left in the open air, where it immediately took on colors of particularly frightening iridescence. During this time, one of the children would run to fill an old bottle with water. Now it was the turn of the cypress cones to be ground up. The children were sure of their malevolence for the unsure reason that the cypress is the cemetery tree. But the fruits were collected from the tree, not on the ground where drying out and hardening gave them a distressingly healthy appearance.a Next, the two mashes were mixed in an old bowl and diluted with water, then filtered through a dirty handkerchief. The children handled the liquid thus obtained, of an alarming green, with all the care one would exercise with a virulent poison. They carefully decanted the liquid into aspirin tubes or pharmaceutical jars, which they restoppered while prudently avoiding touching the contents. They mixed what was left with various mashes of all the berries they could gather, so as to make a series of more and more intense poisons, carefully numbered and put away under the stone bench until the next week, so that fermentation would make them definitively deadly. When this sinister work was finished, J. and P. would gaze enraptured at their collection of terrifying flasks and sniff delightedly the sharp acid smell that rose from the stone stained with green mash. These poisons were not actually intended for anyone. The chemists calculated the number of people they could kill, sometimes optimistically stretching it to the point of supposing they had manufactured a quantity sufficient to depopulate the whole city. Yet they had never thought that these magical drugs might rid them of a classmate or teacher they detested. But to tell the truth, there was no one they hated, which would greatly hinder them when they were adults, in the world where they then had to live. But the grandest days were those of the wind. A side of the building that faced the park ended in what had a. put back in chronological order. once been a terrace, with its stone railing now lying in the grass in front of the huge red-tiled cement footing. From the terrace, open on three sides, you looked out over the park and, beyond it, a ravine that separated the Kouba hill from one of the high plains of the Sahel. The terrace was so oriented that on days when the east wind rose, always violent in Algiers, it would whip straight across it. On those days the children would dash to the closest palms, where long dried palm branches were always lying around. They scraped the ends to remove the thorns and so they could hold on with both hands. Then, dragging the branches behind them, they ran to the terrace; the wind blew furiously, whistling through the big eucalyptuses that were wildly waving their top branches, disheveling the palms, making a sound of paper crumpling as it shook the big shiny leaves of the rubber trees. The idea was to climb up on the terrace, lift the palm branches and turn their backs to the wind. The children would get a good grip on the dry rustling branches, partly shielding them with their bodies, then would abruptly turn around. The branch would immediately be plastered against them, they would breathe its smell of dust and straw. The game was to advance into the wind while lifting the branch higher and higher. The winner was the one who first reached the end of the terrace without letting the wind tear the branch from his hands, then he would stand erect holding the palm branch at arm's length, one leg extended with all his weight on it, struggling victoriously for as long as possible against the raging force of the wind. There, standing erect over the park and the plain seething with trees, under the sky crossed by huge clouds traveling at full speed, Jacques could feel the wind from the farthest ends of the country coursing down the length of the branch and down his arms to fill him with such a power and an exultation that he cried out endlessly, until his arms and shoulders gave way under the strain and he let go of the branch, which the storm instantly carried off along with his cries. And that night lying in bed, worn out, in the silence of the room where his mother was lightly sleeping, he could still hear the howling and the tumult of the wind that he would love for all his life. Thursdaya was also the day Jacques and Pierre would go to the public library. Jacques had always devoured any books that came to hand, and he consumed them with the same appetite he felt for living, playing, or dreaming. But reading enabled him to escape into a world of innocence where wealth and poverty were equally interesting because both were utterly unreal. L'Intr?(c)pide, that series of thick collections of illustrated stories that he and his friends passed around until the board binding was gray and rough and the pages dogeared and torn, was the first to transport him to a world of comedy or heroism where his two basic appetites for joy and for courage were satisfied. The taste for heroism and panache was certainly strong in the two boys, judging by their incredible consumption of cloak-and-dagger novels, and by how easily they added the a. separate them from their environment. characters of Pardaillan to their everyday lives. Indeed, their favorite writer was Michel Zevaco,1 and the Renaissance, especially in Italy, with its atmosphere of stilettos and poisons, in settings of Roman or Florentine palaces and royal or papal pomp, was the favorite kingdom of these two aristocrats, who could sometimes be seen in the yellow dusty street where Pierre lived, hurling challenges at each other as they unsheathed their long varnished [ ]2 rulers fighting impetuous duels among the garbage cans that would leave long-lasting marks on their fingers.a At the time, they could hardly find any other sort of books, for the reason that few people read in that neighborhood and all they could buy for themselves,and only rarely at that,were the cheap volumes lying around in the bookstores. But about the same time they started at the lyc?(c)e, a public library was opened in the area, halfway between the street where Jacques lived and the heights where the more refined districts began, with their villas surrounded by little gardens full of scented plants that thrived on the hot humid slopes of Algiers. These villas circled the grounds of Sainte-Odile, a religious board- 1. Author of the Pardaillan stories,Trans. 2. An illegible word. a. Actually they were fighting over who would be D'Artagnan or Passepoil. No one wanted to be Aramis or Athos, Porthos if necessary. [All characters in Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers, except Passepoil, who is from Le Bossu by Paul Feval, Trans.] ing school that took only girls. It was in this neighborhood, so near and yet so far from their own, that Jacques and Pierre experienced their deepest emotions (that it is not yet time to discuss, that will be discussed, etc.). The frontier between these two worlds (one dusty and treeless, where all the space was devoted to its residents and the stone that sheltered them, the other where flowers and trees supplied this world's true luxury) was described by a rather wide boulevard with superb plane trees planted along its two sidewalks. Villas stretched along one bank of this frontier and low-cost buildings along the other. The public library was built on that border. It was open three times a week, including Thursday, in the evening after work, and all morning Thursday. A quite unattractive-looking young teacher, who volunteered several hours a week at this library, would be sitting behind a rather large blond-wood table and was in charge of books for loan. The room was square, the walls entirely filled with blond wood bookcases and black clothbound books. There was also a small table with a few chairs around it for those who wanted quickly to refer to a dictionary, for it was only a lending library, and an alphabetical card catalogue that neither Jacques nor Pierre ever looked into, their method consisting of wandering along the shelves, choosing a book by its title or, less often, by its author, then making note of its number and writing it on the blue slip that you used to request permission to borrow the work. To be entitled to borrow books, you just had to show a rent receipt and pay a minimal fee. Then you received a folding card where borrowed books were noted, as well as in the book kept by the young teacher. Most of the books in the library were novels, but many were set aside and forbidden to those under fifteen. And the children's strictly intuitive method made no real selection among the books that remained. But chance is not the worst method in matters of culture, and, devouring everything indiscriminately, the two gluttons swallowed the best at the same time as the worst, not caring in any event whether they remembered anything, and in fact retaining just about nothing, except a strange and powerful emotion that, over the weeks, the months, and the years, would give birth to and nurture a whole universe of images and memories that never yielded to the reality of their daily lives, and that surely was no less immediate to these eager children who lived their dreams as intensely as they did their lives.a b Actually the contents of these books mattered little. What did matter was what they first felt when they went into the library, where they would see not the walls of black books but multiplying horizons and expanses that, as soon as they crossed the doorstep, would take them away from the cramped life of the neighborhood. Then came the moment when,each of them provided with the two books they were allowed, holding them close against their sides with their elbows,they slipped out a. Pages of Quillet's dictionary, smell of the plates. b. Mademoiselle, Jack London, is that good? onto the boulevard, dark by this time; they squashed underfoot the fruits of the big plane trees while calculating the delights they were going to extract from their books, comparing them already with those of the previous week, until, having arrived on the main street, they would first open them by the uncertain light of the first streetlight, to pick out some phrase (for ex.: "his was a most uncommon strength") that would heighten their joyous and avid hopes. They would part quickly and dash to the dining room to open the book on the oilcloth by the light of the kerosene lamp. A strong smell of glue rose from the crude binding that also was rough to the touch. The way the book was printed would give the reader advance notice of the pleasure he would derive from it. P. and J. did not like books set in large type with wide margins, such as pleased readers of more refined tastes, but rather pages set in small type stretching all the way across tightly justified lines, filled to the brim with words and sentences, like those enormous rustic dishes you can eat at long and heartily without ever emptying them, and are all that can satisfy some gigantic appetites. They had no use for subtleties; they knew nothing and wanted to know everything. It mattered little if the book was poorly written and crudely printed, as long as the writing was clear and it was full of violent activity; those books, and those alone, would feed their dreams, and on that they could go into a heavy sleep. Moreover, each book had its own smell according to the paper on which it was printed, always delicate and discreet, but so distinct that with his eyes closed J. could have told a book in the Nelson series1 from one of the contemporary editions Fasquelle was then publishing. And each of those odors, even before he had begun reading, would transport Jacques to another world full of promises already [kept], that was beginning even now to obscure the room where he was, to blot out the neighborhood itself and its noises, the city, and the whole world, which would completely vanish as soon as he began reading with a wild exalted intensity that would transport the child into an ecstasy so total that even repeated commands could not extract him:a "Jacques, for the third time, set the table." Finally he would set the table, his expression empty and without color, a bit staring, as if drunk on his reading, and he would return to his book as if he had never put it down. "Jacques, eat," and finally he would eat food that, heavy as it was, seemed less real and less solid than what he found in the books; then he cleared the table and went back to his book. Sometimes his mother came to him before seating herself in her usual place. "It's the library," she would say. She mispronounced this word she had heard spoken by her son that had no meaning to her, but she recognized the jackets of books.b "Yes," Jacques said without looking up. Catherine Cormery leaned over his shoulder. She looked at the double rectangle under the light, the regular rows 1. A series of classics,Trans. a. to develop. b. They made him (Uncle Ernest) a small desk of blond wood. of the lines; she would inhale the odor, and sometimes she would run her swollen fingers, wrinkled by the water from doing laundry, across the page, as if she were trying better to understand what a book was, to come a little closer to these mysterious signs, incomprehensible to her, but where her son so often and for hours on end found a life unknown to her and from which he would return with such an expression, looking at her as if she were a stranger. Her gnarled hand gently caressed the boy's head; he did not react; she sighed, then went and sat down, far from him. "Jacques, go to bed." The grandmother repeated the command. "You'll be late tomorrow." Jacques got to his feet, prepared his satchel for the next day's classes, not letting go of his book, which he held in his armpit, and then, like a drunkard, he fell into a heavy sleep, after slipping the book under his bolster. So, for years, Jacques's existence was divided unequally into two lives between which he was unable to make any connection. For twelve hours, to the sound of the drum, in a society of children and teachers, amidst games and study. For two or three hours of daily life, in the home in the old neighborhood, close to his mother, whom he did not really join except in the sleep of the poor. Although the earliest part of his life was this neighborhood, his present and even more his future were at the lyc?(c)e. So that in a sense the neighborhood eventually blended in with night, with sleep and with dreams. Moreover, did this neighborhood even exist, and was it not the desert it became for the child one evening when he was unconscious? He had fallen on cement ... At the lyc?(c)e, in any case, there was no one he could talk to about his mother and his family. In his family no one he could talk to about the lyc?(c)e. No friend, no teacher ever came to his home during all the years before he received his baccalaureate. And as for his mother and grandmother, they never came to the lyc?(c)e, except once a year, when awards were given, at the beginning of July. On that day, it is true, they would enter by the monumental door, in a crowd of dressed-up parents and students. The grandmother put on the black dress and scarf she wore for major outings; Catherine Cormery wore a hat adorned with brown net and black waxen grapes, a brown summer dress, and the only pair of shoes with heels that she owned. Jacques wore a short-sleeved white shirt with an open-necked collar, pants that were first short then long, but always carefully ironed by his mother on the previous evening; and, walking between the two women, he himself led them to the red trolley, at about one o'clock in the afternoon, settled them on a seat in the motorcar while he remained standing at the front, looking back through the glass partition at his mother, who smiled at him from time to time and throughout the journey checked the angle of her hat or whether her stockings were falling, or the position of the small golden medal of the Virgin she wore at the end of a thin chain. At the place du Gouverne-ment began the daily journey along the length of the rue Bab-Azoun, which he made just once in the year with the two women. Jacques sniffed the [lampero] lotion on his mother, which she had liberally applied for the occasion, the grandmother walking erect and proud, scolding her daughter when she complained about her feet ("That'll teach you to wear shoes too small for you at your age"), while Jacques persisted in showing them the stores and shopkeepers that had come to have such an important place in his life. At the lyc?(c)e, the monumental door was open, potted plants adorned the monumental stairs from top to bottom, stairs that the first parents and students were beginning to climb, the Cormerys naturally being far ahead of time, as the poor always are, for they have few social obligations and pleasures, and are afraid of not being punctual for those few.a Then they arrived at the older students' courtyard, full of rows of chairs rented from a firm that staged dances and concerts, while at the far end, under the great clock, the whole width of the courtyard was occupied by a platform filled with chairs and armchairs; it too was decorated, and profusely, with green plants. Little by little the yard was filled up with light-colored outfits, women being in the majority. The first arrivals chose places sheltered from the sun, under the trees. The others fanned themselves with Arab fans made of fine plaited straw decorated with red woolen tassels on their rims. Above the audience the blue of the sky congealed and became harder and harder as it baked in the heat. At two o'clock a military orchestra, out of sight in a. and those whom fate has poorly endowed cannot help thinking somewhere inside that they are responsible and they feel they must not add to this general culpability by any small failings ... the upper arcade, launched into the "Marseillaise," all the spectators rose to their feet, and the teachers entered in their square caps and long gowns trimmed in colors that differed according to their discipline, led by the headmaster and the official personage (usually a high-ranking bureaucrat in the colonial administration) drafted this year for the occasion. Another military march covered for the seating of the teachers, and right after that the official personage took the podium and gave his opinions on France in general and education in particular. Catherine Cormery listened without hearing, but with no sign of impatience or weariness. The grandmother could hear, but did not understand very much. "He speaks well," she said to her daughter, who assented with conviction. This encouraged the grandmother to turn and smile at her neighbor to the left, confirming with a nod of her head the opinion she had just expressed. The first year, Jacques noticed that his grandmother was the only person wearing the old Spanish woman's black mantilla, and he was embarrassed by it. To tell the truth, this false sense of shame had never left him; he just decided he could do nothing about it after he timidly ventured to mention a hat to his grandmother and she answered that she had no money to waste and besides the mantilla kept her ears warm. But when his grandmother spoke to her neighbors during the awards ceremony, he felt himself meanly blushing. After the official personage, the youngest teacher rose to speak; he was usually newly arrived that year from France and was traditionally entrusted with delivering the formal address. The speech could last from half an hour to an hour, and the young academician never failed to stuff it with cultural allusions and humanist subtleties that made it utterly unintelligible to this Algerian audience. With the help of the heat, attention flagged, and the fans waved faster. Even the grandmother showed her lassitude by glancing around. Only Catherine Cormery, attentive, received without blinking the rain of erudition and wisdom that was falling on* her without interruption. As to Jacques, he was squirming; he looked around for Pierre and his other friends, signaled discreetly to them, and began a long conversation that consisted of making faces. At last, vigorous applause thanked the orator for being kind enough to conclude, and the announcement of the awards began. First came the upper classes, and, in the early years, the two women spent the entire afternoon sitting and waiting for them to come to Jacques's class. The awards for excellence were the only ones to be saluted with a fanfare of invisible music. The winners, who became younger and younger, rose, walked the side of the courtyard, went up on the platform, received a handshake sprinkled with fine words from the official personage, then from the headmaster, who presented each with his bundle of books (after getting it from an attendant, who preceded the award-winner to the platform, at the foot of which rolling carts full of books * bouncing off had been stationed). Then, in the midst of music and applause, the award-winner came back down, his books under his arm, radiant and looking around for his happy relatives, who were wiping away their tears. The sky became a little less blue, losing some of its heat through an invisible cleft somewhere over the sea. The prizewinners went up and returned, one fanfare followed another, the courtyard gradually emptying out, while the sky began now to turn a greenish hue, and they came to Jacques's class. As soon as his class was announced, he stopped fooling around and became serious. At the sound of his name, he rose, his head buzzing. Behind he could barely hear his mother, who had not heard, saying: "Did he say Cormery?" "Yes," said the grandmother, her face flushed with excitement. The cement path he walked along, the platform, the official's vest with his watch chain, the headmaster's good smile, sometimes a friendly look from one of his teachers in the crowd on the platform; then returning accompanied by the music to the two women who were already standing in the aisle, his mother gazing at him with a sort of astonished joy, and he gave her the thick list of awards to keep, his grandmother with a look calling her neighbors to witness,it all happened too fast after the interminable afternoon, and Jacques was in a hurry to go home and look at the books he had been given.a a. Les Travailleurs de la mer. [By Victor Hugo,Trans.} They usually went home with Pierre and his mother,a the grandmother silently comparing the height of the two stacks of books. At home, Jacques took the award list, and, at his grandmother's request, turned down the corners of the pages where his name appeared, so she could show them to the neighbors and family. Then he made an inventory of his treasures. He had not finished when he saw his mother come back,already having removed her dress,in slippers, buttoning her linen blouse, and drawing her chair toward the window. She smiled at him. "You did good work," she said, and she shook her head as she gazed at him. He returned her gaze; he was waiting, for what he did not know, and she turned to the street, in the posture that was familiar to him, far away now from the lyc?(c)e she would not see for another year, while shadows invaded the room and the first lights came on above the street,* where no one was passing by but faceless pedestrians. But if his mother was leaving forever that lyc?(c)e she had hardly glimpsed, Jacques found himself suddenly back for good in the midst of his family and his neighborhood. Vacations also returned Jacques to his family, at least in the first years. No one in his home had a vacation; the men worked the year round without respite. Only an a. She had never seen the lyc?(c)e nor anything of its daily life. She had attended a program arranged for the relatives. That was not the lyc?(c)e, it was . .. * the sidewalks. accident at work, when they were employed by firms that had insured them against such risks, could give them any time off, and their vacation came by way of the hospital or the doctor. For example, Uncle Ernest, one time when he felt worn out, had "put himself on insurance," as he said, by deliberately shaving a thick slice of meat off his palm with a plane. As for the wives, and Catherine Cormery, they worked without a break for the good reason that a rest meant poorer meals for all of them. Unemployment, for which there was no insurance at all, was the calamity they most dreaded. That explained why these workers, in Pierre's home as in Jacques's, who in their daily lives were the most tolerant of men, were always xenophobes on labor issues, accusing in turn the Italians, the Spaniards, the Jews, the Arabs, and finally the whole world of stealing their work,an attitude that is certainly disconcerting to those intellectuals who theorize about the proletariat, and yet very human and surely excusable. It was not for mastery of the earth or the privileges of wealth and leisure that these unexpected nationalists were contending against other nationalities; it was for the privilege of servitude. Work in this neighborhood was not a virtue but a necessity that, in order to survive, led to death. In any case, and no matter how hard the Algerian summer was, while overloaded boats took bureaucrats and well-off people to recuperate in the good "French air" (and those who returned brought back fabulous and unbelievable descriptions of lush fields where the water was flowing right in the middle of August), nothing at all changed in the lives of the poor neighborhoods, and, far from being half emptied, as were the downtown districts, their population seemed to increase because of the great numbers of children pouring out into the streets.a For Pierre and Jacques, wandering in the dry streets, wearing espadrilles with holes, cheap pants, and skimpy undershirts with round necks, vacation meant above all the hot season. The last rains fell in April, or May at the latest. Over the weeks and the months, the sun, more and more intense, hotter and hotter, had dried, then dried out, then roasted the walls, had ground plaster, stone, and tile into a fine dust that, blown at random by the wind, would cover the streets, the store windows, and the leaves of all the trees. In July the entire neighborhood became a sort of gray-and-yellowb labyrinth, deserted during the day, all the shutters of all the houses carefully closed, ruled by the ferocious sun, felling dogs and cats on the doorsteps of buildings, forcing living beings to hug the walls to stay out of its reach. In August the sun disappeared behind the thick oakum of a sky that was gray with heat, heavy and humid, shedding a diffuse, whitish light, tiring to the eyes, which erased the last traces of color from the streets. In the coopers' workshops, the sound of the hammers slackened, and the workers stopped occasionally to put their sweaty heads and chests under the cool stream of water from the pump.c In the apartments, the bottles of water and, a. above toys carousel useful presents. b. wild c. Sablettes? and other summer activities. less often, wine were swaddled in damp cloth. Jacques's grandmother moved around the shady rooms barefooted, wearing a plain shift, mechanically shaking her straw fan, working in the morning, dragging Jacques to bed for the siesta, then waiting for the first cool of the evening to go back to work. Thus for weeks the summer and those subject to it would crawl along under the heavy, sweaty, and roasting sky, until even the memory of winter's cool and its waters* was lost, as if the earth had never known the wind, nor the snow, nor light waters, and from the Creation to this day in September nothing had existed but this enormous desiccated mineral structure tunneled with overheated corridors where sweating and dust-covered beings, a bit haggard, eyes staring, were slowly moving about. And then, all at once, the sky contracted until it broke open under the stress. The first rain of September, violent and abundant, flooded the city. All the streets of the neighborhood began to gleam, along with the shiny leaves of the ficus trees, the overhead wires, and the trolley rails. Over the hills that looked down on the city came the scent of damp earth from more distant fields, bringing a message of open space and freedom to the prisoners of the summer. Then the children dashed into the streets, running through the rain in their scanty clothes and wallowing happily in the big frothing streams in the street, making a circle in the big puddles while holding each other's shoulders, faces full of shouts and laughter * rains. turned up into the incessant rain, trampling out this new vintage in unison so that it gave forth a gush of dirty water more intoxicating than wine. Oh yes, the hot season was terrible, and often it drove almost everyone crazy, nerves more on edge day by day and without the strength or energy to react, to shout, to insult or strike out, and exasperation accumulated, like the heat itself, until, here and there in the sad and untamed neighborhood, it exploded,like that day when, in the rue de Lyon, almost at the border of the Arab district known as the Marabout, by the cemetery cut into the red clay of the hillside, Jacques saw an Arab, dressed in blue with his head shaved, come out of a dusty Moorish barbershop; he took a few steps on the sidewalk in front of the child, in a strange posture, his body leaning forward, his head thrown back farther than seemed possible, and in fact it was not possible. The barber had gone mad while shaving him, and with a single blow of his long razor had cut the exposed throat; all the Arab felt from the smooth slicing was the blood choking him, and he went out, running like a duck with its throat poorly cut, while the barber, immediately subdued by other customers, was howling horribly,like the heat itself during these interminable days. Then the water from the cataracts of the sky would roughly scrub the summer's dust off the trees, the roofs, the walls, and the streets. The muddy water quickly filled the gutters, gurgled fiercely in the drains, would in most years burst the sewer lines themselves and flood the streets, spraying out before cars and trolleys like two very streamlined yellow fins. The sea itself would turn muddy on the beach and in the port. The first sun after that would make steam rise from the buildings and the streets, from the whole city. The heat might return, but it no longer ruled; the sky was more open, it was easier to breathe, and, through the depth of the sun, a vibration in the air, a promise of water heralded autumn and the start of the school year.a "Summer's too long," said the grandmother; she welcomed with the same sigh of relief the autumn rain and the departure of Jacques, whose bored stamping around the shuttered rooms during the torrid days only added to her exasperation. Besides, she did not understand why a part of the year should be specially set aside for doing nothing. "As for me, I never had any vacation," she would say, and it was true, she had never known either school or leisure time; she had worked as a child, and worked without respite. She could accept that her grandson would not bring home any money for a few years in return for a greater gain. But from the first day, she had been brooding over those three lost months, and when Jacques was going into his fourth year, she judged that it was time to put his vacation to use. "You're going to work this summer," she told him at the end of the school year, "and bring home some money. You can't just stay here doing nothing."13 Actually, Jacques thought he had a lot a. in the lyc?(c)e,subscription card,renew monthly,the exhilaration of answering: "Subscriber" and the triumphant verification. b. the mother speaks up,He'll be tired. to do, what with going swimming, the expeditions to Kouba, sports, roaming the streets of Belcourt, reading illustrated stories, popular novels, the Vermot almanac, and the Saint-Etienne company's inexhaustible catalogue.a Not including errands for the household and small tasks imposed on him by his grandmother. But, to her, all that amounted to doing nothing at all, since the child was not bringing home any money nor was he working as he did during the school year, and in her eyes this free ride was as glaring as the fires of hell. The simplest thing to do was to find him a job. In truth it was not so simple. Of course you could find help-wanted listings for junior clerks or errand boys in the classified ads in the newspapers. And Mme. Bertaut, the dairywoman whose shop alongside the barbershop smelled of butter (unusual to these noses and palates accustomed to oil), would read the ads to the grandmother. But the employers always required applicants to be at least fifteen years old, and it would take audacity to lie about Jacques's age, for he was not very big for thirteen. Furthermore, the employers always hoped for employees who would make their career with them. The first ones to whom the grandmother (rigged out as she was for major outings, including the infamous mantilla) offered Jacques found him too young or else flatly refused to hire an employee for two months. "You'll just have to say you'll stay," the grandmother said. a. His reading earlier? the upper neighborhoods? "But that's not true." "It doesn't matter. They'll believe you." That was not what Jacques meant, and actually he did not worry about whether he would be believed. But it seemed to him that this sort of lie would stick in his throat. Of course he had often lied at home, to avoid punishment, to keep a two-franc coin, and far more often for the pleasure of talking or bragging. But if to lie to his family seemed a venial sin, with strangers it seemed mortal. In an obscure way he felt that you do not lie on essentials to those you love, because then you could no longer live with them or love them. All the employers could learn of him was what he told them, and so they would not know him, the lie would be absolute. "Let's go," said the grandmother, knotting her mantilla, one day when Mme. Ber-taut told her a big hardware store in the Agha district wanted a young filing clerk. The hardware store was on one of the slopes that led up to the central districts; the mid-July sun was roasting the street and intensifying the smells of urine and asphalt that rose from its surface. There was a narrow but very deep store at street level, divided the long way by a counter displaying samples of iron parts and latches; the walls were largely occupied by drawers bearing mysterious labels. To the right of the entrance, a wrought-iron grille had been installed above the counter with a window for the cashier. The soft, day-dreaming lady behind the grille asked the grandmother to go up to the office, on the second floor. A wooden stairway, at the end of the store, did in fact lead to a big office laid out and oriented in similar fashion to the store, where five or six employees, men and women, were seated at a big table in the middle. A door on one side led to the manager's office. The manager, in his sweltering office, was in shirtsleeves with his collar loosened.a A small window at his back opened on to a yard where the sun did not reach, though it was two o'clock in the afternoon. He was short and fat, he hitched his thumbs in his wide sky-blue suspenders, and he was short of breath. You could not clearly see the face, from which came a low breathless voice inviting the grandmother to be seated. Jacques inhaled the odor of iron that permeated the whole building. It seemed to Jacques that the manager's motionless stance meant he was suspicious, and he felt his legs tremble at the thought of the lies they would tell this powerful, fearsome man. As for the grandmother, she did not tremble. Jacques was going to be fifteen, he had to find a position and start without delay. According to the manager, he didn't look fifteen, but if he was intelligent . . . and by the way, did he have his certificat d'etudes? No, he had a scholarship. What scholarship? For the lyc?(c)e. So he was going to the lyc?(c)e? What class? Fourth year? And he was leaving the lyc?(c)e? The manager was even more still, his face could be seen better now, and his round milky eyes shifted from the grandmother to the child. Jacques quaked under that gaze. "Yes," said the grandmother. "We're too poor." The manager relaxed imperceptibly. "That's too a. collar button, detachable collar. bad," he said, "because he was gifted. But there are good positions to be achieved in business also." The good position started modestly, it is true. Jacques would earn 150 francs a month for being present eight hours a day. He could start the next day. "You see," said the grandmother. "He believed us." "But how will I explain it to him when I leave?" "Leave that to me." "All right," the child said submissively. He looked up at the summer sky over their heads and thought of the smell of iron, the office full of shadows, that he would have to get up early tomorrow, and that his vacation was over when it had barely begun. For two years Jacques worked during the summer. First in the hardware store, then for a ship broker. Each time he feared the approach of September 15th, the date he had to give notice.1 It was really over, even though the summer was the same as before, with its heat, its boredom. But summer had lost what used to transfigure it, its sky, its open spaces, its clamor. Jacques no longer spent his days in the untamed poverty of his neighborhood, but downtown where the cement of the rich replaced the rough casting of the poor, giving the houses a more distinguished and sadder tone of gray. At eight o'clock, when Jacques entered the store that smelled of iron and shade, a light in him went out, the sky had vanished. He greeted the cashier and climbed up to the big poorly lit 1. Passage circled by the author. office on the second floor. There was no room for him at the main table. The old bookkeeper, his moustache stained yellow by the hand-rolled cigarettes he sucked on all day long; the assistant bookkeeper, a half-bald man of about thirty with a bull-like face and chest; two younger clerks, one of whom, thin, brown-haired, muscular, with a handsome straight profile, always arrived with his shirt wet and sticking to his body, and gave off a good smell of the sea because he went swimming from the pier every morning before burying himself in the office for the day, and the other, fat and laughing, who could not restrain his jovial vitality; and lastly Mme. Raslin, the manager's secretary, a bit horsey but quite pleasant to look at in her linen or duckcloth dresses, always pink, but who gazed on the world with a stern eye,these were enough to fill up the table with their files, their account books, and their machine. So Jacques was stationed on a chair to the right of the manager's door, waiting to be given some work to do, which usually consisted of filing invoices or business correspondence in the card-index file on either side of the window,where at first he liked to pull out the sliding drawers, handle the cards, and sniff them, until the smell of paper and glue, at first exquisite, finally became the very odor of boredom for him; or else he was asked to go over a lengthy addition once more, and he did it in his lap, sitting on his chair; or else the assistant bookkeeper would ask Jacques to "collate" a series of numbers with him and, always standing, he would carefully check the numbers that the assistant read off, in a doleful low voice so as not to disturb his colleagues. From the window you could see the street and the buildings across it, but never the sky. Sometimes, but not often, Jacques was sent on an errand, to get office supplies from the nearby stationery store or to the post office to send an urgent money order. The central post office was located two hundred meters away, on a broad boulevard that led from the port up to the summits of the hills on which the city was built. Jacques would rediscover space and light on this boulevard. The post office itself, in an immense rotunda, was lit by three large doors and light trickling through a huge cupola.a But more often, unfortunately, Jacques was made to post the mail at the end of the day, after leaving the office, and then it was just more drudgery, for he had to run, at the time when the day was beginning to fade, to a post office besieged by a crowd of customers, get in line at the windows, and the wait made his workday still longer. The long summer was practically used up for Jacques in dark days without sparkle and in trivial occupations. "You can't go on without doing anything," his grandmother said. But it was precisely in the office that Jacques felt he wasn't doing anything. He was not unwilling to work, though for him nothing could take the place of the sea or the games of Kouba. But to him real work consisted of what was done at the cooperage, for example,a lengthy physical effort, a series of skillful, precise actions by hard, quick-moving hands,and you saw the result of your labor take shape: a new barrel, well fin- a. postal transactions? ished, without a crack, something the worker could contemplate. But this office work came from nowhere and led nowhere. Selling and buying, everything turned on these ordinary, petty actions. Although he had lived till then in poverty, it was in this office that Jacques discovered the mundane, and he wept for the light he had lost. His co-workers were not the cause of the feeling that he was being smothered. They were nice to him, they never rudely ordered him around, and even the stern Mme. Raslin sometimes smiled at him. Among themselves they spoke little, with that mix of jovial heartiness and indifference characteristic of Algerians. When the manager arrived, a quarter-hour after them, or when he emerged from his office to give an order or check an invoice (for serious matters, he would summon the old bookkeeper or the employee involved to his office), they would better reveal their characters, as if these men and this woman could not express themselves except in their relations with authority,the old bookkeeper discourteous and independent, Mme. Raslin lost in some austere daydream, and the assistant bookkeeper, by contrast, utterly servile. But, for the rest of the day, they would retreat into their shells, and Jacques sat on his chair waiting for the order that would cause him to do some absurd hurrying about,what his grandmother called "work."a a. Summer lessons after the baccalaureate,the stupefied head in front of him. When he could stand it no longer, when he was literally boiling over on his chair, he would go down to the yard behind the store and hide between the cement walls of the poorly lit Turkish toilet, with its sour pervading odor of urine. In this dark place he would close his eyes, and, breathing the familiar smell, he would dream. Something obscure was stirring in him, something irrational, something in his blood and in his nature. At times he would recall the sight of Mme. Raslin's legs that day when, having knocked over a box of pins in front of her, he knelt to pick them up and, raising his head, saw her parted knees under her skirt and her thighs in lace underwear. Till then he had never seen what a woman wore under her skirts, and this sudden vision made his mouth dry and caused him to tremble almost uncontrollably. A mystery was being revealed to him that, despite his many experiences, he would never resolve. Twice a day, at noon and at six o'clock, Jacques would dash outside, run down the sloping street, and jump onto a packed trolley, lined with clusters of passengers on every running board, which was taking workers [back] to their neighborhoods. Squeezed against each other in the heavy heat, they were silent, the adults and the child, looking toward the home that was expecting them,quiet, perspiring, resigned to this existence divided among a soulless job, long trips coming and going in an uncomfortable trolley, and at the end an abrupt sleep. On some evenings it would sadden Jacques to look at them. Until then he had only known the riches and the joys of poverty. But now heat and boredom and fatigue were showing him their curse, the curse of work so stupid you could weep and so interminably monotonous that it made the days too long and, at the same time, life too short. At the ship broker's, summer was more pleasant because the office looked out on boulevard Front-de-Mer and especially because some of his work was at the port. Jacques actually had to go on board the ships of all nationalities that put in at Algiers and that the broker, a handsome pink-cheeked old man with curly hair, represented to the various government offices. Jacques brought the ship's papers to the office, where they were translated, and, after a week, he himself was assigned to translating lists of supplies and certain bills of lading when they were written in English and addressed to the customs authorities or the big import companies that took delivery of merchandise. So Jacques had regularly to go to the Agha commercial port to get those papers. The heat ravaged the streets leading down to the port. The heavy cast-iron ramps alongside them were so burning hot that you could not touch them with your hand. The sun created a void on the huge piers, except around the ships that had just moored, side against the pier, where the longshoremen were busying themselves,men dressed in blue pants rolled to mid-calf, with bare bronzed torsos, and on their heads a cloth that covered their shoulders and back to the waist, on which they loaded sacks of cement or coal or sharp-edged packages. They came and went on the gangplank that sloped down from the deck to the pier, or else they entered straight into the belly of the freighter by the wide open door of the hold, walking rapidly across a beam laid between the hold and the pier. Beyond the smell of sun and dust rising from the piers and that of the overheated decks where the tar was melting and all the fixtures were roasting, Jacques could recognize the particular odor of each freighter. Those from Norway smelled of wood, those from Dakar or the Brazilian ships brought with them the scent of coffee and spices, the Germans smelled of oil, the English of iron. Jacques would climb up the gangplank, show the broker's card to a sailor, who did not understand it. Then he was led through passageways where even the shade was hot to the cabin of an officer or sometimes the captain.a Along the way he would cast covetous glances at those narrow bare cabins where the essence of masculine life was concentrated, and that he was coming to prefer that to the most luxurious of quarters. They greeted him kindly because he himself smiled pleasantly, and he liked these men's rough faces, the appearance that a certain kind of solitary life gave them all, and he let them see his liking for them. Sometimes one of them spoke a little French and would question him. Then, in good spirits, he went back to the flaming pier, the burning ramps, and work in the office. It was just that running these errands in the heat exhausted him; he slept heavily, and September found him thinner and fidgety. He was relieved at the approach of the days when he would spend twelve hours at the lyc?(c)e, at the same time a. The longshoreman's accident? See diary. that he was increasingly embarrassed at having to inform the office that he was leaving. The hardware store was the hardest. He would cravenly have preferred that he not go to the office and that his grandmother go and give whatever explanation. But the grandmother thought it was easy enough to skip the formalities: all he had to do was collect his pay and never go back, with no further explanation. Jacques, who would have found it quite natural to send his grandmother to endure the manager's thunder,and in a sense it is true she was responsible for the situation and the lie it entailed,was nonetheless indignant at the idea of this evasion, without being able to explain why; in addition, he found the clinching argument: "But the boss will send someone here." "That's true," the grandmother said. "Well then, you'll just have to tell him you're going to work at your uncle's." Jacques was already leaving with damnation in his heart when his grandmother told him: "And above all collect your pay first. Then talk to him." That evening the manager called each employee to his lair to give him his pay. "Here, kid," he said to Jacques, offering him his envelope. Jacques was reaching out a hesitant hand when the manager smiled at him. "You're doing very well, you know. You can tell your parents that." Jacques was already speaking, saying he would not be coming back. The manager looked at him, amazed, his hand still outstretched to him. "Why?" He had to lie, and the lie would not come out. Jacques remained silent, and with so woeful an air that the manager understood. "You're going back to the lyc?(c)e?" "Yes," said Jacques, and in the midst of his fear and distress a sudden feeling of relief brought tears to his eyes. Furious, the manager got to his feet. "And you knew it when you came here. And your grandmother knew it too." Jacques could only say yes with a nod. Vocal thunderclaps filled the room: they were dishonest, and he, the manager, hated dishonesty. Did he know that he had the right not to pay him, and he'd be pretty foolish, no he wouldn't pay him, let his grandmother come, she'd get a warm reception all right, if they'd told him the truth, he might have hired him anyway, but oh! that lie,"he can't stay at the lyc?(c)e, we're too poor", and he'd let himself be had. "It was because of that," the bewildered Jacques suddenly said. "Why because of that?" "Because we're poor"; then he was silent, and it was the manager who went on after looking at him: ". . . that you did that, that you made up that story?" Jacques, teeth clenched, stared at his feet. The silence was interminable. Then the manager took the envelope from the table and held it out: "Take your money. Get out," he said harshly. "No," said Jacques. The manager stuffed the envelope into Jacques's pocket: "Get out." In the street Jacques was running, and now he was crying and gripping his collar with both hands to avoid touching the money that was burning in his pocket. To lie for the right to have no vacation, to work far from the summer sky and the sea he so loved, and to lie again for the right to return to his work at the lyc?(c)e, this injustice made him desperately unhappy. For the worst of it was not the lies that after all he was unable to utter, ready as he always was to lie for pleasure but incapable of doing so out of necessity, the worst of it was the delights he had lost, the season's light and the time off that had been taken away from him, and now the year consisted of nothing but a series of hasty awakenings and hurried dismal days. He had to lose what was royal in his life of poverty, the irreplaceable riches that he so greatly and gluttonously enjoyed, to earn a little bit of money that would not buy one-millionth of those treasures. And yet he understood that he had to do it, and there was even something in him that, at the very time he was most rebellious, was proud of having done it. For he had found the sole compensation for those summers sacrificed to the misery of the lie on his first payday when,entering the dining room where his grandmother was peeling potatoes that she then tossed in a basin of water; Uncle Ernest, seated, was picking fleas off the patient Brillant whom he held between his legs; and his mother, who had just arrived, was at the buffet opening a small bundle of dirty laundry she had been given to wash,Jacques had stepped forward and, without a word, placed on the table the 100-franc bill and the large coins he had been clutching in his hand all the way home. Without a word, the grandmother pushed a 20-franc piece back toward him and picked up the rest. With her hand she touched Catherine Cormery on the side to get her attention and showed her the money: "That's your son." "Yes," his mother said, and her sorrowful eyes briefly caressed the child. The uncle nodded while holding on to Brillant, who had thought his ordeal was over. "Good, good," he said. "You a man." Yes, he was a man, he had paid a bit of what he owed, and the idea of having diminished the poverty of this household by a little filled him with that almost wicked pride that comes to men when they begin to feel themselves free and subject to nothing. And in fact, when he entered the fifth-year courtyard at the start of the next school year, he was no longer the disoriented child who four years earlier had left Belcourt in the early morning,unsteady on his studded shoes, anxious at the thought of the strange world awaiting him,and his expression as he looked at his classmates had lost some of its innocence. Besides, by that time many things were beginning to pull him away from the child he had been. And if one day he who till then had patiently accepted being beaten by his grandmother as if it were one of the inevitable obligations of childhood, if he tore the leather whip out of her hands, suddenly crazed, in a furious rage, so determined to strike that white head whose bright cold eyes were driving him out of his mind that the grandmother understood him,she recoiled and went to close herself in her room, sobbing certainly over the misfortune of having raised unnatural children but already knowing she would never beat Jacques again, and in fact never again did she beat him,it was because the child had indeed died in this thin muscular adolescent, with his brush-cut hair and his fiery expression, this youth who had worked all summer to bring home wages, who had just been named first-string goalie on the lyc?(c)e team, and who, three days earlier, had had his first faltering taste of a girl's lips. 2 : A Mystery to Himself Oh yes, that was how it was, the life of this child was like that: that was how life was in the neighborhood's island of poverty, bound together by stark necessity, in an ignorant and handicapped family, with his youthful blood boiling, a ravenous appetite for life, an untamed and hungry intellect, and all the while an ecstasy of joy punctuated by the sudden counterpunches inflicted by a world unknown to him, leaving him abashed at the time, but he would quickly recover, trying to understand, to learn, to assimilate this world he did not know, and he did assimilate it, because he seized upon it so avidly, not trying to worm his way in; he was willing to go along but would not abase himself, and finally he was never without a sure confidence, yes a certainty, since he was guaranteed that he would achieve everything he desired and nothing would ever be impossible for him, nothing that is of this world and only of this world; he was preparing himself (and was prepared also by the bareness of his childhood) to find his place anywhere, because there was no position he wanted, but only joy, and free spirits, and energy, and all that life has that is good, that is mysterious, that is not and never will be for sale. Preparing himself even by dint of poverty to be able one day to receive money without ever seeking it or submitting to it, to be as he was now,he, Jacques, at age forty, holding sway over so much and yet so certain that he was less than the least of people, and nothing in any case next to his mother. Yes, that was how he lived, in those games by the sea, in the wind, in the street, under the weight of summer and the heavy rains of the brief winter, with no father, with no heritage handed down, but finding a father for a year, just when he needed him, and learning through the people and the things of [ ],1 through the knowledge that revealed itself to him to fashion something that resembled a style of behavior (sufficient at the time for his circumstances, insufficient later on when confronting the cancer of the world) and to create his own heritage. But was that all there was: that style, those games, that daring, that ardor, the family, the kerosene lamp and the dark stairs, the palms in the wind, birth and baptism in the sea, and finally those gloomy laborious summers? There was that, oh yes, that is how it was, but there was also the secret part of his being, something in him that through all those years had been blindly stirring like those measureless waters under the earth which from the depths of rocky labyrinths have never seen the light of day and yet dimly reflect a light, come from 1. An illegible word. who knows where, drawn perhaps from the glowing center of the earth through stone capillaries to the black air of those buried caverns in which glutinous and [compacted] plants find food enough to live where any life seems impossible. And this blind stirring in him, which had never ceased, which he still felt now, a dark fire buried in him like one of those peat fires, gone out at the surface but still burning inside, making the outer fissures of the peat move in rough eddies of vegetation, so that the muddy surface moves in the same rhythm as the peat of the bog, and these dense imperceptible waves would cause, day after day, the most violent and the most terrible of his desires, as well as his most barren anxieties, his most fruitful nostalgia, his sudden need for bareness and sobriety, his yearning also to be nobody, yes this mysterious stirring through all those years was well matched to this immense country around him; as a small child he had felt its weight and that of the immense sea before him, and behind him the endless expanse of mountains, plains, and desert called the interior, and between the two the constant danger no one spoke of because it seemed natural; but Jacques sensed it in Birmandreis, in the little farmhouse with arched ceilings and whitewashed walls, when his aunt went around the bedrooms at bedtime to make sure the huge bolts on the thick, solid wooden shutters had been properly closed, this was the very country into which he felt he had been tossed, as if he were the first inhabitant, or the first conqueror, landing where the law of the jungle still prevailed, where justice was intended to punish without mercy what custom had failed to prevent,around him these people, alluring yet disturbing, near and separate, you were around them all day long, and sometimes friendship was born, or camaraderie, and at evening they still withdrew to their closed houses, where you never entered, barricaded also with their women you never saw, or if you saw them on the street you did not know who they were, with faces half veiled and their beautiful eyes sensual and soft above the white cloth, and they were so numerous in the neighborhoods where they were concentrated, so many of them that by their sheer numbers, even though exhausted and submissive, they caused an invisible menace that you could feel in the air some evenings on the streets when a fight would break out between a Frenchman and an Arab, just as it might have broken out between two Frenchmen or two Arabs, but it was not viewed the same way; and the Arabs of the neighborhood, wearing their faded blue overalls or their wretched cloaks, would slowly approach, coming from all directions in a continuous movement, until this steadily agglutinating mass by the mere action of its coalescing would without violence eject the few Frenchmen attracted by witnesses to the fight, and the Frenchman who was fighting would in backing up find himself suddenly confronting both his antagonist and a crowd of somber impenetrable faces, which would have deprived him of what courage he possessed had he not been raised in this country and therefore knew that only with courage could you live here; and so he would face up to the threatening crowd that nonetheless was making no threat except by its presence and by the movement it could not help making, and most often it was they who took hold of the Arab fighting in a transport of rage to make him leave before the arrival of the police, who were quickly informed and quick to come, and who without debate would take away the fighters, manhandling them as they passed by Jacques's windows on the way to the police station. "Poor fellows," his mother would say, seeing the two men firmly held and shoved along by their shoulders, and after they were gone, violence, fear, and menace prowled the street in the child's mind, and a nameless dread made his mouth go dry. This night inside him, yes these tangled hidden roots that bound him to this magnificent and frightening land, as much to its scorching days as to its heartbreakingly rapid twilights, and that was like a second life, truer perhaps than the everyday surface of his outward life; its history would be told as a series of obscure yearnings and powerful indescribable sensations, the odor of the schools, of the neighborhood stables, of laundry on his mother's hands, of jasmine and honeysuckle in the upper neighborhoods, of the pages of the dictionary and the books he devoured, and the sour smell of the toilets at home and at the hardware store, the smell of the big cold classrooms where he would sometimes go alone before or after class, the warmth of his favorite classmates, the odor of warm wool and feces that Didier carried around with him, of the cologne big Marconi's mother doused him with so profusely that Jacques, sitting on the bench in class, wanted to move still closer to his friend; the scent of the lipstick Pierre swiped from one of his aunts and that several of them sniffed together, excited and uneasy, like dogs that enter a house where there has been a female in heat, imagining that this was what a woman was, this sweet-smelling chunk of bergamot and cosmetic cream that, in their rough world of shouting, sweating, and dust, revealed to them a world refineda and delicate and inexpressibly seductive, from which even the foul language they were mouthing all together over the lipstick could not succeed in protecting them; and, since earliest childhood, his love of bodies, of their beauty, which made him laugh with bliss on the beaches, of their warmth that never stopped attracting him, with nothing particular in mind, like an animal,it was not to possess them, which he did not know how to do, but just to enter into their radiance, to lean his shoulder against his friend's with a great sensation of confidence and letting go, and almost to faint when a woman's hand lingered a moment on his in the crowd of the trolley,the longing, yes, to live, to live still more, to immerse himself in the greatest warmth this earth could give him, which was what he without knowing it hoped for from his mother; he did not get it and perhaps did not dare to get it, but he found it with the dog Bril-lant when he stretched out alongside him and breathed his strong smell of fur, or in the strongest and most animal-like odors where the marvelous heat of life was somehow preserved for him who could not do without it. From the darkness within him sprang that famished a. add to the list ardor, that mad passion for living which had always been part of him and even today was still unchanged, making still more bitter,in the midst of the family he had rediscovered and facing the images of his childhood,the sudden terrible feeling that the time of his youth was slipping away, like the woman he had loved, oh yes, he had loved her with a great love, with all his heart and his body too, yes, with her it was a fervent desire, and when he withdrew from her with a great silent cry at the moment of orgasm he was in passionate harmony with his world, and he had loved her for her beauty and for the openhearted and despairing passion for life that was hers, and that made her deny, deny that time could pass, though she knew it was passing at that very moment, not wanting people to be able one day to say she was still young, but rather to stay young, always young; she burst into sobs one day when, laughing, he told her youth was passing and the days were waning: "Oh no, oh no," she said through her tears, "I'm so in love with love," and, intelligent and outstanding in so many ways, perhaps just because she truly was intelligent and outstanding, she rejected the world as it was. As it had been those days when, returning after a brief stay in the foreign country where she was born,those funereal visits, those aunts about whom she was told: "It's the last time you'll see them," and actually see their faces, their bodies, their ruins, and she wanted to go out screaming; or else those family dinners on a tablecloth embroidered by a great-grandmother who was long since dead and whom no one thought about, except she who was thinking about her great-grandmother when she was young, about her pleasures, about her appetite for living, like herself, marvelously beautiful in the bloom of her youth, and everyone at the table was paying her compliments, and on the wall around the table were hanging portraits of beautiful young women who were the ones who were complimenting her now and who were all decrepit and worn out. Then, her blood on fire, she wanted to flee, flee to a country where no one would grow old or die, where beauty was imperishable, where life would always be wild and radiant, and that did not exist; she wept in his arms when she returned, and he loved her desperately. And he too, perhaps more than she, since he had been born in a land without forefathers and without memory, where the annihilation of those who preceded him was still more final and where old age finds none of the solace in melancholy that it does in civilized lands [ ],1 he, like a solitary and ever-shining blade of a sword, was destined to be shattered with a single blow and forever, an unalloyed passion for life confronting utter death; today he felt life, youth, people slipping away from him, without being able to hold on to any of them, left with the blind hope that this obscure force that for so many years had raised him above the daily routine, nourished him unstintingly, and been equal to the most difficult circumstances,that, as it had with endless generosity given him reason to live, it would also give him reason to grow old and die without rebellion. 1. An illegible word. Interleaves SHEET I (4) On the ship. Siesta with child + war of 14. (5) At his mother's,the bombing. (6) Journey to Mondovi,siesta,the settlement. (7) At his mother's. Childhood continued,he recaptures childhood and not his father. He learns he is the first man. Madame Leca. "When, having kissed him two or three times with all her strength, holding him tight against her, and after letting him go, she looked at him and took him in her arms again to kiss him once more, as if, having measured her affection to its fullness (which she had just done), she had decided that one measure was still missing and.1 And then, right afterwards, turned away, she seemed no longer to be thinking of him nor 1. The sentence ends there. for that matter of anything, and even sometimes looked at him with a strange expression as if now he were in the way, disturbing the empty, closed, confined universe where she circled." SHEET II A settler wrote to a lawyer in 1869: "For Algeria to survive her doctors' treatments she has to be hard to kill." Villages surrounded by moats or walls (and turrets at the 4 corners). Of 600 settlers sent in 1831, 150 died in the tents. Hence the great number of orphanages in Algeria. In Boufarik, they plow with a gun on their shoulder and quinine in their pocket. "He looks like Boufarik." 19% died in 1839. Quinine is sold as a drink in the cafes. Bugeaud marries off his soldier settlers in Toulon after having written the mayor of Toulon to select 20 energetic fiancees. These were "shotgun weddings." But, once confronted with it, they exchange mates as best they can. It's the birth of Fouka. Communal work at the beginning. These are military collective farms. Settling "by region." Cheragas was settled by 66 families of horticulturists from Grasse. In most cases the town halls of Algeria have no archives. The people from Mahon landed in small bands with a trunk and their children. Their word is their bond. Never hire a Spaniard. They created the wealth of the Algeria seaboard. Birmandreis and the house of Bernarda. The story of [Dr. Tonnac], the first settler in Mitidja. Cf. de Bandicorn, Histoire de la colonisation de I'Algerie, p. 21. Pirette's history, idem, pp. 50 and 51. SHEET III 10,Saint-Brieuc1 14,Malan 20,Childhood games 30,Algiers. The father and his death (+ the bombing) 42,The family 69,M. Germain and the School 91,Mondovi,the settlement and the father 11 101,Lycee 140,Unknown to himself 145,The adolescent2 1. The numbers correspond to the pages of the manuscript. 2. The manuscript stops at page 144. SHEET IV Also important is the theme of performing for others. What rescues us from our worst sorrows is the feeling of being abandoned and alone, yet not so alone that "others" do not "take notice" of us in our unhappiness. It is in this sense that our moments of happiness are sometimes those when the feeling that we are abandoned inflates us and lifts us into an endless sadness. In the sense also that happiness often is no more than self-pity for our unhappiness. Striking among the poor,God put resignation alongside despair like the cure alongside the disease.a When I was young, I asked more of people than they could give: everlasting friendship, endless feeling. Now I know to ask less of them than they can give: a straightforward companionship. And their feelings, their friendship, their generous actions seem in my eyes to be wholly miraculous: a consequence of grace alone. Marie Viton: airplane SHEET V He was the prince of the world, with a crown of shining talent, of passions, of strength, of joy, and it was from all that that he was coming to beg her forgiveness, she who had been a submissive slave to life and the passing days, who knew a. death of the grandmother. nothing, desired nothing, and did not dare to desire, and who nonetheless had preserved intact a truth he had lost and that was all that justified our existence. Thursdays in Kouba Practice, sports Uncle Baccalaureate Illness O mother, O love, dear child, greater than my times, greater than the history that subjected you to itself, more true than all I have loved in this world, O mother, forgive your son for having fled the night of your truth. The grandmother, a tyrant, but she serves standing up at the table. The son who makes his mother respected and strikes at his uncle. The First Man (Notes and Sketches) "Nothing compares to a life that is humble, ignorant, stubborn ..." CLAUDEL, The Exchange Or else Conversation about terrorism: Objectively she is responsible (answerable) Change the adverb or I'll hit you What? Don't take what's most asinine from the West. Don't say objectively or I'll hit you. Why? Did your mother lie down in front of the Algiers-Oran train? (the trolleybus) I don't understand. The train blew up, four children died. Your mother didn't move. If objectively she is nonetheless responsible,* then you approve of shooting hostages. * answerable She didn't know. Neither did she. Never say objectively again. Concede that there are innocent people or I'll kill you too. You know I could do it. Yes, I've seen you. aJean is the first man. Then use Pierre as a reference point and give him a past, a country, a family, a morality (?),Pierre,Didier? Adolescent loves on the beach - and night falling on the sea,and nights of stars. Meeting the Arab in Saint-Etienne. And this befriending by the two exiles in France. Mobilization. When my father was called to the colors, he had never seen France. He saw it and was killed. (What a modest family like mine has given to France.) Last conversation with Saddok when J. is already against terrorism. But he receives Saddok, the right of asylum being sacred. At his mother's. Their conversation takes place in his mother's presence. At the end, "Look," said J., indicating his mother. Saddok got up, went to his mother, hand on his heart, to kiss his mother while bowing in the Arab manner. "She is my mother," he said. "Mine is dead. I love and respect her as if she were my mother." (She fell because of a terrorist attack. She isn't well.) a. Cf. Histoire de la colonisation. Or else: Yes I hate you. For me honor in the world is found among the oppressed, not those who hold power. And it is from that alone that dishonor arises. When just once in history an oppressed person understands ... then ... Goodbye, said Saddok. Stay, they'll catch you. That's better. Them I can hate, and I join them in hatred. You're my brother and we're separated ... J. is on the balcony at night... In the distance they hear two shots and speeding... What is it? said the mother. It's nothing. Ah! I was afraid for you. He falls against her ... Then he is arrested for harboring. They would send to be baked the two francs in The grandmother, her authority, the hole her energy He stole the change. The sense of honor among Algerians. Learning justice and morality means to decide whether an emotion is good or bad according to its consequences. J. can give in to women,but if they take all his time ... "I've lived too long, and acted and felt, to say this one is right and that one wrong. I've had enough of living according to the image others show me of myself. I'm resolved on autonomy, I demand independence in interdependence." Would Pierre be the actor? Jean's father a teamster? After Marie's illness, Pierre has an outburst like Clamence (I don't love anything . . . ), then it's J. (or Grenier) who responds to the fall.1 Contrast the mother and the universe (the airplane, the most distant countries brought together). Pierre a lawyer. And lawyer for Yveton.2 "Men like us are good and proud and strong ... if we had a faith, a God, nothing could undermine us. But we had nothing, we had to learn everything, and living for honor alone has its weaknesses..." At the same time it should be the history of the end of a world ... with regret for those years of light running through it. . . Philippe Coulombel and the big farm in Tipasa. Friendship with Jean. His death in a plane over the farm. They found him with the stick in his side, his face crushed against the instrument panel. A bloody pulp sprinkled with glass splinters. Title: The Nomads. Begin with a move and end with evacuation from Algerian soil. 1. Clamence is the protagonist of Camus's The Fall,Trans. 2. Communist activist who put explosives in a factory. Guillotined during the Algerian war. Two exaltations: the poor woman and the world of paganism (intelligence and happiness). Everyone likes Pierre. J.'s success and his conceit make him enemies. Lynching scene: 4 Arabs thrown off the Kassour. His mother is Christ. Have others speak about J., bring him on, show him, through the contradictory picture that together they paint of him. Cultivated, athletic, debauched, a loner and the best of friends, spiteful, unfailingly dependable, etc., etc. "He doesn't like anyone," "No one could be more noble in spirit," "cold and distant," "warm and passionate," everyone thinks he's an energizer except he himself, always lying down. Thus expand the personality. When he speaks: "I began to believe in my innocence. I was Tsar. I reigned over everything and everyone, at my disposal (etc.). Then I found out I didn't have enough heart truly to love and I thought I would die of contempt for myself. Then I recognized that others don't truly love either and that I just had to accept being like just about everyone. "Then I decided no, I would blame myself alone for not being great enough and be comfortable in my hopelessness until I was given the opportunity to become great. "In other words, I'm waiting for the time when I'll be Tsar and won't enjoy it." Or else: One cannot live with truth,"knowingly",, he who does so sets himself apart from other men, he can no longer in any way share their illusion. He is an alien,and that is what I am. Maxime Rasteil: the ordeal of the 1848 settlers. Mondovi, Insert history of Mondovi? Ex: 1) the grave the return and the [ ]1 at Mondovi 1A) Mondovi in 1848 , 1913. His Spanish side sobriety and sensuality energy and nada J.: "No one can imagine the pain I've suffered . . . They honor men who do great things. But they should honor even more those who, in spite of what they are, have been able to restrain themselves from committing the worst crimes. Yes, honor me." Conversation with the paratroop lieutenant: "You talk too well. We're going to give you the third degree and see if you're still so smart." "All right, but first I want to warn you because no doubt you've never encountered any real men. Listen carefully. I am holding you responsible for what's going to happen in that third degree, as you call it. If I don't crack, it doesn't matter. I'll just spit in your face in public on the day it becomes possible for me to do so. But if I crack and if I get out 1. Word illegible. alive, and whether it takes a year or twenty years, I personally will kill you." "Take good care of him," said the lieutenant, "he's a wise guy."a J.'s friend kills himself "to make Europe possible." To make Europe requires a willing victim. J. has four women at the same time and thus is leading an empty life. C.S.: when the soul suffers too much, it develops a taste for misfortune... Cf. History of the Combat movement.1 Darling who dies in the hospital while her neighbor's radio is blaring nonsense. ,Heart disease. Living on borrowed time. "If I commit suicide, at least it will be my choice." "You alone will know why I killed myself. You know my principles. I hate those who commit suicide. Because of what they do to others. If you have to do it, you must disguise it. Out of kindness. Why am I telling you this? Because you love misfortune. It's a present I'm giving you. Bon appetit!" a. (he meets him again unarmed [and provokes] a duel), 1. Combat was a Resistance newspaper of which Camus was editor,Trans. J.: A life that is surging, reborn, a multitude of people and experiences, the capacity for renewal and [propulsion] (Lope), The end. She lifts her knotted hands to him and strokes his face. "You, you're the greatest one." There was so much love and adoration in her somber eyes (under the somewhat worn brow) that something in him,the one who knew,rebelled ... A moment later he took her in his arms. Since she, who saw more clearly, loved him, he had to accept it, and to admit that to love he had to love himself a little ... A Musil theme: the search for salvation of the soul in the modern world,D: [meeting] and parting in The Possessed. Torture. Executioner by proxy. I could never get close to another man,now we are side by side. The Christian condition: pure feeling. The book must be unfinished. Ex.: "And on the ship bringing him back to France ..." Jealous, he pretends not to be and plays the man of the world. And then he is no longer jealous. At age 40, he realizes he needs someone to show him the way and to give him censure or praise: a father. Authority and not power. X sees a terrorist fire at . . , He hears someone running after him in a dark street, stands still, turns suddenly, trips him so he falls, the revolver drops. He takes the weapon and trains it on the man, then realizes he cannot turn him in, takes him to a remote street, makes him run ahead of him and fires. The young actress in the camp: the blade of grass, the first grass amidst the slag and that acute feeling of happiness. Miserable and joyful. Later on she loves Jean,because he is pure. I? Those who arouse love, even if it is disappointed, are princes who make the world worthwhile. 28 Nov. 1885: birth of Lucien C. in Ouled-Fayet: son of Bap-tiste C. (age 43) and Marie Cormery (age 33). Married 1909 (13 Nov.) to Mile. Catherine Sintes (born 5 Nov. 1882). Died in Saint-Brieuc 11 Oct. 1914. When he is 45, he discovers by comparing the dates that his brother was born two months after the wedding? But the uncle who has just described the ceremony speaks of a long slender dress ... It is a doctor who delivers the second son in the new home where the furniture is piled up. She leaves in July 14 with the child swollen with mosquito bites from the Seybouse. August, mobilization. The husband goes directly to his [unit] in Algiers. He gets out one night to kiss his two children. They will not see him again till word of his death. A settler who, expelled, destroys the vines, lets in brackish water . . . "If what we did here is a crime, it must be wiped out..." Maman (about N.): the day you "graduated","when they gave you the bonus." Criklinski and ascetic love. He expresses surprise that Marcelle, who has just become his mistress, takes no interest in her country's misfortune. "Come," she says. She opens a door: her nine-year-old child,delivered with forceps motor nerves smashed,paralyzed, speechless, left side of the face higher than the right, must be fed, washed, etc. He closes the door. He knows he has cancer, but does not say he knows. Others think they are fooling him. 1st part: Algiers, Mondovi. And he meets an Arab who speaks to him of his father. His relations with Arab workers. J. Douai: L'Ecluse. Beral's death in the war. How F. cries out in tears when she learns of his affair with Y.: "Me too, I'm beautiful also." And Y.'s cry: "Ah! Let someone come and carry me off." Later, long after the tragedy, F. and M. meet. Christ did not set foot in Algeria. The first letter he received from her and his feeling on seeing his own name in her handwriting. Ideally, if the book were written to the mother, from beginning to end,and if one learned only at the end that she cannot read,yes, that would be it. And what he wanted most in the world, which was for his mother to read everything that was his life and his being, that was impossible. His love, his only love, would be forever speechless. Rescue this poor family from the fate of the poor, which is to disappear from history without a trace. The Speechless Ones. They were and they are greater than I. Begin with the night of the birth. Chap. I, then chap. II: 35 years later, a man would get off the train at Saint-Brieuc. Gr,1 whom I acknowledge as father, was born where my real father died and was buried. Pierre with Marie. At the beginning he could not take her: that is why he came to love her. On the contrary, J. with Jessica, immediate bliss. That is why it takes him time to really love her,her body conceals her. The hearse on the high plains [Figari]. The story of the German officer and the child: nothing makes it worth dying for him. 1. Grenier. The pages of the Quillet dictionary: their smell, the plates. The odors of the cooperage: the chip that smells more [ ]1 than sawdust. Jean, eternally unsatisfied. He leaves home as an adolescent in order to sleep alone. Discovery of religion in Italy: through art. End of chap. I: during this time, Europe was tuning its cannons. They went off six months later. The mother arrives in Algiers, holding a four-year-old by the hand, another child in her arms, this one swollen with bites from the Seybouse mosquitoes. They arrive at the grandmother's, three rooms in a poor neighborhood. "Mother, thank you for taking us in." The grandmother erect, looking at her with hard clear eyes: "Daughter, you'll have to go to work." Maman: like an ignorant Myshkin. She does not know Christ's life, except on the cross. Yet who is closer to it? One morning, in the courtyard of a provincial hotel, waiting for M. That feeling of happiness he could never experience except in what was temporary, illicit,which by the fact that it was illicit guaranteed the happiness could never last,infected him most of the time, except the few times, like now, when it appeared in its pure state, in the gentle light of morning, among dahlias still shiny with dew . .. 1. An illegible word. Story of XX. She arrives, pushes her way in, "I'm free," etc., plays the emancipated woman. Then she gets in bed naked, does everything for ... a bad [ ]1 Unfortunate. She leaves her husband,in despair, etc. The husband writes to the other man: "You're responsible. Go on seeing her or she'll kill herself." Actually, sure failure: infatuated with the absolute, and in that case trying to woo the impossible,so she killed herself. The husband came. "You know what brings me here." "Yes." "All right, it's your choice, I kill you or you kill me." "No, it's you who has to bear the burden of the choice." "Go ahead and kill." Actually, the kind of predicament that the victim is really not accountable for. But [no doubt] she was responsible for something else she never paid for. Foolishness. XX. She has in her a disposition toward destruction and death. She is [dedicated] to God. A naturist: in an eternal state of suspicion about food, air, etc. In occupied Germany: Good evening, herr officer. Good evening, says J., closing the door. He is surprised at the tone of his voice. And he understands that many conquerors use that tone only because they are embarrassed to be conquering and occupying. J. wants not to be. What he does, loses his reputation, etc. 1. An illegible word. Character: Nicole Ladmiral. The father's "African sadness." End. Takes his son to Saint-Brieuc. On the little square, standing facing each other. How do you live? says the son. What? Yes, who are you, etc. (Happy) he feels the shadow of death thickening around him. V.V. We men and women of that time, of this city, in this country, we embraced each other, rejected and took each other back, and finally parted. But through all that time we never stopped helping each other to live, with that marvelous complicity of those who have to fight and suffer together. Ah! that is what love is,love for all. At the age of 40, having ordered meat very rare in restaurants all his life, he realized he actually liked it medium and not at all rare. Free oneself from any concern with art and form. Regain direct contact, without intermediary, thus innocence. To give up art here is to give up one's self. Renouncing the self, not through virtuousness. On the contrary, accept one's hell. One who wants to be better prefers his self, one who wants to enjoy prefers his self. The only one who renounces his self, his I, is one who accepts whatever happens with its consequences. Then this one is in direct contact. Regain the greatness of the Greeks or the great Russians through this distanced innocence. Do not fear. Fear nothing. But who will help me! That afternoon, on the road from Grasse to Cannes, where in a moment of incredible rapture he discovers, suddenly, after an affair lasting years, that he loves Jessica, that at last he loves her, and that the rest of the world becomes like a shadow beside her. I was not in any of what I said or wrote. It was not I who married, not I who was a father, who ... etc ... Many documents about sending foundlings to settle in Algeria. Yes. All of us here. The morning trolley, from Belcourt to the place du Gou-vernement. In front, the motorman with his levers. I am going to tell the story of an alien. The story I am going to tell... Maman and history: She is told about sputnik: "Oh, I wouldn't like it up there!" Chapter going backwards. Hostages Kabyle village. Emasculated soldier,roundup, etc., step by step to the first shot fired in the settlement. But why stop there? Cain killed Abel. Problem in technique: a single chapter or in countermelody? Rasteil: a settler with a thick moustache, graying sideburns. His father: a carpenter from Faubourg Saint-Denis; his mother: a fine-linen laundress. All the settlers were Parisian anyway (and many were forty-eighters). Many unemployed in Paris. The Constituent had voted fifty million to send a "colony": For each settler: a dwelling 2 to 10 hectares seeds, cultures, etc. food rations No railroad (it only went as far as Lyon). From there canals,on barges hauled by draft horses. "Marseillaise," "Chant du Depart," benediction by the clergy, flag to take to Mondovi. Six barges 100 to 150 meters each. Cooped up, on straw mattresses. The women, to change underwear, undress behind bedsheets they hold up one after the other. Almost a month journey. In Marseilles, at the big Lazaret1 (1,500 people), for a week. Then loaded on an old paddlewheeler: the Labrador. Leave in a mistral. Five days and five nights,everyone sick. Bone,with the whole population on the dock to greet the settlers. Things piled up in the hold that disappear. From Bone to Mondovi (on the army's gun carriages, to leave room and air for the women and children) no road. By guesswork in the swampy plain or in the brush, under the hostile eyes of the Arabs, accompanied by the howling pack of Kabyle dogs,12/8/48.2 Mondovi did not exist, some military tents. During the night the women were weeping,8 days of Algerian rain on the tents, and the wadis were overflowing. The children relieved themselves in the tents. The carpenter put up light shelters draped with sheets to protect the furniture. Hollow reeds cut on the banks of the Sey-bouse so the children could urinate from the inside out. Four months in the tents, then temporary wooden huts; each double hut had to lodge six families. 1. hospital,Trans. 2. Circled by the author. Spring 49: untimely hot season. They are roasting in the huts. Malaria then cholera. 8 to 10 deaths a day. The carpenter's daughter, Augustine, dies, then his wife. His brother-in-law also. (They bury them in a layer of tuff.) The doctors' prescription: dance to heat the blood. And they dance every night to a fiddler between two burials. The land grants would not be distributed until 1851. The father dies. Rasine and Eugene are left alone. To go wash their laundry in a tributary of the Seybouse they needed an escort of soldiers. Walls built + ditches by the army. Cabins and gardens, they build with their hands. Five or six lions roar around the village. (Numidian lion with black mane.) Jackals. Boars. Hyena. Panther. Attacks on the villages. Theft of livestock. Between Bone and Mondovi, a wagon bogs down. The travelers leave to get reinforcements, except a pregnant young woman. They find her with her belly slit and breasts cut off. The first church: four clay walls, no chairs, a few benches. The first school: a shack made of poles and branches. Three sisters. The lands: scattered plots, they plow with a gun on their shoulder. At night you go back to the village. A column of 3,000 French soldiers passing by raids the village during the night. June 51: uprising. Hundreds of cavalrymen in burnooses around the village. Simulating cannons with stovepipes on the little ramparts. In actual fact, the Parisians in the fields; many went to the fields wearing top hats and their wives with silk dresses. Smoking cigarettes forbidden. Only the covered pipe was permitted. (Because of fires.) The houses built in 54. In the department of Constantine, 2/3 of the settlers died almost without having laid a hand on a spade or plow. Old settler cemetery, immense oblivion.' Maman. The truth is that, in spite of all my love, I had not been able to live that life of blind patience, without words, without plans. I could not live her life of ignorance. And I had traveled far and wide, had built, had created, had loved people and abandoned them. My days had been full to overflowing,but nothing had filled my heart like . . . He knew he was going to leave again, make a mistake again, forget what he knew. But actually what he knew was that the truth of his life was there in that room ... No doubt he would flee that truth. Who can live with his own truth? But it is enough to know it is there, it is enough to know it at last and that it feeds a secret and silent [fervor] in the self, in the face of death. Martian's Christianity at the end of her life. The poor, unfortunate, ignorant woman [ ]2 show her sputnik? May the cross sustain her! In 72, when the paternal branch settled, it was following: ,the Commune, ,the Arab uprising of 71 (the first one killed in Mitidja was a teacher). The Alsatians occupied the land of the insurgents. 1. "immense oblivion" circled by the author. 2. An illegible word. The measure of the era The mother's ignorance in countermelody to all the [ ]1 of history and the world. Bir Hakeim: "it's far" or "over there." Her religion is visual. She knows what she has seen without being able to interpret it. Jesus is suffering, he dies, etc. Woman warrior. Write one's [ ]2 in order to find the truth. 1ST PART: THE NOMADS (i) Birth during the move. 6 months after the war.a The child. Algiers, the father in Zouave uniform wearing a straw hat going over the top. (2) 40 years later. The son facing the father in the Saint-Brieuc cemetery. He returns to Algeria. (3) Arrival in Algeria in time for the "events." Look up. Trip to Mondovi. He finds childhood and not the father. He learns he is the first man.b 1. An illegible word. 2. Two illegible words. a. Mondovi in 48. b. The settlers from Mahon in 1850,the Alsatians in 72-73, 14. 2ND PART: THE FIRST MAN Adolescence: The punch Sports and morality The Man: (Political activity [Algeria], the Resistance) 3RD PART: THE MOTHER Loves The kingdom: the old playmate, the old friend, Pierre, the old teacher, and the story of his two enlistments The mother1 In the last part, Jacques explains to his mother the Arab question, Creole civilization, the fate of the West. "Yes," she says, "yes." Then full confession and the end. There was a mystery about this man, and a mystery he wanted to clear up. But at the end there was nothing but the mystery of poverty that creates people without a name and without a past. Youth at the beaches. After days full of shouting, of sunlight, of strenuous activity, of dull or intense desire. Night falls on the sea. A swift cries high in the sky. And anguish seizes his heart. Finally he takes Empedocles as his model. The [ ]2 philosopher who lives alone. 1. The author drew a box around this whole passage. 2. An illegible word. I want to write the story of a pair joined by the same blood and every kind of difference. She similar to the best this world has, and he quietly abominable. He thrown into all the follies of our time; she passing through the same history as if it were that of any time. She silent most of the time, with only a few words at her disposal to express herself; he constantly talking and unable to find in thousands of words what she could say with a single one of her silences ... Mother and son. Freedom to use any style. Jacques, who until then had felt himself at one with all victims, now recognizes that he is at one with the executioners. His sorrow. Definition. You would have to live as an onlooker to your own life. To add to it the dream that would complete it. But we live, and others dream your life. He looked at her. Everything had come to a standstill, and time passed with a sputter. As at the movies when, the picture having vanished through some malfunction, you hear nothing in the darkness of the hall except the sound of the machinery going on ... with an empty screen. The jasmine necklaces sold by the Arabs. The scented string of yellow and white flowers [ ].1The necklaces quickly fade 1. Six illegible words. [ ]1 the flowers turn yellow [ ]2 but the odor lingers, in the poor room. Paris days in May when the white pods of the chestnut flowers are floating everywhere in the air. He had loved his mother and his child, everything that it was not up to him to choose. And after all he, who had challenged everything, questioned everything, he had never loved anything except what was inevitable. The people fate had imposed on him, the world as it appeared to him, everything in his life he had not been able to avoid, his illness, his vocation, fame or poverty,in a word, his star. For the rest, for everything he had to choose, he had made himself love, which is not the same thing. No doubt he had known the feeling of wonderment, passion, and even moments of tenderness. But each moment had sent him on to other moments, each person to others, and he had loved nothing he had chosen, except what was little by little imposed on him by circumstance, had lasted as much by accident as by intention, and finally became necessary: Jessica. The heart, the heart above all is not free. It is inevitability and the recognition of the inevitable. And he, in truth, had never wholeheartedly loved other than the inevitable. All that was left for him was to love his own death. aTomorrow, six million yellow people, billions of yellow, black, and dark-skinned people will pour onto the shore of 1. Two illegible words. 2. Two illegible words. a. he dreams it during his siesta: Europe . . . and at best would [convert her]. Then everything that had been taught, to him and to those like him, also everything he had learned, on that day the men of his race, all the values he lived for, would die of uselessness. Then what will still be worthwhile? His mother's silence. He lay down his arms before her. M. at 19. He was 30 then, and they did not know each other. He realizes we cannot set the clock back, prevent the loved one from having been, and done, and experienced, we possess nothing of what we choose. For we would have to choose with the first cry at birth, and we are born apart,except from the mother. We possess only what is inevitable, and we must return to it and (see preceding note) submit to it. And yet, what nostalgia and what regrets! One must relinquish. No, learn to love what is imperfect. To conclude, he asks his mother's forgiveness,Why you've been a good son, But it is because of all the rest she cannot know or even imagine [ ]1 that she is the only one who can forgive (?) Since I've inverted it, show Jessica old before showing her young. He marries M. because she has never known a man and he is fascinated by that. In short, he marries for what is wanting in himself. Then he will learn to love women who have been used,that is,to love the awful necessity of life. A chapter on the war of 14. Incubator of our era. As seen by the mother? Who knows neither France, nor Europe, nor 1. An illegible word. the world. Who thinks shells explode of their own volition, etc. Alternate chapters would give the mother's voice. Commenting on the same events but with her vocabulary of 400 words. In short, I wanted to speak of those I loved. And of that only. Intense joy. aSaddok: (1) "But why get married that way, Saddok?" "Should I marry the French way?" "The French or any other way! Why subject yourself to a tradition you believe is foolish and cruel?"1' "Because my people are identified with this tradition, they have nothing else, they stopped there, and to part with that tradition is to part with them. That is why I will go into that room tomorrow, and I will strip a stranger of her clothes, and I will rape her to the sound of gunshots." "All right. In the meantime, let's go swimming." (2) "So what?" "They say that for the time being the anti-Fascist front must be consolidated, that France and Russia must join in self-defense." "Can't they defend themselves and at the same time establish justice at home?" a. All this in a [not-true-to-life] style that is lyrical and not exactly realistic. b. The French are right, but their rightness is oppressive to us. And that is why I choose Arab madness, the madness of the oppressed. "They say that will come later, that we have to wait for that." "Justice can't be delayed here, and you well know it." "They say if you don't wait, objectively you'll be aiding Fascism." "And that's why prison is the right place for your former comrades." "They say it's too bad, but they can't do otherwise." "They say, they say. And you say nothing." "I say nothing." He looked at him. It was beginning to get hot. "So, you're betraying me?" He had not said: "you're betraying us" because betrayal concerns the flesh, the single individual, etc . .. "No. I'm leaving the Party today . .." (3) "Remember 1936." "I'm not a terrorist for the Communists. I'm one against the French." "I'm French. She is too." "I know. Too bad for you." "So you are betraying me." Saddok's eyes shone with a kind of fever. If I finally choose chronological order, Madame Jacques or the doctor will be descendants of the first settlers in Mondovi. Let's not feel sorry for ourselves, said the doctor, just imagine our first ancestors here, etc . .. (4),And Jacques's father killed at the Marne. What remains of that obscure life? Nothing, an impalpable memory,the light ash of a butterfly wing incinerated in a forest fire. The two Algerian nationalisms. Algeria 39 and 54 (rebellion). What becomes of French values in an Algerian sensibility, that of the first man. The account of the two generations explains the present tragedy. The holiday camp at Miliana, the barracks' trumpets morning and evening. Loves: he would have wanted them all virgin, with no past and no men. And the only one he ever met who actually was, he vowed his life to her but could not himself be faithful. So he wanted women to be what he himself was not. And what he was sent him back to women who were like him and whom he loved and possessed with anger and passion. Adolescence. His drive to live, his faith in life. But he is spitting blood. So that is what life will be, a hospital, death, solitude, this absurdity. Hence the parting. And in his very depths: no, no, life is something else. Inspiration on the road from Cannes to Grasse . . . And he knew that even if he had to go back to that barren cold where he had always lived, he would dedicate his life, his heart, the gratitude of his entire being, which had enabled him once, perhaps only once, but once, to yield . . . Begin the last part with this scene: The blind donkey who for years patiently turns his wheel in a circle, enduring beatings, the ferocity of nature, the sun, the flies, still enduring, and from that slow circular motion, seemingly fruitless, monotonous, painful, water endlessly flows . . . 1905. L.C.'s1 war in Morocco. But, at the other end of Europe, Kaliayev. The life of L.C. Entirely involuntary, except his will to be and to keep on. Orphanage. Farm laborer obliged to marry his wife. Thus his life evolves despite him,and then the war kills him. He goes to see Grenier: "Men like me, I've conceded it, have to obey. They need a guiding rule, etc. Religion, love, etc.: impossible for me. So I have decided to vow obedience to you." What follows (news). After all, he does not know who his father is. But who is he himself? 2nd Part. The silent movie, reading the subtitles to the grandmother. No, I am not a good son: a good son is one who stays put. I've traveled far and wide, I've betrayed her with trivialities, fame, a hundred women. "But, you loved no one but her?" "Ah! I've loved no one but her?" When, by his father's grave, he felt the time go out of joint, this new course of time is that of the book. He is a man of excess: women, etc. So the [hyper] in him is punished. Then he knows. 1. Probably Lucien Camus, his father. The dread in Africa when the sudden twilight falls on the sea or on the high plateaus or on the rough mountains. It is the dread of the sacred, fear of eternity. The same as at Delphi, where nightfall produces the same effect, it makes the temples come forth. But on the soil of Africa the temples have been destroyed, all that remains is this immense weight on the heart. Then how they die! In silence, away from everything. What they did not like in him was the Algerian. His dealings with money. Owing in part to poverty (he never bought anything for himself), and on the other hand to his arrogance: he never bargained. Confession to his mother to conclude. "You do not understand me, and yet you are the only one who can forgive me. Plenty of people offer to do it. Many also shout in all sorts of ways that I am guilty, and I am not guilty when they tell me I am. Others have the right to say it to me, and I know they are right and that I should seek their forgiveness. But one asks forgiveness of those one knows can forgive. Just that, to forgive, and not to ask you to deserve forgiveness, to wait. [But] just to talk to them, to tell them everything and receive their forgiveness. The men and women of whom I could ask it, I know that somewhere in their hearts, despite their good intentions, they neither can nor do they know how to forgive. One person alone could have forgiven me, but I was never guilty toward him and I gave him my heart entire, and yet I could have gone to him, I often did so in silence, but he is dead and I am alone. You alone can do it, but you do not understand me and cannot read me. And I am speaking to you, I am writing, to you, to you alone, and when it is finished, I will ask forgiveness without further explanation and you will smile on me . . ." Jacques, at the time of the escape from the clandestine editorial office, kills a pursuer (he grimaced, staggered, a bit bent forward. Then Jacques felt a terrible fury rising in him: he hit him once more from below in the [throat], and a huge hole burst open immediately at the base of the neck; then, crazed with disgust and anger, he hit him again [ ]1 right in the eyes without looking where he was striking ...)... then he goes to Wanda's. The poor and ignorant Berber peasant. The settler. The soldier. The White with no land. (He loves them, those people, not those half-breeds with pointed yellow shoes and scarves who have only adopted the worst from the West.) The end. Return the land, the land that belongs to no one. Return the land that is neither to be sold nor to be bought (yes and Christ never set foot in Algeria, since even the monks owned property and land grants there). And he cried out, looking at his mother, then the others: "Return the land. Give all the land to the poor, to those who have nothing and who are so poor that they never wanted to have and to possess, to those in the country who are like her, the immense herd of the wretched, mostly Arab and a few French, and who live and survive here through stubbornness and endurance, with the only pride that is worth anything in the world, that of the poor, give them the 1. Four illegible words. land as one gives what is sacred to those who are sacred, and then I, poor once more and forever, cast into the worst of exiles at the end of the earth, I will smile and I will die happy, knowing that those I revered, she whom I revered, are at last joined to the land I so loved under the sun where I was born." (Then shall the great anonymity become fruitful and envelop me also,I shall return to this land.) Revolt. Cf. Demain in Algeria, p. 48, Servier. Young political commissars in the F.L.N, who took Tar-zan as their pseudonym. Yes, I command, I kill, I live in the mountains, under the sun and the rain. What do you offer me that's better: laborer in Bethune. And Saddok's mother, cf. p. 115. Confronting ... in the oldest story in the world we are the first men,not men on the wane as they shout in the [ ]1 newspaper but men of a different and undefined dawn. Children without God or father, the masters they offered us horrified us. We lived without legitimacy, Pride. What they call the skepticism of the new generations,a lie. Since when is an honest man who refuses to believe the liar a skeptic? The nobility of the writer's occupation lies in resisting oppression, thus in accepting isolation. 1. An illegible word. What has helped me bear an adverse fate will perhaps help me accept an overly favorable outcome,and what has most sustained me was the great vision, the very great vision I have of art. Except in [antiquity] Writers started out in slavery. They won their freedom,no question [ ]1 K.H.: Everything exaggerated is trivial. But Monsieur K.H. was trivial before becoming exaggerated. He wanted to be both. 1. Four illegible words. Two Letters 19 November 1957 Dear Monsieur Germain, I let the commotion around me these days subside a bit before speaking to you from the bottom of my heart. I have just been given far too great an honor, one I neither sought nor solicited. But when I heard the news, my first thought, after my mother, was of you. Without you, without the affectionate hand you extended to the small poor child that I was, without your teaching, and your example, none of all this would have happened. I don't make too much of this sort of honor. But at least it gives me an opportunity to tell you what you have been and still are for me, and to assure you that your efforts, your work, and the generous heart you put into it still live in one of your little schoolboys who, despite the years, has never stopped being your grateful pupil. I embrace you with all my heart. Albert Camus Algiers, this 30th of April 1959 My dear child, I have received, addressed in your handwriting, the book Camus that its author Monsieur J.-Cl. Brisville was kind enough to inscribe to me. I do not know how to express the delight you gave me with your gracious act nor how to thank you for it. If it were possible, I would give a great hug to the big boy you have become who for me will always be "my little Camus." I have not yet read this work, other than the first few pages. Who is Camus? I have the impression that those who try to penetrate your nature do not quite succeed. You have always shown an instinctive reticence about revealing your nature, your feelings. You succeed all the more for being unaffected, direct. And good on top of that! I got these impressions of you in class. The pedagogue who does his job conscientiously overlooks no opportunity to know his pupils, his children, and these occur all the time. An answer, a gesture, a stance are amply revealing. So I think I well know the nice little fellow you were, and very often the child contains the seed of the man he will become. Your pleasure at being in school burst out all over. Your face showed optimism. And I never suspected the actual situation of your family from studying you. I only had a glimpse when your mother came to see me about your being listed among the candidates for the scholarship. Anyway, that happened when you were about to leave me. But until then you seemed to me to be in the same position as your classmates. You always had what you needed. Like your brother, you were nicely dressed. I don't think I can find a greater compliment to your mother. To return to Monsieur Brisville's book, it is amply illustrated. It was very moving to know, from his photograph, your poor papa whom I have always considered "my comrade." Monsieur Brisville was kind enough to quote me: I will thank him for it. I saw the ever-lengthening list of works that are about you or speak of you. And it gives me very great satisfaction to see that your fame (this is the exact truth) has not gone to your head. You have remained Camus: bravo. I have followed with interest the many vicissitudes of the play you adapted and also staged: The Possessed. I love you too much not to wish you the greatest success: it is what you deserve. What's more, Malraux wants to provide you with a theatre. But. . . can you manage all these various activities? I fear that you misuse your talents. And, permit your old friend to point out, you have a nice wife and two children who need their husband and papa. On this subject, I am going to tell you what the head of our normal school used to tell us now and then. He was very hard on us, which kept us from seeing, from feeling, that he really loved us. "Nature keeps a great book in which she scrupulously records every one of the excesses we commit." I must say that this wise advice has often restrained me when I was about to disregard it. So listen, try to leave a blank on the page reserved for you in nature's Great Book. Andree reminds me that we saw and heard you on a literary program on television, a program about The Possessed. It was moving to see you answer the questions that were asked. And I could not keep myself from making the malicious observation that you well knew I would, after all, see and hear you. That makes up a bit for your absence from Algiers. We haven't seen you for quite a while ... Before closing, I want to tell you how troubled I am, as a secular teacher, by the menacing plots aimed at our schools. I believe that throughout my career I have respected what is most sacred in a child: the right to seek out his own truth. I loved you all and I believe I did my best not to show my opinions and thus to influence your young minds. When it was a matter of God (it was in the curriculum), I said some believed, others did not. And in the fullness of his rights, each did as he pleased. Similarly, on the subject of religion, I limited myself to listing the ones that existed, to which those who so desired belonged. To be accurate, I added that there were people who practiced no religion. I am well aware this does not please those who would like to make teachers fellow travelers for religion and, more precisely, for the Catholic religion. At the normal school of Algiers (it was then at the parc de Galland) my father, like his classmates, was required to go to Mass and take Communion every Sunday. One day, exasperated by this requirement, he put the "consecrated" host in a prayerbook and closed it! The head of the school was informed of this and did not hesitate to expel my father. That is what the promoters of the "Free school"1 (free ... to 1. "Free" meaning private, usually Catholic, as opposed to the secular state school,Trans. think as they do) want. With the current membership of the Chamber of Deputies, I fear this plot may succeed. Le Canard Ench?ine1 reported that in one department a hundred secular schools function with a crucifix hanging on the wall. I see in that an abominable attack on the children's minds. What may it come to in time? These thoughts make me very sad. My dear child, I am coming to the end of my 4th page: I'm taking advantage of your time and I beg you to forgive me. All goes well here. Christian, my son-in-law, starts his 27th month in service tomorrow! Know that, even when I do not write, I often think of all of you. Madame Germain and I warmly embrace all four of you. Affectionately. Louis Germain I remember the time you came to visit our class with your fellow communicants. You were obviously proud of the suit you were wearing and the feast day you were observing. Honestly, I was happy for your pleasure, believing that if you were making your Communion it was because you wanted to. So ... 1. The satirical weekly,Trans. The Rebel An Essay on Man in Revolt For Jean Grenier And openly I pledged my heart to the grave and suffering land, and often in the consecrated night, I promised to love her faithfully until death, unafraid, with her heavy burden of fatality, and never to despise a single one of her enigmas. Thus did I join myself to her with a mortal cord. Holderlin: The Death of Empedocles Introduction There are crimes of passion and crimes of logic. The boundary between them is not clearly defined. But the Penal Code makes the convenient distinction of premeditation. We are living in the era of premeditation and the perfect crime. Our criminals are no longer helpless children who could plead love as their excuse. On the contrary, they are adults and they have a perfect alibi: philosophy, which can be used for any purpose?even for transforming murderers into judges. Heathcliff, in Wuthering Heights, would kill everybody on earth in order to possess Cathy, but it would never occur to him to say that murder is reasonable or theoretically defensible. He would commit it, and there his convictions end. This implies the power of love, and also strength of character. Since intense love is rare, murder remains an exception and preserves its aspect of infraction. But as soon as a man, through lack of character, takes refuge in doctrine, as soon as crime reasons about itself, it multiplies like reason itself and assumes all the aspects of the syllogism. Once crime was as solitary as a cry of protest; now it is as universal as science. Yesterday it was put on trial; today it determines the law. This is not the place for indignation. The purpose of this essay is once again to face the reality of the present, which is logical crime, and to examine meticulously the arguments by which it is justified; it is an attempt to understand the times in which we live. One might think that a period which, in a space of fifty years, uproots, enslaves, or kills seventy million human beings should be condemned out of hand. But its culpability must still be understood. In more ingenuous times, when the tyrant razed cities for his own greater glory, when the slave chained to the conqueror's chariot was dragged through the rejoicing streets, when enemies were thrown to the wild beasts in front of the assembled people, the mind did not reel before such unabashed crimes, and judgment remained unclouded. But slave camps under the flag of freedom, massacres justified by philanthropy or by a taste for the superhuman, in one sense cripple judgment. On the day when crime dons the apparel of innocence? through a curious transposition peculiar to our times?it is innocence that is called upon to justify itself. The ambition of this essay is to accept and examine this strange challenge. Our purpose is to find out whether innocence, the moment it becomes involved in action, can avoid committing murder. We can act only in terms of our own time, among the people who surround us. We shall know nothing until we know whether we have the right to kill our fellow men, or the right to let them be killed. In that every action today leads to murder, direct or indirect, we cannot act until we know whether or why we have the right to kill. The important thing, therefore, is not, as yet, to go to the root of things, but, the world being what it is, to know how to live in it. In the age of negation, it was of some avail to examine one's position concerning suicide. In the age of ideologies, we must examine our position in relation to murder. If murder has rational foundations, then our period and we ourselves are rationally consequent. If it has no rational foundations, then we are insane and there is no alternative but to find some justification or to avert our faces. It is incumbent upon us, at all events, to give a definite answer to the question implicit in the blood and strife of this century. For we are being put to the rack. Thirty years ago, before reaching a decision to kill, people denied many things, to the point of denying themselves by suicide. God is deceitful; the whole world (myself included) is deceitful; therefore I choose to die: suicide was the problem then. Ideology today is concerned only with the denial of other human beings, who alone bear the responsibility of deceit. It is then that we kill. Each day at dawn, assassins in judges' obes slip into some cell: murder is the problem today. The two arguments are inextricably bound together. Or rather they bind us, and so firmly that we can no longer choose our own problems. They choose us, one after another, and we have no alternative but to accept their choice. This essay proposes, in the face of murder and rebellion, to pursue a train of thought which began with suicide and the idea of the absurd. But, for the moment, this train of thought yields only one concept: that of the absurd. And the concept of the absurd leads only to a contradiction as far as the problem of murder is concerned. Awareness of the absurd, when we first claim to deduce a rule of behavior from it, makes murder seem a matter of indifference, to say the least, and hence possible. If we believe in nothing, if nothing has any meaning and if we can affirm no values whatsoever, then everything is possible and nothing has any importance. There is no pro or con: the murderer is neither right nor wrong. We are free to stoke the crematory fires or to devote ourselves to the care of lepers. Evil and virtue are mere chance or caprice. We shall then decide not to act at all, which amounts to at least accepting the murder of others, with perhaps certain mild reservations about the imperfection of the human race. Again we may decide to substitute tragic dilettantism for action, and in this case human lives become counters in a game. Finally, we may propose to embark on some course of action which is not entirely gratuitous. In the latter case, in that we have no higher values to guide our behavior, our aim will be immediate efficacy. Since nothing is either true or false, good or bad, our guiding principle will be to demonstrate that we are the most efficient?in other words, the strongest. Then the world will no longer be divided into the just and the unjust, but into masters and slaves. Thus, whichever way we turn, in our abyss of negation and nihilism, murder has its privileged position. Hence, if we claim to adopt the absurdist attitude, we must prepare ourselves to commit murder, thus admitting that logic is more important than scruples that we consider illusory. Of course, we must have some predisposition to murder. But, on the whole, less than might be supposed, to judge from experience. Moreover, it is always possible, as we can so often observe, to delegate murder. Everything would then be made to conform to logic?if logic could really be satisfied in this way. But logic cannot be satisfied by an attitude which first demonstrates that murder is possible and then that it is impossible. For after having proved that the act of murder is at least a matter of indifference, absurdist analysis, in its most important deduction, finally condemns murder. The final conclusion of absurdist reasoning is, in fact, the repudiation of suicide and the acceptance of the desperate encounter between human inquiry and the silence of the universe. Suicide would mean the end of this encounter, and absurdist reasoning considers that it could not consent to this without negating its own premises. According to absurdist reasoning, such a solution would be the equivalent of flight or deliverance. But it is obvious that absurdism hereby admits that human life is the only necessary good since it is precisely life that makes this encounter possible and since, without life, the absurdist wager would have no basis. To say that life is absurd, the conscience must be alive. How is it possible, without making remarkable concessions to one's desire for comfort, to preserve exclusively for oneself the benefits of such a process of reasoning? From the moment that life is recognized as good, it becomes good for all men. Murder cannot be made coherent when suicide is not considered coherent. A mind imbued with the idea of the absurd will undoubtedly accept fatalistic murder; but it would never accept calculated murder. In terms of the encounter between human inquiry and the silence of the universe, murder and suicide are one and the same thing, and must be accepted or rejected together. Equally, absolute nihilism, which accepts suicide as legitimate, leads, even more easily, to logical murder. If our age admits, with equanimity, that murder has its justifications, it is because of this indifference to life which is the mark of nihilism. Of course there have been periods of history in which the passion for life was so strong that it burst forth in criminal excesses. But these excesses were like the searing flame of a terrible delight. They were not this monotonous order of things established by an impoverished logic in whose eyes everything is equal. This logic has carried the values of suicide, on which our age has been nurtured, to their extreme logical consequence, which is legalized murder. It culminates, at the same time, in mass suicide. The most striking demonstration of this was provided by the Hitlerian apocalypse of 1945. Self-destruction meant nothing to those madmen, in their bomb-shelters, who were preparing for their own death and apotheosis. All that mattered was not to destroy oneself alone and to drag a whole world with one. In a way, the man who kills himself in solitude still preserves certain values since he, apparently, claims no rights over the lives of others. The proof of this is that he never makes use, in order to dominate others, of the enormous power and freedom of action which his decision to die gives him. Every solitary suicide, when it is not an act of resentment, is, in some way, either generous or contemptuous. But one feels contemptuous in the name of something. If the world is a matter of indifference to the man who commits suicide, it is because he has an idea of something that is not or could not be indifferent to him. He believes that he is destroying everything or taking everything with him; but from this act of self-destruction itself a value arises which, perhaps, might have made it worth while to live. Absolute negation is therefore not consummated by suicide. It can only be consummated by absolute destruction, of oneself and of others. Or, at least, it can only be lived by striving toward that delectable end. Here suicide and murder are two aspects of a single system, the system of a misguided intelligence that prefers, to the suffering imposed by a limited situation, the dark victory in which heaven and earth are annihilated. By the same token, if we deny that there are reasons for suicide, we cannot claim that there are grounds for murder. There are no half-measures about nihilism. Absurdist reasoning cannot defend the continued existence of its spokesman and, simultaneously, accept the sacrifice of others' lives. The moment that we recognize the impossibility of absolute negation?and merely to be alive is to recognize this?the very first thing that cannot be denied is the right of others to live. Thus the same idea which allowed us to believe that murder was a matter of indifference now proceeds to deprive it of any justification; and we return to the untenable position from which we were trying to escape. In actual fact, this form of reasoning assures us at the same time that we can kill and that we cannot kill. It abandons us in this contradiction with no grounds either for preventing or for justifying murder, menacing and menaced, swept along with a whole generation intoxicated by nihilism, and yet lost in loneliness, with weapons in our hands and a lump in our throats. This basic contradiction, however, cannot fail to be accompanied by a host of others from the moment that we claim to remain firmly in the absurdist position and ignore the real nature of the absurd, which is that it is an experience to be lived through, a point of departure, the equivalent, in existence, of Descartes's methodical doubt. The absurd is, in itself, contradiction. It is contradictory in its content because, in wanting to uphold life, it excludes all value judgments, when to live is, in itself, a value judgment. To breathe is to judge. Perhaps it is untrue to say that life is a perpetual choice. But it is true that it is impossible to imagine a life deprived of all choice. From this simplified point of view, the absurdist position, translated into action, is inconceivable. It is equally inconceivable when translated into expression. Simply by being expressed, it gives a minimum of coherence to incoherence, and introduces consequence where, according to its own tenets, there is none. Speaking itself is restorative. The only coherent attitude based on non-signification would be silence?if silence, in its turn, were not significant. The absurd, in its purest form, attempts to remain dumb. If it finds its voice, it is because it has become complacent or, as we shall see, because it considers itself provisional. This complacency is an excellent indication of the profound ambiguity of the absurdist position. In a certain way, the absurd, which claims to express man in his solitude, really makes him live in front of a mirror. And then the initial anguish runs the risk of turning to comfort. The wound that is scratched with such solicitude ends by giving pleasure. Great explorers in the realm of absurdity have not been lacking. But, in the last analysis, their greatness is measured by the extent to which they have rejected the complacencies of absurdism in order to accept its exigencies. They destroy as much, not as little, as they can. "My enemies," says Nietzsche, "are those who want to destroy without creating their own selves." He himself destroys, but in order to try to create. He extols integrity and castigates the "hog-faced" pleasure-seekers. To escape complacency, absurdist reasoning then discovers renunciation. It refuses to be sidetracked and emerges into a position of arbitrary barrenness?a determination to be silent?which is expressed in the strange asceticism of rebellion. Rimbaud, who extols "crime puling prettily in the mud of the streets," runs away to Harrar only to complain about having to live there without his family. Life for him was "a farce for the whole world to perform." But on the day of his death, he cries out to his sister: "I shall lie beneath the ground but you, you will walk in sun!" The absurd, considered as a rule of life, is therefore contradictory. What is astonishing about the fact that it does not provide us with values which will enable us to decide whether murder is legitimate or not? Moreover, it is obviously impossible to formulate an attitude on the basis of a specially selected emotion. The perception of the absurd is one perception among many. That it has colored so many thoughts and actions between the two wars only proves its power and its validity. But the intensity of a perception does not necessarily mean that it is universal. The error of a whole period of history has been to enunciate?or to suppose already enunciated?general rules of action founded on emotions of despair whose inevitable course, in that they are emotions, is continually to exceed themselves. Great suffering and great happiness may be found at the beginning of any process of reasoning. They are intermediaries. But it is impossible to rediscover or sustain them throughout the entire process. Therefore, if it was legitimate to take absurdist sensibility into account, to make a diagnosis of a malady to be found in ourselves and in others, it is nevertheless impossible to see in this sensibility, and in the nihilism it presupposes, anything but a point of departure, a criticism brought to life?the equivalent, in the plane of existence, of systematic doubt. After this, the minor, with its fixed stare, must be broken and we are, perforce, caught up in the irresistible movement by which the absurd exceeds itself. Once the mirror is broken, nothing remains which can help us to answer the questions of our time. Absurd-ism, like methodical doubt, has wiped the slate clean. It leaves us in a blind alley. But, like methodical doubt, it can, by returning upon itself, open up a new field of investigation, and the process of reasoning then pursues the same course. I proclaim that I believe in nothing and that everything is absurd, but I cannot doubt the validity of my proclamation and I must at least believe in my protest. The first and only evidence that is supplied me, within the terms of the absurdist experience, is rebellion. Deprived of all knowledge, incited to murder or to consent to murder, all I have at my disposal is this single piece of evidence, which is only reaffirmed by the anguish I suffer. Rebellion is born of the spectacle of irrationality, confronted with an unjust and incomprehensible condition. But its blind impulse is to demand order in the midst of chaos, and unity in the very heart of the ephemeral. It protests, it demands, it insists that the outrage be brought to an end, and that what has up to now been built upon shifting sands should henceforth be founded on rock. Its preoccupation is to transform. But to transform is to act, and to act will be, tomorrow, to kill, and it still does not know whether murder is legitimate. Rebellion engenders exactly the actions it is asked to legitimate. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that rebellion find its reasons within itself, since it cannot find them elsewhere. It must consent to examine itself in order to learn how to act. Two centuries of rebellion, either metaphysical or historical, present themselves for our consideration. Only a historian could undertake to set forth in detail the doctrines and movements that have followed one another during this period. But at least it should be possible to find a guiding principle. The pages that follow only attempt to present certain historical data and a working hypothesis. This hypothesis is not the only one possible; moreover, it is far from explaining everything. But it partly explains the direction in which our times are heading and almost entirely explains the excesses of the age. The astonishing history evoked here is the history of European pride. In any event, the reasons for rebellion cannot be explained except in terms of an inquiry into its attitudes, pretensions, and conquests. Perhaps we may discover in its achievements the rule of action that the absurd has not been able to give us; an indication, at least, about the right or the duty to kill and, finally, hope for a new creation. Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is. The problem is to know whether this refusal can only lead to the destruction of himself and of others, whether all rebellion must end in the justification of universal murder, or whether, on the contrary, without laying claim to an innocence that is impossible, it can discover the principle of reasonable culpability. Part One The Rebel What is a rebel? A man who says no, but whose refusal does not imply a renunciation. He is also a man who says yes, from the moment he makes his first gesture of rebellion. A slave who has taken orders all his life suddenly decides that he cannot obey some new command. What does he mean by saying "no"? He means, for example, that "this has been going on too long," "up to this point yes, beyond it no," "you are going too far," or, again, "there is a limit beyond which you shall not go." In other words, his no affirms the existence of a borderline. The same concept is to be found in the rebel's feeling that the other person "is exaggerating," that he is exerting his authority beyond a limit where he begins to infringe on the rights of others. Thus the movement of rebellion is founded simultaneously on the categorical rejection of an intrusion that is considered intolerable and on the confused conviction of an absolute right which, in the rebel's mind, is more precisely the impression that he "has the right to..." Rebellion cannot exist without the feeling that, somewhere and somehow, one is right. It is in this way that the rebel slave says yes and no simultaneously. He affirms that there are limits and also that he suspects?and wishes to preserve?the existence of certain things on this side of the borderline. He demonstrates, with obstinacy, that there is something in him which "is worth while..." and which must be taken into consideration. In a certain way, he confronts an order of things which oppresses him with the insistence on a kind of right not to be oppressed beyond the limit that he can tolerate. In every act of rebellion, the rebel simultaneously ex- periences a feeling of revulsion at the infringment of his rights and a complete and spontaneous loyalty to certain aspects of himself. Thus he implicitly brings into play a standard of values so far from being gratuitous that he is prepared to support it no matter what the risks. Up to this point he has at least remained silent and has abandoned himself to the form of despair in which a condition is accepted even though it is considered unjust. To remain silent is to give the impression that one has no opinions, that one wants nothing, and in certain cases it really amounts to wanting nothing. Despair, like the absurd, has opinions and desires about everything in general and nothing in particular. Silence expresses this attitude very well. But from the moment that the rebel finds his voice?even though he says nothing but "no"?he begins to desire and to judge. The rebel, in the etymological sense, does a complete turnabout. He acted under the lash of his master's whip. Suddenly he turns and faces him. He opposes what is preferable to what is not. Not every value entails rebellion, but every act of rebellion tacitly invokes a value. Or is it really a question of values? Awareness, no matter how confused it may be, develops from every act of rebellion: the sudden, dazzling perception that there is something in man with which he can identify himself, even if only for a moment. Up to now this identification was never really experienced. Before he rebelled, the slave accepted all the demands made upon him. Very often he even took orders, without reacting against them, which were far more conducive to insurrection than the one at which he balks. He accepted them patiently, though he may have protested inwardly, but in that he remained silent he was more concerned with his own immediate interests than as yet aware of his own rights. But with loss of patience?with impatience?a reaction begins which can extend to everything that he previously accepted, and which is almost always retroactive. The very moment the slave refuses to obey the humiliating orders of his master, he simultaneously rejects the condition of slavery. The act of rebellion carries him far beyond the point he had reached by simply refusing. He exceeds the bounds that he fixed for his antagonist, and now demands to be treated as an equal. What was at first the man's obstinate resistance now becomes the whole man, who is identified with and summed up in this resistance. The part of himself that he wanted to be respected he proceeds to place above everything else and proclaims it preferable to everything, even to life itself. It becomes for him the supreme good. Having up to now been willing to compromise, the slave suddenly adopts ("because this is how it must be...") an attitude of All or Nothing. With rebellion, awareness is born. But we can see that the knowledge gained is, at the same time, of an "all" that is still rather obscure and of a "nothing" that proclaims the possibility of sacrificing the rebel to this "All." The rebel himself wants to be "all"? to identify himself completely with this good of which he has suddenly become aware and by which he wants to be personally recognized and acknowledged?or "nothing"; in other words, to be completely destroyed by the force that dominates him. As a last resort, he is willing to accept the final defeat, which is death, rather than be deprived of the personal sacrament that he would call, for example, freedom. Better to die on one's feet than to live on one's knees. Values, according to good authorities, "most often represent a transition from facts to rights, from what is desired to what is desirable (usually through the intermediary of what is generally considered desirable)."1 The transition from facts to rights is manifest, as we have seen, in rebellion. So is the transition from "this must be" to "this is how I should like things to be," and even more so, perhaps, the idea of the sublimation of the individual in a henceforth universal good. The sudden appearance of the concept of "All or Nothing" demonstrates that rebellion, contrary to current opinion, and though it springs from everything that is most strictly individualistic in man, questions the very idea of the individual. If the individual, in fact, accepts death and happens to die as a consequence of his act of rebellion, he demonstrates by doing so that he is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of a common good which he considers more important than his own destiny. If he prefers the risk of death to the negation of the rights that he defends, it is because he considers these 1Lalande: Vocabulaire philosophique. rights more important than himself. Therefore he is acting in the name of certain values which are still indeterminate but which he feels are common to himself and to all men. We see that the affirmation implicit in every act of rebellion is extended to something that transcends the individual in so far as it withdraws him from his supposed solitude and provides him with a reason to act. But it is already worth noting that this concept of values as pre-existant to any kind of action contradicts the purely historical philosophies, in which values are acquired (if they are ever acquired) after the action has been completed. Analysis of rebellion leads at least to the suspicion that, contrary to the postulates of contemporary thought, a human nature does exist, as the Greeks believed. Why rebel if there is nothing permanent in oneself worth preserving? It is for the sake of everyone in the world that the slave asserts himself when he comes to the conclusion that a command has infringed on something in him which does not belong to him alone, but which is common ground where all men?even the man who insults and oppresses him?have a natural community.2 Two observations will support this argument. First, we can see that an act of rebellion is not, essentially, an egoistic act. Of course, it can have egoistic motives. But one can rebel equally well against lies as against oppression. Moreover, the rebel?once he has accepted the motives and at the moment of his greatest impetus?preserves nothing in that he risks everything. He demands respect for himself, of course, but only in so far as he identifies himself with a natural community. Then we note that rebellion does not arise only, and necessarily, among the oppressed, but that it can also be caused by the mere spectacle of oppression of which someone else is the victim. In such cases there is a feeling of identification with another individual. And it must be pointed out that this is not a question of psychological identification?a mere subterfuge by which the individual imagines that it is he himself who has been offended. On the contrary, it can often happen that we cannot bear to 2 The community of victims is the same as that which unites victim and executioner. But the executioner does not know this. see offenses done to others which we ourselves have accepted without rebelling. The suicides of the Russian terrorists in Siberia as a protest against their comrades' being whipped is a case in point. Nor is it a question of the feeling of a community of interests. Injustices done to men whom we consider enemies can, actually, be profoundly repugnant to us. There is only identification of one's destiny with that of others and a choice of sides. Therefore the individual is not, in himself alone, the embodiment of the values he wishes to defend. It needs all humanity, at least, to comprise them. When he rebels, a man identifies himself with other men and so surpasses himself, and from this point of view human solidarity is metaphysical. But for the moment we are only talking of the kind of solidarity that is born in chains. It would be possible for us to define the positive aspect of the values implicit in every act of rebellion by comparing them with a completely negative concept like that of resentment as defined by Scheler. Rebellion is, in fact, much more than pursuit of a claim, in the strongest sense of the word. Resentment is very well defined by Scheler as an autointoxication?the evil secretion, in a sealed vessel, of prolonged impotence. Rebellion, on the contrary, breaks the seal and allows the whole being to come into play. It liberates stagnant waters and turns them into a raging torrent. Scheler himself emphasizes the passive aspect of resentment and remarks on the prominent place it occupies in the psychology of women who are dedicated to desire and possession. The fountain-head of rebellion, on the contrary, is the principle of superabundant activity and energy. Scheler is also right in saying that resentment is always highly colored by envy. But one envies what one does not have, while the rebel's aim is to defend what he is. He does not merely claim some good that he does not possess or of which he was deprived. His aim is to claim recognition for something which he has and which has already been recognized by him, in almost every case, as more important than anything of which he could be envious. Rebellion is not realistic. According to Scheler, resentment always turns into either unscrupulous ambition or bitterness, de- pending on whether it is implanted in a strong person or a weak one. But in both cases it is a question of wanting to be something other than what one is. Resentment is always resentment against oneself. The rebel, on the contrary, from his very first step, refuses to allow anyone to touch what he is. He is fighting for the integrity of one part of his being. He does not try, primarily, to conquer, but simply to impose. Finally, it would seem that resentment takes delight, in advance, in the pain that it would like the object of its envy to feel. Nietzsche and Scheler are right in seeing an excellent example of this in the passage where Ter-tullian informs his readers that one of the greatest sources of happiness among the blessed will be the spectacle of the Roman emperors consumed in the fires of hell. This kind of happiness is also experienced by the decent people who go to watch executions. The rebel, on the contrary, limits himself, as a matter of principle, to refusing to be humiliated without asking that others should be. He will even accept pain provided his integrity is respected. It is therefore hard to understand why Scheler completely identifies the spirit of rebellion with resentment. His criticism of the resentment to be found in humani-tarianism (which he treats as the non-Christian form of love for mankind) could perhaps be applied to certain indeterminate forms of humanitarian idealism, or to the techniques of terror. But it rings false in relation to man's rebellion against his condition?the movement that enlists the individual in the defense of a dignity common to all men. Scheler wants to demonstrate that humanitarian feelings are always accompanied by a hatred of the world. Humanity is loved in general in order to avoid having to love anybody in particular. This is correct, in some cases, and it is easier to understand Scheler when we realize that for him humanitarianism is represented by Bentham and Rousseau. But man's love for man can be born of other things than a mathematical calculation of the resultant rewards or a theoretical confidence in human nature. In face of the utilitarians, and of Emile's preceptor, there is, for example, the kind of logic, embodied by Dostoievsky in Ivan Karamazov, which progresses from an act of rebellion to metaphysical insurrection. Scheler is aware of this and sums up the concept in the following manner: "There is not enough love in the world to squander it on anything but human beings." Even if this proposition were true, the appalling despair that it implies would merit anything but contempt. In fact, it misunderstands the tortured character of Karamazov's rebellion. Ivan's drama, on the contrary, arises from the fact that there is too much love without an object. This love finding no outlet and God being denied, it is then decided to lavish it on human beings as a generous act of complicity. Nevertheless, in the act of rebellion as we have envisaged it up to now, an abstract ideal is not chosen through lack of feeling and in pursuit of a sterile demand. We insist that the part of man which cannot be reduced to mere ideas should be taken into consideration?the passionate side of his nature that serves no other purpose than to be part of the act of living. Does this imply that no rebellion is motivated by resentment? No, and we know it only too well in this age of malice. But we must consider the idea of rebellion in its widest sense on pain of betraying it; and in its widest sense rebellion goes far beyond resentment. When Heathcliff, in Wuthering Heights, says that he puts his love above God and would willingly go to hell in order to be reunited with the woman he loves, he is prompted not only by youth and humiliation but by the consuming experience of a whole lifetime. The same emotion causes Eckart, in a surprising fit of heresy, to say that he prefers hell with Jesus to heaven without Him. This is the very essence of love. Contrary to Scheler, it would therefore be impossible to overemphasize the passionate affirmation that underlies the act of rebellion and distinguishes it from resentment. Rebellion, though apparently negative, since it creates nothing, is profoundly positive in that it reveals the part of man which must always be defended. But, to sum up, are not rebellion and the values that it implies relative? Reasons for rebellion do seem to change, in fact, with periods and civilizations. It is obvious that a Hindu pariah, an Inca warrior, a primitive native of central Africa, and a member of one of the first Christian communities had not at all the same ideas about rebellion. We could even assert, with considerable assurance, that the idea of rebellion has no meaning in these particular cases. However, a Greek slave, a serf, a condottiere of the Renaissance, a Parisian bourgeois during the Regency, a Russian intellectual at the beginning of the twentieth century, and a contemporary worker would undoubtedly agree that rebellion is legitimate, even if they differed about the reasons for it. In other words, the problem of rebellion seems to assume a precise meaning only within the confines of Western thought. It is possible to be even more explicit by remarking, like Scheler, that the spirit of rebellion finds few means of expression in societies where inequalities are very great (the Hindu caste system) or, again, in those where there is absolute equality (certain primitive societies). The spirit of rebellion can exist only in a society where a theoretical equality conceals great factual inequalities. The problem of rebellion, therefore, has no meaning except within our own Western society. One might be tempted to affirm that it is relative to the development of individualism if the preceding remarks had not put us on our guard against this conclusion. On the basis of the evidence, the only conclusion that can be drawn from Scheler's remark is that, thanks to the theory of political freedom, there is, in the very heart of our society, an increasing awareness in man of the idea of man and, thanks to the application of this theory of freedom, a corresponding dissatisfaction. Actual freedom has not increased in proportion to man's awareness of it. We can only deduce from this observation that rebellion is the act of an educated man who is aware of his own rights. But there is nothing which justifies us in saying that it is only a question of individual rights. Because of the sense of solidarity we have already pointed out, it would rather seem that what is at stake is humanity's gradually increasing self-awareness as it pursues its course. In fact, for the Inca and the pariah the problem never arises, because for them it had been solved by a tradition, even before they had had time to raise it?the answer being that tradition is sacred. If in a world where things are held sacred the problem of rebellion does not arise, it is because no real problems are to be found in such a world, all the answers having been given simultane- ously. Metaphysic is replaced by myth. There are no more questions, only eternal answers and commentaries, which may be metaphysical. But before man accepts the sacred world and in order that he should be able to accept it? or before he escapes from it and in order that he should be able to escape from it?there is always a period of soul-searching and rebellion. The rebel is a man who is on the point of accepting or rejecting the sacred and determined on laying claim to a human situation in which all the answers are human?in other words, formulated in reasonable terms. From this moment every question, every word, is an act of rebellion while in the sacred world every word is an act of grace. It would be possible to demonstrate in this manner that only two possible worlds can exist for the human mind: the sacred (or, to speak in Christian terms, the world of grace3) and the world of rebellion. The disappearance of one is equivalent to the appearance of the other, despite the fact that this appearance can take place in disconcerting forms. There again we rediscover the All or Nothing. The present interest of the problem of rebellion only springs from the fact that nowadays whole societies have wanted to discard the sacred. We live in an unsacrosanct moment in history. Insurrection is certainly not the sum total of human experience. But history today, with all its storm and strife, compels us to say that rebellion is one of the essential dimensions of man. It is our historic reality. Unless we choose to ignore reality, we must find our values in it. Is it possible to find a rule of conduct outside the realm of religion and its absolute values? That is the question raised by rebellion. We have already noted the confused values that are called into play by incipient rebellion. Now we must inquire if these values are to be found again in contemporary forms of rebellious thought and action, and if they are, we must specify their content. But, before going any farther, let us note that the basis of these values is rebellion 3 There is, of course, an act of metaphysical rebellion at the beginning of Christianity, but the resurrection of Christ and the annunciation of the kingdom of heaven interpreted as a promise of eternal life are the answers that render it futile. itself. Man's solidarity is founded upon rebellion, and rebellion, in its turn, can only find its justification in this solidarity. We have, then, the right to say that any rebellion which claims the right to deny or destroy this solidarity loses simultaneously its right to be called rebellion and becomes in reality an acquiescence in murder. In the same way, this solidarity, except in so far as religion is concerned, comes to life only on the level of rebellion. And so the real drama of revolutionary thought is announced. In order to exist, man must rebel, but rebellion must respect the limit it discovers in itself?a limit where minds meet and, in meeting, begin to exist. Rebellious thought, therefore, cannot dispense with memory: it is a perpetual state of tension. In studying its actions and its results, we shall have to say, each time, whether it remains faithful to its first noble promise or if, through indolence or folly, it forgets its original purpose and plunges into a mire of tyranny or servitude. Meanwhile, we can sum up the initial progress that the spirit of rebellion provokes in a mind that is originally imbued with the absurdity and apparent sterility of the world. In absurdist experience, suffering is individual. But from the moment when a movement of rebellion begins, suffering is seen as a collective experience. Therefore the first progressive step for a mind overwhelmed by the strangeness of things is to realize that this feeling of strangeness is shared with all men and that human reality, in its entirety, suffers from the distance which separates it from the rest of the universe. The malady experienced by a single man becomes a mass plague. In our daily trials rebellion plays the same role as does the "cogito" in the realm of thought: it is the first piece of evidence. But this evidence lures the individual from his solitude. It founds its first value on the whole human race. I rebel?therefore we exist. Part Two Metaphysical Rebellion Metaphysical rebellion is the movement by which man protests against his condition and against the whole of creation. It is metaphysical because it contests the ends of man and of creation. The slave protests against the condition in which he finds himself within his state of slavery; the metaphysical rebel protests against the condition in which he finds himself as a man. The rebel slave affirms that there is something in him that will not tolerate the manner in which his master treats him; the metaphysical rebel declares that he is frustrated by the universe. For both of them, it is not only a question of pure and simple negation. In both cases, in fact, we find a value judgment in the name of which the rebel refuses to approve the condition in which he finds himself. The slave who opposes his master is not concerned, let us note, with repudiating his master as a human being. He repudiates him as a master. He denies that he has the right to deny him, a slave, on grounds of necessity. The master is discredited to the exact extent that he fails to respond to a demand which he ignores. If men cannot refer to a common value, recognized by all as existing in each one, then man is incomprehensible to man. The rebel demands that this value should be clearly recognized in himself because he knows or suspects that, without this principle, crime and disorder would reign throughout the world. An act of rebellion on his part seems like a demand for clarity and unity. The most elementary form of rebellion, paradoxically, expresses an aspiration to order. This description can be applied, word for word, to the metaphysical rebel. He attacks a shattered world in order to demand unity from it. He opposes the principle of justice which he finds in himself to the principle of injustice which he sees being applied in the world. Thus all he wants, originally, is to resolve this contradiction and establish the unitarian reign of justice, if he can, or of injustice, if he is driven to extremes. Meanwhile, he denounces the contradiction. Metaphysical rebellion is a claim, motivated by the concept of a complete unity, against the suffering of life and death and a protest against the human condition both for its incompleteness, thanks to death, and its wastefulness, thanks to evil. If a mass death sentence defines the human condition, then rebellion, in one sense, is its contemporary. At the same time that he rejects his mortality, the rebel refuses to recognize the power that compels him to live in this condition. The metaphysical rebel is therefore not definitely an atheist, as one might think him, but he is inevitably a blasphemer. Quite simply, he blasphemes primarily in the name of order, denouncing God as the father of death and as the supreme outrage. The rebel slave will help us to throw light on this point. He established, by his protest, the existence of the master against whom he rebelled. But at the same time he demonstrated that his master's power was dependent on his own subordination and he affirmed his own power: the power of continually questioning the superiority of his master. In this respect master and slave are really in the same boat: the temporary sway of the former is as relative as the submission of the latter. The two forces assert themselves alternately at the moment of rebellion until they confront each other for a fight to the death, and one or the other temporarily disappears. In the same way, if the metaphysical rebel ranges himself against a power whose existence he simultaneously affirms, he only admits the existence of this power at the very instant that he calls it into question. Then he involves this superior being in the same humiliating adventure as mankind's, its ineffectual power being the equivalent of our ineffectual condition. He subjects it to our power of refusal, bends it to the unbending part of human nature, forcibly integrates it into an existence that we render absurd, and finally drags it from its refuge outside time and involves it in history, very far from the eternal stability that it can find only in the unanimous submission of all men. Thus rebellion affirms that, on its own level, any concept of superior existence is contradictory, to say the least. And so the history of metaphysical rebellion cannot be confused with that of atheism. From a certain point of view it is even confused with the contemporary history of religious sentiment. The rebel defies more than he denies. Originally, at least, he does not suppress God; he merely talks to Him as an equal. But it is not a polite dialogue. It is a polemic animated by the desire to conquer. The slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown. He must dominate in his turn. His insurrection against his condition becomes an unlimited campaign against the heavens for the purpose of bringing back a captive king who will first be dethroned and finally condemned to death. Human rebellion ends in metaphysical revolution. It progresses from appearances to acts, from the dandy to the revolutionary. When the throne of God is overturned, the rebel realizes that it is now his own responsibility to create the justice, order, and unity that he sought in vain within his own condition, and in this way to justify the fall of God. Then begins the desperate effort to create, at the price of crime and murder if necessary, the dominion of man. This will not come about without terrible consequences, of which we are so far only aware of a few. But these consequences are in no way due to rebellion itself, or at least they only occur to the extent that the rebel forgets his original purpose, tires of the tremendous tension created by refusing to give a positive or negative answer, and finally abandons himself to complete negation or total submission. Metaphysical insurrection, in its first stages, offers us the same positive content as the slave's rebellion. Our task will be to examine what becomes of this positive content of rebellion in the actions that claim to originate from it and to explain where the fidelity or infidelity of the rebel to the origins of his revolt finally leads him. The Sons of Cain Metaphysical rebellion, in the real sense of the term, does not appear, in coherent form, in the history of ideas until the end of the eighteenth century?when modern times begin to the accompaniment of the crash of falling ramparts. But from then on, its consequences develop uninterruptedly and it is no exaggeration to say that they have shaped the history of our times. Does this mean that metaphysical rebellion had no signi6cance previous to this date? In any event, its origins must belong to the remote past, in that we like to believe that we live in Promethean times. But is this really a Promethean age? The first mythologies describe Prometheus as an eternal martyr, chained to a pillar, at the ends of the earth, condemned forever because he refuses to ask forgiveness. AEschylus adds still further to his stature, endows him with lucidity ("no misfortune can fall upon me that I have not myself already foreseen"), makes him cry out his hatred of all the gods, and, plunging him into "a stormy sea of mortal despair," finally abandons him to thunder and lightning: "Ah! see the injustice I endure!" It cannot be said, therefore, that the ancients were unaware of metaphysical rebellion. Long before Satan, they created a touching and noble image of the Rebel and gave us the most perfect myth of the intelligence in revolt. The inexhaustible genius of the Greeks, which gave such a prominent place to myths of unity and simplicity, was still able to formulate the concept of insurrection. Beyond a doubt, certain characteristics of the Promethean myth still survive in the history of rebellion as we are living it: the fight against death ("I have delivered men from being obsessed by death"), Messianism ("I have instilled blind hopes into men's minds"), philanthropy ("Enemy of Zeus... for having loved mankind too much"). But we must not forget that Prometheus the Fire-bringer, the last drama of AEschylus' trilogy, proclaimed the reign of the pardoned rebel. The Greeks are never vindictive. In their most audacious flights they always remain faithful to the idea of moderation, a concept they deified. Their rebel does not range himself against all creation, but against Zeus, who is never anything more than one god among many and who himself was mortal. Prometheus himself is a demigod. It is a question of settling a particular account, of a dispute about what is good, and not of a universal struggle between good and evil. The ancients, even though they believed in destiny, believed primarily in nature, in which they participated wholeheartedly. To rebel against nature amounted to rebelling against oneself. It was butting one's head against a wall. Therefore the only coherent act of rebellion was to commit suicide. Destiny, for the Greeks, was a blind force to which one submitted, just as one submitted to the forces of nature. The acme of excess to the Greek mind was to beat the sea with rods?an act of insanity worthy only of barbarians. Of course, the Greeks described excess, since it exists, but they gave it its proper place and, by doing so, also defined its limits. Achilles' defiance after the death of Patroclus, the imprecations of the Greek tragic heroes cursing their fate, do not imply complete condemnation. CEdipus knows that he is not innocent. He is guilty in spite of himself; he is also part of destiny. He complains, but he says nothing irreparable. Antigone rebels, but she does so in the name of tradition, in order that her brothers may find rest in the tomb and that the appropriate rites may be observed. In her case, rebellion is, in one sense, reactionary. The Greek mind has two aspects and in its meditations almost always re-echoes, as counterpoint to its most tragic melodies, the eternal words of CEdipus, who, blind and desperate, recognizes that all is for the best. Affirmation counterbalances negation. Even when Plato anticipates, with Callicles, the most common type of Nietzschean, even when the latter exclaims: "But when a man appears who has the necessary character... he will escape, he will trample on our formulas, our magic spells, our incantations, and the laws, which are all, without exception, contrary to nature. Our slave has rebelled and has shown himself to be the master"?even then, though he rejects law, he speaks in the name of nature. Metaphysical rebellion presupposes a simplified view of creation?which was inconceivable to the Greeks. In their minds, there were not gods on one side and men on the other, but a series of stages leading from one to the other. The idea of innocence opposed to guilt, the concept of all of history summed up in the struggle between good and evil, was foreign to them. In their universe there were more mistakes than crimes, and the only definitive crime was excess. In a world entirely dominated by history, which ours threatens to become, there are no longer any mistakes, but only crimes, of which the greatest is moderation. This explains the curious mixture of ferocity and forbearance which we find in Greek mythology. The Greeks never made the human mind into an armed camp, and in this respect we are inferior to them. Rebellion, after all, can only be imagined in terms of opposition to someone. The only thing that gives meaning to human protest is the idea of a personal god who has created, and is therefore responsible for, everything. And so we can say, without being paradoxical, that in the Western World the history of rebellion is inseparable from the history of Christianity. We have to wait, in fact, until the very last moments of Greek thought to see rebellion begin to find expression among transitional thinkers? nowhere more profoundly than in the works of Epicurus and Lucretius. The appalling sadness of Epicurus already strikes a new note. It has its roots, no doubt, in the fear of death, with which the Greek mind was not unfamiliar. But the pathos with which this fear is expressed is very revealing. "We can take precautions against all sorts of things; but so far as death is concerned, we all of us live like the inhabitants of a defenseless citadel." Lucretius is more explicit: "The substance of this vast world is condemned to death and ruin." Therefore why postpone enjoyment? "We spend our lives," writes Epicurus, "in waiting, and we are all condemned to die." Therefore we must all enjoy ourselves. But what a strange form of enjoyment! It consists in sealing up the walls of the citadel, of making sure of a supply of bread and water and of living in darkness and silence. Death hovers over us, therefore we must prove that death is of no importance. Like Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, Epicurus banishes death from human existence. "Death has no meaning for us, for what is indefinable is incapable of feeling, and what is incapable of feeling has no meaning for us." Is this the equivalent of nothingness? No, for everything in this particular universe is matter, and death only means a return to one's element. Existence is epitomized in a stone. The strange sensual pleasure of which Epicurus speaks consists, above all, in an absence of pain; it is the pleasure of a stone. By an admirable maneuver?which we shall find again in the great French classicists?Epicurus, in order to escape from destiny, destroys sensibility, having first destroyed its primary manifestation: hope. What this Greek philosopher says about the gods cannot be interpreted otherwise. All the unhap-piness of human beings springs from the hope that tempts them from the silence of the citadel and exposes them on the ramparts in expectation of salvation. Unreasonable aspirations have no other effect than to reopen carefully bandaged wounds. That is why Epicurus does not deny the gods; he banishes them, and so precipitately that man has no alternative but to retreat once more into the citadel. "The happy and immortal being has no preoccupations of his own and no concern with the affairs of others." Lucretius goes even farther: "It is incontestable that the gods, by their very nature, enjoy their immortality in perfect peace, completely unaware of our affairs, from which they are utterly detached." Therefore let us forget the gods, let us never even think about them, and "neither your thoughts during the day nor your dreams at night will ever be troubled." Later we shall rediscover this eternal theme of rebellion, but with important modifications. A god who does not reward or punish, a god who turns a deaf ear, is the rebel's only religious conception. But while Vigny will curse the silence of his divinity, Epicurus considers that, as death is inevitable, silence on the part of man is a better preparation for this fate than divine words. This strange mind wears itself out in a sustained attempt to build ramparts around mankind, to fortify the citadel and to stifle the irrepressible cry of human hope. Only when this strategic retreat has been accomplished does Epicurus, like a god among men, celebrate his victory with a song that clearly denotes the defensive aspect of his rebellion. "I have escaped your ambush, O destiny, I have closed all paths by which you might assail me. We shall not be conquered either by you or by any other evil power. And when the inevitable hour of departure strikes, our scorn for those who vainly cling to existence will burst forth in this proud song: 'Ah, with what dignity we have lived.' " Alone among his contemporaries Lucretius carries this logic much farther and finally brings it to the central problem of modern philosophy. He adds nothing fundamental to Epicurus. He, too, refuses to accept any explanatory principle that cannot be tested by the senses. The atom is only a last refuge where man, reduced to his primary elements, pursues a kind of blind and deaf immortality?an immortal death?which for Lucretius represents, as it does for Epicurus, the only possible form of happiness. He has to admit, however, that atoms do not aggregate of their own accord, and rather than believe in a superior law and, finally, in the destiny he wishes to deny, he accepts the concept of a purely fortuitous mutation, the clinamen, in which the atoms meet and group themselves together. Already, as we can see, the great problem of modern times arises: the discovery that to rescue man from destiny is to deliver him to chance. That is why the contemporary mind is trying so desperately hard to restore destiny to man?a historical destiny this time. Lucretius has not reached this point. His hatred of destiny and death is assuaged by this blind universe where atoms accidentally form human beings and where human beings accidentally return to atoms. But his vocabulary bears witness to a new kind of sensibility. The walled citadel becomes an armed camp. Maenia mundi, the ramparts of the world, is one of the key expressions of Lucretius' rhetoric. The main preoccupation in this armed camp is, of course, to silence hope. But Epicurus' methodical renunciation is transformed into a quivering asceticism, which is sometimes crowned with execrations. Piety, for Lucretius, undoubtedly consists in "being able to contemplate everything with an untroubled mind." But, nevertheless, his mind reels at the injustices done to man. Spurred on by indignation, he weaves new concepts of crime, innocence, culpability, and punishment into his great poem on the nature of things. In it he speaks of "religion's first crime," Iphigenia's martyred innocence, and of the tendency of the divinity to "often ignore the guilty and to mete out undeserved punishment by slaughtering the innocent." If Lucretius scoffs at the fear of punishment in the next world, it is not as a gesture of defensive rebellion in the manner of Epicurus, but as a process of aggressive reasoning: why should evil be punished when we can easily see, here on earth, that goodness is not rewarded? In Lucretius' epic poem, Epicurus himself becomes the proud rebel he never actually was. "When in the eyes of all mankind humanity was leading an abject existence on earth, crushed beneath the weight of a religion whose hideous aspect peered down from the heights of the celestial regions, the first to dare, a Greek, a man, raised his mortal eyes and challenged the gods.... In this way religion, in its turn, was overthrown and trampled underfoot, and this victory elevates us to the heavens." Here we can sense the difference between this new type of blasphemy and the ancient malediction. The Greek heroes could aspire to become gods, but simultaneously with the gods who already existed. At that time it was simply a matter of promotion. Lucretius' hero, on the other hand, embarks on a revolution. By repudiating the unworthy and criminal gods, he takes their place himself. He sallies forth from the armed camp and opens the first attack on divinity in the name of human suffering. In the ancient world, murder is both inexplicable and inexpiable. Already with Lucretius, murder by man is only an answer to murder by the gods. It is not pure coincidence that Lucretius' poem ends with a prodigious image of the sanctuaries of the gods swollen with the accusing corpses of plague victims. This new language is incomprehensible without the concept of a personal god, which is slowly beginning to form in the minds of Lucretius' and Epicurus' contemporaries. Only a personal god can be asked by the rebel for a personal accounting. When the personal god begins his reign, rebellion assumes its most resolutely ferocious aspect and pronounces a definitive no. With Cain, the first act of rebellion coincides with the first crime. The history of rebellion, as we are experiencing it today, has far more to do with the children of Cain than with the disciples of Prometheus. In this sense it is the God of the Old Testament who is primarily responsible for mobilizing the forces of rebellion. Inversely, one must submit to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when, like Pascal, one has run the full course of intellectual rebellion. The mind most prone to doubt always aspires to the greatest degree of Jansenism. From this point of view, the New Testament can be considered as an attempt to answer, in advance, every Cain in the world, by painting the figure of God in softer colors and by creating an intercessor between God and man. Christ came to solve two major problems, evil and death, which are precisely the problems that preoccupy the rebel. His solution consisted, first, in experiencing them. The man-god suffers, too? with patience. Evil and death can no longer be entirely imputed to Him since He suffers and dies. The night on Golgotha is so important in the history of man only because, in its shadow, the divinity abandoned its traditional privileges and drank to the last drop, despair included, the agony of death. This is the explanation of the Lama sabactani and the heartrending doubt of Christ in agony. The agony would have been mild if it had been alleviated by hopes of eternity. For God to be a man, he must despair. Ghosticism, which is the fruit of Greco-Christian collaboration, has tried for two centuries, in reaction against Judaic thought, to promote this concept. We know, for example, the vast number of intercessors invented by Valentinus. But the aeons of this particular metaphysical skirmish are the equivalent of the intermediary truths to be found in Hellenism. Their aim is to diminish the absurdity of an intimate relationship between suffering humanity and an implacable god. This is the special role of Marcion's cruel and bellicose second god. This demiurge is responsible for the creation of a finite world and of death. Our duty is to hate him and at the same time to deny everything that he has created, by means of asceticism, to the point of destroying, by sexual abstinence, all creation. This form of asceticism is therefore both proud and rebellious. Marcion simply alters the course of rebellion and directs it toward an inferior god so as to be better able to exalt the superior god. Gnosis, owing to its Greek origins, remains conciliatory and tends to destroy the Judaic heritage in Christianity. It also wanted to avoid Augustinism, by anticipating it, in that Augustinism provides arguments for every form of rebellion. To Basili-des, for example, the martyrs were sinners, and so was Christ, because they suffered. A strange conception, but whose aim is to remove the element of injustice from suffering. The Gnostics only wanted to substitute the Greek idea of initiation, which allows mankind every possible chance, for the concept of an all-powerful and arbitrary forgiveness. The enormous number of sects among the second-generation Gnostics indicates how desperate and diversified was the attempt on the part of Greek thought to make the Christian universe more accessible and to remove the motives for a rebellion that Hellenism considered the worst of all evils. But the Church condemned this attempt and, by condemning it, swelled the ranks of the rebels. In that the children of Cain have triumphed, increasingly, throughout the centuries, the God of the Old Testament can be said to have been incredibly successful. Paradoxically, the blasphemers have injected new life into the jealous God whom Christianity wished to banish from history. One of their most profoundly audacious acts was to recruit Christ into their camp by making His story end on the Cross and on the bitter note of the cry that precedes His agony. By this means it was possible to preserve the implacable face of a God of hate?which coincided far better with creation as the rebels conceived it. Until Dostoievsky and Nietzsche, rebellion is directed only against a cruel and capricious divinity?a divinity who prefers, without any convincing motive, Abel's sacrifice to Cain's and, by so doing, provokes the first murder. Dostoievsky, in the realm of imagination, and Nietzsche, in the realm of fact, enormously increase the field of rebellious thought and demand an accounting from the God of love Himself. Nietzsche believes that God is dead in the souls of his contemporaries. Therefore he attacks, like his predecessor Stirner, the illusion of God that lingers, under the guise of morality, in the thought of his times. But until they appear upon the scene, the freethinkers, for example, were content to deny the truth of the history of Christ ("that dull story," in Sade's words) and to maintain, by their denials, the tradition of an avenging god. On the other hand, for as long as the Western World has been Christian, the Gospels have been the interpreter between heaven and earth. Each time a solitary cry of rebellion was uttered, the answer came in the form of an even more terrible suffering. In that Christ had suffered, and had suffered voluntarily, suffering was no longer unjust and all pain was necessary. In one sense, Christianity's bitter intuition and legitimate pessimism concerning human behavior is based on the assumption that over-all injustice is as satisfying to man as total justice. Only the sacrifice of an innocent god could justify the endless and universal torture of innocence. Only the most abject suffering by God could assuage man's agony. If everything, without exception, in heaven and earth is doomed to pain and suffering, then a strange form of happiness is possible. But from the moment when Christianity, emerging from its period of triumph, found itself submitted to the critical eye of reason?to the point where the divinity of Christ was denied?suffering once more became the lot of man. Jesus profaned is no more than just one more innocent man whom the representatives of the God of Abraham tortured in a spectacular manner. The abyss that separates the master from the slaves opens again and the cry of revolt falls on the deaf ears of a jealous God. The freethinkers have prepared the way for this new dichotomy by attacking, with all the usual precautions, the morality and divinity of Christ. Callot's universe sums up quite satisfactorily this world of hallucination and wretchedness whose inhabitants begin by sniggering up their sleeves and end?with Moliere's Don Juan?by laughing to high heaven. During the two centuries which prepare the way for the upheavals, both revolutionary and sacrilegious, of the eighteenth century, all the efforts of the freethinkers are bent on making Christ an innocent, or a simpleton, so as to annex Him to the world of man, endowed with all the noble or derisory qualities of man. Thus the ground will be prepared for the great offensive against a hostile heaven. Absolute Negation Historically speaking, the first coherent offensive is that of Sade, who musters into one vast war machine the arguments of the freethinkers up to Father Meslier and Voltaire. His negation is also, of course, the most extreme. From rebellion Sade can only deduce an absolute negative. Twenty-seven years in prison do not, in fact, produce a very conciliatory form of intelligence. Such a long period of confinement produces either weaklings or killers and sometimes a combination of both. If the mind is strong enough to construct in a prison cell a moral philosophy that is not one of submission, it will generally be one of domination. Every ethic based on solitude implies the exercise of power. In this respect Sade is the archetype, for in so far as society treated him atrociously, he responded in an atrocious manner. The writer, despite a few happy phrases and the thoughtless praises of our contemporaries, is secondary. He is admired today, with so much ingenuity, for reasons which have nothing to do with literature. He is exalted as the philosopher in chains and the first theoretician of absolute rebellion. He might well have been. In prison, dreams have no limits and reality is no curb. Intelligence in chains loses in lucidity what it gains in intensity. The only logic known to Sade was the logic of his feelings. He did not create a philosophy, but pursued a monstrous dream of revenge. Only the dream turned out to be prophetic. His desperate demand for freedom led Sade into the kingdom of servitude; his inordinate thirst for a form of life he could never attain was assuaged in the successive frenzies of a dream of universal destruction. In this way, at least, Sade is our contemporary. Let us follow his successive negations. A Man of Letters Is Sade an atheist? He says so, and we believe him, before going to prison, in his Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man; and from then on we are dumbfounded by his passion for sacrilege. One of his cruelest characters, Saint-Fond, does not in any sense deny God. He is content to develop a gnostic theory of a wicked demiurge and to draw the proper conclusions from it. Saint-Fond, it is said, is not Sade. No, of course not. A character is never the author who created him. It is quite likely, however, that an author may be all his characters simultaneously. Now, all Sade's atheists suppose, in principle, the nonexistence of God for the obvious reason that His existence would imply that He was indifferent, wicked, or cruel. Sade's greatest work ends with a demonstration of the stupidity and spite of the divinity. The innocent Justine runs through the storm and the wicked Noirceuil swears that he will be converted if divine retribution consents to spare her life. Justine is struck by lightning, Noirceuil triumphs, and human crime continues to be man's answer to divine crime. Thus there is a freethinker wager that is the answer to the Pascalian wager. The idea of God which Sade conceives for himself is, therefore, of a criminal divinity who oppresses and denies mankind. That murder is an attribute of the divinity is quite evident, according to Sade, from the history of religions. Why, then, should man be virtuous? Sade's first step as a prisoner is to jump to the most extreme conclusions. If God kills and repudiates mankind, there is nothing to stop one from killing and repudiating one's fellow men. This irritable challenge in no way resembles the tranquil negation that is still to be found in the Dialogue of 1782. The man who exclaims: "I have nothing, I give nothing," and who concludes: "Virtue and vice are indistinguishable in the tomb," is neither happy nor tranquil. The concept of God is the only thing, according to him, "which he cannot forgive man." The word forgive is already rather strange in the mouth of this expert in torture. But it is himself whom he cannot forgive for an idea that his desperate view of the world, and his condition as a prisoner, completely refute. A double rebellion? against the order of the universe and against himself?is henceforth going to be the guiding principle of Sade's reasoning. In that these two forms of rebellion are contradictory except in the disturbed mind of a victim of persecution, his reasoning is always either ambiguous or legitimate according to whether it is considered in the light of logic or in an attempt at compassion. He therefore denies man and his morality because God denies them. But he denies God even though He has served as his accomplice and guarantor up to now. For what reason? Because of the strongest instinct to be found in one who is condemned by the hatred of mankind to live behind prison walls: the sexual instinct. What is this instinct? On the one hand, it is the ultimate expression of nature,1 and, on the other, the blind force that demands the total subjection of human beings, even at the price of their destruction. Sade denies God in the name of nature?the ideological concepts of his time presented it in mechanistic form?and he makes nature a power bent on destruction. For him, nature is sex; his logic leads him to a lawless universe where the only master is the inordinate energy of desire. This is his delirious kingdom, in which he finds his finest means of expression: "What are all the creatures of the earth in comparison with a single one of our desires!" The long arguments by which Sade's heroes demonstrate that nature has need of crime, that it must destroy in order to create, and that we help nature create from the moment we destroy it ourselves, are only aimed at establishing absolute freedom for the prisoner, Sade, who is too unjustly punished not to long for the explosion that will blow everything to pieces. In this respect he goes against his times: the freedom he demands is not one of principles, but of instincts. Sade dreamed, no doubt, of a universal republic, whose scheme he reveals through his wise reformer, Zame.He 1 Sade's great criminals excuse their crimes on the ground that they were born with uncontrollable sexual appetites about which they could do nothing. shows us, by this means, that one of the purposes of rebellion is to liberate the whole world, in that, as the movement accelerates, rebellion is less and less willing to accept limitations. But everything about him contradicts this pious dream. He is no friend of humanity, he hates philanthropists. The equality of which he sometimes speaks is a mathematical concept: the equivalence of the objects that comprise the human race, the abject equality of the victims. Real fulfillment, for the man who allows absolutely free rein to his desires and who must dominate everything, lies in hatred. Sade's republic is not founded on liberty but on libertinism. "Justice," this peculiar democrat writes, "has no real existence. It is the divinity of all the passions." Nothing is more revealing in this respect than the famous lampoon, read by Dolmance in the Philosophie du Boudoir, which has the curious title: People of France, one more effort if you want to be republicans. Pierre Klossowski2 is right in attaching so much importance to it, for this lampoon demonstrates to the revolutionaries that their republic is founded on the murder of the King ?who was King by divine right?and that by guillotining God on January 21, 1793 they deprived themselves forever of the right to outlaw crime or to censure malevolent instincts. The monarchy supported the concept of a God who, in conjunction with itself, created all laws. As for the Republic, it stands alone, and morality was supposed to exist without benefit of the Commandments. It is doubtful, however, that Sade, as Klossowski maintains, had a profound sense of sacrilege and that an almost religious horror led him to the conclusions that he expresses. It is much more likely that he came to these conclusions first and afterwards perceived the correct arguments to justify the absolute moral license that he wanted the government of his time to sanction. Logic founded on passions reverses the traditional sequence of reasoning and places the conclusions before the premises. To be convinced of this we only have to appraise the admirable sequence of sophisms by which Sade, in this passage, justifies calumny, theft, and murder and demands that they be tolerated under the new dispensation. 2 Sade, mon prochain. It is then, however, that his thoughts are most profound. He rejects, with exceptional perspicacity for his times, the presumptuous alliance of freedom with virtue. Freedom, particularly when it is a prisoner's dream, cannot endure limitations. It must sanction crime or it is no longer freedom. On this essential point Sade never varies. This man who never preached anything but contradictions only achieves coherence?and of a most complete kind? when he talks of capital punishment. An addict of refined ways of execution, a theoretician of sexual crime, he was never able to tolerate legal crime. "My imprisonment by the State, with the guillotine under my very eyes, was far more horrible to me than all the Bastilles imaginable." From this feeling of horror he drew the strength to be moderate, publicly, during the Terror, and to intervene generously on behalf of his mother-in-law, despite the fact that she had had him imprisoned. A few years later Nodier summed up, perhaps without knowing it, the position obstinately defended by Sade: "To kill a man in a paroxysm of passion is understandable. To have him killed by someone else after calm and serious meditation and on the pretext of duty honorably discharged is incomprehensible." Here we find the germ of an idea which again will be developed by Sade: he who kills must pay with his own life. Sade is more moral, we see, than our contemporaries. But his hatred for the death penalty is at first no more than a hatred for men who are sufficiently convinced of their own virtue to dare to inflict capital punishment, when they themselves are criminals. You cannot simultaneously choose crime for yourself and punishment for others. You must open the prison gates or give an impossible proof of your own innocence. From the moment you accept murder, even if only once, you must allow it universally. The criminal who acts according to nature cannot, without betraying his office, range himself on the side of the law. "One more effort if you want to be republicans" means: "Accept the freedom of crime, the only reasonable attitude, and enter forever into a state of insurrection as you enter into a state of grace." Thus total submission to evil leads to an appalling penitence, which cannot fail to horrify the Republic of enlightenment and of natural goodness. By a significant coincidence, the manuscript of One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom was burned during the first riot of the Republic, which could hardly fail to denounce Sade's heretical theories of freedom and to throw so compromising a supporter into prison once more. By so doing, it gave him the regrettable opportunity of developing his rebellious logic still further. The universal republic could be a dream for Sade, but never a temptation. In politics his real position is cynicism. In his Society of the Friends of Crime he declares himself ostensibly in favor of the government and its laws, which he meanwhile has every intention of violating. It is the same impulse that makes the lowest form of criminal vote for conservative candidates. The plan that Sade had in mind assures the benevolent neutrality of the authorities. The republic of crime cannot, for the moment at least, be universal. It must pretend to obey the law. In a world that knows no other rule than murder, beneath a criminal heaven, and in the name of a criminal nature, however, Sade, in reality, obeys no other law than that of inexhaustible desire. But to desire without limit is the equivalent of being desired without limit. License to destroy supposes that you yourself can be destroyed. Therefore you must struggle and dominate. The law of this world is nothing but the law of force; its driving force, the will to power. The advocate of crime really only respects two kinds of power: one, which he finds among his own class, founded on the accident of birth, and the other by which, through sheer villainy, an underdog raises himself to the level of the libertines of noble birth whom Sade makes his heroes. This powerful little group of initiates knows that it has all the rights. Anyone who doubts, even for a second, these formidable privileges is immediately driven from the flock, and once more becomes a victim. Thus a sort of aristocratic morality is created through which a little group of men and women manage to entrench themselves above a caste of slaves because they possess the secret of a strange knowledge. The only problem for them consists in organizing themselves so as to be able to exercise fully their rights which have the terrifying scope of desire. They cannot hope to dominate the entire universe until the law of crime has been accepted by the universe. Sade never believed that his fellow countrymen would be capable of the additional effort needed to make it "republican." But if crime and desire are not the law of the entire universe, if they do not reign at least over a specified territory, they are no longer unifying principles, but ferments of conflict. They are no longer the law, and man returns to chaos and confusion. Thus it is necessary to create from all these fragments a world that exactly coincides with the new law. The need for unity, which Creation leaves unsatisfied, is fulfilled, at all costs, in a microcosm. The law of power never has the patience to await complete control of the world. It must fix the boundaries, without delay, of the territory where it holds sway, even if it means surrounding it with barbed wire and observation towers. For Sade, the law of power implies barred gates, castles with seven circumvallations from which it is impossible to escape, and where a society founded on desire and crime functions unimpeded, according to the rules of an implacable system. The most unbridled rebellion, insistence on complete freedom, lead to the total subjection of the majority. For Sade, man's emancipation is consummated in these strongholds of debauchery where a kind of bureaucracy of vice rules over the life and death of the men and women who have committed themselves forever to the hell of their desires. His works abound with descriptions of these privileged places where feudal libertines, to demonstrate to their assembled victims their absolute impotence and servitude, always repeat the Duc de Blangis's speech to the common people of the One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom: "You are already dead to the world." Sade himself also inhabited the tower of Freedom, but in the Bastille. Absolute rebellion took refuge with him in a sordid fortress from which no one, either persecuted or persecutors, could ever escape. To establish his freedom, he had to create absolute necessity. Unlimited freedom of desire implies the negation of others and the suppression of pity. The heart, that "weak spot of the intellect," must be exterminated; the locked room and the system will see to that. The system, which plays a role of capital importance in Sade's fabulous castles, perpetuates a universe of mistrust. It helps to anticipate everything so that no unexpected tenderness or pity occur to upset the plans for complete enjoyment. It is a curious kind of pleasure, no doubt, which obeys the commandment: "We shall rise every morning at ten o'clock"! But enjoyment must be prevented from degenerating into attachment, it must be put in parentheses and toughened. Objects of enjoyment must also never be allowed to appear as persons. If man is "an absolutely material species of plant," he can only be treated as an object, and as an object for experiment. In Sade's fortress republic, there are only machines and mechanics. The system, which dictates the method of employing the machines, puts everything in its right place. His infamous convents have their rule?significantly copied from that of religious communities. Thus the libertine indulges in public confession. But the process is changed: "If his conduct is pure, he is censured." Sade, as was the custom of his period, constructed ideal societies. But, contrary to the custom of his period, he codifies the natural wickedness of mankind. He meticulously constructs a citadel of force and hatred, pioneer that he is, even to the point of calculating mathematically the amount of the freedom he succeeded in destroying. He sums up his philosophy with an unemotional accounting of crimes: "Massacred before the first of March: 10. After the first of March: 20. To come: 16. Total: 46." A pioneer, no doubt, but a limited one, as we can see. If that were all, Sade would be worthy only of the interest that attaches to all misunderstood pioneers. But once the drawbridge is up, life in the castle must go on. No matter how meticulous the system, it cannot foresee every eventuality. It can destroy, but it cannot create. The masters of these tortured communities do not find the satisfaction they so desperately desire. Sade often evokes the "pleasant habit of crime." Nothing here, however, seems very pleasant?more like the fury of a man in chains. The point, in fact, is to enjoy oneself, and the maximum of enjoyment coincides with the maximum of destruction. To possess what one is going to kill, to copulate with suffering?those are the moments of freedom toward which the entire organization of Sade's castles is directed. But from the moment when sexual crime destroys the object of desire, it also destroys desire, which exists only at the precise moment of destruction. Then another object must be brought under subjection and killed again, and then another, and so on to an infinity of all possible objects. This leads to that dreary accumulation of erotic and criminal scenes in Sade's novels, which, paradoxically, leaves the reader with the impression of a hideous chastity. What part, in this universe, could pleasure play or the exquisite joy of acquiescent and accomplice bodies? In it we find an impossible quest for escape from despair?a quest that finishes, nevertheless, in a desperate race from servitude to servitude and from prison to prison. If only nature is real and if, in nature, only desire and destruction are legitimate, then, in that all humanity does not suffice to assuage the thirst for blood, the path of destruction must lead to universal annihilation. We must become, according to Sade's formula, nature's executioner. But even that position is not achieved too easily. When the accounts are closed, when all the victims are massacred, the executioners are left face to face in the deserted castle. Something is still missing. The tortured bodies return, in their elements, to nature and will be born again. Even murder cannot be fully consummated: "Murder only deprives the victim of his first life; a means must be found of depriving him of his second...." Sade contemplates an attack on creation: "I abhor nature.... I should like to upset its plans, to thwart its progress, to halt the stars in their courses, to overturn the floating spheres of space, to destroy what serves nature and to succor all that harms it; in a word, to insult it in all its works, and I cannot succeed in doing so." It is in vain that he dreams of a technician who can pulverize the universe: he knows that, in the dust of the spheres, life will continue. The attack against creation is doomed to failure. It is impossible to destroy everything, there is always a remainder. "I cannot succeed in doing so..." the icy and implacable universe suddenly relents at the appalling melancholy by which Sade, in the end and quite unwillingly, always moves us. "We could perhaps attack the sun, deprive the universe of it, or use it to set fire to the world? those would be real crimes...." Crimes, yes, but not the definitive crime. It is necessary to go farther. The executioners eye each other with suspicion. They are alone, and one law alone governs them: the law of power. As they accepted it when they were masters, they cannot reject it if it turns against them. All power tends to be unique and solitary. Murder must be repeated: in their turn the masters will tear one another to pieces. Sade accepts this consequence and does not flinch. A curious kind of stoicism, derived from vice, sheds a little light in the dark places of his rebellious soul. He will not try to live again in the world of affection and compromise. The drawbridge will not be lowered; he will accept personal annihilation. The unbridled force of his refusal achieves, at its climax, an unconditional acceptance that is not without nobility. The master consents to be the slave in his turn and even, perhaps, wishes to be. "The scaffold would be for me the throne of voluptuousness." Thus the greatest degree of destruction coincides with ' the greatest degree of affirmation. The masters throw themselves on one another, and Sade's work, dedicated to the glory of libertinism, ends by being "strewn with corpses of libertines struck down at the height of their powers." 3 The most powerful, the one who will survive, is the solitary, the Unique, whose glorification Sade has undertaken?in other words, himself. At last he reigns supreme, master and God. But at the moment of his greatest victory the dream vanishes. The Unique turns back toward the prisoner whose unbounded imagination gave birth to him, and they become one. He is in fact alone, imprisoned in a bloodstained Bastille, entirely constructed around a still unsatisfied, and henceforth undirected, desire for pleasure. He has only triumphed in a dream and those ten volumes crammed with philosophy and atrocities recapitulate an unhappy form of asceticism, an illusory advance from the total no to the absolute yes, an acquiescence in death at last, which transfigures the assassination of everything and everyone into a collective suicide. Sade was executed in effigy; he, too, only killed in his imagination. Prometheus ends in Onan. Sade is still a prisoner when he dies, but this time in a lunatic asylum, 3 Maurice Blanchot: Lautreamont et Sade. acting plays on an improvised stage with other lunatics. A derisory equivalent of the satisfaction that the order of the world failed to give him was provided for him by dreams and by creative activity. The writer, of course, has no need to refuse himself anything. For him, at least, boundaries disappear and desire can be allowed free rein. In this respect Sade is the perfect man of letters. He created a fable in order to give himself the illusion of existing. He put "the moral crime that one commits by writing" above everything else. His merit, which is incontestable, lies in having immediately demonstrated, with the unhappy perspicacity of accumulated rage, the extreme consequences of rebellious logic?at least when it forgets the truth to be found in its origins. These consequences are a complete totalitarianism, universal crime, an aristocracy of cynicism, and the desire for an apocalypse. They will be found again many years after his death. But having tasted them, he was caught, it seems, on the horns of his own dilemma and could only escape the dilemma in literature. Strangely enough, it is Sade who sets rebellion on the path of literature down which it will be led still farther by the romantics. He himself is one of those writers of whom he says: "their corruption is so dangerous, so active, that they have no other aim in printing their monstrous works than to extend beyond their own lives the sum total of their crimes; they can commit no more, but their accursed writings will lead others to do so, and this comforting thought which they carry with them to the tomb consoles them for the obligation that death imposes on them of renouncing this life." Thus his rebellious writings bear witness to his desire for survival. Even if the immortality he longs for is the immortality of Cain, at least he longs for it, and despite himself bears witness to what is most true in metaphysical rebellion. Moreover, even his followers compel us to do him homage. His heirs are not all writers. Of course, there is justification for saying that he suffered and died to stimulate the imagination of the intelligentsia in literary cafes. But that is not all. Sade's success in our day is explained by the dream that he had in common with contemporary thought: the demand for total freedom, and dehumaniza-tion coldly planned by the intelligence. The reduction of man to an object of experiment, the rule that speciSes the relation between the will to power and man as an object, the sealed laboratory that is the scene of this monstrous experiment, are lessons which the theoreticians of power will discover again when they come to organizing the age of slavery. Two centuries ahead of time and on a reduced scale, Sade extolled totalitarian societies in the name of unbridled freedom?which, in reality, rebellion does not demand. The history and the tragedy of our times really begin with him. He only believed that a society founded on freedom of crime must coincide with freedom of morals, as though servitude had its limits. Our times have limited themselves to blending, in a curious manner, his dream of a universal republic and his technique of degradation. Finally, what he hated most, legal murder, has availed itself of the discoveries that he wanted to put to the service of instinctive murder. Crime, which he wanted to be the exotic and delicious fruit of unbridled vice, is no more today than the dismal habit of a police-controlled morality. Such are the surprises of literature. The Dandies' Rebellion Even after Sade's time, men of letters still continue to dominate the scene. Romanticism, Lucifer-like in its rebellion, is really only useful for adventures of the imagination. Like Sade, romanticism is separated from earlier forms of rebellion by its preference for evil and the individual. By putting emphasis on its powers of defiance and refusal, rebellion, at this stage, forgets its positive content. Since God claims all that is good in man, it is necessary to deride what is good and choose what is evil. Hatred of death and of injustice will lead, therefore, if not to the exercise, at least to the vindication, of evil and murder. The struggle between Satan and death in Paradise Lost, the favorite poem of the romantics, symbolizes this drama; all the more profoundly in that death (with, of course, sin) is the child of Satan. In order to combat evil, the rebel renounces good, because he considers himself innocent, and once again gives birth to evil. The romantic hero first of all brings about the profound and, so to speak, religious blending of good and evil.4 This type of hero is "fatal" because fate confounds good and evil without man being able to prevent it. Fate does not allow judgments of value. It replaces them by the statement that "It is so"? which excuses everything, with the exception of the Creator, who alone is responsible for this scandalous state of affairs. The romantic hero is also "fatal" because, to the extent that he increases in power and genius, the power of evil increases in him. Every manifestation of power, every excess, is thus covered by this "It is so." That the artist, particularly the poet, should be demoniac is a very ancient idea, which is formulated provocatively in the work of the romantics. At this period there is even an imperialism of evil, whose aim is to annex everything, even the most orthodox geniuses. "What made Milton write with constraint," Blake observes, "when he spoke of angels and of God, and with audacity when he spoke of demons and of hell, is that he was a real poet and on the side of the demons, without knowing it." The poet, the genius, man himself in his most exalted image, therefore cry out simultaneously with Satan: "So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear, farewell remorse.... Evil, be thou my good." It is the cry of outraged innocence. The romantic hero, therefore, considers himself compelled to do evil by his nostalgia for an unrealizable good. Satan rises against his Creator because the latter employed force to subjugate him. "Whom reason hath equal'd," says Milton's Satan, "force hath made supreme above his equals." Divine violence is thus explicitly condemned. The rebel flees from this aggressive and unworthy God, "Farthest from him is best," and reigns over all the forces hostile to the divine order. The Prince of Darkness has only chosen this path because good is a notion defined and utilized by God for unjust purposes. Even innocence irritates the Rebel in so far as it implies being duped. This "dark spirit of evil who is enraged by innocence" creates a human injustice parallel to divine injustice. Since violence is at the root of all creation, deliberate violence shall be its answer. The fact that there is an excess of despair 4 A dominant theme in William Blake, for example. adds to the causes of despair and brings rebellion to that state of indignant frustration which follows the long experience of injustice and where the distinction between good and evil finally disappears. Vigny's Satan can... no longer find in good or evil any pleasure nor of the sorrow that he causes take the measure. This defines nihilism and authorizes murder. Murder, in fact, is on the way to becoming acceptable. It is enough to compare the Lucifer of the painters of the Middle Ages with the Satan of the romantics. An adolescent "young, sad, charming" (Vigny) replaces the horned beast. "Beautiful, with a beauty unknown on this earth" (Lermontov), solitary and powerful, unhappy and scornful, he is offhand even in oppression. But his excuse is sorrow. "Who here," says Milton's Satan, "will envy whom the highest place... condemns to greatest share of endless pain." So many injustices suffered, a sorrow so unrelieved, justify every excess. The rebel therefore allows himself certain advantages. Murder, of course, is not recommended for its own sake. But it is implicit in the value? supreme for the romantic?attached to frenzy. Frenzy is the reverse of boredom: Lorenzaccio dreams of Han of Iceland. Exquisite sensibilities evoke the elementary furies of the beast. The Byronic hero, incapable of love, or capable only of an impossible love, suffers endlessly. He is solitary, languid, his condition exhausts him. If he wants to feel alive, it must be in the terrible exaltation of a brief and destructive action. To love someone whom one will never see again is to give a cry of exultation as one perishes in the flames of passion. One lives only in and for the moment, in order to achieve "the brief and vivid union of a tempestuous heart united to the tempest" (lermontov). The threat of mortality which hangs over us makes everything abortive. Only the cry of anguish can bring us to life; exaltation takes the place of truth. To this extent the apocalypse becomes an absolute value in which everything is confounded?love and death, conscience and culpability. In a chaotic universe no other life exists but that of the abyss where, according to Alfred Le Poittevin, human beings come "trembling with rage and exulting in their crimes" to curse the Creator. The intoxication of frenzy and, ultimately, some suitable crime reveal in a moment the whole meaning of a life. Without exactly advocating crime, the romantics insist on paying homage to a basic system of privileges which they illustrate with the conventional images of the outlaw, the criminal with the heart of gold, and the kind brigand. Their works are bathed in blood and shrouded in mystery. The soul is delivered, at a minimum expenditure, of its most hideous desires? desires that a later generation will assuage in extermination camps. Of course these works are also a challenge to the society of the times. But romanticism, at the source of its inspiration, is chiefly concerned with defying moral and divine law. That is why its most original creation is not, primarily, the revolutionary, but, logically enough, the dandy. Logically, because this obstinate persistence in Satanism can only be justified by the endless affirmation of injustice and, to a certain extent, by its consolidation. Pain, at this stage, is acceptable only on condition that it is incurable. The rebel chooses the metaphysic of inevitable evil, which is expressed in the literature of damnation from which we have not yet escaped. "I was conscious of my power and I was conscious of my chains" (Petrus Borel). But these chains are valuable objects. Without them it would be necessary to prove, or to exercise, this power which, after all, one is not very sure of having. It is only too easy to end up by becoming a government employee in Algiers, and Prometheus, like the above-mentioned Borel, will devote the rest of his days to closing the cabarets and reforming morals in the colonies. All the same, every poet to be received into the fold must be damned.5 Charles Lassailly, the same who planned a philosophic novel, Robespierre and Jesus Christ, never went to bed without uttering several fervent blasphemies to give himself courage. Rebellion puts on mourning and exhibits itself for public admiration. Much more than the cult of the individual, romanticism inaugurates the cult of 5 French literature still feels the effects of this. "Poets are no longer damned," says Malraux. There are fewer. But the others all suffer from bad consciences. the "character." It is at this point that it is logical. No longer hoping for the rule or the unity of God, determined to take up arms against an antagonistic destiny, anxious to preserve everything of which the living are still capable in a world dedicated to death, romantic rebellion looked for a solution in the attitude that it itself assumed. The attitude assembled, in aesthetic unity, all mankind who were in the hands of fate and about to be destroyed by divine violence. The human being who is condemned to death is, at least, magnificent before he disappears, and his magnificence is his justification. It is an established fact, the only one that can be thrown in the petrified face of the God of hate. The impassive rebel does not flinch before the eyes of God. "Nothing," says Milton, "will change this determined mind, this high disdain born of an offended conscience." Everything is drawn or rushes toward the void, but even though man is humiliated, he is obstinate and at least preserves his pride. A baroque romantic, discovered by Raymond Queneau, claims that the aim of all intellectual life is to become God. This romantic is really a little ahead of his time. The aim, at that time, was only to equal God and remain on His level. He is not destroyed, but by incessant effort He is refused any act of submission. Dandyism is a degraded form of asceticism. The dandy creates his own unity by aesthetic means. But it is an aesthetic of singularity and of negation. "To live and die before a mirror": that, according to Baudelaire, was the dandy's slogan. It is indeed a coherent slogan. The dandy is, by occupation, always in opposition. He can only exist by defiance. Up to now man derived his coherence from his Creator. But from the moment that he consecrates his rupture with Him, he finds himself delivered over to the fleeting moment, to the passing days, and to wasted sensibility. Therefore he must take himself in hand. The dandy rallies his forces and creates a unity for himself by the very violence of his refusal. Profligate, like all people without a rule of life, he is coherent as an actor. But an actor implies a public; the dandy can only play a part by setting himself up in opposition. He can only be sure of his own existence by finding it in the expression of others' faces. Other people are his mirror. A mirror that quickly becomes clouded, it is true, since human capacity for attention is limited. It must be ceaselessly stimulated, spurred on by provocation. The dandy, therefore, is always compelled to astonish. Singularity is his vocation, excess his way to perfection. Perpetually incomplete, always on the fringe of things, he compels others to create him, while denying their values. He plays at life because he is unable to live it. He plays at it until he dies, except for the moments when he is alone and without a mirror. For the dandy, to be alone is not to exist. The romantics talked so grandly about solitude only because it was their real horror, the one thing they could not bear. Their rebellion thrusts its roots deep, but from the Abbe Prevost's Cleveland up to the time of the Dadaists?including the frenetics of 1830 and Baudelaire and the decadents of 1880?more than a century of rebellion was completely glutted by the audacities of "eccentricity." If they were all able to talk of unhappiness, it is because they despaired of ever being able to conquer it, except in futile parodies, and because they instinctively felt that it remained their sole excuse and their real claim to nobility. That is why the heritage of romanticism was not claimed by Victor Hugo, the epitome of France, but by Baudelaire and Lacenaire, the poets of crime. "Everything in this world exudes crime," says Baudelaire, "the newspaper, the walls, and the face of man." Nevertheless crime, which is the law of nature, singularly fails to appear distinguished. Lacenaire, the first of the gentleman criminals, exploits it effectively; Baudelaire displays less tenacity, but is a genius. He creates the garden of evil where crime figures only as one of the rarer species. Terror itself becomes an exquisite sensation and a collector's item. "Not only would I be happy to be a victim, but I would not even hate being an executioner in order to feel the revolution from both sides." Even Baudelaire's conformity has the odor of crime. If he chose Maistre as his master, it is to the extent that this conservative goes to extremes and centers his doctrine on death and on the executioner. "The real saint," Baudelaire pretends to think, "is he who flogs and kills people for their own good." His argument will be heard. A race of real saints is beginning to spread over the earth for the purpose of confirming these curious con- elusions about rebellion. But Baudelaire, despite his satanic arsenal, his taste for Sade, his blasphemies, remains too much of a theologian to be a proper rebel. His real drama, which made him the greatest poet of his time, was something else. Baudelaire can be mentioned here only to the extent that he was the most profound theoretician of dandyism and gave definite form to one of the conclusions of romantic revolt. Romanticism demonstrates, in fact, that rebellion is part and parcel of dandyism: one of its objectives is appearances. In its conventional forms, dandyism admits a nostalgia for ethics. It is only honor degraded as a point of honor. But at the same time it inaugurates an aesthetic which is still valid in our world, an aesthetic of solitary creators, who are obstinate rivals of a God they condemn. From romanticism onward, the artist's task will not only be to create a world, or to exalt beauty for its own sake, but also to define an attitude. Thus the artist becomes a model and offers himself as an example: art is his ethic. With him begins the age of the directors of conscience. When the dandies fail to commit suicide or do not go mad, they make a career and pursue prosperity. Even when, like Vigny, they exclaim that they are going to retire into silence, their silence is piercing. But at the very heart of romanticism, the sterility of this attitude becomes apparent to a few rebels who provide a transitional type between the eccentrics (or the Incredible) and our revolutionary adventurers. Between the times of the eighteenth-century eccentric and the "conquerors" of the twentieth century, Byron and Shelley are already fighting, though only ostensibly, for freedom. They also expose themselves, but in another way. Rebellion gradually leaves the world of appearances for the world of action, where it will completely commit itself. The French students in 1830 and the Russian Decembrists will then appear as the purest incarnations of a rebellion which is at first solitary and which then tries, through sacrifice, to find the path to solidarity. But, inversely, the taste for the apocalypse and a life of frenzy will reappear among present-day revolutionaries. The endless series of treason trials, the terrible game played out between the judge and the accused, the elaborate staging of cross-examinations, sometimes lead us to believe that there is a tragic resemblance to the old subterfuge by which the romantic rebel, in refusing to be what he was, provisionally condemned himself to a make-believe world in the desperate hope of achieving a more profound existence. The Rejection of Salvation If the romantic rebel extols evil and the individual, this does not mean that he sides with mankind, but merely with himself. Dandyism, of whatever kind, is always dandyism in relation to God. The individual, in so far as he is a created being, can oppose himself only to the Creator. He has need of God, with whom he carries on a kind of a gloomy flirtation. Armand Hoog1 rightly says that, despite its Nietzschean atmosphere, God is not yet dead even in romantic literature. Damnation, so clamorously demanded, is only a clever trick played on God. But with Dostoievsky the description of rebellion goes a step farther. Ivan Karamazov sides with mankind and stresses human innocence. He affirms that the death sentence which hangs over them is unjust. Far from making a plea for evil, his first impulse, at least, is to plead for justice, which he ranks above the divinity. Thus he does not absolutely deny the existence of God. He refutes Him in the name of a moral value. The romantic rebel's ambition was to talk to God as one equal to another. Evil was the answer to evil, pride the answer to cruelty. Vigny's ideal, for example, is to answer silence with silence. Obviously, the point is to raise oneself to the level of God, which already is blasphemy. But there is no thought of disputing the power or position of the deity. The blasphemy is reverent, since every blasphemy is, ultimately, a participation in holiness. With Ivan, however, the tone changes. God, in His turn, is put on trial. If evil is essential to divine creation, then creation is unacceptable. Ivan will no longer have recourse to this mysterious God, but to a higher principle 1 Les Petits Romantiques. ?namely, justice. He launches the essential undertaking of rebellion, which is that of replacing the reign of grace by the reign of justice. He simultaneously begins the attack on Christianity. The romantic rebels broke with God Himself, on the principle of hatred. Ivan explicitly rejects the mystery and, consequently, God, on the principle of love. Only love can make us consent to the injustice done to Martha, to the exploitation of workers, and, finally, to the death of innocent children. "If the suffering of children," says Ivan, "serves to complete the sum of suffering necessary for the acquisition of truth, I affirm from now onward that truth is not worth such a price." Ivan rejects the basic interdependence, introduced by Christianity, between suffering and truth. Ivan's most profound utterance, the one which opens the deepest chasms beneath the rebel's feet, is his even if: "I would persist in my indignation even if I were wrong." Which means that even if God existed, even if the mystery cloaked a truth, even if the starets Zosime were right, Ivan would not admit that truth should be paid for by evil, suffering, and the death of innocents. Ivan incarnates the refusal of salvation. Faith leads to immortal life. But faith presumes the acceptance of the mystery and of evil, and resignation to injustice. The man who is prevented by the suffering of children from accepting faith will certainly not accept eternal life. Under these conditions, even if eternal life existed, Ivan would refuse it. He rejects this bargain. He would accept grace only unconditionally, and that is why he makes his own conditions. Rebellion wants all or nothing. "All the knowledge in the world is not worth a child's tears." Ivan does not say that there is no truth. He says that if truth does exist, it can only be unacceptable. Why? Because it is unjust. The struggle between truth and justice is begun here for the first time; and it will never end. Ivan, by nature a solitary and therefore a moralist, will satisfy himself with a kind of metaphysical Don Quixotism. But a few decades more and an immense political conspiracy will attempt to prove that justice is truth. In addition, Ivan is the incarnation of the refusal to be the only one saved. He throws in his lot with the damned and, for their sake, rejects eternity. If he had faith, he could, in fact, be saved, but others would be damned and suffering would continue. There is no possible salvation for the man who feels real compassion. Ivan will continue to put God in the wrong by doubly rejecting faith as he would reject injustice and privilege. One step more and from All or Nothing we arrive at Everyone or No One. This extreme determination, and the attitude that it implies, would have sufficed for the romantics. But Ivan,2 even though he also gives way to dandyism, really lives his problems, torn between the negative and the affirmative. From this moment onward, he accepts the consequences. If he rejects immortality, what remains for him? Life in its most elementary form. When the meaning of life has been suppressed, there still remains life. "I live," says Ivan, "in spite of logic." And again: "If I no longer had any faith in life, if I doubted a woman I loved, or the universal order of things, if I were persuaded, on the contrary, that everything was only an infernal and accursed chaos?even then I would want to live." Ivan will live, then, and will love as well "without knowing why." But to live is also to act. To act in the name of what? If there is no immortality, then there is neither reward nor punishment. "I believe that there is no virtue without immortality." And also: "I only know that suffering exists, that no one is guilty, that everything is connected, that everything passes away and equals out." But if there is no virtue, there is no law: "Everything is permitted." With this "everything is permitted" the history of contemporary nihilism really begins. The romantic rebellion did not go so far. It limited itself to saying, in short, that everything was not permitted, but that, through insolence, it allowed itself to do what was forbidden. With the Karamazovs, on the contrary, the logic of indignation turned rebellion against itself and confronted it with a desperate contradiction. The essential difference is that the romantics allowed themselves moments of complacence, while Ivan compelled himself to do evil so as to be coherent. He would not allow himself to be good. Nihilism is not only despair and negation but, above all, the de- 2 It is worth noting that Ivan is, in a certain way, Dostoievsky, who is more at ease in this role than in the role of Aliosha. sire to despair and to negate. The same man who so violently took the part of innocence, who trembled at the suffering of a child, who wanted to see "with his own eyes" the lamb lie down with the lion, the victim embrace his murderer, from the moment that he rejects divine coherence and tries to discover his own rule of life, recognizes the legitimacy of murder. Ivan rebels against a murderous God; but from the moment that he begins to rationalize his rebellion, he deduces the law of murder. If all is permitted, he can kill his father or at least allow him to be killed. Long reflection on the condition of mankind as people sentenced to death only leads to the justification of crime. Ivan simultaneously hates the death penalty (describing an execution, he says furiously: "His head fell, in the name of divine grace") and condones crime, in principle. Every indulgence is allowed the murderer, none is allowed the executioner. This contradiction, which Sade swallowed with ease, chokes Ivan Karamazov. He pretends to reason, in fact, as though immortality did not exist, while he only goes so far as to say that he would refuse it even if it did exist. In order to protest against evil and death, he deliberately chooses to say that virtue exists no more than does immortality and to allow his father to be killed. He consciously accepts his dilemma; to be virtuous and illogical, or logical and criminal. His prototype, the devil, is right when he whispers: "You are going to commit a virtuous act and yet you do not believe in virtue; that is what angers and torments you." The question that Ivan finally poses, the question that constitutes the real progress achieved by Dostoievsky in the history of rebellion, is the only one in which we are interested here: can one live and stand one's ground in a state of rebellion? Ivan allows us to guess his answer: one can live in a state of rebellion only by pursuing it to the bitter end. What is the bitter end of metaphysical rebellion? Metaphysical revolution. The master of the world, after his legitimacy has been contested, must be overthrown. Man must occupy his place. "As God and immortality do not exist, the new man is permitted to become God." But what does becoming God mean? It means, in fact, recognizing that everything is permitted and refusing to rec- ognize any other law but one's own. Without it being necessary to develop the intervening arguments, we can see that to become God is to accept crime (a favorite idea of Dostoievsky's intellectuals). Ivan's personal problem is, then, to know if he will be faithful to his logic and if, on the grounds of an indignant protest against innocent suffering, he will accept the murder of his father with the indifference of a man-god. We know his solution: Ivan allows his father to be killed. Too profound to be satisfied with appearances, too sensitive to perform the deed himself, he is content to allow it to be done. But he goes mad. The man who could not understand how one could love one's neighbor cannot understand either how one can kill him. Caught between unjustifiable virtue and unacceptable crime, consumed with pity and incapable of love, a recluse deprived of the benefits of cynicism, this man of supreme intelligence is killed by contradiction. "My mind is of this world," he said; "what good is it to try to understand what is not of this world?" But he lived only for what is not of this world, and his proud search for the absolute is precisely what removed him from the world of which he loved no part. The fact that Ivan was defeated does not obviate the fact that once the problem is posed, the consequence must follow: rebellion is henceforth on the march toward action. This has already been demonstrated by Dostoievsky, with prophetic intensity, in his legend of the Grand Inquisitor. Ivan, finally, does not distinguish the creator from his creation. "It is not God whom I reject," he says, "it is creation." In other words, it is God the father, indistinguishable from what He has created.3 His plot to usurp the throne, therefore, remains completely moral. He does not want to reform anything in creation. But creation being what it is, he claims the right to free himself morally and to free all the rest of mankind with him. On the other hand, from the moment when the spirit of rebellion, having accepted the concept of "everything is permitted" and 3 Ivan allows his father to be killed and thus chooses a direct attack against nature and procreation. Moreover, this particular father is infamous. The repugnant figure of old Karamazov is continually coming between Ivan and the God of Aliosha. "everyone or no one," aims at reconstructing creation in order to assert the sovereignty and divinity of man, and from the moment when metaphysical rebellion extends itself from ethics to politics, a new undertaking, of incalculable import, begins, which also springs, we must note, from the same nihilism. Dostoievsky, the prophet of the new religion, had foreseen and announced it: "If Aliosha had come to the conclusion that neither God nor immortality existed, he would immediately have become an atheist and a socialist. For socialism is not only a question of the working classes; it is above all, in its contemporary incarnation, a question of atheism, a question of the tower of Babel, which is constructed without God's help, not to reach to the heavens, but to bring the heavens down to earth." 4 After that, Aliosha can, in fact, treat Ivan with compassion as a "real simpleton." The latter only made aa attempt at self-control and failed. Others will appear, with more serious intentions, who, on the basis of the same despairing nihilism, will insist on ruling the world. These are the Grand Inquisitors who imprison Christ and come to tell Him that His method is not correct, that universal happiness cannot be achieved by the immediate freedom of choosing between good and evil, but by the domination and unification of the world. The first step is to conquer and rule. The kingdom of heaven will, in fact, appear on earth, but it will be ruled over by men?a mere handful to begin with, who will be the Cassars, because they were the first to understand?and later, with time, by all men. The unity of all creation will be achieved by every possible means, since everything is permitted. The Grand Inquisitor is old and tired, for the knowledge he possesses is-bitter. He knows that men are lazy rather than cowardly and that they prefer peace and death to the liberty of discerning between good and evil. He has pity, a cold pity, for the silent prisoner whom history endlessly deceives. He urges him to speak, to recognize his misdeeds, and, in one sense, to approve the actions of the Inquisitors and of the Caesars. But the prisoner does not speak. The enterprise will continue, therefore, without him; he will be killed. 4 These questions (God and immortality) are the same questions that socialism poses, but seen from another angle. Legitimacy will come at the end of time, when the kingdom of men is assured. "The affair has only just begun, it is far from being terminated, and the world has many other things to suffer, but we shall achieve our aim, we shall be Caesar, and then we shall begin to think about universal happiness." By then the prisoner has been executed; the Grand Inquisitors reign alone, listening to "the profound spirit, the spirit of destruction and death." The Grand Inquisitors proudly refuse freedom and the bread of heaven and offer the bread of this earth without freedom. "Come down from the cross and we will believe in you," their police agents are already crying on Golgotha. But He did not come down and, even, at the most tortured moment of His agony, He protested to God at having been forsaken. There are, thus, no longer any proofs, but faith and the mystery that the rebels reject and at which the Grand Inquisitors scoff. Everything is permitted and centuries of crime are prepared in that cataclysmic moment. From Paul to Stalin, the popes who have chosen Caesar have prepared the way for Caesars who quickly learn to despise popes. The unity of the world, which was not achieved with God, will henceforth be attempted in defiance of God. But we have not yet reached that point. For the moment, Ivan offers us only the tortured face of the rebel plunged in the abyss, incapable of action, torn between the idea of his own innocence and the desire to kill. He hates the death penalty because it is the image of the human condition, and, at the same time, he is drawn to crime. Because he has taken the side of mankind, solitude is his lot. With him the rebellion of reason culminates in madness. Absolute Affirmation From the moment that man submits God to moral judgment, he kills Him in his own heart. And then what is the basis of morality? God is denied in the name of justice, but can the idea of justice be understood without the idea of God? At this point are we not in the realm of absurdity? Absurdity is the concept that Nietzsche meets face to face. In order to be able to dismiss it, he pushes it to extremes: morality is the ultimate aspect of God, which must be destroyed before reconstruction can begin. Then God no longer exists and is no longer responsible for our existence; man must resolve to act, in order to exist. The Unique Even before Nietzsche, Stirner wanted to eradicate the very idea of God from man's mind, after he had destroyed God Himself. But, unlike Nietzsche, his nihilism was gratified. Stirner laughs in his blind alley; Nietzsche beats his head against the wall. In 1845, the year when Der Einziger und sein Eigentum (The Unique and Its Characteristics) appeared, Stirner begins to define his position. Stirner, who frequented the "Society of Free Men" with the young Hegelians of the left (of whom Marx was one), had an account to settle not only with God, but also with Feuerbach's Man, Hegel's Spirit, and its historical incarnation, the State. All these idols, to his mind, were offsprings of the same "mongolism"?the belief in the eternity of ideas. Thus he was able to write: "I have constructed my case on nothing." Sin is, of course, a "mongol scourge," but it is also the law of which we are prisoners. God is the enemy; Stirner goes as far as he can in blasphemy ("digest the Host and you are rid of it"). But God is only one of the aberrations of the I, or more precisely of what I am. Socrates, Jesus, Descartes, Hegel, all the prophets and philosophers, have done nothing but invent new methods of deranging what I am, the I that Stirner is so intent on distinguishing from the absolute I of Fichte by reducing it to its most specific and transitory aspect. "It has no name," it is the Unique. For Stirner the history of the universe up to the time of Jesus is nothing but a sustained effort to idealize reality. This effort is incarnated in the ideas and rites of purification which the ancients employed. From the time of Jesus, the goal is reached, and another effort is embarked upon which consists, on the contrary, in attempting to realize the ideal. The passion of the incarnation takes the place of purification and devastates the world, to a greater and greater degree, as socialism, the heir of Christ, extends its sway. But the history of the universe is nothing but a continual offense to the unique principle that "I am"?a living, concrete principle, a triumphant principle that the world has always wanted to subject to the yoke of successive abstractions?God, the State, society, humanity. For Stirner, philanthropy is a hoax. Atheistic philosophies, which culminate in the cult of the State and of Man, are only "theological insurrections." "Our atheists," says Stirner, "are really pious folk." There is only one religion that exists throughout all history, the belief in eternity. This belief is a deception. The only truth is the Unique, the enemy of eternity and of everything, in fact, which does not further its desire for domination. With Stirner, the concept of negation which inspires his rebellion irresistibly submerges every aspect of affirmation. It also sweeps away the substitutes for divinity with which the moral conscience is encumbered. "External eternity is swept away," he says, "but internal eternity has become a new heaven." Even revolution, revolution in particular, is repugnant to this rebel. To be a revolutionary, one must continue to believe in something, even where there is nothing in which to believe. "The [French] Revolution ended in reaction and that demonstrates what the Revolution was in reality." To dedicate oneself to humanity is no more worth while than serving God. Moreover, fraternity is only "Communism in its Sunday best." During the week, the members of the fraternity become slaves. Therefore there is only one form of freedom for Stirner, "my power," and only one truth, "the magnificent egotism of the stars." In this desert everything begins to flower again. "The terrifying significance of an unpremeditated cry of joy cannot be understood while the long night of faith and reason endures." This night is drawing to a close, and a dawn will break which is not the dawn of revolution but of insurrection. Insurrection is, in itself, an asceticism which rejects all forms of consolation. The insurgent will not be in agreement with other men except in so far as, and as long as, their egotism coincides with his. His real life is led in solitude where he will assuage, without restraint, his appetite for existing, which is his only reason for existence. In this respect individualism reaches a climax. It is the negation of everything that denies the individual and the glorification of everything that exalts and ministers to the individual. What, according to Stirner, is good? "Everything of which I can make use." What am I, legitimately, authorized to do? "Everything of which I am capable." Once again, rebellion leads to the justification of crime. Stirner not only has attempted to justify crime (in this respect the terrorist forms of anarchy are directly descended from him), but is visibly intoxicated by the perspectives that he thus reveals. "To break with what is sacred, or rather to destroy the sacred, could become universal. It is not a new revolution that is approaching?but is not a powerful, proud, disrespectful, shameless, conscienceless crime swelling like a thundercloud on the horizon, and can you not see that the sky, heavy with foreboding, is growing dark and silent?" Here we can feel the somber joy of those who create an apocalypse in a garret. This bitter and imperious logic can no longer be held in check, except by an I which is determined to defeat every form of abstraction and which has itself become abstract and nameless through being isolated and cut off from its roots. There are no more crimes and no more imperfections, and therefore no more sinners. We are all perfect. Since every I is, in itself, fundamentally criminal in its attitude toward the State and the people, we must recognize that to live is to transgress. Unless we accept death, we must be willing to kill in order to be unique. "You are not as noble as a criminal, you who do not desecrate anything." Moreover Stirner, still without the courage of his convictions, specifies: "Kill them, do not martyr them." But to decree that murder is legitimate is to decree mobilization and war for all the Unique. Thus murder will coincide with a kind of collective suicide. Stirner, who either does not admit or does not see this, nevertheless does not recoil at the idea of any form of destruction. The spirit of rebellion finally discovers one of its bitterest satisfactions in chaos. "You [the German nation] will be struck down. Soon your sister nations will follow you; when all of them have gone your way, humanity will be buried, and on its tomb I, sole master of myself at last, I, heir to all the human race, will shout with laughter." And so, among the ruins of the world, the desolate laughter of the individual-king illustrates the last victory of the spirit of rebellion. But at this extremity nothing else is possible but death or resurrection. Stirner, and with him all the nihilist rebels, rush to the utmost limits, drunk with destruction. After which, when the desert has been disclosed, the next step is to learn how to live there. Nietzsche's exhaustive search then begins. Nietzsche and Nihilism "We deny God, we deny the responsibility of God, it is only thus that we will deliver the world." With Nietzsche, nihilism seems to become prophetic. But we can draw no conclusions from Nietzsche except the base and mediocre cruelty that he hated with all his strength, unless we give first place in his work? well ahead of the prophet?to the diagnostician. The provisional, methodical?in a word, strategic? character of his thought cannot be doubted for a moment. With him nihilism becomes conscious for the first time. Surgeons have this in common with prophets: they think and operate in terms of the future. Nietzsche never thought except in terms of an apocalypse to come, not in order to extol it, for he guessed the sordid and calculating aspect that this apocalypse would finally assume, but in order to avoid it and to transform it into a renaissance. He recognized nihilism for what it was and examined it like a clinical fact. He said of himself that he was the first complete nihilist of Europe. Not by choice, but by condition, and because he was too great to refuse the heritage of his time. He diagnosed in himself, and in others, the inability to believe and the disappearance of the primitive foundation of all faith?namely, the belief in life. The "can one live as a rebel?" became with him "can one live believing in nothing?" His reply is affirmative. Yes, if one creates a system out of absence of faith, if one accepts the final consequences of nihilism, and if, on emerging into the desert and putting one's confidence in what is going to come, one feels, with the same primitive instinct, both pain and joy. Instead of methodical doubt, he practiced methodical negation, the determined destruction of everything that still hides nihilism from itself, of the idols that camouflage God's death. "To raise a new sanctuary, a sanctuary must be destroyed, that is the law." According to Nietzsche, he who wants to be a creator of good or of evil must first of all destroy all values. "Thus the supreme evil becomes part of the supreme good, but the supreme good is creative." He wrote, in his own manner, the Discours de la Methode of his period, without the freedom and exactitude of the seventeenth-century French he admired so much, but with the mad lucidity that characterizes the twentieth century, which, according to him, is the century of genius. We must return to the examination of this system of rebellion.1 Nietzsche's first step is to accept what he knows. Atheism for him goes without saying and is "constructive and radical." Nietzsche's supreme vocation, so he says, is to provoke a kind of crisis and a final decision about the problem of atheism. The world continues on its course at 1 We are obviously concerned here with Nietzsche's final philosophic position, between 1880 and his collapse. This chapter can be considered as a commentary on D er Wille zur Macht. (The Will to Power). random and there is nothing final about it. Thus God is useless, since He wants nothing in particular. If He wanted something?and here we recognize the traditional formulation of the problem of evil?He would have to assume the responsibility for "a sum total of pain and inconsistency which would debase the entire value of being born." We know that Nietzsche was publicly envious of Stendahl's epigram: "The only excuse for God is that he does not exist." Deprived of the divine will, the world is equally deprived of unity and finality. That is why it is impossible to pass judgment on the world. Any attempt to apply a standard of values to the world leads finally to a slander on life. Judgments are based on what is, with reference to what should be?the kingdom of heaven, eternal concepts, or moral imperatives. But what should be does not exist; and this world cannot be judged in the name of nothing. "The advantages of our times: nothing is true, everything is permitted." These magnificent or ironic formulas which are echoed by thousands of others, at least suffice to demonstrate that Nietzsche accepts the entire burden of nihilism and rebellion. In his somewhat puerile reflections on "training and selection" he even formulated the extreme logic of nihilistic reasoning: "Problem: by what means could we obtain a strict form of complete and contagious nihilism which would teach and practice, with complete scientific awareness, voluntary death?" But Nietzsche enlists values in the cause of nihilism which, traditionally, have been considered as restraints on nihilism?principally morality. Moral conduct, as explained by Socrates, or as recommended by Christianity, is in itself a sign of decadence. It wants to substitute the mere shadow of a man for a man of flesh and blood. It condemns the universe of passion and emotion in the name of an entirely imaginary world of harmony. If nihilism is the inability to believe, then its most serious symptom is not found in atheism, but in the inability to believe in what is, to see what is happening, and to live life as it is offered. This infirmity is at the root of all idealism. Morality has no faith in the world. For Nietzsche, real morality cannot be separated from lucidity. He is severe on the "calumniators of the world" because he discerns in the calumny a shameful taste for evasion. Traditional morality, for him, is only a special type of immorality. "It is virtue," he says, "which has need of justification." And again: "It is for moral reasons that good, one day, will cease to be done." Nietzsche's philosophy, undoubtedly, revolves around the problem of rebellion. More precisely, it begins by being a rebellion. But we sense the change of position that Nietzsche makes. With him, rebellion begins with "God is dead," which is assumed as an established fact; then it turns against everything that aims at falsely replacing the vanished deity and reflects dishonor on a world which doubtless has no direction but which remains nevertheless the only proving-ground of the gods. Contrary to the opinion of certain of his Christian critics, Nietzsche did not form a project to kill God. He found Him dead in the soul of his contemporaries. He was the first to understand the immense importance of the event and to decide that this rebellion on the part of men could not lead to a renaissance unless it was controlled and directed. Any-other attitude toward it, whether regret or complacency, must lead to the apocalypse. Thus Nietzsche did not formulate a philosophy of rebellion, but constructed a philosophy on rebellion. If he attacks Christianity in particular, it is only in so far as it represents morality. He always leaves intact the person of Jesus on the one hand, and on the other the cynical aspects of the Church. We know that, from the point of view of the connoisseur, he admired the Jesuits. "Basically," he writes, "only the God of morality is rejected." Christ, for Nietzsche as for Tolstoy, is not a rebel. The essence of His doctrine is summed up in total consent and in nonresistance to evil. Thou shalt not kill, even to prevent killing. The world must be accepted as it is, nothing must be added to its unhappiness, but you must consent to suffer personally from the evil it contains. The kingdom of heaven is within our immediate reach. It is only an inner inclination which allows us to make our actions coincide with these principles and which can give us immediate salvation. Not faith but deeds?that, according to Nietzsche, is Christ's message. From then on, the history of Christianity is nothing but a long betrayal of this message. The New Testament is already corrupted, and from the time of Paul to the Councils, subservience to faith leads to the neglect of deeds. What is the profoundly corrupt addition made by Christianity to the message of its Master? The idea of judgment, completely foreign to the teachings of Christ, and the correlative notions of punishment and reward. From that moment nature becomes history, and significant history expressed by the idea of human totality is born. From the Annunciation until the Last Judgment, humanity has no other task but to conform to the strictly moral ends of a narrative that has already been written. The only difference is that the characters, in the epilogue, separate themselves into the good and the bad. While Christ's sole judgment consists in saying that the sins of nature are unimportant, historical Christianity makes nature the source of sin. "What does Christ deny? Everything that at present bears the name Christian." Christianity believes that it is fighting against nihilism because it gives the world a sense of direction, while it is really nihilist itself in so far as, by imposing an imaginary meaning on life, it prevents the discovery of its real meaning: "Every Church is a stone rolled onto the tomb of the man-god; it tries to prevent the resurrection, by force." Nietzsche's paradoxical but significant conclusion is that God has been killed by Christianity, in that Christianity has secularized the sacred. Here we must understand historical Christianity and "its profound and contemptible duplicity." The same process of reasoning leads to Nietzsche's attitude toward socialism and all forms of humanitarian-ism. Socialism is only a degenerate form of Christianity. In fact, it preserves a belief in the finality of history which betrays life and nature, which substitutes ideal ends for real ends, and contributes to enervating both the will and the imagination. Socialism is nihilistic, in the henceforth precise sense that Nietzsche confers on the word. A nihilist is not one who believes in nothing, but one who does not believe in what exists. In this sense, all forms of socialism are manifestations, degraded once again, of Christian decadence. For Christianity, reward and punishment implied the existence of history. But, by inescapable logic, all his- tory ends by implying punishment and reward; and, from this day on, collectivist Messianism is born. Similarly, the equality of souls before God leads, now that God is dead, to equality pure and simple. There again, Nietzsche wages war against socialist doctrines in so far as they are moral doctrines. Nihilism, whether manifested in religion or in socialist preachings, is the logical conclusion of our so- called superior values. The free mind will destroy these values and denounce the illusions on which they are built, the bargaining that they imply, and the crime they commit in preventing the lucid intelligence from accomplishing its mission: to transform passive nihilism into active nihilism. In this world rid of God and of moral idols, man is now alone and without a master. No one has been less inclined than Nietzsche (and in this way he distinguishes himself from the romantics) to let it be believed that such freedom would be easy. This complete liberation put him among the ranks of those of whom he himself said that they suffered a new form of anguish and a new form of happiness. But, at the beginning, it is only anguish that makes him cry out: "Alas, grant me madness.... Unless I am above the law, I am the most outcast of all outcasts." He who cannot maintain his position above the law must in fact find another law or take refuge in madness. From the moment that man believes neither in God nor in immortal life, he becomes "responsible for everything alive, for everything that, born of suffering, is condemned to suffer from life." It is he, and he alone, who must discover law and order. Then the time of exile begins, the endless search for justification, the aimless nostalgia, "the most painful, the most heartbreaking question, that of the heart which asks itself: where can I feel at home?" Because his mind was free, Nietzsche knew that freedom of the mind is not a comfort, but an achievement to which one aspires and at long last obtains after an exhausting struggle. He knew that in wanting to consider oneself above the law, there is a great risk of finding oneself beneath the law. That is why he understood that only the mind found its real emancipation in the acceptance of new obligations. The essence of his discovery consists in saying that if the eternal law is not freedom, the absence of law is still less so. If nothing is true, if the world is without order, then nothing is forbidden; to prohibit an action, there must, in fact, be a standard of values and an aim. But, at the same time, nothing is authorized; there must also be values and aims in order to choose another course of action. Absolute domination by the law does not represent liberty, but no more does absolute anarchy. The sum total of every possibility does not amount to liberty, but to attempt the impossible amounts to slavery. Chaos is also a form of servitude. Freedom exists only in a world where what is possible is defined at the same time as what is not possible. Without law there is no freedom. If fate is not guided by superior values, if chance is king, then there is nothing but the step in the dark and the appalling freedom of the blind. On the point of achieving the most complete liberation, Nietzsche therefore chooses the most complete subordination. "If we do not make of God's death a great renunciation and a perpetual victory over ourselves, we shall have to pay for that omission." In other words, with Nietzsche, rebellion ends in asceticism. A profounder logic replaces the "if nothing is true, everything is permitted" of Karamazov by "if nothing is true, nothing is permitted." To deny that one single thing is forbidden in this world amounts to renouncing everything that is permitted. At the point where it is no longer possible to say what is black and what is white, the light is extinguished and freedom becomes a voluntary prison. It can be said that Nietzsche, with a kind of frightful joy, rushes toward the impasse into which he methodically drives his nihilism. His avowed aim is to render the situation untenable to his contemporaries. His only hope seems to be to arrive at the extremity of contradiction. Then if man does not wish to perish in the coils that strangle him, he will have to cut them at a single blow and create his own values. The death of God accomplishes nothing and can only be endured in terms of preparing a resurrection. "If we fail to find grandeur in God," says Nietzsche, "we find it nowhere; it must be denied or created." To deny it was the task of the world around him, which he saw rushing toward suicide. To create was the superhuman task for which he was willing to die. He knew in fact that creation is only possible in the extremity of solitude and that man would only commit himself to this staggering task if, in the most extreme distress of mind, he was compelled to undertake it or perish. Nietzsche cries out to man that the only truth is the world, to which he must be faithful and in which he must live and find his salvation. But at the same time he teaches him that to live in a lawless world is impossible because to live explicitly implies a law. How can one live freely and without law? To this enigma man must find an answer, on pain of death. Nietzsche at least does not flinch. He answers and his answer is bold: Damocles never danced better than beneath the sword. One must accept the unacceptable and hold to the untenable. From the moment that it is admitted that the world pursues no end, Nietzsche proposes to concede its innocence, to affirm that it accepts no judgment since it cannot be judged on any intention, and consequently to replace all judgments based on values by absolute assent, and by a complete and exalted allegiance to this world. Thus from absolute despair will spring infinite joy, from blind servitude, unbounded freedom. To be free is, precisely, to abolish ends. The innocence of the ceaseless change of things, as soon as one consents to it, represents the maximum liberty. The free mind willingly accepts what is necessary. Nietzsche's most profound concept is that the necessity of phenomena, if it is absolute, without rifts, does not imply any kind of restraint. Total acceptance of total necessity is his paradoxical definition of freedom. The question "free of what?" is thus replaced by "free for what?" Liberty coincides with heroism. It is the asceticism of the great man, "the bow bent to the breaking-point." This magnificent consent, born of abundance and fullness of spirit, is the unreserved affirmation of human imperfection and suffering, of evil and murder, of all that is problematic and strange in our existence. It is born of an arrested wish to be what one is in a world that is what it is. "To consider oneself a fatality, not to wish to be other than one is..." Nietzschean asceticism, which begins with the recognition of fatality, ends in a deification of fate. The more implacable destiny is, the more it becomes worthy of adoration. A moral God, pity, and love are enemies of fate to the extent that they try to counterbalance it. Nietzsche wants no redemption. The joy of self-realization is the joy of annihilation. But only the individual is annihilated. The movement of rebellion, by which man demanded his own existence, disappears in the individual's absolute submission to the inevitable. Amor fati replaces what was an odium fati. "Every individual collaborates with the entire cosmos, whether we know it or not, whether we want it or not." The individual is lost in the destiny of the species and the eternal movement of the spheres. "Everything that has existed is eternal, the sea throws it back on the shore." Nietzsche then turns to the origins of thought?to the pre-Socratics. These philosophers suppressed ultimate causes so as to leave intact the eternal values of the principles they upheld. Only power without purpose, only Heraclitus' "chance," is eternal. Nietzsche's whole effort is directed toward demonstrating the existence of the law that governs the eternal flux and of the element of chance in the inevitable: "A child is innocence and forgetfulness, a new beginning, a gamble, a wheel that spins automatically, a first step, the divine gift of being able to consent." The world is divine because the world is inconsequential. That is why art alone, by being equally inconsequential, is capable of grasping it. It is impossible to give a clear account of the world, but art can teach us to reproduce it? just as the world reproduces itself in the course of its eternal gyrations. The primordial sea indefatigably repeats the same words and casts up the same astonished beings on the same seashore. But at least he who consents to his own return and to the return of all things, who becomes an echo and an exalted echo, participates in the divinity of the world. By this subterfuge, the divinity of man is finally introduced. The rebel, who at first denies God, finally aspires to replace Him. But Nietzsche's message is that the rebel can only become God by renouncing every form of rebellion, even the type of rebellion that produces gods to chastise humanity. "If there is a God, how can one tolerate not being God oneself?" There is, in fact, a god? namely, the world. To participate in its divinity, all that is necessary is to consent. "No longer to pray, but to give one's blessing," and the earth will abound in men-gods. To say yes to the world, to reproduce it, is simultaneously to re-create the world and oneself, to become the great artist, the creator. Nietzsche's message is summed up in the word creation, with the ambiguous meaning it has assumed. Nietzsche's sole admiration was for the egotism and severity proper to all creators. The transmutation of values consists only in replacing critical values by creative values; by respect and admiration for what exists. Divinity without immortality defines the extent of the creator's freedom. Dionysos, the earth-god, shrieks eternally as he is torn limb from limb. But at the same time he represents the agonized beauty that coincides with suffering. Nietzsche thought that to accept this earth and Dionysos was to accept his own sufferings. And to accept everything, both suffering and the supreme contradiction simultaneously, was to be king of all creation. Nietzsche agreed to pay the price for his kingdom. Only the "sad and suffering" world is true?the world is the only divinity. Like Empedocles, who threw himself into the crater of Mount Etna to find truth in the only place where it exists? namely, in the bowels of the earth?Nietzsche proposed that man should allow himself to be engulfed in the cosmos in order to rediscover his eternal divinity and to become Dionysos. The Will to Power ends, like Pascal's Pensees, of which it so often reminds us, with a wager. Man does not yet obtain assurance but only the wish for assurance, which is not at all the same thing. Nietzsche, too, hesitated on this brink: "That is what is unforgivable in you. You have the authority and you refuse to sign." Yet finally he had to sign. But the name of Dionysos immortalized only the notes to Ariadne, which he wrote when he was mad. In a certain sense, rebellion, with Nietzsche, ends again in the exaltation of evil. The difference is that evil is no longer a revenge. It is accepted as one of the possible aspects of good and, with rather more conviction, as part of destiny. Thus he considers it as something to be avoided and also as a sort of remedy. In Nietzsche's mind, the only problem was to see that the human spirit bowed proudly to the inevitable. We know, however, his posterity and what kind of politics were to claim the authorization of the man who claimed to be the last antipolitical German. He dreamed of tyrants who were artists. But tyranny comes more naturally than art to mediocre men. "Rather Cesare Borgia than Parsifal," he exclaimed. He begat both Caesar and Borgia, but devoid of the distinction of feeling which he attributed to the great men of the Renaissance. As a result of his insistence that the individual should bow before the eternity of the species and should submerge himself in the great cycle of time, race has been turned into a special aspect of the species, and the individual has been made to bow before this sordid god. The life of which he spoke with fear and trembling has been degraded to a sort of biology for domestic use. Finally, a race of vulgar overlords, with a blundering desire for power, adopted, in his name, the "anti-Semitic deformity" on which he never ceased to pour scorn. He believed in courage combined with intelligence, and that was what he called strength. Courage has been turned in his name against intelligence, and the virtues that were really his have thus been transformed into their opposite: blind violence. He confused freedom and solitude, as do all proud spirits. His "profound solitude at midday and at midnight" was nevertheless lost in the mechanized hordes that finally inundated Europe. Advocate of classic taste, of irony, of frugal defiance, aristocrat who had the courage to say that aristocracy consisted in practicing virtue without asking for a reason and that a man who had to have reasons for being honest was not to be trusted, addict of integrity ("integrity that has become an instinct, a passion"), stubborn supporter of the "supreme equity of the supreme intelligence that is the mortal enemy of fanaticism," he was set up, thirty-three years after his death, by his own countrymen as the master of lies and violence, and his ideas and virtues, made admirable by his sacrifice, have been rendered detestable. In the history of the intelligence, with the exception of Marx, Nietzsche's adventure has no equivalent; we shall never finish making reparation for the injustice done to him. Of course history records other philosophies that have been misconstrued and betrayed. But up to the time of Nietzsche and National Socialism, it was quite without parallel that a process of thought?brilliantly illuminated by the nobility and by the sufferings of an exceptional mind?should have been demonstrated to the eyes of the world by a parade of lies and by the hideous accumulation of corpses in concentration camps. The doctrine of the superman led to the methodical creation of sub-men?a fact that doubtless should be denounced, but which also demands interpretation. If the final result of the great movement of rebellion in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was to be this ruthless bondage, then surely rebellion should be rejected and Nietzsche's desperate cry to his contemporaries taken up: "My conscience and yours are no longer the same conscience." We must first of all realize that we can never confuse Nietzsche with Rosenberg. We must be the advocates of Nietzsche. He himself has said so, denouncing in advance his bastard progeny: "he who has liberated his mind still has to purify himself." But the question is to find out if the liberation of the mind, as he conceived it, does not preclude purification. The very movement that comes to a head with Nietzsche, and that sustains him, has its laws and its logic, which, perhaps, explain the bloody travesty of his philosophy. Is there nothing in his work that can be used in support of definitive murder? Cannot the killers, provided they deny the spirit in favor of the letter (and even all that remains of the spirit in the letter), find their pretext in Nietzsche? The answer must be yes. From the moment that the methodical aspect of Nietzschean thought is neglected (and it is not certain that he himself always observed it), his rebellious logic knows no bounds. We also remark that it is not in the Nietzschean refusal to worship idols that murder finds its justification, but in the passionate approbation that distinguishes Nietzsche's work. To say yes to everything supposes that one says yes to murder. Moreover, it expresses two ways of consenting to murder. If the slave says yes to everything, he consents to the existence of a master and to his own sufferings: Jesus teaches nonresistance. If the master says yes to everything, he consents to slavery and to the suffering of others; and the result is the tyrant and the glorification of murder. "Is it not laughable that we believe in a sacred, infrangible law?thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not kill?in an existence characterized by perpetual lying and perpetual murder?" Actually metaphysical rebellion, in its initial stages, was only a protest against the lie and the crime of existence. The Nietzschean affirmative, forgetful of the original negative, disavows rebellion at the same time that it disavows the ethic that refuses to accept the world as it is. Nietzsche clamored for a Roman Caesar with the soul of Christ. To his mind, this was to say yes to both slave and master. But, in the last analysis, to say yes to both was to give one's blessing to the stronger of the two?namely, the master. Caesar must inevitably renounce the domination of the mind and choose to rule in the realm of fact. "How can one make the best of crime?" asks Nietzsche, as a good professor faithful to his system. Caesar must answer: by multiplying it. "When the ends are great," Nietzsche wrote to his own detriment, "humanity employs other standards and no longer judges crime as such even if it resorts to the most frightful means." He died in 1900, at the beginning of the century in which that pretension was to become fatal. It was in vain that he exclaimed in his hour of lucidity, "It is easy to talk about all sorts of immoral acts; but would one have the courage to carry them through? For example, I could not bear to break my word or to kill; I should languish, and eventually I should die as a result?that would be my fate." From the moment that assent was given to the totality of human experience, the way was open to others who, far from languishing, would gather strength from lies and murder. Nietzsche's responsibility lies in having legitimized, for reasons of method?and even if only for an instant?the opportunity for dishonesty of which Dostoievsky had already said that if one offered it to people, one could always be sure of seeing them rushing to seize it. But his involuntary responsibility goes still farther. Nietzsche is exactly what he recognized himself as being: the most acute manifestation of nihilism's conscience. The decisive step that he compelled rebellion to take consists in making it jump from the negation of the ideal to the secularization of the ideal. Since the salvation of man is not achieved in God, it must be achieved on earth. Since the world has no direction, man, from the moment he accepts this, must give it one that will eventually lead to a superior type of humanity. Nietzsche laid claim to the direction of the future of the human race. "The task of governing the world is going to fall to our lot." And elsewhere: "The time is approaching when we shall have to struggle for the domination of the world, and this struggle will be fought in the name of philosophical principles." In these words he announced the twentieth century. But he was able to announce it because he was warned by the interior logic of nihilism and knew that one of its aims was ascendancy; and thus he prepared the way for this ascendancy. There is freedom for man without God, as Nietzsche imagined him; in other words, for the solitary man. There is freedom at midday when the wheel of the world stops spinning and man consents to things as they are. But what is becomes what will be, and the ceaseless change of things must be accepted. The light finally grows dim, the axis of the day declines. Then history begins again and freedom must be sought in history; history must be accepted. Nietzscheism?the theory of the individual's will to power? was condemned to support the universal will to power. Nietzscheism was nothing without world domination. Nietzsche undoubtedly hated freethinkers and humanitarians. He took the words freedom of thought in their most extreme sense: the divinity of the individual mind. But he could not stop the freethinkers from partaking of the same historical fact as himself?the death of God?nor could he prevent the consequences being the same. Nietzsche saw clearly that humanitarianism was only a form of Christianity deprived of superior justification, which preserved final causes while rejecting the first cause. But he failed to perceive that the doctrines of socialist emancipation must, by an inevitable logic of nihilism, lead to what he himself had dreamed of: superhumanity. Philosophy secularizes the ideal. But tyrants appear who soon secularize the philosophies that give them the right to do so. Nietzsche had already predicted this development in discussing Hegel, whose originality, according to him, consisted in inventing a pantheism in which evil, error, and suffering could no longer serve as arguments against the divinity. "But the State, the powers that be, immediately made use of this grandiose initiative." He himself, however, had conceived of a system in which crime could no longer serve as an argument and in which the only value resided in the divinity of man. This grandiose initiative also had to be put to use. National Socialism in this respect was only a transitory heir, only the speculative and rabid outcome of nihilism. In all other respects those who, in correcting Nietzsche with the help of Marx, will choose to assent only to history, and no longer to all of creation, will be perfectly logical. The rebel whom Nietzsche set on his kness before the cosmos will, from now on, kneel before history. What is surprising about that? Nietzsche, at least in his theory of super-humanity, and Marx before him, with his classless society, both replace the Beyond by the Later On. In that way Nietzsche betrayed the Greeks and the teachings of Jesus, who, according to him, replaced the Beyond by the Immediate. Marx, like Nietzsche, thought in strategic terms, and like Nietzsche hated formal virtue. Their two rebellions, both of which finish similarly in adhesion to a certain aspect of reality, end by merging into Marxism-Leninism and being incarnated in that caste, already mentioned by Nietzsche, which would "replace the priest, the teacher, the doctor." The fundamental difference is that Nietzsche, in awaiting the superman, proposed to assent to what exists and Marx to what is to come. For Marx, nature is to be subjugated in order to obey history; for Nietzsche, nature is to be obeyed in order to subjugate history. It is the difference between the Christian and the Greek. Nietzsche, at least, foresaw what was going to happen: "Modern socialism tends to create a form of secular Jesuitism, to make instruments of all men"; and again: "What we desire is well-being.... As a result we march toward a spiritual slavery such as has never been seen.... Intellectual Caesarism hovers over every activity of the businessman and the philosopher." Placed in the crucible of Nietzschean philosophy, rebellion, in the intoxication of freedom, ends in biological or historical Caesarism. The absolute negative had driven Stirner to deify crime simultaneously with the individual. But the absolute affirmative leads to universalizing murder and mankind simultaneously. Marxism-Leninism has really accepted the burden of Nietzsche's freewill by means of ignoring several Nietzschean virtues. The great rebel thus creates with his own hands, and for his own imprisonment, the implacable reign of necessity. Once he had escaped from God's prison, his first care was to construct the prison of history and of reason, thus putting the finishing touch to the camouflage and consecration of the nihilism whose conquest he claimed. The Poets' Rebellion If metaphysical rebellion refuses to assent and restricts itself to absolute negation, it condemns itself to passive acceptance. If it prostrates itself in adoration of what exists and renounces its right to dispute any part of reality, it is sooner or later compelled to act. Ivan Kara-mazov? who represents non-interference, but in a dolorous aspect?stands halfway between the two positions. Rebel poetry, at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, constantly oscillated between these two extremes: between literature and the will to power, between the irrational and the rational, the desperate dream and ruthless action. The rebel poets?above all, the surrealists?light the way that leads from passive acceptance to action, along a spectacular short-cut. Hawthorne was able to say of Melville that, as an unbeliever, he was extremely uneasy in his unbelief. It can equally well be said of the poets who rushed to assault the heavens, with the intent of turning everything upside down, that by so doing they affirmed their desperate nostalgia for order. As an ultimate contradiction, they wanted to extract reason from unreason and to systematize the irrational. These heirs of romanticism claimed to make poetry exemplary and to find, in its most harrowing aspects, the real way of life. They deified blasphemy and transformed poetry into experience and into a means of action. Until their time those who claimed to influence men and events, at least in the Occident, did so in the name of rational rules. On the contrary, surrealism, after Rimbaud, wanted to find constructive rules in insanity and destruction. Rimbaud, through his work and only through his work, pointed out the path, but with the blinding, momentary illumination of a flash of lightning. Surrealism excavated this path and codified its discoveries. By its excesses as well as by its retreats, it gave the last and most magnificent expression to a practical theory of irrational rebellion at the very same time when, on another path, rebellious thought was founding the cult of absolute reason. Lautreamont and Rimbaud?its sources of inspiration?demonstrate by what stages the irrational desire to accept appearances can lead the rebel to adopt courses of action completely destructive to freedom. Lautreamont and Banality Lautreamont demonstrates that the rebel dissimulates the desire to accept appearance behind the desire for banality. In either case, whether he abases or vaunts himself, the rebel wants to be other than he is, even when he is prepared to be recognized for what he really is. The blasphemies and the conformity of Lautreamont illustrate this unfortunate contradiction, which is resolved in his case in the desire to be nothing at all. Far from being a recantation, as is generally supposed, the same passion for annihilation explains Maldoror's invocation of the primeval night and the laborious banalities of the Poesies. Lautreamont makes us understand that rebellion is adolescent. Our most effective terrorists, whether they are armed with bombs or with poetry, hardly escape from infancy. The Songs of Maldoror are the works of a highly talented schoolboy; their pathos lies precisely in the contradictions of a child's mind ranged against creation and against itself. Like the Rimbaud of the Illuminations, beating against the confines of the world, the poet chooses the apocalypse and destruction rather than accept the impossible principles that make him what he is in a world such as it is. "I offer myself to defend mankind," says Lautreamont, without wishing to be ingenuous. Is Maldoror, then, the angel of pity? In a certain sense he is, in that he pities himself. Why? That remains to be seen. But pity deceived, outraged, inadmissible, and unadmitted will lead him to strange extremities. Maldoror, in his own words, received life like a wound and forbade suicide to heal the scar (sic). Like Rimbaud he is the one who suffers and who rebelled; each, being strangely reluctant to say that he is rebelling against what he is, gives the rebel's eternal alibi: love of mankind. The man who offers himself to defend mankind at the same time writes: "Show me one man who is good." This perpetual vacillation is part of nihilist rebellion. We rebel against the injustice done to ourselves and to mankind. But in the moment of lucidity, when we simultaneously perceive the legitimacy of this rebellion and its futility, the frenzy of negation is extended to the very thing that we claimed to be defending. Not being able to atone for injustice by the elevation of justice, we choose to submerge it in an even greater injustice, which is finally confounded with annihilation. "The evil you have done me is too great, too great the evil I have done you, for it to be involuntary." In order not to be overcome with self-hatred, one's innocence must be proclaimed, an impossibly bold step for one man alone, for self-knowledge will prevent him. But at least one can declare that everyone is innocent, though they may be treated as guilty. God is then the criminal. From the romantics to Lautreamont, there is, therefore, no real progress, except in style. Lautreamont resuscitates, once again, with a few improvements, the figure of the God of Abraham and the image of the Luciferian rebel. He places God "on a throne built of excrement, human and golden," on which sits, "with imbecile pride, his body covered with a shroud made of unwashed sheets, he who styles himself the Creator." "The horrible Eternal One with the features of a viper," "the crafty bandit" who can be seen "stoking the fires in which young and old perish," rolls drunkenly in the gutter, or seeks base pleasures in the brothel. God is not dead, he has fallen. Face to face with the fallen deity, Maldoror appears as a conventional cavalier in a black cloak. He is the Accursed. "Eyes must not witness the hideous aspect which the Supreme Being, with a smile of intense hatred, has granted me." He has forsworn everything? "father, mother, Providence, love, ideals?so as to think no longer of anything else but himself." Racked with pride, this hero has all the illusions of the metaphysical dandy: "A face that is more than human, sad with the sadness of the universe, beautiful as an act of suicide." Like the romantic rebel, Maldoror, despairing of divine justice, will take the side of evil. To cause suffering and, in causing it, to suffer, that is his lot. The Songs are veritable litanies of evil. At this point mankind is no longer even defended. On the contrary, "to attack that wild beast, man, with every possible weapon, and to attack the creator..." that is the intention announced by the Songs. Overwhelmed at the thought of having God as an enemy, intoxicated with the solitude experienced by great criminals ("I alone against humanity"), Maldoror goes to war against creation and its author. The Songs exalt "the sanctity of crime," announce an increasing series of "glorious crimes," and stanza 20 of Song II even inaugurates a veritable pedagogy of crime and violence. Such a burning ardor is, at this period, merely conventional. It costs nothing. Lautreamont's real originality lies elsewhere.1 The romantics maintained with the greatest care the fatal opposition between human solitude and divine indifference?the literary expressions of this solitude being the isolated castle and the dandy. But Lautreamont's work deals with a more profound drama. It is quite apparent that he found this solitude insupportable and that, ranged against creation, he wished to destroy its limits. Far from wanting to fortify the reign of humanity with crenelated towers, he wishes to merge it with all other reigns. He brought back creation to the shores of the primeval seas where morality, as well as every other problem, loses all meaning?including the problem, which he considers so terrifying, of the immortality of the soul. He had no desire to create a spectacular image of the rebel, or of the dandy, opposed to creation, but to mingle mankind and the world together in the same general destruction. He attacked the very frontier that separates mankind from the universe. Total freedom, the freedom of crime in particular, supposes the destruction of human 1 It accounts for the difference between Song I, published separately, which is Byronic in a rather banal way, and the other Songs, which resound with a monstrous rhetoric. frontiers. It is not enough to condemn oneself and all mankind to execration. The reign of mankind must still be brought back to the level of the reign of the instinct. We find in Lautreamont this refusal to recognize rational consciousness, this return to the elementary which is one of the marks of a civilization in revolt against itself. It is no longer a question of recognizing appearances, by making a determined and conscious effort, but of no longer existing at all on the conscious level. All the creatures that appear in the Songs are amphibious, because Maldoror rejects the earth and its limitations. The flora is composed of algae and seaweed. Mal-doror's castle is built on the waters. His native land is the timeless sea. The sea?a double symbol?is simultaneously the place of annihilation and of reconciliation. It quenches, in its own way, the thirst of souls condemned to scorn themselves and others, and the thirst for oblivion. Thus the Songs replace the Metamorphoses, and the timeless smile is replaced by the laughter of a mouth slashed with a razor, by the image of a gnashing, frantic, travesty of humor. This bestiary cannot contain all the meanings that have been given to it, but undoubtedly it discloses a desire for annihilation which has its origins in the very darkest places of rebellion. The "stultify yourselves" of Pascal takes on a literal sense with Lautreamont. Apparently he could not bear the cold and implacable clarity one must endure in order to live. "My subjectivity and one creator?that is too much for one brain." And so he chose to reduce life, and his work, to the flash of a cuttlefish's fin in the midst of its cloud of ink. The beautiful passage where Maldoror couples with a female shark on the high seas "in a long, chaste, and frightful copulation" ?above all, the significant passage in which Maldoror, transformed into an octopus, attacks the Creator?are clear expressions of an escape beyond the frontiers of existence and of a convulsive attack on the laws of nature. Those who see themselves banished from the harmonious fatherland where justice and passion finally strike an even balance still prefer, to solitude, the barren kingdoms where words have no more meaning and where force and the instincts of blind creatures reign. This challenge is, at the same time, a mortification. The battle with the angel, in Song II, ends in the defeat and putrefaction of the angel. Heaven and earth are then brought back and intermingled in the liquid chasms of primordial life. Thus the man-shark of the Songs "only acquired the new change in the extremities of his arms and legs as an expiatory punishment for some unknown crime." There is, in fact, a crime, or the illusion of a crime (is it homosexuality?) in Maldoror's virtually unknown life. No reader of the Songs can avoid the idea that this book is in need of a Stavrogin's Confession. But there is no confession and we find in the Poesies a redoubling of that mysterious desire for expiation. The spirit appropriate to certain forms of rebellion which consists, as we shall see, in re-establishing reason at the end of the irrational adventure, of rediscovering order by means of disorder and of voluntarily loading oneself down with chains still heavier than those from which release was sought, is described in this book with such a desire for simplification and with such cynicism that this change of attitude must definitely have a meaning. The Songs, which exalted absolute negation, are followed by a theory of absolute assent, and uncompromising rebellion is succeeded by complete conformity?all this with total lucidity. The Poesies, in fact, give us the best explanation of the Songs. "Despair, fed by the prejudices of hallucination, imper-turbably leads literature to the mass abrogation of laws both social and divine, and to theoretical and practical wickedness." The Poesies also denounce "the culpability of a writer who rolls on the slopes of the void and pours scorn on himself with cries of joy." But they prescribe no other remedy for this evil than metaphysical conformity: "Since the poetry of doubt arrives, in this way, at such a point of theoretical wickedness and mournful despair, it is poetry that is radically false; for the simple reason that it discusses principles, and principles should not be discussed" (letter to Darasse). In short, his reasoning recapitulates the morality of a choirboy or of an infantry manual. But conformity can be passionate, and thereby out of the ordinary. When the victory of the malevolent eagle over the dragon hope has been proclaimed, Maldoror can still obstinately repeat that the burden of his song is nothing but hope, and can write: "With my voice and with the solemnity of the days of my glory, I recall you, O blessed Hope, to my deserted dwelling"?he must still try to convince. To console humanity, to treat it as a brother, to return to Confucius, Buddha, Socrates, Jesus Christ, "moralists who wandered through villages, dying of hunger" (which is of doubtful historical accuracy), are still the projects of despair. Thus virtue and an ordered life have a nostalgic appeal in the midst of vice. For Lautreamont refuses to pray, and Christ for him is only a moralist. What he proposes, or rather what he proposes to himself, is agnosticism and the fulfillment of duty. Such a sound program, unhappily, supposes surrender, the calm of evening, a heart untouched by bitterness, and untroubled contemplation. Lautreamont rebels when he suddenly writes: "I know no other grace but that of being born." But one can sense his clenched teeth when he adds: "An impartial mind finds that enough." But no mind is impartial when confronted with life and death. With Lautreamont, the rebel flees to the desert. But this desert of conformity is as dreary as Rimbaud's Harrar. The taste for the absolute and the frenzy of annihilation sterilize him again. Just as Maldoror wanted total rebellion, Lau-treamont, for the same reasons, demands absolute banality. The exclamation of awareness which he tried to drown in the primeval seas, to confuse with the howl of the beast, which at another moment he tried to smother in the adoration of mathematics, he now wants to stifle by applying a dismal conformity. The rebel now tries to turn a deaf ear to the call that urges him toward the being who lies at the heart of his rebellion. The important thing is to exist no longer?either by refusing to be anything at all or by accepting to be no matter what. In either case it is a purely artificial convention. Banality, too, is an attitude. Conformity is one of the nihilistic temptations of rebellion which dominate a large part of our intellectual history. It demonstrates how the rebel who takes to action is tempted to succumb, if he forgets his origins, to the most absolute conformity. And so it explains the twentieth century. Lautreamont, who is usually hailed as the bard of pure rebellion, on the contrary proclaims the advent of the taste for intellectual servitude which flourishes in the contemporary world. The Poesies axe only a preface to a "future work" of which we can only surmise the contents and which was to have been the ideal end-result of literary rebellion. But this book is being written today, despite Lautreamont, in millions of copies, by bureaucratic order. Of course, genius cannot be separated from banality. But it is not a question of the banality of others ?the banality that we vainly try to capture and which itself captures the creative writer, where necessary, with the help of the censors. For the creative writer it is a question of his own form of banality, which must be completely created. Every genius is at once extraordinary and banal. He is nothing if he is only one or the other. We must remember this when thinking of rebellion. It has its dandies and its menials, but it does not recognize its legitimate sons. Surrealism and Revolution This is not the place to deal at length with Rimbaud. Everything that can be said about him?and even more, unfortunately?has already been said. It is worth pointing out, however, for it concerns our subject, that only in his work was Rimbaud the poet of rebellion. His life, far from justifying the myth it created, only illustrates (an objective perusal of the letters from Harrar suffices to prove this) the fact that he surrendered to the worst form of nihilism imaginable. Rimbaud has been deified for renouncing his genius, as if his renunciation implied superhuman virtue. It must be pointed out, however, despite the fact that by doing so we disqualify the alibis of our contemporaries, that genius alone?and not the renunciation of genius? implies virtue. Rimbaud's greatness does not lie in the first poems from Charleville nor in his trading at Harrar. It shines forth at the moment when, in giving the most peculiarly appropriate expression to rebellion that it has ever received, he simultaneously proclaims his triumph and his agony, his conception of a life beyond the confines of this world and the inescapability of the world, the yearning for the unattainable and reality brutally determined on restraint, the rejection of morality and the irresistible compulsion to duty. At the moment when he carries in his breast both illumination and the darkness of hell, when he hails and insults beauty, and creates, from an insoluble conflict, the intricate counterpoint of an exquisite song, he is the poet of rebellion?the greatest of all. The order in which he wrote his two great works is of no importance. In any case there was very little time between the conception of the two books, and any artist knows, with the certainty born of experience, that Rimbaud simultaneously carried the seeds of the Season in Hell ( Une Saison en Enfer) and the Illuminations within him. Though he wrote them one after the other, there is no doubt that he experienced the suffering of both of them at the same time. This contradiction, which killed him, was the real source of his genius. But where, then, is the virtue of someone who refuses to face the contradiction and betrays his own genius before having drunk it to the last bitter drop? Rimbaud's silence is not a new method of rebelling; at least, we can no longer say so after the publication of the Harrar letters. His metamorphosis is undoubtedly mysterious. But there is also a mystery attached to the banality achieved by brilliant young girls whom marriage transforms into adding or knitting machines. The myth woven around Rimbaud supposes and affirms that nothing was possible after the Season in Hell. But what is impossible for the supremely gifted poet or for the inexhaustibly creative writer? How can we imagine anything to follow Moby Dick, The Trial, Zarathustra, The Possessed? Nevertheless, they were followed by great works, which instruct, implement, and bear witness to what is finest in the writer, and which only come to an end at his death. Who can fail to regret the work that would have been greater than the Season in Hell and of which we have been deprived by Rimbaud's abdication? Can Abyssinia be considered as a monastery; is it Christ who shut Rimbaud's mouth? Such a Christ would be the kind of man who nowadays lords it over the cashier's desk in a bank, to judge by the letters in which the unhappy poet talks only about his money which he wants to see "wisely invested" and "bringing in regular dividends." 2 The man who exulted under torture, who hurled curses at God and at beauty, who hardened himself in the harsh atmosphere of crime, now only wants to marry someone "with a future." The mage, the seer, the convict who lived perpetually in the shadow of the penal colony, the man-king on a godless earth, always carried seventeen pounds of gold in a belt worn uncomfortably round his stomach, which he complained gave him dysentery. Is this the mythical hero, worshipped by so many young men who, though they do not spit in the face of the world, would die of shame at the mere idea of such a belt? To maintain the myth, those decisive letters must be ignored. It is easy to see why they have been so little commented upon. They are a sacrilege, as truth sometimes is. A great and praiseworthy poet, the greatest of his time, a dazzling oracle?Rimbaud is all of these things. But he is not the man-god, the burning inspiration, the monk of poetry as he is often presented. The man only recaptured his greatness in the hospital bed in which, at the hour of his painful end, even his mediocrity becomes moving: "How unlucky I am, how very unlucky I am... and I've money on me that I can't even keep an eye on!" The defiant cry of those last wretched moments: "No, no, now I rebel against death!" happily restores Rimbaud to that part of common human experience which involuntarily coincides with greatness. The young Rimbaud comes to life again on the brink of the abyss and with him revives the rebellion of the times when his imprecations against life were only expressions of despair at the thought of death. It is at this point that the bourgeois trader once more rejoins the tortured adolescent whom we so much admired. He recaptures his youth in the terror and bitter pain finally experienced by those who do not know how to attain happiness. Only at this point does his passion, and with it his truth, begin. Moreover, Harrar was actually foretold in his work, but in the form of his final abdication. "And best of all, 2 It is only fair to note that the tone of these letters might be explained by the people to whom they are written. But they do not suggest that Rimbaud is making a great effort to lie. Not one word betrays the Rimbaud of former times. a drunken sleep on the beach." The fury of annihilation, appropriate to every rebel, then assumes its most common form. The apocalypse of crime?as conceived by Rimbaud in the person of the prince who insatiably slaughters his subjects?and endless licentiousness are rebellious themes that will be taken up again by the surrealists. But finally, even with Rimbaud, nihilist dejection prevailed; the struggle, the crime itself, proved too exacting for his exhausted mind. The seer who drank, if we may venture to say so, in order not to forget ended by finding in drunkenness the heavy sleep so well known to our contemporaries. One can sleep on the beach, or at Aden. And one consents, no longer actively, but passively, to accept the order of the world, even if the order is degrading. Rimbaud's silence is also a preparation for the silence of authority, which hovers over minds resigned to everything save to the necessity of putting up a fight. Rimbaud's great intellect, suddenly subordinated to money, proclaims the advent of other demands, which are at first excessive and which will later be put to use by the police. To be nothing?that is the cry of the mind exhausted by its own rebellion. This leads to the problem of suicide of the mind, which, after all, is less respectable than the surrealists' suicide, and more fraught with consequences. Surrealism itself, coming at the end of this great act of rebellion, is only significant because it attempted to perpetuate that aspect of Rimbaud which alone evokes our sympathy. Deriving the rules for a rebellious asceticism from the letter about the seer and the system it implies, he illustrates the struggle between the will to be and the desire for annihilation, between the yes and the no, which we have discovered again and again at every stage of rebellion. For all these reasons, rather than repeat the, endless commentaries that surround Rimbaud's work, it seemed preferable to rediscover him and to follow him among his successors. Absolute rebellion, total insubordination, sabotage on principle, the humor and cult of the absurd?such is the nature of surrealism, which defines itself, in its primary intent, as the incessant examination of all values. The refusal to draw any conclusions is flat, decisive, and provocative. "We are specialists in rebellion." Surrealism, which, according to Aragon, is a machine for capsizing the mind, was first conjured up by the Dadaist movement, whose romantic origins and anemic dandyism must be noted.3 Non-signification and contradiction are therefore cultivated for their own sakes. "The real Dadaists are against Dada. Everyone is a director of Dada." Or again: "What is good? What is ugly? What is great, strong, weak... ? Don't know! Don't know!" These parlor nihilists were obviously threatened with having to act as slaves to the strictest orthodoxies. But there is something more in surrealism than standard nonconformism, the legacy left by Rimbaud, which, in fact, Breton recapitulates as follows: "Must we abandon all hope at that particular point?" An urgent appeal to absent life is reinforced by a total rejection of the present world, as Breton's arrogant statement indicates: "Incapable of accepting the fate assigned to me, my highest perceptions outraged by this denial of justice, I refrain from adapting my existence to the ridiculous conditions of existence here below." The mind, according to Breton, can find no point of rest either in this life or beyond it. Surrealism wants to find a solution to this endless anxiety. It is "a cry of the mind which turns against itself and finally takes the desperate decision to throw off its bonds." It protests against death and "the laughable duration" of a precarious condition. Thus surrealism places itself at the mercy of impatience. It exists in a condition of wounded frenzy: at once inflexible and self-righteous, with the consequent implication of a moral philosophy. Surrealism, the gospel of chaos, found itself compelled, from its very inception, to create an order. But at first it only dreamed of destruction?by poetry, to begin with?on the plane of imprecation, and later by the use of actual weapons. The trial of the real world has become, by logical development, the trial of creation. Surrealist irreligion is methodical and rational. At first it established itself on the idea of the absolute nonculpability of man, to whom one should render "all the power that he has been capable of putting into the word God." As in every history of rebellion, this idea of abso- 3 Jarry, one of the masters of Dadaism, is the last incarnation, peculiar rather than brilliant, of the metaphysical dandy. lute non-culpability, springing from despair, was little by little transformed into a mania for punishment. The surrealists, while simultaneously exalting human innocence, believed that they could exalt murder and suicide. They spoke of suicide as a solution and Crevel, who considered this solution "the most probable, just, and definitive," killed himself, as did Rigaut and Vache. Later Aragon was to condemn the "babblers about suicide." Nevertheless the fact remains that to extol annihilation, without personal involvement, is not a very honorable course. On this point surrealism has retained, from the "litterature" it despised, the most facile excuses and has justified Ri-gaud's staggering remark: "You are all poets, and I myself am on the side of death." Surrealism did not rest there. It chose as its hero Violette Noziere or the anonymous common-law criminal, affirming in this way, in the face of crime, the innocence of man. But it also was rash enough to say?and this is the statement that Andre Breton must have regretted ever since 1933?that the simplest surrealist act consisted in going out into the street, revolver in hand, and shooting at random into the crowd. Whoever refuses to recognize any other determining factor apart from the individual and his desires, any priority other than that of the unconscious, actually succeeds in rebelling simultaneously against society and against reason. The theory of the gratuitous act is the culmination of the demand for absolute freedom. What does it matter if this freedom ends by being embodied in the solitude defined by Jarry: "When I'll have collected all the ready cash, in the world, I'll kill everybody and go away." The essential thing is that every obstacle should be denied and that the irrational should be triumphant. What, in fact, does this apology for murder signify if not that, in a world without meaning and without honor, only the desire for existence, in all its forms, is legitimate? The instinctive joy of being alive, the stimulus of the unconscious, the cry of the irrational, are the only pure truths that must be professed. Everything that stands in the way of desire?principally society?must therefore be mercilessly destroyed. Now we can understand Andre Breton's remark about Sade: "Certainly man no longer consents to unite with nature except in crime; it remains to be seen if this is not one of the wildest, the most incontestable, ways of loving." It is easy to see that he is talking of love without an object, which is love as experienced by people who are torn asunder. But this empty, avid love, this insane desire for possession, is precisely the love that society inevitably thwarts. That is why Breton, who still bears the stigma of his declarations, was able to sing the praises of treason and declare (as the surrealists have tried to prove) that violence is the only adequate mode of expression. But society is not only composed of individuals. It is also an institution. Too well-mannered to kill everybody, the surrealists, by the very logic of their attitude, came to consider that, in order to liberate desire, society must first be overthrown. They chose to serve the revolutionary movement of their times. From Walpole and Sade?with an inevitability that comprises the subject of this book? surrealists passed on to Helvetius and Marx. But it is obvious that it is not the study of Marxism that led them to revolution.4 Quite the contrary: surrealism is involved in an incessant effort to reconcile, with Marxism, the inevitable conclusions that led it to revolution. We can say, without being paradoxical, that the surrealists arrived at Marxism on account of what, today, they most detest in Marx. Knowing the basis and the nobility of the motives that compelled him, particularly when one has shared the same lacerating experiences, one hesitates to remind Andre" Breton that his movement implied the establishment of "ruthless authority" and of dictatorship, of political fanaticism, the refusal of free discussion, and the necessity of the death penalty. The peculiar vocabulary of that period is also astonishing ("sabotage," "informer," etc.) in that it is the vocabulary of a police-dominated revolution. But these frenetics wanted "any sort of revolution," no matter what as long as it rescued them from the world of shopkeepers and compromise in which they were forced to live. In that they could not have the best, they still preferred the worst. In that respect they were nihilists. They were not aware of the fact that those among them who were, in 4 The Communists who joined the party as a result of having studied Marx can be counted on the fingers of one hand. They are first converted and then they read the Scriptures. the future, to remain faithful to Marxism were faithful at the same time to their initial nihilism. The real destruction of language, which the surrealists so obstinately wanted, does not lie in incoherence or automatism. It lies in the word order. It was pointless for Aragon to begin with a denunciation of the "shameful pragmatic attitude," for in that attitude he finally found total liberation from morality, even if that liberation coincided with another form of servitude. The surrealist who meditated most profoundly about this problem, Pierre Naville, in trying to find the denominator common to revolutionary action and surrealist action, localized it, with considerable penetration, in pessimism, meaning in "the intention of accompanying man to his downfall and of overlooking nothing that could ensure that his perdition might be useful." This mixture of Machiavellianism and Augustinism in fact explains twentieth-century rebellion; no more audacious expression can be given to the nihilism of the times. The renegades of surrealism were faithful to most of the principles of nihilism. In a certain way, they wanted to die. If AndreBreton and a few others finally broke with Marxism, it was because there was something in them beyond nihilism, a second loyalty to what is purest in the origins of rebellion: they did not want to die. Certainly, the surrealists wanted to profess materialism. "We are pleased to recognize as one of the prime causes of the mutiny on board the battleship Potemkin that terrible piece of meat." But there is not with them, as with the Marxists, a feeling of friendship, even intellectual, for that piece of meat. Putrid meat typifies only the real world, which in fact gives birth to revolt, but against itself. It explains nothing, even though it justifies everything. Revolution, for the surrealists, was not an end to be realized day by day, in action, but an absolute and consolatory myth. It was "the real life, like love," of which Eluard spoke, who at that time had no idea that his friend Kalandra would die of that sort of life. They wanted the "communism of genius," not the other form of Communism. These peculiar Marxists declared themselves in rebellion against history and extolled the heroic individual. "History is governed by laws, which are conditioned by the cowardice of individuals." Andr6 Breton wanted revolu- tion and love together?and they are incompatible. Revolution consists in loving a man who does not yet exist. But he who loves a living being, if he really loves, can only consent to die for the sake of the being he loves. In reality, revolution for Andre Breton was only a particular aspect of rebellion, while for Marxists and, in general, for all political persuasions, only the contrary is true. Breton was not trying to create, by action, the promised land that was supposed to crown history. One of the fundamental theses of surrealism is, in fact, that there is no salvation. The advantage of revolution was not that it gives mankind happiness, "abominable material comfort." On the contrary, according to Breton, it should purify and illuminate man's tragic condition. World revolution and the terrible sacrifices it implies would only bring one advantage: "preventing the completely artificial precariousness of the social condition from screening the real precariousness of the human condition." Quite simply, for Breton, this form of progress was excessive. One might as well say that revolution should be enrolled in the service of the inner asceticism by which individual men can transfigure reality into the supernatural, "the brilliant revenge of man's imagination." With Andre Breton, the supernatural holds the same place as the rational does with Hegel. Thus it would be impossible to imagine a more complete antithesis to the political philosophy of Marxism. The lengthy hesitations of those whom Artaud called the Amiels of revolution are easily explained. The surrealists were more different from Marx than were reactionaries like Joseph de Maistre, for example. The reactionaries made use of the tragedy of existence to reject revolution?in other words, to preserve a historical situation. The Marxists made use of it to justify revolution?in other words, to create another historical situation. Both make use of the human tragedy to further their pragmatic ends. But Breton made use of revolution to consummate the tragedy and, in spite of the title of his magazine, made use of revolution to further the surrealist adventure. Finally, the definitive rupture is explained if one considers that Marxism insisted on the submission of the irrational, while the surrealists rose to defend irrationality to the death. Marxism tended toward the conquest of totality, and surrealism, like all spiritual experiences, tended toward unity. Totality can demand the submission of the irrational, if rationalism suffices to conquer the world. But the desire for unity is more demanding. It does not suffice that everything should be rational. It wants, above all, the rational and the irrational to be reconciled on the same level. There is no unity that supposes any form of mutilation. For Andre Breton, totality could be only a stage, a necessary stage perhaps, but certainly inadequate, on the way that leads to unity. Here we find once again the theme of All or Nothing. Surrealism tends toward universality, and the curious but profound reproach that Breton makes to Marx consists in saying quite justifiably that the latter is not universal. The surrealists wanted to reconcile Marx's "let us transform the world" with Rimbaud's "let us change life." But the first leads to the conquest of the totality of the world and the second to the conquest of the unity of life. Paradoxically, every form of totality is restrictive. In the end, the two formulas succeeded in splitting the surrealist group. By choosing Rimbaud, Breton demonstrated that surrealism was not concerned with action, but with asceticism and spiritual experience. He again gave first place to what composed the profound originality of his movement: the restoration of the sacred and the conquest of unity, which make surrealism so invaluable for a consideration of the problem of rebellion. The more he elaborated on this original concept, the more irreparably he separated himself from his political companions, and at the same time from some of his first manifestoes. Andre Breton never, actually, wavered in his support of surrealism?the fusion of a dream and of reality, the sublimation of the old contradiction between the ideal and the real. We know the surrealist solution: concrete irrationality, objective risk. Poetry is the conquest, the only possible conquest, of the "supreme position." "A certain position of the mind from where life and death, the real and the imaginary, the past and the future... cease to be perceived in a contradictory sense." What is this supreme position that should mark the "colossal abortion of the Hegelian system"? It is the search for the summit-abyss, familiar to the mystics. Actually, it is the mysticism without God which demonstrates and quenches the rebel's thirst for the absolute. The essential enemy of surrealism is rationalism. Breton's method, moreover, presents the peculiar spectacle of a form of Occidental thought in which the principle of analogy is continually favored to the detriment of the principles of identity and contradiction. More precisely, it is a question of dissolving contradictions in the fires of love and desire and of demolishing the walls of death. Magic rites, primitive or naive civilizations, alchemy, the language of flowers, fire, or sleepless nights, are so many miraculous stages on the way to unity and the philosophers' stone. If surrealism did not change the world, it furnished it with a few strange myths which partly justified Nietzsche's announcement of the return of the Greeks. Only partly, because he was referring to unenlightened Greece, the Greece of mysteries and dark gods. Finally, just as Nietzsche's experience culminated in the acceptance of the light of day, surrealist experience culminates in the exaltation of the darkness of night, the agonized and obstinate cult of the tempest. Breton, according to his own statements, understood that, despite everything, life was a gift. But his compliance could never shed the full light of day, the light that all of us need. "There is too much of the north in me," he said, "for me to be a man who complies entirely." He nevertheless often diminished, to his own detriment, the importance of negation and advanced the positive claims of rebellion. He chose severity rather than silence and retained only the "demand for morality," which, according to Bataille, first gave life to surrealism: "To substitute a new morality for current morality, which is the cause of all our evils." Of course he did not succeed (nor has anybody in our time) in the attempt to found a new morality. But he never despaired of being able to do so. Confronted with the horror of a period in which man, whom he wanted to magnify, has been persistently degraded in the name of certain principles that surrealism adopted, Breton felt constrained to propose, provisionally, a return to traditional morality. That represents a hesitation perhaps. But it is the hesitation of nihilism and the real progress of rebellion. After all, when he could not give himself the morality and the values of whose necessity he was clearly aware, we know very well that Breton chose love. In the general meanness of his times? and this cannot be forgotten?he is the only person who wrote profoundly above love. Love is the entranced morality that served this exile as a native land. Of course, a dimension is still missing here. Surrealism, in that it is neither politics nor religion, is perhaps only an unbearable form of wisdom. But it is also the absolute proof that there is no comfortable form of wisdom: "We want, we shall have, the hereafter in our lifetime," Breton has admirably exclaimed. While reason embarks on action and sets its armies marching on the world, the splendid night in which Breton delights announces dawns that have not yet broken, and, as well, the advent of the poet of our renaissance: Rene Char. Nihilism and History One hundred and fifty years of metaphysical rebellion and of nihilism have witnessed the persistent reappearance, under different guises, of the same ravaged countenance: the face of human protest. All of them, decrying the human condition and its creator, have affirmed the solitude of man and the nonexistence of any kind of morality. But at the same time they have all tried to construct a purely terrestrial kingdom where their chosen principles will hold sway. As rivals of the Creator, they have inescapably been led to the point of reconstructing creation according to their own concepts. Those who rejected, for the sake of the world they had just created, all other principles but desire and power, have rushed to suicide or madness and have proclaimed the apocalypse. As for the rest, who wanted to create their own principles, they have chosen pomp and ceremony, the world of appearances, or banality, or again murder and destruction. But Sade and the romantics, Karamazov or Nietzsche only entered the world of death because they wanted to discover the true life. So that by a process of inversion, it is the desperate appeal for order that rings through this insane universe. Their conclusions have only proved disastrous or destructive to freedom from the moment they laid aside the burden of rebellion, fled the tension that it implies, and chose the comfort of tyranny or of servitude. Human insurrection, in its exalted and tragic forms, is only, and can only be, a prolonged protest against death, a violent accusation against the universal death penalty. In every case that we have come across, the protest is always directed at everything in creation which is dissonant, opaque, or promises the solution of continuity. Essentially, then, we are dealing with a perpetual demand for unity. The rejection of death, the desire for immortality and for clarity, are the mainsprings of all these extravagances, whether sublime or puerile. Is it only a cowardly and personal refusal to die? No, for many of these rebels have paid the ultimate price in order to live up to their own demands. The rebel does not ask for life, but for reasons for living. He rejects the consequences implied by death. If nothing lasts, then nothing is justified; everything that dies is deprived of meaning. To fight against death amounts to claiming that life has a meaning, to fighting for order and for unity. The protest against evil which is at the very core of metaphysical revolt is significant in this regard. It is not the suffering of a child, which is repugnant in itself, but the fact that the suffering is not justified. After all, pain, exile, or confinement are sometimes accepted when dictated by good sense or by the doctor. In the eyes of the rebel, what is missing from the misery of the world, as well as from its moments of happiness, is some principle by which they can be explained. The insurrection against evil is, above all, a demand for unity. The rebel obstinately confronts a world condemned to death and the impenetrable obscurity of the human condition with his demand for life and absolute clarity. He is seeking, without knowing it, a moral philosophy or a religion. Rebellion, even though it is blind, is a form of asceticism. Therefore, if the rebel blasphemes, it is in the hope of finding a new god. He staggers under the shock of the first and most profound of all religious experiences, but it is a disenchanted religious experience. It is not rebellion itself that is noble, but its aims, even though its achievements are at times ignoble. At least we must know how to recognize the ignoble ends it achieves. Each time that it deifies the total rejection, the absolute negation, of what exists, it destroys. Each time that it blindly accepts what exists and gives voice to absolute assent, it destroys again. Hatred of the ; creator can turn to hatred of creation or to exclusive and defiant love of what exists. But in both cases it ends in murder and loses the right to be called rebellion. One can be nihilist in two ways, in both by having an intemperate recourse to absolutes. Apparently there are rebels who want to die and those who want to cause death. But they are identical, consumed with desire for the true life, frustrated by their desire for existence and therefore preferring generalized injustice to mutilated justice. At this pitch of indignation, reason becomes madness. If it is true that the instinctive rebellion of the human heart advances gradually through the centuries toward its most complete realization, it has also grown, as we have seen, in blind audacity, to the inordinate extent of deciding to answer universal murder by metaphysical assassination. The even if, which we have already recognized as marking the most important moment of metaphysical rebellion, is in any case only fulfilled in absolute destruction. It is not the nobility of rebellion that illuminates the world today, but nihilism. And it is the consequences of nihilism that we must retrace, without losing sight of the truth innate in its origins. Even if God existed, Ivan would never surrender to Him in the face of the injustice done to man. But a longer contemplation of this injustice, a more bitter approach, transformed the "even if you exist" into "you do not deserve to exist," therefore "you do not exist." The victims have found in their own innocence the justification for the final crime. Convinced of their condemnation and without hope of immortality, they decided to murder God. If it is false to say that from that day began the tragedy of contemporary man, neither is it true to say that there was where it ended. On the contrary, this attempt indicates the highest point in a drama that began with the end of the ancient world and of which the final words have not yet been spoken. From this moment, man decides to exclude himself from grace and to live by his own means. Progress, from the time of Sade up to the present day, has consisted in gradually enlarging the stronghold where, according to his own rules, man without God brutally wields power. In defiance of the divinity, the frontiers of this stronghold have been gradually extended, to the point of making the entire universe into a fortress erected against the fallen and exiled deity. Man, at the culmination of his rebellion, incarcerated himself; from Sade's lurid castle to the concentration camps, man's greatest liberty consisted only in building the prison of his crimes. But the state of siege gradually spreads, the demand for freedom wants to embrace all mankind. Then the only kingdom that is opposed to the kingdom of grace must be founded ?namely, the kingdom of justice?and the human community must be reunited among the debris of the fallen City of God. To kill God and to build a Church are the constant and contradictory purpose of rebellion. Absolute freedom finally becomes a prison of absolute duties, a collective asceticism, a story to be brought to an end. The nineteenth century, which is the century of rebellion, thus merges into the twentieth, the century of justice and ethics, in which everyone indulges in self-recrimination. Chamfort, the moralist of rebellion, had already provided the formula: "One must be just before being generous, as one must have bread before having cake." Thus the ethic of luxury will be renounced in favor of the bitter morality of the empire-builders. We must now embark on the subject of this convulsive effort to control the world and to introduce a universal rule. We have arrived at the moment when rebellion, rejecting every aspect of servitude, attempts to annex all creation. Every time it experiences a setback, we have already seen that the political solution, the solution of conquest, is formulated. Henceforth, with the introduction of moral nihilism, it will retain, of all its acquisitions, only the will to power. In principle, the rebel only wanted to conquer his own existence and to maintain it in the face of God. But he forgets his origins and, by the law of spiritual imperialism, he sets out in search of world conquest by way of an infinitely multiplied series of murders. He drove God from His heaven, but now that the spirit of metaphysical rebellion openly joins forces with revolutionary movements, the irrational claim for freedom paradoxically adopts reason as a weapon, and as the only means of conquest which appears entirely human. With the death of God, mankind remains; and by this we mean the history that we must understand and shape. Nihilism, which, in the very midst of rebellion, smothers the force of creation, only adds that one is justified in using every means at one's disposal. Man, on an earth that he knows is henceforth solitary, is going to add, to irrational crimes, the crimes of reason that are bent on the triumph of man. To the "I rebel, therefore we exist," he adds, with prodigious plans in mind which even include the death of rebellion: "And we are alone." Part Three Historical Rebellion Freedom, "that terrible word inscribed on the chariot of the storm," 1 is the motivating principle of all revolutions. Without it, justice seems inconceivable to the rebel's mind. There comes a time, however, when justice demands the suspension of freedom. Then terror, on a grand or small scale, makes its appearance to consummate the revolution. Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. But one day nostalgia takes up arms and assumes the responsibility of total guilt; in other words, adopts murder and violence. The servile rebellions, the regicide revolutions, and those of the twentieth century have thus, consciously, accepted a burden of guilt which increased in proportion to the degree of liberation they proposed to introduce. This contradiction, which has become only too obvious, prevents our contemporary revolutionaries from displaying that aspect of happiness and optimism which shone forth from the faces and the speeches of the members of the Constituent Assembly in 1789. Is this contradiction inevitable? Does it characterize or betray the value of rebellion? These questions are bound to arise about revolution as they are bound to arise about metaphysical rebellion. Actually, revolution is only the logical consequence of metaphysical rebellion, and we shall discover, in our analysis of the revolutionary movement, the same desperate and bloody effort to affirm the dignity of man in defiance of the things that deny its existence. The revolutionary spirit thus undertakes the defense of that part of man which refuses to submit. In other words, it tries to assure him 1 Philothee O'Neddy. his crown in the realm of time, and, rejecting God, it chooses history with an apparently inevitable logic. In theory, the word revolution retains the meaning that it has in astronomy. It is a movement that describes a complete circle, that leads from one form of government to another after a complete transition. A change of regulations concerning property without a corresponding change of government is not a revolution, but a reform. There is no kind of economic revolution, whether its methods are violent or pacific, which is not, at the same time, manifestly political. Revolution can already be distinguished, in this way, from rebellion. The warning given to Louis XVI: "No, sire, this is not a rebellion, it is a revolution," accents the essential difference. It means precisely that "it is the absolute certainty of a new form of government." Rebellion is, by nature, limited in scope. It is no more than an incoherent pronouncement. Revolution, on the contrary, originates in the realm of ideas. Specifically, it is the injection of ideas into historical experience, while rebellion is only the movement that leads from individual experience into the realm of ideas. While even the collective history of a movement of rebellion is always that of a fruitless struggle with facts, of an obscure protest which involves neither methods nor reasons, a revolution is an attempt to shape actions to ideas, to fit the world into a theoretic frame. That is why rebellion kills men while revolution destroys both men and principles. But, for the same reasons, it can be said that there has not yet been a revolution in the course of history. There could only be one, and that would be the definitive revolution. The movement that seems to complete the circle already begins to describe another at the precise moment when the new government is formed. The anarchists, with Varlet as their leader, were made well aware of the fact that government and revolution are incompatible in the direct sense. "It implies a contradiction," says Proud-hon, "that a government could ever be revolutionary, for the very simple reason that it is the government." Now that the experiment has been made, let us qualify that statement by adding that a government can be revolutionary only in opposition to other governments. Revolutionary governments are obliged, most of the time, to be war governments. The more extensive the revolution, the more considerable the chances of the war that it implies. The society born of the revolution of 1789 wanted to fight for Europe. The society born of the 1917 revolution is fighting for universal dominion. Total revolution ends by demanding?we shall see why?the control of the world. While waiting for this to happen, if happen it must, the history of man, in one sense, is the sum total of his successive rebellions. In other words, the movement of transition which can be clearly expressed in terms of space is only an approximation in terms of time. What was devoutly called, in the nineteenth century, the progressive emancipation of the human race appears, from the outside, like an uninterrupted series of rebellions, which overreach themselves and try to find their formulation in ideas, but which have not yet reached the point of definitive revolution where everything in heaven and on earth would be stabilized. A superficial examination seems to imply, rather than any real emancipation, an affirmation of mankind by man, an affirmation increasingly broad in scope, but always incomplete. In fact, if there had ever been one real revolution, there would be no more history. Unity would have been achieved, and death would have been satiated. That is why all revolutionaries finally aspire to world unity and act as though they believed that history was concluded. The originality of twentieth-century revolution lies in the fact that, for the first time, it openly claims to realize the ancient dream of Anarchasis Cloots of unity of the human race and, at the same time, the definitive consummation of history. Just as the movement of rebellion led to the point of "All or Nothing" and just as metaphysical rebellion demanded the unity of the world, the twentieth-century revolutionary movement, when it arrived at the most obvious conclusions of its logic, insisted with threats of force on arrogating to itself the whole of history. Rebellion is therefore compelled, on pain of appearing futile or out of date to become revolutionary. It no longer suffices for the rebel to deify himself like Stirner or to look to his own salvation by adopting a certain attitude of mind. The species must be deified, as Nietzsche attempted to do, and his ideal of the superman must be adopted so as to assure salvation for all?as Ivan Karamazov wanted. For the first time, the Possessed appear on the scene and proceed to give the answer to one of the secrets of the times: the identity of reason and of the will to power. Now that God is dead, the world must be changed and organized by the forces at man's disposal. The force of imprecation alone is not enough; weapons are needed and totality must be conquered. Even revolution, particularly revolution, which claims to be materialist, is only a limitless metaphysical crusade. But can totality claim to be unity? That is the question which this book must answer. So far we can only say that the purpose of this analysis is not to give, for the hundredth time, a description of the revolutionary phenomenon, nor once more to examine the historic or economic causes of great revolutions. Its purpose is to discover in certain revolutionary data the logical sequence, the explanations, and the invariable themes of metaphysical rebellion. The majority of revolutions are shaped by, and derive their originality from, murder. All, or almost all, have been homicidal. But some, in addition, have practiced regicide and deicide. Just as the history of metaphysical rebellion began with Sade, so our real inquiry only begins with his contemporaries, the regicides, who attack the incarnation of divinity without yet daring to destroy the principle of eternity. (But before this the history of mankind also demonstrates the equivalent of the first movement of rebellion?the rebellion of the slave.) When a slave rebels against his master, the situation presented is of one man pitted against another, under a cruel sky, far from the exalted realms of principles. The final result is merely the murder of a man. The servile rebellions, peasant risings, beggar outbreaks, rustic revolts, all advance the concept of a principle of equality, a life for a life, which despite every kind of mystification and audacity will always be found in the purest manifestations of the revolutionary spirit?Russian terrorism in 1905, for example. Spartacus' rebellion, which took place as the ancient world was coming to an end, a few decades before the Christian era, is an excellent illustration of this point. First we note that this is a rebellion of gladiators?that is to say, of slaves consecrated to single combat and condemned, for the delectation of their masters, to kill or be killed. Beginning with seventy men, this rebellion ended with an army of seventy thousand insurgents, which crushed the best Roman legions and advanced through Italy to march on the Eternal City itself. However, as Andre Prudhommeaux remarks (in The Tragedy of Spartacus), this rebellion introduced no new principle into Roman life. The proclamation issued by Spartacus goes no farther than to offer "equal rights" to the slaves. The transition from fact to right, which we analyzed in the first stage of rebellion, is, indeed, the only logical acquisition that one can find on this level of rebellion. The insurgent rejects slavery and affirms his equality with his master. He wants to be master in his turn. Spartacus' rebellion is a continual illustration of this principle of positive claims. The slave army liberates the slaves and immediately hands over their former masters to them in bondage. According to one tradition, of doubtful veracity it is true, gladiatorial combats were even organized between several hundred Roman citizens, while the slaves sat in the grandstands delirious with joy and excitement. But to kill men leads to nothing but killing more men. For one principle to triumph, another principle must be overthrown. The city of light of which Spartacus dreamed could only have been built on the ruins of eternal Rome, of its institutions and of its gods. Spartacus' army marches to lay siege to a Rome paralyzed with fear at the prospect of having to pay for its crimes. At the decisive moment, however, within sight of the sacred walls, the army halts and wavers, as if it were retreating before the principles, the institutions, the city of the gods. When these had been destroyed, what could be put in their place except the brutal desire for justice, the wounded and exacerbated love that until this moment had kept these wretches on their feet.2 In any case, the army retreated without having 2 Spartacus' rebellion recapitulates the program of the servile rebellions that preceded it. But this program is limited to the distribution of land and the abolition of slavery. It is not directly concerned with the gods of the city. fought, and then made the curious move of deciding to return to the place where the slave rebellion originated, to retrace the long road of its victories and to return to Sicily. It was as though these outcasts, forever alone and helpless before the great tasks that awaited them and too daunted to assail the heavens, returned to what was purest and most heartening in their history, to the land of their first awakening, where it was easy and right to die. Then began their defeat and martyrdom. Before the last battle, Spartacus crucified a Roman citizen to show his men the fate that was in store for them. During the battle, Spartacus himself tried with frenzied determination, the symbolism of which is obvious, to reach Crassus, who was commanding the Roman legions. He wanted to perish, but in single combat with the man who symbolized, at that moment, every Roman master; it was his dearest wish to die, but in absolute equality. He did not reach Crassus: principles wage war at a distance and the Roman general kept himself apart. Spartacus died, as he wished, but at the hands of mercenaries, slaves like himself, who killed their own freedom with his. In revenge for the one crucified citizen, Crassus crucified thousands of slaves. The six thousand crosses which, after such a just rebellion, staked out the road from Capua to Rome demonstrated to the servile crowd that there is no equality in the world of power and that the masters calculate, at a usurious rate, the price of their own blood. The cross is also Christ's punishment. One might imagine that He chose a slave's punishment, a few years later, only so as to reduce the enormous distance that henceforth would separate humiliated humanity from the implacable face of the Master. He intercedes, He submits to the most extreme injustice so that rebellion shall not divide the world in two, so that suffering will also light the way to heaven and preserve it from the curses of mankind. What is astonishing in the fact that the revolutionary spirit, when it wanted to affirm the separation of heaven and earth, should begin by disembodying the divinity by killing His representatives on earth? In certain aspects, the period of rebellions comes to an end in 1793 and revolutionary times begin?on a scaffold.3 3 In that this book is not concerned with the spirit of rebellion inside Christianity, the Reformation has no place here, nor the numerous rebellions against ecclesiastical authority which preceded it. But we can say, at least, that the Reformation prepares the way for Jacobinism and in one sense initiates the reforms that 1789 carries out. The Regicides Kings were put to death long before January 21, 1793, and before the regicides of the nineteenth century. But Ravaillac, Damiens, and their followers were interested in attacking the person, not the principle, of the king. They wanted another king and that was all. It never occurred to them that the throne could remain empty forever. 1789 is the starting-point of modern times, because the men of that period wished, among other things, to overthrow the principle of divine right and to introduce to the historical scene the forces of negation and rebellion which had become the essence of intellectual discussion in the previous centuries. Thus they added to traditional tyrannicide the concept of calculated deicide. The so-called freethinkers, the philosophers and jurists, served as levers for this revolution.1 In order for such an undertaking to enter into the realms of possibility and to be considered legitimate, it was first necessary for the Church, whose infinite responsibility it is, to place itself on the side of the masters by compromising with the executioner?a step that developed into the Inquisition and was perpetuated by complicity with the temporal powers. Michelet is quite correct in wanting to recognize only two outstanding characters in the revolutionary saga: Christianity and the French Revolution. In fact, for him, 1789 is explained by the struggle between divine grace and justice. Although Michelet shared the taste for all-embracing abstractions 1 The kings themselves collaborated in this by allowing political power gradually to encroach on religious power, thus threatening the very principle of their legitimacy. with his intemperate period, he saw that this taste was one of the profound causes of the revolutionary crisis. Even if the monarchy of the ancien regime was not always arbitrary in its manner of governing, it was undoubtedly arbitrary in principle. It was founded on divine right, which means that its legitimacy could never be questioned. Its legitimacy often was questioned, however, in particular by various parliaments. But those who exercised it considered and presented it as an axiom. Louis XIV, as is well known, rigidly adhered to the principle of divine right.2 Bossuet gave him considerable help in this direction by saying to the kings of France: "You are gods." The king, in one of his aspects, is the divine emissary in charge of human affairs and therefore of the administration of justice. Like God Himself, he is the last recourse of the victims of misery and injustice. In principle, the people can appeal to the king for help against their op-pressors. "If the King only knew, if the Czar only knew..." was the frequently expressed sentiment of the French and Russian people during periods of great distress. It is true in France, at least, that, when the monarchy did know, it often tried to defend the lower classes against the oppressions of the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie. But was this, essentially, justice? From the absolute point of view, which was the point of view of the writers of the period, it was not. Even though it is possible to appeal to the king, it is impossible to appeal against him in so far as he is the embodiment of a principle. He dispenses his protection and his assistance if and when he wants to. One of the attributes of grace is that it is discretionary. Monarchy in its theocratic form is a type of government which wants to put grace before justice by always letting it have the last word. Rousseau in his Savoyard curate's declaration, on the other hand, is only original in so far as he submits God to justice and in this way inaugurates, with the rather naive solemnity of the period, contemporary history. From the moment that the freethinkers began to question the existence of God, the problem of justice 2 Charles I clung so tenaciously to the principle of divine right that he considered it unnecessary to be just and loyal to those who denied it. became of primary importance. The justice of the period was, quite simply, confused with equality. The throne of God totters and justice, to confirm its support of equality, must give it the final push by making a direct attack on His representative on earth. Divine right to all intents and purposes was already destroyed by being opposed and forced to compromise with natural right for three years, from 1789 to 1792. In the last resort, grace is incapable of compromise. It can give in on certain points, but never on the final point. But that does not suffice. According to Michelet, Louis XVI still wanted to be king in prison. In a France entirely governed by new principles, the principle that had been defeated still survived behind prison walls through the mere power of faith and through the existence of one human being. Justice has this in common with grace, and this alone, that it wants to be total and to rule absolutely. From the moment they conflict, they fight to the death. "We do not want to condemn the King," said Danton, who had not even the good manners of a lawyer, "we want to kill him." In fact, if God is denied, the King must die. Saint-Just, it seems, was responsible for Louis XVI's death; but when he exclaims: "To-determine the principle in virtue of which the accused is perhaps to die, is to determine the principle by which the society that judges him lives," he demonstrates that it is the philosophers who are going to kill the King: the King must die in the name of the social contract.3 But this demands an explanation. The New Gospel The Social Contract is, primarily, an inquiry into the legitimacy of power. But it is a book about rights, not about facts, and at no time is it a collection of sociological observations. It is concerned with principles and for this very reason is bound to be controversial. It presumes that traditional legitimacy, which is supposedly of divine origin, 3 Rousseau would not, of course, have wanted this. It must be remembered, before proceeding with this analysis and in order to set its limits, that Rousseau firmly declared: "Nothing on this earth is worth buying at the price of human blood." is not acquired. Thus it proclaims another sort of legitimacy and other principles. The Social Contract is also a catechism, of which it has both the tone and the dogmatic language. Just as 1789 completes the conquests of the English and American revolutions, so Rousseau pushes to its limits the theory of the social contract to be found in Hobbes. The Social Contract amplifies and dogmatically explains the new religion whose god is reason, confused with nature, and whose representative on earth, in place of the king, is the people considered as an expression of the general will. The attack on the traditional order is so evident that, from the very first chapter, Rousseau is determined to demonstrate the precedence of the citizens' pact, which established the people, over the pact between the people and the king, which founded royalty. Until Rousseau's time, God created kings, who, in their turn, created peoples. After The Social Contract, peoples create themselves before creating kings. As for God, there is nothing more to be said, for the time being. Here we have, in the political field, the equivalent of Newton's revolution. Power, therefore, is no longer arbitrary, but derives its existence from general consent. In other words, power is no longer what is, but what should be. Fortunately, according to Rousseau, what is cannot be separated from what should be. The people are sovereign "only because they are always everything that they should be." Confronted with this statement of principle, it is perfectly justifiable to say that reason, which was always obstinately invoked at that period, is not particularly well treated in the context. It is evident that, with The Social Contract, we are assisting at the birth of a new mystique?the will of the people being substituted for God Himself. "Each of us," says Rousseau, "places his person and his entire capabilities under the supreme guidance of the will of the people, and we receive each individual member into the body as an indivisible part of the whole." This political entity, proclaimed sovereign, is also defined as a divine entity. Moreover, it has all the attributes of a divine entity. It is, in fact, infallible in that, in its role of sovereign, it cannot even wish to commit abuses. "Under the law of reason, nothing is done without cause." It is totally free, if it is true that absolute freedom is freedom in regard to oneself. Thus Rousseau declares that it is against the nature of the body politic for the sovereign power to impose a law upon itself that it cannot violate. It is also inalienable, indivisible; and, finally, it even aims at solving the great theological problem, the contradiction between absolute power and divine innocence. The will of the people is, in fact, coercive; its power has no limits. But the punishment it inflicts on those who refuse to obey it is nothing more than a means of "compelling them to be free." The deification is completed when Rousseau, separating the sovereign from his very origins, reaches the point of distinguishing between the general will and the will of all. This can be logically deduced from Rousseau's premises. If man is naturally good, if nature as expressed in him is identified with reason,4 he will express the preeminence of reason, on the one condition that he expresses himself freely and naturally. He can no longer, therefore, go back on his decision, which henceforth hovers over him. The will of the people is primarily the expression of universal reason, which is categorical. The new God is born. That is why the words that are to be found most often in The Social Contract are the words absolute, sacred, inviolable. The body politic thus defined, whose laws are sacred commandments, is only a by-product of the mystic body of temporal Christianity. The Social Contract, moreover, terminates with a description of a civil religion and makes of Rousseau a harbinger of contemporary forms of society which exclude not only opposition but even neutrality. Rousseau is, in fact, the first man in modern times to institute the profession of civil faith. He is also the first to justify the death penalty in a civil society and the absolute submission of the subject to the authority of the sovereign. "It is in order not to become victim of an assassin that we consent to die if we become assassins." A strange justification, but one which firmly establishes the fact that you must know how to die if the sovereign commands, and must, if necessary, concede that he is right and you are wrong. This mystic idea explains Saint-Just's silence from the time of his arrest until he goes to the 4 Every ideology is contrary to human psychology. scaffold. Suitably developed, it equally well explains the enthusiasm of the defendants in the Moscow trials. We are witnessing the dawn of a new religion with its martyrs, its ascetics, and its saints. To be able to estimate the influence achieved by this gospel, one must have some idea of the inspired tones of the proclamations of 1789. Fauchet, confronted with the skeletons discovered in the Bastille, exclaims: "The day of revelation is upon us.... The very bones have risen at the sound of the voice of French freedom; they bear witness against the centuries of oppression and death, and prophesy the regeneration of human nature and of the life of nations." Then he predicts: "We have reached the heart of time. The tyrants are ready to fall." It is the moment of astonished and generous faith when a remarkably enlightened mob overthrows the scaffold and the wheel at Versailles.5 Scaffolds seemed to be the very altars of religion and injustice. The new faith could not tolerate them. But a moment comes when faith, if it becomes dogmatic, erects its own altars and demands unconditional adoration. Then scaffolds reappear and despite the altars, the freedom, the oaths, and the feasts of Reason, the Masses of the new faith must now be celebrated with blood. In any case, in order that 1789 shall mark the beginning of the reign of "holy humanity"6 and of "Our Lord the human race," 7 the fallen sovereign must first of all disappear. The murder of the King-priest will sanction the new age?which endures to this day. The Execution of the King Saint-Just introduced Rousseau's ideas into the pages of history. At the King's trial, the essential part of his arguments consisted in saying that the King is not inviolable and should be judged by the Assembly and not by 5 The same idyl takes place in Russia, in 1905, where the soviet of St. Petersburg parades through the streets carrying placards demanding the abolition of the death penalty, and again in 1917. 6 Vergniaud. 7 Anarchasis Cloots. a special tribunal. His arguments he owed to Rousseau. A tribunal cannot be the judge between the king and the sovereign people. The general will cannot be cited before ordinary judges. It is above everything. The inviolability and the transcendence of the general will are thus proclaimed. We know that the predominant theme of the trial was the inviolability of the royal person. The struggle between grace and justice finds its most provocative illustration in 1793 when two different conceptions of transcendence meet in mortal combat. Moreover, Saint-Just is perfectly aware of how very much is at stake: "The spirit in which the King is judged will be the same as the spirit in which the Republic is established." Saint-Just's famous speech has, therefore, all the earmarks of a theological treatise. "Louis, the stranger in our midst," is the thesis of this youthful prosecutor. If a contract, either civil or natural, could still bind the king and his people, there would be a mutual obligation; the will of the people could not set itself up as absolute judge to pronounce absolute judgment. Therefore it is necessary to prove that no agreement binds the people and the king. In order to prove that the people are themselves the embodiment of eternal truth it is necessary to demonstrate that royalty is the embodiment of eternal crime. Saint-Just, therefore, postulates that every king is a rebel or a usurper. He is a rebel against the people whose absolute sovereignty he usurps. Monarchy is not a king, "it is crime." Not a crime, but crime itself, says Saint-Just; in other words, absolute profanation. That is the precise, and at the same time ultimate, meaning of Saint-Just's remark, the import of which has been stretched too far:8 "No one can rule innocently." Every king is guilty, because any man who wants to be king is automatically on the side of death. Saint-Just says exactly the same thing when he proceeds to demonstrate that the sovereignty of the people is a "sacred matter." Citizens are inviolable and sacred and can be constrained only by the law, which is an expression of their common will. Louis alone does not benefit by this particular inviolability or by the assistance of the 8 Or at least the significance of which has been anticipated. When Saint-Just made this remark, he did not know that he was already speaking for himself. law, for he is placed outside the contract. He is not part of the general will; on the contrary, by his very existence he is a blasphemer against this all-powerful will. He is not a "citizen," which is the only way of participating in the new divine dispensation. "What is a king in comparison with a Frenchman?" Therefore, he should be judged and nothing more. But who will interpret the will of the people and pronounce judgment? The Assembly, which by its origin has retained the right to administer this will, and which participates as an inspired council in the new divinity. Should the people be asked to ratify the judgment? We know that the efforts of the monarchists in the Assembly were finally concentrated on this point. In this way the life of the King could be rescued from the logic of the bourgeois jurists and at least entrusted to the spontaneous emotions and compassion of the people. But here again Saint-Just pushes his logic to its extremes and makes use of the conflict, invented by Rousseau, between the general will and the will of all. Even though the will of all would pardon, the general will cannot do so. Even the people cannot efface the crime of tyranny. Cannot the victims, according to law, withdraw their complaint? We are not dealing with law, we are dealing with theology. The crime of the king is, at the same time, a sin against the ultimate nature of things. A crime is committed; then it is pardoned, punished, or forgotten. But the crime of royalty is permanent; it is inextricably bound to the person of the king, to his very existence. Christ Himself, though He can forgive sinners, cannot absolve false gods. They must disappear or conquer. If the people forgive today, they will find the crime intact tomorrow, even though the criminal sleeps peacefully in prison. Therefore there is only one solution: "To avenge the murder of the people by the death of the King." The only purpose of Saint-Just's speech is, once and for all, to block every egress for the King except the one leading to the scaffold. If, in fact, the premises of The Social Contract are accepted, this is logically inevitable. At last, after Saint-Just, "kings will flee to the desert, and nature will resume her rights." It was quite pointless of the Convention to vote a reservation and say that it did not intend to create a precedent if it passed judgment on Louis XVI or if it pronounced a security measure. In doing so, it refused to face the consequences of its own principles and tried to camouflage, with shocking hypocrisy, its real purpose, which was to found a new form of absolutism. Jacques Roux, at least, was speaking the truth of the times when he called the King Louis the Last, thus indicating that the real revolution, which had already been accomplished on the economic level, was then taking place on the philosophic plane and that it implied a twilight of the gods. Theocracy was attacked in principle in 1789 and killed in its incarnation in 1793. Brissot was right in saying: "The most solid monument to our revolution is philosophy." 9 On January 21, with the murder of the King-priest, was consummated what has significantly been called the passion of Louis XVI. It is certainly a crying scandal that the public assassination of a weak but goodhearted man has been presented as a great moment in French history. That scaffold marked no climax?far from it. But the fact remains that, by its consequences, the condemnation of the King is at the crux of our contemporary history. It symbolizes the secularization of our history and the disincarna-tion of the Christian God. Up to now God played a part in history through the medium of the kings. But His representative in history has been killed, for there is no longer a king. Therefore there is nothing but a semblance of God, relegated to the heaven of principles.1 The revolutionaries may well refer to the Gospel, but in fact they dealt a terrible blow to Christianity, from which it has not yet recovered. It really seems as if the execution of the King, followed, as we know, by hysterical scenes of suicide and madness, took place in complete awareness of what was being done. Louis XVI seems, sometimes, to have doubted his divine right, though he systematically rejected any projected legislation which threatened his faith. But from the moment that he suspected or knew his fate, he seemed to identify himself, as his language betrayed, with his divine mission, so that 9 The religious Wars of the Vendee showed him to be right again. 1 This will become the god of Kant, Jacobi, and Fichte. there would be no possible doubt that the attempt on his person was aimed at the King-Christ, the incarnation of the divinity, and not at the craven flesh of a mere man. His bedside book in the Temple was the Imitation. The calmness and perfection that this man of rather average sensibility displayed during his last moments, his indifference to everything of this world, and, finally, his brief display of weakness on the solitary scaffold, so far removed from the people whose ears he had wanted to reach, while the terrible rolling of the drum drowned his voice, give us the right to imagine that it was not Capet who died, but Louis appointed by divine right, and that with him, in a certain manner, died temporal Christianity. To emphasize this sacred bond, his confessor sustained him, in his moment of weakness, by reminding him of his "resemblance" to the God of Sorrows. And Louis XVI recovers himself and speaks in the language of this God: "I shall drink," he says, "the cup to the last dregs." Then he commits himself, trembling, into the ignoble hands of the executioner. The Religion of Virtue A religion that executes its obsolete sovereign must now establish the power of its new sovereign; it closes the churches, and this leads to an endeavor to build a temple. The blood of the gods, which for a second bespatters the confessor of Louis XVI, announces a new baptism. Joseph de Maistre qualified the Revolution as satanic. We can see why and in what sense. Michelet, however, was closer to the truth when he called it a purgatory. An era blindly embarks down this tunnel on an attempt to discover a new illumination, a new happiness, and the face of the real God. But what will this new god be? Let us ask Saint-Just once more. The year 1789 does not yet affirm the divinity of man, but the divinity of the people, to the degree in which the will of the people coincides with the will of nature and of reason. If the general will is freely expressed, it can only be the universal expression of reason. If the people are free, they are infallible. Once the King is dead, and the chains of the old despotism thrown off, the people are going to express what, at all times and in all places, is, has been, and will be the truth. They are the oracle that must be consulted to know what the eternal order of the world demands. Vox populi, vox naturae. Eternal principles govern our conduct: Truth, Justice, finally Reason. There we have the new God. The Supreme Being, whom cohorts of young girls come to adore at the Feast of Reason, is only the ancient god disembodied, peremptorily deprived of any connection with the earth, and launched like a balloon into a heaven empty of all transcendent principles. Deprived of all his representatives, of any intercessor, the god of the lawyers and philosophers only has the value of a demonstration. He is not very strong, in fact, and we can see why Rousseau, who preached tolerance, thought that atheists should be condemned to death. To ensure the adoration of a theorem for any length of time, faith is not enough; a police force is needed as well. But that will only come later. In 1793 the new faith is still intact, and it will suffice, to take Saint-Just's word, to govern according to the dictates of reason. The art of ruling, according to him, has produced only monsters because, before his time, no one wished to govern according to nature. The period of monsters has come to an end with the termination of the period of violence. "The human heart advances from nature to violence, from violence to morality." Morality is, therefore, only nature finally restored after centuries of alienation. Man only has to be given law "in accord with nature and with his heart," and he will cease to be unhappy and corrupt. Universal suffrage, the foundation of the new laws, must inevitably lead to a universal morality. "Our aim is to create an order of things which establishes a universal tendency toward good." The religion of reason quite naturally establishes the Republic of law and order. The general will is expressed in laws codified by its representatives. "The people make the revolution, the legislator makes the Republic." "Immortal, impassive" institutions, "sheltered from the temerity of man," will govern in their turn the lives of all men by universal accord and without possibility of contradiction since by obeying the laws all will only be obeying them- selves. "Outside the law," says Saint-Just, "everything is sterile and dead." It is the formal and legalistic Republic of the Romans. We know the passion of Saint-Just and his contemporaries for ancient Rome. The decadent young man who, in Reims, spent hours in a room painted black and decorated with white teardrops, with the shutters closed, dreamed of the Spartan Republic. The author of Organt, a long and licentious poem, was absolutely convinced of the necessity for frugality and virtue. In the institutions that he invented, Saint-Just refused to allow children to eat meat until the age of sixteen, and he dreamed of a nation that was both vegetarian and revolutionary. "The world has been empty since the Romans," he exclaimed. But heroic times were at hand. Cato, Brutus, Scaevola, had become possible once more. The rhetoric of the Latin moralists flourished once again. Vice, virtue, corruption, were terms that constantly recurred in the oratory of the times, and even more in the speeches of Saint-Just, of which they were the perpetual burden. The reason for this is simple. This perfect edifice, as Montesquieu had already seen, could not exist without virtue. The French Revolution, by claiming to build history on the principle of absolute purity, inaugurates modern times simultaneously with the era of formal morality. What, in fact, is virtue? For the bourgeois philosopher of the period it is conformity with nature2 and, in politics, conformity with the law, which expresses the general will. "Morality," says Saint-Just, "is stronger than tyrants." It has, in fact, just killed Louis XVI. Every form of disobedience to law therefore comes, not from an imperfection in the law, which is presumed to be impossible, but from a lack of virtue in the refractory citizen. That is why the Republic not only is an assembly, as Saint-Just forcibly says, but is also virtue itself. Every form of moral corruption is at the same time political corruption, and vice versa. A principle of infinite repression, derived from this very doctrine, is then established. Undoubtedly Saint-Just was sincere in his desire for a universal idyl. He really dreamed of a republic of ascetics, of humanity reconciled 2 But nature itself, as we encounter it in the works of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, conforms to a pre-established virtue. Nature is also an abstract principle. and dedicated to the chaste pursuits of the age of innocence, under the watchful eye of those wise old men whom he decked out in advance with a tricolor scarf and a white plume. We also know that, at the beginning of the Revolution, Saint-Just declared himself, at the same time as Robespierre, against the death penalty. He only demanded that murderers should be dressed in black for the rest of their lives. He wanted to establish a form of justice which did not attempt "to find the culprit guilty, but to find him weak"?an admirable ambition. He also dreamed of a republic of forgiveness which would recognize that though the fruits of crime are bitter, its roots are nevertheless tender. One of his outbursts, at least, came from the heart and is not easily forgotten: "it is a frightful thing to torment the people." Yes indeed, it is a frightful thing. But a man can realize this and yet submit to principles that imply, in the final analysis, the torment of the people. Morality, when it is formal, devours. To paraphrase Saint-Just, no one is virtuous innocently. From the moment that laws fail to make harmony reign, or when the unity which should be created by adherence to principles is destroyed, who is to blame? Factions. Who compose the factions? Those who deny by their very actions the necessity of unity. Factions divide the sovereign; therefore they are blasphemous and criminal. They, and they alone, must be combated. But what if there are many factions? All shall be fought to the death. Saint-Just exclaims: "Either the virtues or the Terror." Freedom must be guaranteed, and the draft constitution presented to the Convention already mentions the death penalty. Absolute virtue is impossible, and the republic of forgiveness leads, with implacable logic, to the republic of the guillotine. Montesquieu had already denounced this logic as one of the causes of the decadence of societies, saying that the abuse of power is greatest when laws do not anticipate it. The pure law of Saint- Just did not take into account the truth, which is as old as history itself, that law, in its essence, is bound to be transgressed. The Terror Saint-Just, the contemporary of Sade, finally arrives at the justification of crime, though he starts from very different principles. Saint-Just is, of course, the anti-Sade. If Sade's formula were "Open the prisons or prove your virtue," then Saint-Just's would be: "Prove your virtue or go to prison." Both, however, justify terrorism?the libertine justifies individual terrorism, the high priest of virtue State terrorism. Absolute good and absolute evil, if the necessary logic is applied, both demand the same degree of passion. Of course, there is a certain ambiguity in the case of Saint-Just. The letter which he wrote to Vilain d'Aubigny in 1792 has something really insane about it. It is a profession of faith by a persecuted persecutor which ends with a hysterical avowal: "If Brutus does not kill others, he will kill himself." A personality so obstinately serious, so voluntarily cold, logical, and imperturbable, leads one to imagine every kind of aberration and disorder. Saint-Just invented the kind of seriousness which makes the history of the last two centuries so tedious and depressing. "He who makes jokes as the head of a government," he said, "has a tendency to tyranny." An astonishing maxim, above all if one thinks of the penalty for the mere accusation of tyranny, one which, in any case, prepared the way for the pedant Caesars. Saint-Just sets the example; even his tone is definitive. That cascade of peremptory affirmatives, that axiomatic and sententious style, portrays him better than the most faithful painting. His sentences drone on; his definitions follow one another with the coldness and precision of commandments. "Principles should be moderate, laws implacable, principles without redress." It is the style of the guillotine. Such pertinacity in logic, however, implies a profound passion. Here, as elsewhere, we again find the passion for unity. Every rebellion implies some kind of unity. The rebellion of 1789 demands the unity of the whole country. Saint-Just dreams of an ideal city where manners and customs, in final agreement with the law, will proclaim the innocence of man and the identity of his nature with reason. And if factions arise to interrupt this dream, passion will exaggerate its logic. No one will dare to imagine that, since factions exist, the principles are perhaps wrong. Factions will be condemned as criminal because principles remain intangible. "It is time that everyone returned to morality and the aristocracy to the Terror." But the aristocratic factions are not the only ones to be reckoned with; there are the republicans, too, and anyone else who criticizes the actions of the legislature and of the Convention. They, too, are guilty, since they threaten unity. Saint-Just, then, proclaims the major principle of twentieth-century tyrannies. "A patriot is he who supports the Republic in general; whoever opposes it in detail is a traitor." Whoever criticizes it is a traitor, whoever fails to give open support is a suspect. When neither reason nor the free expression of individual opinion succeeds in systematically establishing unity, it must be decided to suppress all alien elements. Thus the guillotine becomes a logician whose function is refutation. "A rogue who has been condemned to death by the tribunal says he wants to resist oppression simply because he wants to resist the scaffold!" Saint-Just's indignation is hard to understand in that, until his time, the scaffold was precisely nothing else but one of the most obvious symbols of oppression. But at the heart of this logical delirium, at the logical conclusion of this morality of virtue, the scaffold represents freedom. It assures rational unity, and harmony in the ideal city. It purifies (the word is apt) the Republic and eliminates malpractices that arise to contradict the general will and universal reason. "They question my right to the title of philanthropist," Marat exclaims, in quite a different style. "Ah, what injustice! Who cannot see that I want to cut off a few heads to save a great number?" A few?a faction? Naturally?and all historic actions are performed at this price. But Marat, making his final calculations, claimed two hundred and seventy-three thousand heads. But he compromised the therapeutic aspect of the operation by screaming during the massacre: "Brand them with hot irons, cut off their thumbs, tear out their tongues." This philanthropist wrote day and night, in the most monotonous vocabulary imaginable, of the necessity of killing in order to create. He wrote again, by candlelight deep down in his cellar, during the September nights while his henchmen were installing spectators' benches in prison courtyards?men on the right, women on the left?to display to them, as a gracious example of philanthropy, the spectacle of the aristocrats having their heads cut off. Do not let us confuse, even for a moment, the imposing figure of Saint-Just with the sad spectacle of Marat? Rousseau's monkey, as Michelet rightly calls him. But the drama of Saint-Just lies in having at moments joined forces, for superior and much deeper reasons, with Marat. Factions join with factions, and minorities with minorities, and in the end it is not even sure that the scaffold functions in the service of the will of all. But at least Saint-Just will affirm, to the bitter end, that it functions in the service of the general will, since it functions in the service of virtue. "A revolution such as ours is not a trial, but a clap of thunder for the wicked." Good strikes like a thunderbolt, innocence is a flash of lightning?a flash of lightning that brings justice. Even the pleasure-seekers?in fact, they above all ?are counterrevolutionaries. Saint-Just, who said that the idea of happiness was new to Europe (actually it was mainly new for Saint-Just, for whom history stopped at Brutus), remarks that some people have an "appalling idea of what happiness is and confuse it with pleasure." They, too, must be dealt with firmly. Finally, it is no longer a question of majority or minority. Paradise, lost and always coveted by universal innocence, disappears into the distance; on the unhappy earth, racked with the cries of civil and national wars, Saint-Just decrees, against his nature and against his principles, that when the whole country suffers, then all are guilty. The series of reports on the factions abroad, the law of the 22 Prairial, the speech of April 15, 1794 on the necessity of the police, mark the stages of this conversion. The man who with such nobility held that it was infamous to lay down one's arms while there remained, somewhere in the world, one master and one slave, is the same man who had to agree to suspend the Constitution of 1793 and to adopt arbitrary rule. In the speech that he made to defend Robespierre, he rejects fame and posterity and only refers himself to an abstract providence. At the same time, he recognized that virtue, of which he made a religion, has no other reward but history and the present, and that it must, at all costs, lay the foundations of its own reign. He did not like power which he called "cruel and wicked" and which, he said, "advanced toward repression, without any guiding principle." But the guiding principle was virtue and was derived from the people. When the people failed, the guiding principle became obscured and oppression increased. Therefore it was the people who were guilty and not power, which must remain, in principle, innocent. Such an extreme and outrageous contradiction could only be resolved by an even more extreme logic and by the final acceptance of principles in silence and in death. Saint-Just at least remained equal to this demand, and in this way was at last to find his greatness and that independent life in time and space of which he spoke with such emotion. For a long time he had, in fact, had a presentiment that the demands he made implied a total and unreserved sacrifice on his part and had said himself that those who make revolutions in this world?"those who do good"? can sleep only in the tomb. Convinced that his principles, in order to triumph, must culminate in the virtue and happiness of his people, aware, perhaps, that he was asking the impossible, he cut off his own retreat in advance by declaring that he would stab himself in public on the day when he despaired of the people. Nevertheless, he despairs, since he has doubts about the Terror. "The revolution is frozen, every principle has been attenuated; all that remains are red caps worn by intriguers. The exercise of terror has blunted crime as strong drink blunts the palate." Even virtue "unites with crime in times of anarchy." He said that all crime sprang from tyranny, which was the greatest crime of all, and yet, confronted with the unflagging obstinacy of crime, the Revolution itself resorted to tyranny and became criminal. Thus crime cannot be obliterated, nor can factions, nor the despicable desire for enjoyment; the people must be despaired of and subjugated. But neither is it possible to govern innocently. Thus, evil must be either suffered or served, principles must be declared wrong or the people and mankind must be recognized as guilty. Then Saint-Just averts his mysterious and handsome face: "It would be leaving very little to leave a life in which one must be either the accomplice or the silent witness of evil." Brutus, who must kill himself if he does not kill others, begins by killing others. But the others are too many; they cannot all be killed. In that case he must die and demonstrate, yet again, that rebellion, when it gets out of hand, swings from the annihilation of others to the destruction of the self. This task, at any rate, is easy; once again it suffices to follow logic to the bitter end. In his speech in defense of Robespierre, shortly before his death, Saint-Just reaffirms the guiding principle of his actions, which is the very same principle that leads to his condemnation: "I belong to no faction, I shall fight against them all." He accepted then, and in advance, the decision of the general will?in other words, of the Assembly. He agreed to go to his death for love of principle and despite all the realities of the situation, since the opinion of the Assembly could only really be swayed by the eloquence and fanaticism of a faction. But that is beside the point! When principles fail, men have only one way to save them and to preserve their faith, which is to die for them. In the stifling heat of Paris in July, Saint-Just, ostensibly rejecting reality and the world, confesses that he stakes his life on the decision of principles. When this has been said, he seems to have a fleeting perception of another truth, and ends with a restrained denunciation of his colleagues Billaud-Varennes and Collot d'Herbois. "I want them to justify themselves and I want us to become wiser." The style and the guillotine are here suspended for a moment. But virtue, in that it has too much pride, is not wisdom. The guillotine is going to fall again on that head as cold and beautiful as morality itself. From the moment that the Assembly condemns him until the moment when he stretches his neck to the knife, Saint-Just keeps silent. This long silence is more important than his death. He complained that silence reigned around thrones and that is why he wanted to speak so much and so well. But in the end, contemptuous of the tyranny and the enigma of a people who do not conform to pure reason, he resorts to silence himself. His principles do not allow him to accept things as they are; and, things not being what they should be, his principles are therefore fixed, silent, and alone. To abandon oneself to principles is really to die?and to die for an impossible love which is the contrary of love. Saint-Just dies, and, with him, all hope of a new religion. "All the stones are cut to build the structure of freedom," said Saint-Just; "you can build a palace or a tomb of the same stones." The very principles of The Social Contract presided at the erection of the tomb that Napoleon Bonaparte came to seal. Rousseau, who was not wanting in common sense, understood very well that the society envisioned by The Social Contract was suitable only for gods. His successors took him at his word and tried to establish the divinity of man. The red flag?a symbol of martial law and therefore of the executive under the ancien regime?became the revolutionary symbol on August 10, 1792. A significant transfer about which Jaures comments as follows: "It is we the people who are the law.... We are not rebels. The rebels are in the Tuileries." But it is not so easy as that to become God. Even the ancient gods did not die at the first blow, and the revolutions of the nineteenth century were intended to achieve the final liquidation of the principle of divinity. Paris rose to place the King under the rule of the people and to prevent him from restoring an authority of principle. The corpse which the rebels of 1830 dragged through the rooms of the Tuileries and installed on the throne in order to pay it derisory homage has no other significance. The king could still be, at that period, a respected minister, but his authority is now derived from the nation, and his guiding principle is the Charter. He is no longer Majesty. Now that the ancien regime had definitely disappeared in France, the new regime must again, after 1848, reaffirm itself, and the history of the nineteenth century up to 1914 is the history of the restoration of popular sovereignties against ancien regime monarchies; in other words, the history of the principle of nations. This principle finally triumphs in 1919, which witnesses the disappearance of all absolutist monarchies in Europe.3 Everywhere, the sovereignty of the nation is substituted, in law and in fact, 3 With the exception of the Spanish monarchy. But the German Empire collapsed, of which Wilhelm II said that it was "the proof that we Hohenzollerns derive our crown from heaven alone and that it is to heaven alone that we must give an accounting." for the sovereign king. Only then can the consequences of the principles of 1789 be seen. We survivors are the first to be able to judge them clearly. The Jacobins reinforced the eternal moral principles to the extent to which they suppressed the things which, up to then, had supported these principles. As preachers of a gospel, they wanted to base fraternity on the abstract law of the Romans. They substituted the law for divine commandments on the supposition that it must be recognized by all because it was the expression of the general will. The law found its justification in natural virtue and then proceeded to justify natural virtue. But immediately a single faction manifests itself, this reasoning collapses and we perceive that virtue has need of justification in order not to be abstract. In the same way, the bourgeois jurists of the eighteenth century, by burying under the weight of their principles the just and vital conquests of their people, prepared the way for the two contemporary forms of nihilism: individual nihilism and State nihilism. Law can reign, in fact, in so far as it is the law of universal reason.4 But it never is, and it loses its justification if man is not naturally good. A day comes when ideology conflicts with psychology. Then there is no more legitimate power. Thus the law evolves to the point of becoming confused with the legislator and with a new form of arbitrariness. Where turn then? The law has gone completely off its course; and, losing its precision, it becomes more and more inaccurate, to the point of making everything a crime. The law still reigns supreme, but it no longer has any fixed limits. Saint-Just had foreseen that this form of tyranny might be exercised in the name of a silent people. "Ingenious crime will be exalted into a kind of religion and criminals will be in the sacred hierarchy." But this is inevitable. If major principles have no foundation, if the law expresses nothing but a provisional inclination, it is only made in order to be broken or to be imposed. Sade or dictatorship, individual terrorism or State terrorism, both justified by the same absence of justification, are, from the moment that rebellion cuts itself off from its roots * Hegel saw clearly that the philosophy of enlightenment wanted to deliver man from the irrational. Reason reunites mankind while the irrational destroys unity. and abstains from any concrete morality, one of the alternatives of the twentieth century. The revolutionary movement that was born in 1789 could not, however, stop there. God, for the Jacobins, is not completely dead, any more than He was dead for the romantics. They still preserve the Supreme Being. Reason, in a certain way, is still a mediator. It implies a pre-existent order. But God is at least dematerialized and reduced to the theoretical existence of a moral principle. The bourgeoisie succeeded in reigning during the entire nineteenth century only by referring itself to abstract principles. Less worthy than Saint-Just, it simply made use of this frame of reference as an alibi, while employing, on all occasions, the opposite values. By its essential corruption and disheartening hypocrisy, it helped to discredit, for good and all, the principles it proclaimed. Its culpability in this regard is infinite. From the moment that eternal principles are put in doubt simultaneously with formal virtue, and when every value is discredited, reason will start to act without reference to anything but its own successes. It would like to rule, denying everything that has been and affirming all that is to come. One day it will conquer. Russian Communism, by its violent criticism of every kind of formal virtue, puts the finishing touches to the revolutionary work of the nineteenth century by denying any superior principle. The regicides of the nineteenth century are succeeded by the deicides of the twentieth century, who draw the ultimate conclusions from the logic of rebellion and want to make the earth a kingdom where man is God. The reign of history begins and, identifying himself only with his history, man, unfaithful to his real rebellion, will henceforth devote himself to the nihilistic revolution of the twentieth century, which denies all forms of morality and desperately attempts to achieve the unity of the human race by means of a ruinous series of crimes and wars. The Jacobin Revolution, which tried to institute the religion of virtue in order to establish unity upon it, will be followed by the cynical revolutions, which can be either of the right or of the left and which will try to achieve the unity of the world so as to found, at last, the religion of man. All that was God's will henceforth be rendered to Caesar. The Deicides Justice, reason, truth still shone in the Jacobin heaven, performing the function of fixed stars, which could, at least, serve as guides. German nineteenth-century thinkers, particularly Hegel, wanted to continue the work of the French Revolution1 while suppressing the causes of its failure. Hegel thought that he discerned the seeds of the Terror contained in the abstract principles of the Jacobins. According to him, absolute and abstract freedom must inevitably lead to terrorism; the rule of abstract law is identical with the rule of oppression. For example, Hegel remarks that the period between the time of Augustus and Alexander Severus (a.d. 235) is the period of the greatest legal proficiency but also the period of the most ruthless tyranny. To avoid this contradiction, it was therefore necessary to wish to construct a concrete society, invigorated by a principle that was not formal and in which freedom could be reconciled with necessity. German philosophy therefore finished by substituting, for the universal but abstract reason of Saint-Just and Rousseau, a less artificial but more ambiguous idea: concrete universal reason. Up to this point, reason had soared above the phenomena which were related to it. Now reason is, henceforth, incorporated in the stream of historical events, which it explains while deriving its substance from them. It can certainly be said that Hegel rationalized to the point of being irrational. But, at the same time, he gave reason an unreasonable shock by endowing it with a lack of moderation, the results of which are now before our 1And of the Reformation?"the Germans' Revolution," according to Hegel. eyes. Into the fixed ideas of this period, German thought suddenly introduced an irresistible urge to movement. Truth, reason, and justice were abruptly incarnated in the progress of the world. But by committing them to perpetual acceleration, German ideology confused their existence with their impulse and fixed the conclusion of this existence at the final stage of the historical future? if there was to be one. These values have ceased to be guides in order to become goals. As for the means of attaining these goals, specifically life and history, no pre-existent value can point the way. On the contrary, a large part of Hegelian demonstration is devoted to proving that moral conscience, by being so banal as to obey justice and truth, as though these values existed independently of the world, jeopardizes, precisely for this reason, the advent of these values. The rule of action has thus become action itself?which must be performed in darkness while awaiting the final illumination. Reason, annexed by this form of romanticism, is nothing more than an inflexible passion. The ends have remained the same, only ambition has increased; thought has become dynamic, reason has embraced the future and aspired to conquest. Action is no more than a calculation based on results, not on principles. Consequently it confounds itself with perpetual movement. In the same way, all the disciplines that characterized eighteenth-century thought as rigid and addicted to classification were abandoned in the nineteenth century. Just as Darwin replaced Linnaeus, the philosophers who supported the doctrine of an incessant dialectic replaced the harmonious and strict constructors of reason. From this moment dates the idea (hostile to every concept of ancient thought, which, on the contrary, reappeared to a certain extent in the mind of revolutionary France) that man has not been endowed with a definitive human nature, that he is not a finished creation but an experiment, of which he can be partly the creator. With Napoleon and the Napoleonic philosopher Hegel, the period of efficacy begins. Before Napoleon, men had discovered space and the universe; with Napoleon, they discovered time and the future in terms of this world; and by this discovery the spirit of rebellion is going to be profoundly transformed. In any case, it is strange to find Hegel's philosophy at this new stage in the development of the spirit of rebellion. Actually, in one sense, his work exudes an absolute horror of dissidence: he wanted to be the very essence of reconciliation. But this is only one aspect of a system which, by its very method, is the most ambiguous in all philosophic literature. To the extent that, for him, what is real is rational, he justifies every ideological encroachment upon reality. What has been called Hegel's panlogism is a justification of the condition of fact. But his philosophy also exalts destruction for its own sake. Everything is reconciled, of course, in the dialectic, and one extreme cannot be stated without the other arising; there exists in Hegel, as in all great thinkers, the material for contradicting Hegel. Philosophers, however, are rarely read with the head alone, but often with the heart and all its passions, which can accept no kind of reconciliation. Nevertheless, the revolutionaries of the twentieth century have borrowed from Hegel the weapons with which they definitively destroyed the formal principles of virtue. All that they have preserved is the vision of a history without any kind of transcendence, dedicated to perpetual strife and to the struggle of wills bent on seizing power. In its critical aspect, the revolutionary movement of our times is primarily a violent denunciation of the formal hypocrisy that presides over bourgeois society. The partially justified pretension of modern Communism, like the more frivolous claim of Fascism, is to denounce the mystification that undermines the principles and virtues of the bourgeois type of democracy. Divine transcendence, up to 1789, served to justify the arbitrary actions of the king. After the French Revolution, the transcendence of the formal principles of reason or justice serves to justify a rule that is neither just nor reasonable. This transcendence is therefore a mask that must be torn off. God is dead, but as Stirner predicted, the morality of principles in which the memory of God is still preserved must also be killed. The hatred of formal virtue?degraded witness to divinity and false witness in the service of injustice? has remained one of the principal themes of history today. Nothing is pure: that is the cry which convulses our period. Impurity, the equivalent of history, is going to become the rule, and the abandoned earth will be delivered to naked force, which will decide whether or not man is divine. Thus lies and violence are adopted in the same spirit in which a religion is adopted and on the same heartrending impulse. But the first fundamental criticism of the good conscience?the denunciation of the beautiful soul and oi ineffectual attitudes?we owe to Hegel, for whom the ideology of the good, the true, and the beautiful is the religion of those possessed of none of them. While the mere existence of factions surprises Saint-Just and contravenes the ideal order that he affirms, Hegel not only is not surprised, but even affirms that faction is the prelude to thought. For the Jacobin, everyone is virtuous. The movement which starts with Hegel, and which is triumphant today, presumes, on the contrary, that no one is virtuous, but that everyone will be. At the beginning, everything, according to Saint-Just, is an idyl; according to Hegel, everything is a tragedy. But in the end that amounts to the same thing. Those who destroy the idyl must be destroyed or destruction must be embarked on in order to create the idyl. Violence, in both cases, is the victor. The repudiation of the Terror, undertaken by Hegel, only leads to an extension of the Terror. That is not all. Apparently the world today can no longer be anything other than a world of masters and slaves because contemporary ideologies, those that are changing the face of the earth, have learned from Hegel to conceive of history in terms of the dialectic of master and slave. If, on the first morning of the world, under the empty sky, there is only a master and a slave; even if there is only the bond of master and slave between a transcendent god and mankind, then there can be no other law in this world than the law of force. Only a god, or a principle above the master and the slave, could intervene and make men's history something more than a mere chronicle of their victories and defeats. First Hegel and then the Hegelians have tried, on the contrary, to destroy, more and more thoroughly, all idea of transcendence and any nostalgia for transcendence. Although there was infinitely more in Hegel than in the left-wing Hegelians who finally have triumphed over him, he nevertheless furnished, on the level of the dialectic of master and slave, the decisive justification of the spirit of power in the twentieth century. The conqueror is always right; that is one of the lessons which can be learned from the most important German philosophical system of the nineteenth century. Of course, there is to be found, in the prodigious Hegelian edifice, a means of partially contradicting those ideas. But twentieth-century ideology is not connected with what is improperly called the idealism of the master of Jena. Hegel's face, which reappears in Russian Communism, has been successively remodeled by David Strauss, Bruno Bauer, Feuerbach, Marx, and the entire Hegelian left wing. We are only interested in him here because he alone has any real bearing on the history of our time. If Nietzsche and Hegel serve as alibis to the masters of Dachau and Karaganda,2 that does not condemn their entire philosophy. But it does lead to the suspicion that one aspect of their thought, or of their logic, can lead to these appalling conclusions. Nietzschean nihilism is methodical. The Phenomenology of the Mind also has a didactic aspect. At the meeting-point of two centuries, it depicts, in its successive stages, the education of the mind as it pursues its way toward absolute truth. It is a metaphysical Emile.3 Each stage is an error and is, moreover, accompanied by historic sanctions which are almost always fatal, either to the mind or to the civilization in which it is reflected. Hegel proposes to demonstrate the necessity of these painful stages. The Phenomenology is, in one aspect, a meditation on despair and death. The mission of despair is, simply, to be methodical in that it must be transfigured, at the end of history, into absolute satisfaction and absolute wisdom. The book has the defect, however, of only imagining highly intelligent pupils and it has been taken literally, while, literally, it only wanted to proclaim the spirit. 2 They found less philosophic models in the Prussian, Napoleonic, and Czarist police and in the British concentration camps in South Africa. 3 In one sense there is a ground of comparison between Hegel and Rousseau. The fortune of the Phenomenology has been, in its consequences, of the same kind as that of the Social Contract. It shaped the political thought of its time. Rousseau's theory of the general will, besides, recurs in the Hegelian system. It is the same with the celebrated analysis of mastery and slavery. Animals, according to Hegel, have an immediate knowledge of the exterior world, a perception of the self, but not the knowledge of self, which distinguishes man. The latter is only really born at the moment when he becomes aware of himself as a rational being. Therefore his essential characteristic is self- consciousness. Consciousness of self, to be affirmed, must distinguish itself from what it is not. Man is a creature who, to affirm his existence and his difference, denies. What distinguishes consciousness of self from the world of nature is not the simple act of contemplation by which it identifies itself with the exterior world and finds oblivion, but the desire it can feel with regard to the world. This desire re- establishes its identity when it demonstrates that the exterior world is something apart. In its desire, the exterior world consists of what it does not possess, but which nevertheless exists, and of what it would like to exist but which no longer does. Consciousness of self is therefore, of necessity, desire. But in order to exist it must be satisfied, and it can only be satisfied by the gratification of its desire. It therefore acts in order to gratify itself and, in so doing, it denies and suppresses its means of gratification. It is the epitome of negation. To act is to destroy in order to give birth to the spiritual reality of consciousness. But to destroy an object unconsciously, as meat is destroyed, for example, in the act of eating, is a purely animal activity. To consume is not yet to be conscious. Desire for consciousness must be directed toward something other than unconscious nature. The only thing in the world that is distinct from nature is, precisely, self-consciousness. Therefore desire must be centered upon another form of desire; self- consciousness must be gratified by another form of self-consciousness. In simple words, man is not recognized?and does not recognize himself?as a man as long as he limits himself to subsisting like an animal. He must be acknowledged by other men. All consciousness is, basically, the desire to be recognized and proclaimed as such by other consciousnesses. It is others who beget us. Only in association do we receive a human value, as distinct from an animal value. In that the supreme value for the animal is the preservation of life, consciousness should raise itself above the level of that instinct in order to achieve human value. It should be capable of risking its life. To be recognized by another consciousness, man should be ready to risk his life and to accept the chance of death. Fundamental human relations are thus relations of pure prestige, a perpetual struggle, to the death, for recognition of one human being by another. At the first stage of his dialectic, Hegel affirms that in so far as death is the common ground of man and animal, it is by accepting death and even by inviting it that the former differentiates himself from the latter. At the heart of this primordial struggle for recognition, man is thus identified with violent death. The mystic slogan "Die and become what you are" is taken up once more by Hegel. But "Become what you are" gives place to "Become what you so far are not." This primitive and passionate desire for recognition, which is confused with the will to exist, can be satisfied only by a recognition gradually extended until it embraces everyone. In that everyone wants equally much to be recognized by everyone, the fight for life will cease only with the recognition of all by all, which will mark the termination of history. The existence that Hegelian consciousness seeks to obtain is born in the hard-won glory of collective approval. It is not beside the point to note that, in the thought which will inspire our revolutions, the supreme good does not, in reality, coincide with existence, but with an arbitrary facsimile. The entire history of mankind is, in any case, nothing but a prolonged fight to the death for the conquest of universal prestige and absolute power. It is, in its essence, imperialist. We are far from the gentle savage of the eighteenth century and from the Social Contract. In the sound and fury of the passing centuries, each separate consciousness, to ensure its own existence, must henceforth desire the death of others. Moreover, this relentless tragedy is absurd, since, in the event of one consciousness being destroyed, the victorious consciousness is not recognized as such, in that it cannot be victorious in the eyes of something that no longer exists. In fact, it is here the philosophy of appearances reaches its limits. No human reality would therefore have been engendered if, thanks to a propensity that can be considered" fortunate for Hegel's system, there had not existed, from the beginning of time, two kinds of consciousness, one of which has not the courage to renounce life and is therefore willing to recognize the other kind of consciousness without being recognized itself in return. It consents, in short, to being considered as an object. This type of consciousness, which, to preserve its animal existence, renounces independent life, is the consciousness of a slave. The type of consciousness which by being recognized achieves independence is that of the master. They are distinguished one from the other at the moment when they clash and when one submits to the other. The dilemma at this stage is not to be free or to die, but to kill or to enslave. This dilemma will resound throughout the course of history, though at this moment its absurdity has not yet been resolved. Undoubtedly the master enjoys total freedom first as regards the slave, since the latter recognizes him totally, and then as regards the natural world, since by his work the slave transforms it into objects of enjoyment which the master consumes in a perpetual affirmation of his own identity. However, this autonomy is not absolute. The master, to his misfortune, is recognized in his autonomy by a consciousness that he himself does not recognize as autonomous. Therefore he cannot be satisfied and his autonomy is only negative. Mastery is a blind alley. Since, moreover, he cannot renounce mastery and become a slave again, the eternal destiny of masters is to live unsatisfied or to be killed. The master serves no other purpose in history than to arouse servile consciousness, the only form of consciousness that really creates history. The slave, in fact, is not bound to his condition, but wants to change it. Thus, unlike his master, he can improve himself, and what is called history is nothing but the effects of his long efforts to obtain real freedom. Already, by work, by his transformation of the natural world into a technical world, he manages to escape from the nature which was the basis of his slavery in that he did not know how to raise himself above it by accepting death.4 The very agony of death experienced in the humiliation of the entire being lifts the slave to the level of human totality. He knows, henceforth, that this totality exists; now it only remains for him to conquer it through a long series of struggles against nature and against the masters. History identifies itself, therefore, with the history of endeavor and rebellion. It is hardly astonishing that Marxism-Leninism derived from this dialectic the contemporary ideal of the soldier worker. We shall leave aside the description of the various attitudes of the servile consciousness (stoicism, skepticism, guilty conscience) which then follows in the Phenomenology. But, thanks to its consequences, another aspect of this dialectic cannot be neglected: namely, the assimilation of the master-slave relationship to the relationship between man and God. One of Hegel's commentators5 remarks that if the master really existed, he would be God. Hegel himself calls the Master of the world the real God. In his description of guilty conscience he shows how the Christian slave, wishing to deny everything that oppresses him, takes refuge in the world beyond and by doing so gives himself a new master in the person of God. Elsewhere Hegel identifies the supreme master with absolute death. And so the struggle begins again, on a higher level, between man in chains and the cruel God of Abraham. The solution to this new conflict between the universal God and the human entity will be furnished by Christ, who reconciles in Himself the universal and the unique. But, in one sense, Christ is a part of the palpable world. He is visible, He lived and He died. He is therefore only a stage on the road to the universal; He too must be denied dialectically. It is only necessary to recognize Him as the man-God to obtain a higher synthesis. Skipping the intermediary stages, it suffices to say that this synthesis, after being incarnated in the Church and in Reason, culminates in the absolute State, founded by the soldier workers, 4Actually, the ambiguity is profound, for the nature in question is not the same. Does the advent of the technical world suppress death or the fear of death in the natural world? That is the real question, which Hegel leaves in suspense. 5Jean Hyppolite. where the spirit of the world will be finally reflected in the mutual recognition of each by all and in the universal reconciliation of everything that has ever existed under the sun. At this moment, "when the eyes of the spirit coincide with the eyes of the body," each individual consciousness will be nothing more than a mirror reflecting another mirror, itself reflected to infinity in infinitely recurring images. The City of God will coincide with the city of humanity; and universal history, sitting in judgment on the world, will pass its sentence by which good and evil will be justified. The State will play the part of Destiny and will proclaim its approval of every aspect of reality on "the sacred day of the Presence." This sums up the essential ideas which in spite, or because, of the extreme ambiguity of their interpretation, have literally driven the revolutionary mind in apparently contradictory directions and which we are now learning to rediscover in the ideology of our times. Amorality, scientific materialism, and atheism have definitely replaced the anti-theism of the rebels of former times and have made common cause, under Hegel's paradoxical influence, with a revolutionary movement which, until his time, was never really separated from its moral, evangelical, and idealistic origins. These tendencies, if they are sometimes very far from really originating with Hegel, found their source in the ambiguity of his thought and in his critique of transcendence. Hegel's undeniable originality lies in his definitive destruction of all vertical transcendence?particularly the transcendence of principles. There is no doubt that he restores the immanence of the spirit to the evolution of the world. But this immanence is not precisely defined and has nothing in common with the pantheism of the ancients. The spirit is and is not part of the world; it creates itself and will finally prevail. Values are thus only to be found at the end of history. Until then there is no suitable criterion on which to base a judgment of value. One must act and live in terms of the future. All morality becomes provisional. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in their most profound manifestations, are centuries that have tried to live without transcendence. One of Hegel's commentators, Alexandre Kojeve, of left-wing tendencies it is true, but orthodox in his opinion on this particular point, notes Hegel's hostility to the moralists and remarks that his only axiom is to live according to the manners and customs of one's nation. A maxim of social conformity of which Hegel, in fact, gave the most cynical proofs. Kojeve adds, however, that this conformity is legitimate only to the extent that the customs of the nation correspond to the spirit of the times?in other words, to the extent that they are solidly established and can resist revolutionary criticism and attacks. But who will determine their solidity and who will judge their validity? For a hundred years the capitalist regimes of the West have withstood violent assaults. Should they for that reason be considered legitimate? Inversely, should those who were faithful to the Weimar Republic have abandoned it and pledged themselves to Hitler in 1933 because the former collapsed when attacked by the latter? Should the Spanish Republic have been betrayed at the exact moment when General Franco's forces triumphed? These are conclusions that traditional reactionary thought would have justified within its own perspectives. The novelty, of which the consequences are incalculable, lies in the fact that revolutionary thought has assimilated them. The suppression of every moral value and of all principles and their replacement by fact, as provisional but actual king, could only lead, as we have plainly seen, to political cynicism, whether it be fact as envisioned by the individual or, more serious still, fact as envisioned by the State. The political movements, or ideologies, inspired by Hegel are all united in the ostensible abandonment of virtue. Hegel could not, in fact, prevent those who had read him, with feelings of anguish which were far from methodical in a Europe that was already torn asunder by injustice, from finding themselves precipitated into a world without innocence and without principles?into the very world of which Hegel says that it is in itself a sin, since it is separated from the spirit. Hegel, of course, permits the forgiveness of sins at the end of history. Until then, however, every human activity is sinful. "Therefore only the absence of activity is innocent, the existence of a stone and not even the existence of a child." Thus even the innocence of stones is unknown to us. Without innocence there are no human relations and no reason. Without reason, there is nothing but naked force, the master and slave waiting for reason one day to prevail. Between master and slave, even suffering is solitary, joy is without foundation, and both are undeserved. Then how can one live, how endure life when friendship is reserved for the end of time? The only escape is to create order with the use of weapons. "Kill or enslave!"?those who have read Hegel with this single and terrible purpose have really considered only the first part of the dilemma. From it they have derived a philosophy of scorn and despair and have deemed themselves slaves and nothing but slaves, bound by death to the absolute Master and by the whip to their terrestrial masters. This philosophy of the guilty conscience has merely taught them that every slave is enslaved only by his own consent, and can be liberated only by an act of protest which coincides with death. Answering the challenge, the most courageous among them have completely identified themselves with this act of protest and have dedicated themselves to death. After all, to say that negation is in itself a positive act justified in advance every kind of negation and predicted the cry of Bakunin and Nechaiev: "Our mission is to destroy, not to construct." A nihilist for Hegel was only a skeptic who had no other escape but contradiction or philosophic suicide. But he himself gave birth to another type of nihilist, who, making boredom into a principle of action, identified suicide with philosophic murder.6 It was at this point that the terrorists were born who decided that it was necessary to kill and die in order to exist, because mankind and history could achieve their creation only by sacrifice and murder. The magnificent idea that all idealism is chimerical if it is not paid for by risking one's life was to be developed to the fullest possible extent by young men who were not engaged in expounding the concept from the safe distance of a university chair before dying in their beds, but among the tumult of falling bombs and even 6 This form of nihilism, despite appearances, is still nihilism in the Nietzschean sense, to the extent that it is a calumny of the present life to the advantage of a historical future in which one tries to believe. on the gallows. By doing this and even by their errors they corrected their master and demonstrated, contrary to his teaching, that one kind of aristocracy, at least, is superior to the hideous aristocracy of success exalted by Hegel: the aristocracy of sacrifice. Another sort of follower, who read Hegel more seriously, chose the second term of the dilemma and made the pronouncement that the slave could only free himself by enslaving in his turn. Post-Hegelian doctrines, unmindful of the mystic aspect or certain of the master's tendencies, have led his followers to absolute atheism and to scientific materialism. But this evolution is inconceivable without the absolute disappearance of every principle of transcendent explanation, and without the complete destruction of the Jacobin ideal. Immanence, of course, is not atheism. But immanence in the process of development is, if one can say so, provisional atheism.7 The indefinite face of God which, with Hegel, is still reflected in the spirit of the world will not be difficult to efface. Hegel's successors will draw decisive conclusions from his ambiguous formula: "God without man is no more than man without God." David Strauss in his Life of Jesus isolates the theory of Christ considered as the God-man. Bruno Bauer (The Critique of Evangelist History) institutes a kind of materialist Christianity by insisting on the humanity of Jesus. Finally, Ludwig Feuerbach (whom Marx considered as a great mind and of whom he acknowledges himself the critical disciple), in his Essence of Christianity, replaces all theology by a religion of man and the species, which has converted a large part of contemporary thought. His task is to demonstrate that the distinction between human and divine is illusory, that it is nothing but the distinction between the essence of humanity?in other words, human nature?and the individual. "The mystery of God is only the mystery of the love of man for himself." The accents of a strange new prophecy ring out: "Individuality has replaced faith, reason the Bible, politics religion and the Church, the earth heaven, work 7 In any event, the criticism of Kierkegaard is valid. To base divinity on history is, paradoxically, to base an absolute value on approximate knowledge. Something "eternally historic" is a contradiction in terms. prayer, poverty hell, and man Christ." Thus there is only one hell and it is on this earth: and it is against this that the struggle must be waged. Politics is religion, and transcendent Christianity?that of the hereafter?establishes the masters of the earth by means of the slave's renunciation and creates one master more beneath the heavens. That is why atheism and the revolutionary spirit are only two aspects of the same movement of liberation. That is the answer to the question which is always being asked: why has the revolutionary movement identified itself with materialism rather than with idealism? Because to conquer God, to make Him a slave, amounts to abolishing the transcendence that kept the former masters in power and to preparing, with the ascendancy of the new tyrants, the advent of the man-king. When poverty is abolished, when the contradictions of history are resolved, "the real god, the human god, will be the State." Then homo homini lupus becomes homo homini deus. This concept is at the root of the contemporary world. With Feuerbach, we assist at the birth of a terrible form of optimism which we can still observe at work today and which seems to be the very antithesis of nihilist despair. But that is only in appearance. We must know Feuerbach's final conclusions in this Theogony to perceive the profoundly nihilist derivation of his inflamed imagination. In effect, Feuerbach affirms, in the face of Hegel, that man is only what he eats, and thus recapitulates his ideas and predicts the future in the following phrase: "The true philosophy is the negation of philosophy. No religion is my religion. No philosophy is my philosophy." Cynicism, the deification of history and of matter, individual terror and State crime, these are the inordinate consequences that will now spring, armed to the teeth, from the equivocal conception of a world that entrusts to history alone the task of producing both values and truth. If nothing can be clearly understood before truth has been brought to light, at the end of time, then every action is arbitrary, and force will finally rule supreme. "If reality is inconceivable," Hegel exclaims, "then we must contrive inconceivable concepts." A concept that cannot be conceived must, perforce, like error, be contrived. But to be accepted it cannot rely on the persuasion innate in order and truth, but must finally be imposed. Hegel's attitude consists of saying: "This is truth, which appears to us, however, to be error, but which is true precisely because it happens to be error. As for proof, it is not I, but history, at its conclusion, that will furnish it." Such pretensions can only entail two attitudes: either the suspension of all affirmation until the production of proof, or the affirmation of everything, in history, which seems dedicated to success ?force in particular. And both attitudes imply nihilism. Moreover, it is impossible to understand twentieth-century revolutionary thought if we overlook the fact that unfortunately it derived a large part of its inspiration from a philosophy of conformity and opportunism. True rebellion is not jeopardized on account of the distortion of these particular ideas. Nevertheless, the basis of Hegel's claims is what renders them intellectually and forever suspect. He believed that history in 1807, with the advent of Napoleon and of himself, had come to an end, and that affirmation was possible and nihilism conquered. The Phenomenology, the Bible that was to have prophesied only the past, put a limit on time. In 1807 all sins were forgiven, and time had stopped. But history has continued. Other sins, since then, have been hurled in the face of the world and have revived the scandal of the former crimes, which the German philosopher had already forgiven forever. The deification of Hegel by himself, after the deification of Napoleon, who would henceforth be innocent since he had succeeded in stabilizing history, lasted only seven years. Instead of total affirmation, nihilism once more covered the face of the earth. Philosophy, even servile philosophy, has its Waterloos. But nothing can discourage the appetite for divinity in the heart of man. Others have come and are still to come who, forgetting Waterloo, still claim to terminate history. The divinity of man is still on the march, and will be worthy of adoration only at the end of time. This apocalypse must be promoted and, despite the fact that there is no God, at least a Church must be built. After all, history, which has not yet come to an end, allows us a glimpse of a perspective that might even be that of the Hegelian system but for the simple reason that it is pro- visionally dragged along, if not led, by the spiritual heirs of Hegel. When cholera carries off the philosopher of the Battle of Jena at the height of his glory, everything is, in fact, in order for what is to follow. The sky is empty, the earth delivered into the hands of power without principles. Those who have chosen to kill and those who have chosen to enslave will successively occupy the front of the stage, in the name of a form of rebellion which has been diverted from the path of truth. Individual Terrorism Pisarev, the theoretician of Russian nihilism, declares that the greatest fanatics are children and adolescents. That is also true of nations. Russia, at this period, is an adolescent nation, delivered with forceps, barely a century ago, by a Czar who was still ingenuous enough to cut off the heads of rebels himself. It is not astonishing that she should have pushed Germanic ideology to extremes of sacrifice and destruction which German professors had only been capable of theorizing about. Stendhal noticed an essential difference between Germans and other people in the fact that they are excited by meditation rather than soothed. That is true, but it is even more true of Russia. In that immature country, completely without philosophic tradition,1 some very young people, akin to Lautreamont's tragic fellow students, enthusiastically embraced the concepts of German thought and incarnated the consequences in blood. A "proletariat of undergraduates" 2 then took the lead in the great movement of human emancipation and gave it its most violent aspect. Until the end of the nineteenth century these undergraduates never numbered more than a few thousand. Entirely on their own, however, and in defiance of the most integrated absolutism of the time, they aspired to liberate and provisionally did contribute to the liberation of forty million muzhiks. Almost all of them paid for this liberation by suicide, execution, prison, or madness. The entire history of Russian terrorism can be summed up in the struggle of a handful of intellectuals to 1 Pisarev remarks that civilization, in its ideological aspects, has always been imported into Russia. 2 Dostoievsky. abolish tyranny, against a background of a silent populace. Their debilitated victory was finally betrayed. But by their sacrifice and even by their most extreme negations they gave substance to a new standard of values, a new virtue, which even today has not ceased to oppose tyranny and to give aid to the cause of true liberation. The Germanization of nineteenth-century Russia is not an isolated phenomenon. The influence of German ideology at that moment was preponderant, and we are well aware, for example, that the nineteenth century in France, with Michelet and Quinet, is the century of Germanic thought. But in Russia this ideology did not encounter an already established system, while in France it had to contend and compromise with libertarian socialism. In Russia it was on conquered territory. The first Russian university, the University of Moscow, founded in 1750, is German. The slow colonization of Russia by German teachers, bureaucrats, and soldiers, which began under Peter the Great, was transformed at the instance of Nicholas I into systematic Germanization. The intelligentsia developed a passion for Schelling (simultaneously with their passion for French writers) in the 1830's, for Hegel in the 1840's, and in the second half of the century for German socialism derived from Hegel.3 Russian youth then proceeded to pour into these abstract thoughts the inordinate violence of its passions and authentically experienced these already moribund ideas. The religion of man already formulated by its German pastors was still missing its apostles and martyrs. Russian Christians, led astray from their original vocation, played this role. For this reason they had to accept life without transcendence and without virtue. The Renunciation of Virtue In the 1820's among the first Russian revolutionaries, the Decembrists, virtue still existed. Jacobin idealism had not yet been uprooted from the hearts of these gentlemen. They even practiced conscious virtue: "Our fathers were 3 Das Kapital was translated in 1872. sybarites, we are Catos," said one of them, Peter Viazem-sky. To this is only added the opinion, which will still be found in Bakunin and the revolutionary socialists of 1905, that suffering regenerates. The Decembrists remind us of the French nobles who allied themselves with the third estate and renounced their privileges. Patrician idealists, they deliberately chose to sacrifice themselves for the liberation of the people. Despite the fact that their leader, Pestel, was a political and social theorist, their abortive conspiracy had no fixed program; it is not even sure that they believed in the possibility of success. "Yes, we shall die," one of them said on the eve of the insurrection, "but it will be a fine death." It was, in fact, a fine death. In December 1825 the rebels, arranged in formation, were mown down by cannon fire in the square in front of the Senate at St. Petersburg. The survivors were deported, but not before five had been hanged, and so clumsily that it had to be done twice. It is easy to understand why these ostensibly inefficacious victims have been venerated, with feelings of exaltation and horror, by all of revolutionary Russia. They were exemplary, if not efficacious. They indicated, at the beginning of this chapter of revolutionary history, the ambitions and the greatness of what Hegel ironically called the beautiful soul in relation to which Russian revolutionary ideas were, nevertheless, to be defined. In this atmosphere of exaltation, German thought came to combat French influence and impose its prestige on minds torn between their desire for vengeance and justice and the realization of their own impotent isolation. It was first received, extolled, and commented upon as though it were revelation itself. The best minds were inflamed with a passion for philosophy. They even went so far as to put Hegel's Logic into verse. For the most part, Russian intellectuals at first inferred, from the Hegelian system, the justification of a form of social quietism. To be aware of the rationality of the world sufficed; the Spirit would realize itself, in any case, at the end of time. That is the first reaction of Stankevich,4 Bakunin, and Bielin-sky, for example. Then the Russian mind recoiled at this 4 "The world is ordered by the spirit of reason, this reassures me about everything else." factual, if not intentional, complicity with absolutism and, immediately, jumped to the opposite extreme. Nothing is more revealing, in this respect, than the evolution of Bielinsky, one of the most remarkable and most influential minds of the 1830's and 40's. Beginning with a background of rather vague libertarian idealism, Bielinsky suddenly discovers Hegel. In his room, at midnight, under the shock of revelation, he bursts into tears like Pascal and suddenly becomes a new man. "Neither chance nor the absolute exists, I have made my adieux to the French." At the same time he is still a conservative and a partisan of social quietism. He writes to that effect without a single hesitation and defends his position, as he perceives it, courageously. But this essentially kindhearted man then sees himself allied with what is most detestable in this world: injustice. If everything is logical, then everything is justified. One must consent to the whip, to serfdom, to Siberia. To accept the world and its sufferings seemed to him, at one moment, the noble thing to do because he imagined that he would only have to bear his own sufferings and his own contradictions. But if it also implied consent to the sufferings of others, he suddenly discovered that he had not the heart to continue. He set out again in the opposite direction. If one cannot accept the suffering of others, then something in the world cannot be justified, and history, at one point at least, no longer coincides with reason. But history must be completely reasonable or it is not reasonable at all. This man's solitary protest, quieted for a moment by the idea that everything can be justified, bursts forth again in vehement terms. Bielinsky addresses Hegel himself: "With all the esteem due to your philistine philosophy, I have the honor to inform you that even if I had the opportunity of climbing to the very top of the ladder of evolution, I should still ask you to account for all the victims of life and history. I do not want happiness, even gratuitous happiness, if my mind is not at rest concerning all my blood brothers." Bielinsky understood that what he wanted was not the absolute of reason but the fullness of life. He refuses to identify them. He wants the immortality of the entire man, clothed in his living body, not the abstract immortality of the species become Spirit. He argues with equal passion against new adversaries, and draws, from this fierce interior debate, conclusions that he owes to Hegel, but which he turns against him. These are the conclusions of individualism in revolt. The individual cannot accept history as it is. He must destroy reality, not collaborate with it, in order to affirm his own existence. "Negation is my god, as reality formerly was. My heroes are the destroyers of the past: Luther, Voltaire, the Encyclopedists, the Terrorists, Byron in Cain." Thus we rediscover here, simultaneously, all the themes of metaphysical rebellion. Certainly, the French tradition of individualistic socialism always remained alive in Russia. Saint-Simon and Fourier, who were read in the 1830's, and Proudhon, who was imported in the forties, inspired the great concepts of Herzen, and, very much later, those of Pierre Lavrov. But this system, which remained attached to ethical values, finally succumbed, provisionally at any rate, during its great debate with cynical thought. On the other hand, Bielinsky rediscovers both with and against Hegel the same tendencies to social individualism, but under the aspect of negation, in the rejection of transcendental values. When he dies, in 1848, his thought will moreover be very close to that of Herzen. But when he confronts Hegel, he defines, with precision, an attitude that will be adopted by the nihilists, and at least in part by the terrorists. Thus he furnishes a type of transition between the idealist aristocrats of 1825 and the "noth-ingist" students of 1860. Three of the Possessed When Herzen, in making his apology for the nihilist movement?only to the extent, it is true, that he sees in it a still greater emancipation from ready-made ideas? writes: "The annihilation of the past is the procreation of the future," he is using the language of Bielinsky. Koteiarevsky, speaking of the so-called radicals of the period, defined them as apostles "who thought that the past must be completely renounced and the human personality must be constructed to quite another plan." Stirner's claim reappears with the total rejection of history and the determination to construct the future, no longer with regard to the historical spirit, but so as to coincide with the man-king. But the man-king cannot raise himself to power unaided. He has need of others and therefore enters into a nihilist contradiction which Pisarev, Bakunin, and Nechaiev will try to resolve by slightly extending the area of destruction and negation, to the point where terrorism finally kills the contradiction itself, in a simultaneous act of sacrifice and murder. The nihilism of the 1860's began, apparently, with the most radical negation imaginable: the rejection of any action that was not purely egoistic. We know that the very term nihilism was invented by Turgeniev in his novel Fathers and Sons, whose hero, Bazarov, was an exact portrayal of this type of man. Pisarev, when he wrote a criticism of this book, proclaimed that the nihilists recognized Bazarov as their model. "We have nothing," said Bazarov, "to boast about but the sterile knowledge of understanding, up to a certain point, the sterility of what exists." "Is that," he was asked, "what is called nihilism?" "Yes, that is what is called nihilism." Pisarev praises Bazarov's attitude, which for the sake of clarity he defines thus: "I am a stranger to the order of existing things, I have nothing to do with it." Thus the only value resides in rational egoism. In denying everything that is not satisfaction of the self, Pisarev declares war on philosophy, on art, which he considers absurd, on erroneous ethics, on religion, and even on customs and on good manners. He constructs a theory of intellectual terrorism which makes one think of the present-day surrealists. Provocation is made into a doctrine, but on a level of which Raskolnikov provides the perfect example. At the height of this fine transport, Pisarev asks himself, without even laughing, whether he is justified in killing his own mother and answers: "And why not, if I want to do so, and if I find it useful?" From that point on, it is surprising not to find the nihilists engaged in making a fortune or acquiring a title or in cynically taking advantage of every opportunity that offers itself. It is true that there were nihilists to be found in advantageous positions on all levels of society. But they did not construct a theory from their cynicism and preferred on all occasions to pay visible and quite inconsequential homage to virtue. As for those we are discussing, they contradicted themselves by the defiance they hurled in the face of society, which in itself was the affirmation of a value. They called themselves materialists; their bedside book was Buchner's Force and Matter. But one of them confessed: "Every one of us was ready to go to the scaffold and to give his head for Moleschott and Darwin," thus putting doctrine well ahead of matter. Doctrine, taken seriously to this degree, has an air of religion and fanaticism. For Pisarev, Lamarck was a traitor because Darwin was right. Whoever in this intellectual sphere began talking about the immortality of the soul was immediately excommunicated. Vladimir Veidle is therefore right when he defines nihilism as rationalist obscurantism. Reason among the nihilists, strangely enough, annexed the prejudices of faith; choosing the most popularized forms of science- worship for their prototype of reason was not the least of the contradictions accepted by these individualists. They denied everything but the most debatable of values, the values of Flaubert's Monsieur Homais. However, it was by choosing to make reason, in its most limited aspect, into an act of faith that the nihilists provided their successors with a model. They believed in nothing but reason and self-interest. But instead of skepticism, they chose to propagate a doctrine and became socialists. Therein lies their basic contradiction. Like all adolescent minds they simultaneously experienced doubt and the need to believe. Their personal solution consists in endowing their negation with the intransigence and passion of faith. What, after all, is astonishing about that? Veidle quotes the scornful phrase used by Soloviev, the philosopher, in denouncing this contradiction: "Man is descended from monkeys, therefore let us love one another." Pisarev's truth, however, is to be found in this dilemma. If man is the image of God, then it does not matter that he is deprived of human love; the day will come when he will be satiated with it. But if he is a blind creature, wandering in the darkness of a cruel and circumscribed condition, he has need of his equals and of their ephemeral love. Where can charity take refuge, after all, if not in the world without God? In the other, grace provides for all, even for the rich. Those who deny everything at least understand that negation is a calamity. They can then open their hearts to the misery of others and finally deny themselves. Pisarev did not shrink from the idea of murdering his mother, and yet he managed to find the exact words to describe injustice. He wanted to enjoy life egoistically, but he suffered imprisonment and finally went mad. Such an ostentatious display of cynicism finally led him to an understanding of love, to be exiled from it and to suffer from it to the point of suicide, thus revealing, in place of the man-god he wanted to create, the unhappy, suffering old man whose greatness illuminates the pages of history. Bakunin embodies, but in a manner spectacular in a different way, the very same contradictions. He died on the eve of the terrorist epic, in 1876. Moreover, he rejected in advance individual outrages and denounced "the Brutuses of the period." He had a certain respect for them, however, since he reproached Herzen for having openly criticized Karakosov for his abortive attempt to assassinate Alexander II in 1866. This feeling of respect had its reasons. Bakunin influenced the course of events in the same manner as Bielinsky and the nihilists and directed them into the channel of individual revolt. But he contributed something more: a germ of political cynicism, which will congeal, with Nechaiev, into a doctrine and will drive the revolutionary movement to extremes. Bakunin had hardly emerged from adolescence when he was overwhelmed and uprooted by Hegelian philosophy, as if by a gigantic earthquake. He buries himself in it day and night "to the point of madness," he says, and adds: "I saw absolutely nothing but Hegel's categories." When he emerges from this initiation, it is with the exaltation of a neophyte. "My personal self is dead forever, my life is the true life. It is in some way identified with the absolute life." He required very little time to see the dangers of that comfortable position. He who has understood reality does not rebel against it, but rejoices in it; in other words, he becomes a conformist. Nothing in Bakunin's character predestined him to that watchdog philosophy. It is possible, also, that his travels in Germany, and the unfortunate opinion he formed of the Germans, may have ill-prepared him to agree with the aged Hegel that the Prussian State was the privileged depositary of the final fruits of the mind. More Russian than the Czar himself, despite his dreams of universality, he could in no event subscribe to the apology of Prussia when it was founded on a logic brash enough to assert: "The will of other peoples has no rights, for it is the people who represent the will [of the Spirit] who dominate the world." In the 1840's, moreover, Bakunin discovered French socialism and anarchism, from which he appropriated a few tendencies. Bakunin rejects, with a magnificent gesture, any part of German ideology. He approached the absolute in the same way as he approached total destruction, with the same passionate emotion, and with the blind enthusiasm for the "All or Nothing" which we again find in him in its purest form. After having extolled absolute Unity, Bakunin enthusiastically embraces the most elementary form of Mani- chaeism. What he wants, of course, is once and for all "the universal and authentically democratic Church of Freedom." That is his religion; he belongs to his times. It is not sure, however, that his faith on this point had been perfect. In his Confession to Czar Nicholas I, he seems to be sincere when he says that he has never been able to believe in the final revolution "except with a supernatural and painful effort to stifle forcibly the interior voice which whispered to me that my hopes were absurd." His theory of immorality, on the other hand, is much more firmly based and he is often to be seen plunging about in it with the ease and pleasure of a mettlesome horse. History is governed by only two principles: the State and social revolution, revolution and counterrevolution, which can never be reconciled, and which are engaged in a death struggle. The State is the incarnation of crime. "The smallest and most inoffensive State is still criminal in its dreams." Therefore revolution is the incarnation of good. This struggle, which surpasses politics, is also the struggle of Luciferian principles against the divine principle. Bakunin explicitly reintroduces into rebellious action one of the themes of romantic rebellion. Proudhon had already decreed that God is Evil and exclaimed: "Come, Satan, victim of the calumnies of kings and of the petty-minded!" Bakunin also gives a glimpse of the broader implications of an apparently political rebellion: "Evil is satanic rebellion against divine authority, a rebellion in which we see, never-' theless, the fruitful seed of every form of human emancipation." Like the Fraticelli of fourteenth-century Bohemia, revolutionary socialists today use this phrase as a password: "In the name of him to whom a great wrong has been done." The struggle against creation will therefore be without mercy and without ethics, and the only salvation lies in extermination. "The passion for destruction is a creative passion." Bakunin's burning words on the subject of the revolution of 1848 in his Confession vehemently proclaim this pleasure in destruction. "A feast without beginning and without end," he says. In fact, for him as for all who are oppressed, the revolution is a feast, in the religious sense of the word. Here we are reminded of the French anarchist Caeurderoy, who, in his book Hurrah, or the Cossack Revolution, summoned the hordes of the north to lay waste to the whole world. He also wanted to "apply the torch to my father's house" and proclaimed that the only hope lay in the human deluge and in chaos. Rebellion is grasped, throughout these manifestations, in its pure state, in its biological truth. That is why Bakunin with exceptional perspicacity was the only one of his period to declare war on science, the idol of his contemporaries. Against every abstract idea he pleaded the cause of the complete man, completely identified with his rebellion. If he glorifies the brigand leader of the peasant rising, if he chooses to model himself on Stenka Razin and Pugachev, it is because these men fought, without either doctrine or principle, for an ideal of pure freedom. Bakunin introduces into the midst of revolution the naked principle of rebellion. "The tempest and life, that is what we need. A new world, without laws, and consequently free." But is a world without laws a free world? That is the question posed by every rebellion. If the question were to be asked of Bakunin, the answer would not be in doubt. Despite the fact that he was opposed in all circumstances, and with the most extreme lucidity, to authoritarian socialism, yet from the moment when he himself begins to define the society of the future, he does so? without being at all concerned about the contradiction?in terms of a dictatorship. The statutes of the International Fraternity (1864-7), which he edited himself, already establish the absolute subordination of the individual to the central committee, during the period of action. It is the same for the period that will follow the revolution. He hopes to see in liberated Russia "a strong dictatorial power... a power supported by partisans, enlightened by their advice, fortified by their free collaboration, but which would be limited by nothing and by no one." Bakunin contributed as much as his enemy Marx to Leninist doctrine. The dream of the revolutionary Slav empire, moreover, as Bakunin conjures it up before the Czar, is exactly the same, down to the last detail of its frontiers, as that realized by Stalin. Coming from a man who was wise enough to say that the essential driving-force of Czarist Russia was fear and who rejected the Marxist theory of party dictatorship, these conceptions may seem contradictory. But this contradiction demonstrates that the origins of authoritarian doctrines are partially nihilistic. Pisarev justifies Bakunin. Certainly, the latter wanted total freedom; but he hoped to realize it through total destruction. To destroy everything is to pledge oneself to building without foundations, and then to holding up the walls with one's hands. He who rejects the entire past, without keeping any part of it which could serve to breathe life into the revolution, condemns himself to finding justification only in the future and, in the meantime, to entrusting the police with the task of justifying the provisional state of affairs. Bakunin proclaims dictatorship, not despite his desire for destruction, but in accordance with it. Nothing, in fact, could turn him from this path since his ethical values had also been dissolved in the crucible of total negation. In his openly obsequious Confession to the Czar, which he wrote in order to gain his freedom, he spectacularly introduces the double game into revolutionary politics. With his Catechism of a Revolutionary, which he probably drafted in Switzerland, with the help of Nechaiev, he voices, even though he denies it later, the political cyni- cism that will never cease to weigh on the revolutionary movement and which Nechaiev himself has so provocatively illustrated. A less well-known figure than Bakunin, still more mysterious, but more significant for our purpose, Nechaiev pushed nihilism to the farthest coherent point. His thought presents practically no contradiction. He appeared, about 1866, in revolutionary intellectual circles, and died, obscurely, in January 1882. In this short space of time he never ceased to suborn the students around him, Bakunin himself, the revolutionary refugees, and finally the guards in his prison, whom he succeeded in persuading to take part in a crazy conspiracy. When he first appears, he is already quite sure of what he thinks. If Bakunin was fascinated by him to the point of consenting to entrust him with imaginary authority, it is because he recognized in that implacable figure the type of human being that he recommended and what he himself, in a certain manner, would have been if he had been able to silence his heart. Nechaiev was not content with saying that one must unite with "the savage world of bandits, the true and unique revolutionary environment of Russia," nor with writing once more, like Bakunin, that henceforth politics would be religion and religion politics. He made himself the cruel high priest of a desperate revolution; his most recurrent dream was to found a homicidal order that would permit him to propagate and finally enthrone the sinister divinity that he had decided to serve. He not only gave dissertations on universal destruction; his originality lay in coldly claiming, for those who dedicate themselves to the revolution, an "Everything is permitted" and in actually permitting himself everything. "The revolutionary is a man condemned in advance. He must have neither romantic relationships nor objects to engage his feelings. He should even cast off his own name. Every part of him should be concentrated in one single passion: the revolution." If history is, in fact, independent of all principles and composed only of a struggle between revolution and counterrevolution, there is no way out but to espouse wholeheartedly one of the two and either die or be resurrected. Nechaiev pursues this logic to the bitter end. With him, for the first time, revolution is going to be explicitly separated from love and friendship. The consequences of arbitrary psychology set in motion by Hegel's method can be seen, for the first time, in Nechaiev. Hegel had allowed that the mutual recognition of minds could be accomplished in love.5 He would not, however, give a place in the foreground of his analysis to this "phenomenon," which, according to him, he found "had not the strength, the patience, nor the application of the negative." He had chosen to demonstrate human minds in blind combat, dimly groping on the sands, like crabs that finally come to grips in a fight to the death, and voluntarily abandoned the equally legitimate image of beams of light painfully searching for one another in the night and finally focusing together in a blaze of illumination. Those who love, friends or lovers, know that love is not only a blinding flash, but also a long and painful struggle in the darkness for the realization of definitive recognition and reconciliation. After all, if virtue in the course of history is recognized by the extent to which it gives proof of patience, real love is as patient as hatred. Moreover, the demand for justice is not the only justification throughout the centuries for revolutionary passion, which is sustained by a painful insistence on universal friendship, even?and above all?in defiance of an inimical heaven. Those who die for justice, throughout history, have always been called "brothers." Violence, for every one of them, is directed only against the enemy, in the service of the community of the oppressed. But if the revolution is the only positive value, it has a right to claim everything?even the denunciation and therefore the sacrifice of the friend. Henceforth, violence will be directed against one and all, in the service of an abstract idea. The accession to power of the possessed had to take place so that it could be said, once and for all, that the revolution, in itself, was more important than the people it wanted to save, and that friendship, which until then had transformed defeats into the semblance of victories, must be 5 It could also be brought about by the kind of admiration in which the word master assumes its fullest meaning: he who creates without destroying. sacrificed and postponed until the still invisible day of victory. Nechaiev's originality thus lies in justifying the violence done to one's brothers. He decided, with Bakunin, on the terms of the Catechism. But once the latter, in a fit of mental aberration, had given him the mission of representing in Russia a European Revolutionary Union, which existed only in his imagination, Nechaiev in effect came to Russia, founded his Society of the Ax, and himself defined its regulations. There we find again the secret central committee, necessary no doubt to any military or political action, to whom everyone must swear absolute allegiance. But Nechaiev does more than militarize the revolution from the moment when he admits that the leaders, in order to govern their subordinates, have the right to employ violence and lies. Nechaiev lies, to begin with, when he claims to be a delegate of a central committee that is still nonexistent and when, to enlist certain skeptics in the action that he proposes to undertake, he describes the committee as disposing of unlimited resources. He goes still farther by distinguishing between categories of revolutionaries, with those of the first category (by which he means the leaders) reserving the right to consider the rest as "expendable capital." All the leaders in history may have thought in these terms, but they never said so. Until Nechaiev, at any rate, no revolutionary leader had dared to make this the guiding principle of his conduct. Up to his time no revolution had put at the head of its table of laws the concept that man could be a chattel. Traditionally, recruiting relied on its appeal to courage and to the spirit of self-sacrifice. Nechaiev decided that the skeptics could be terrorized or blackmailed and the believers deceived. Even pseudo-revolutionaries could still be used, if they were urged on systematically to perform the most dangerous deeds. As for the oppressed, since they were going to be saved once and for all, they could be oppressed still more. What they would lose, the oppressed of the future would gain. Nechaiev states, in principle, that governments must be driven to take repressive measures, that the official representatives most hated by the population must never be touched, and that finally the secret society must employ all its resources to increase the suffering and misery of the masses. Although these beautiful thoughts have realized their full meaning today, Nechaiev did not live to see the triumph of his principles. He tried to apply them, at all events, at the time of the student Ivanov's murder, which so struck the popular imagination of the time that Dostoievsky made it one of the themes of The Possessed. Ivanov, whose only fault seems to have been that he had doubts about the central committee of which Nechaiev claimed to be a delegate, was considered an enemy of the revolution because he was opposed to the man who was identified with the revolution. Therefore he must die. "What right have we to take a man's life?" asks Uspen-sky, one of Nechaiev's comrades.?"It is not a question of right, but of our duty to eliminate everything that may harm our cause." When revolution is the sole value, there are, in fact, no more rights, there are only duties. But by an immediate inversion, every right is assumed in the name of duty. For the sake of the cause, Nechaiev, who has never made an attempt on the life of any tyrant, ambushes and kills Ivanov. Then he leaves Russia and returns to Bakunin, who turns his back on him and condemns his "repugnant tactics." "He has gradually come," writes Bakunin, "to the conclusion that to found an indestructible society it must be based on the politics of Machiavelli and the methods of the Jesuits: for the body, only violence; for the soul, deception." That is well said. But in the name of what value is it possible to decide that this tactic is repugnant if the revolution, as Bakunin believed, is the only good? Nechaiev is really in the service of the revolution; it is not his own ends that he serves, but the cause. Extradited, he yields not an inch to his judges. Condemned to twenty-five years in jail, he still reigns over the prisons, organizes the jailers into a secret society, plans the assassination of the Czar, and is again brought up for trial. Death in the dungeon of a fortress, after twelve years' confinement, brings an end to the life of this rebel who is the first of the contemptuous aristocrats of the revolution. At this period, in the bosom of the revolution, every- thing is really permitted and murder can be elevated into a principle. It was thought, however, with the renewal of Populism in 1870, that this revolutionary movement, sprung from the ethical and religious tendencies to be found in the Decembrists, and in the socialism of Lavrov and Herzen, would put a check on the evolution toward political cynicism that Nechaiev had illustrated. This movement appealed to "living souls," prompted them to turn to the people and educate them so that they would march forward to their own liberation. "Repentant noblemen" left their families, dressed like the poor, and went into the villages to preach to the peasants. But the peasants were suspicious and held their peace. When they did not hold their peace, they denounced the apostle to the police. This check to the noble souls had the result of throwing back the movement on the cynicism of a Nechaiev or, at any rate, on violence. In so far as the intelligentsia was unable to reclaim the allegiance of the people, it felt itself once more alone, face to face with autocracy; once more the world appeared to it in the aspect of master and slave. The group known as the People's Will was then to elevate individual terrorism into a principle and inaugurate the series of murders which continued until 1905 with the Socialist Revolutionary Party. This is the point at which the terrorists were born, disillusioned with love, united against the crimes of their masters, but alone in their despair, and face to face with their contradictions, which they could resolve only in the double sacrifice of their innocence and their life. The Fastidious Assassins In the year 1878 Russian terrorism was born. A very young girl, Vera Zassulich, on the day following the trial of one hundred and eighty-three Populists, the 24th of January, shot down General Trepov, the Governor of St. Petersburg. At her trial she was acquitted and then succeeded in escaping the police of the Czar. This revolver-shot unleashed a whole series of repressive actions and attempted assassinations, which kept pace with one another and which, it was already evident, could only be terminated by mutual exhaustion. The same year a member of the People's Will Party, Kravchinsky, stated the principles of terror in his pamphlet Death for Death. Consequences always follow principles. In Europe, attempts were made on the lives of the Emperor of Germany, the King of Italy, and the King of Spain. Again in 1878 Alexander II created, in the shape of the Okhrana, the most efficient weapon of State terrorism the world has ever seen. From then on, the nineteenth century abounds in murders, both in Russia and in the West. In 1879 there is a new attack on the King of Spain and an abortive attempt on the life of the Czar. In 1881 the Czar is murdered by terrorist members of the People's Will. Sofia Perovskaia, Jeliabov, and their friends are hanged. In 1883 takes place the attempt on the life of the Emperor of Germany, whose assailant is beheaded with an ax. In 1887 there are the executions of the Chicago martyrs and the congress of Spanish anarchists at Valencia, where they issue the terrorist proclamation: "If society does not capitulate, vice and evil must perish, even if we must all perish with them." In France the 1890's mark the culminating-point of what is called propaganda by action. The exploits of Ravachol, Vaillant, and Henry are the prelude to Carnot's assassination. In the year 189Z alone there are more than a thousand dynamite outrages in Europe, and in America almost five hundred. In 1898 the Empress Elisabeth of Austria is murdered. In 1901 the President of the United States, McKinley, is assassinated. In Russia, where the series of attempts against the lives of minor representatives of the regime had not ceased, the Organization for Combat of the Socialist Revolutionary Party comes into being in 1903 and unites the most outstanding personalities of Russian terrorism. The murders of Plehve by Sazonov and of the Grand Duke Sergei by Kaliayev, in 1905, mark the culminating-point of the thirty years' apostolate of blood and terminate, for revolutionary religion, the age of martyrs. Nihilism, intimately involved with a frustrated religious movement, thus culminates in terrorism. In the universe of total negation, these young disciples try, with bombs, and revolvers and also with the courage with which they walk to the gallows, to escape from contradiction and to create the values they lack. Until their time, men died for what they knew, or for what they thought they knew. From their time on, it became the rather more difficult habit to sacrifice oneself for something about which one knew nothing, except that it was necessary to die so that it might exist. Until then, those who had to die put themselves in the hand of God in defiance of the justice of man. But on reading the declarations of the condemned victims of that period, we are amazed to see that all, without exception, entrusted themselves, in defiance of their judges, to the justice of other men who were not yet born. These men of the future remained, in the absence of supreme values, their last recourse. The future is the only transcendental value for men without God. The terrorists no doubt wanted first of all to destroy?to make absolutism totter under the shock of exploding bombs. But by their death, at any rate, they aimed at re-creating a community founded on love and justice, and thus to resume a mission that the Church had betrayed. The terrorists' real mission is to create a Church from whence will one day spring the new God. But is that all? If their voluntary assumption of guilt and death gave rise to nothing but the promise of a value still to come, the history of the world today would justify us in saying, for the moment at any rate, that they have died in vain and that they never have ceased to be nihilists. A value to come is, moreover, a contradiction in terms, since it can neither explain an action nor furnish a principle of choice as long as it has not been formulated. But the men of 1905, tortured by contradictions, really did give birth, by their very negation and death, to a value that will henceforth be imperative, which they brought to light in the belief that they were only announcing its advent. They ostensibly placed, above themselves and their executioners, that supreme and painful good which we have already found at the origins of rebellion. Let us stop and consider this value, at the moment when the spirit of rebellion encounters, for the last time in our history, the spirit of compassion. "How can we speak of terrorist activity without taking part in it?" exclaims the student Kaliayev. His companions, united ever since 1903, in the Organization for Combat of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, under the direction of Aze and later of Boris Savinkov, all live up to the standard of this admirable statement. They are men of the highest principles: the last, in the history of rebellion, to refuse no part of their condition or their drama. If their lives were dedicated to the terror, "if they had faith in it," as Pokotilov says, they never ceased to be torn asunder by it. History offers few examples of fanatics who have suffered from scruples, even in action. But the men of 1905 were always prey to doubts. The greatest homage we can pay them is to say that we would not be able, in 1950, to ask them one question that they themselves had not already asked and that, in their life or by their death, they had not partially answered. They quickly passed into the realms of history, however. When Kaliayev, for example, in 1903, decided to take part with Savinkov in terrorist activity, he was twenty-six years old. Two years later the "Poet," as he was called, was hanged. It was a short career. But to anyone who examines with a little feeling the history of that period, Kaliayev, in his breathtaking career, displays the most significant aspect of terrorism. Sazonov, Schweitzer, Pokotilov, Voinarovsky, and most of the other anarchists likewise burst upon the scene of Russian history and poised there for a moment, dedicated to destruction, as the swift and unforgettable witnesses to an increasingly agonized protest. Almost all are atheists. "I remember," wrote Boris Voinarovsky, who died in throwing a bomb at Admiral Dubassov, "that even before going to high school I preached atheism to one of my childhood friends. Only one question embarrassed me. Where did my ideas come from? For I had not the least conception of eternity." Kaliayev himself believed in God. A few moments before an attempted assassination, which failed, Savinkov saw him in the street, standing in front of an ikon, holding the bomb in one hand and making the sign of the cross with the other. But he repudiated religion. In his cell, before his execution, he refused its consolations. The need for secrecy compelled them to live in solitude. They did not know, except perhaps in the abstract, the profound joy experienced by the man of action in contact with a large section of humanity. But the bond that united them replaced every other attachment in their minds. "Chivalry!" writes Sazonov, and comments on it thus: "Our chivalry was permeated with such a degree of feeling that the word brother in no way conveyed with sufficient clarity the essence of our relations with one another." From prison Sazonov writes to his friends: "For my part, the indispensable condition of happiness is to keep forever the knowledge of my perfect solidarity with you." As for Voinarovsky, he confesses that to a woman he loved who wished to detain him he made the following remark, which he recognizes as "slightly comic" but which, according to him, proves his state of mind: "I should curse you if I arrived late for my comrades." This little group of men and women, lost among the Russian masses, bound only to one another, chose the role of executioner, to which they were in no way destined. They lived in the same paradox, combining in themselves respect for human life in general and contempt for their own lives?to the point of nostalgia for the supreme sacrifice. For Dora Brilliant, the anarchist program was of no importance; terrorist action was primarily embellished by the sacrifice it demanded from the terrorist. "But," says Savinkov, "terror weighed on her like a cross." Kaliayev himself is ready to sacrifice his life at any moment. "Even better than that, he passionately desired to make this sacrifice." During the preparations for the attempt on Plehve, he stated his intention of throwing himself under the horses' hoofs and perishing with the Minister. With Voinarovsky also the desire for sacrifice coincides with the attraction of death. After his arrest he writes to his parents: "How many times during my adolescence the idea came to me to kill myself!..." At the same time, these executioners who risked their own lives so completely, made attempts on the lives of others only after the most scrupulous examination of conscience. The first attempt on the Grand Duke Sergei failed because Kaliayev, with the full approval of his comrades, refused to kill the children who were riding in the Grand Duke's carriage. Of Rachel Louriee, another terrorist, Savinkov writes: "She had faith in terrorist action, she considered it an honor and a duty to take part in it, but blood upset her no less than it did Dora." The same Savinkov was opposed to an attempt on Admiral Dubassov in the Petersburg-Moscow express because "if there were the least mistake, the explosion could take place in the car and kill strangers." Later Savinkov, "in the name of terrorist conscience," will deny with indignation having made a child of sixteen take part in an attempted assassination. At the moment of escaping from a Czarist prison, he decides to shoot any officers who might attempt to prevent his flight, but to kill himself rather than turn his revolver on an ordinary soldier. It is the same with Voinarovsky, who does not hesitate to kill men, but who confesses that he has never hunted, "finding the occupation barbarous," and who declares in his turn: "If Dubassov is accompanied by his wife, I shall not throw the bomb." Such a degree of self-abnegation, accompanied by such profound consideration for the lives of others, allows the supposition that these fastidious assassins lived out the rebel destiny in its most contradictory form. It is possible to believe that they too, while recognizing the inevitability of violence, nevertheless admitted to themselves that it is unjustifiable. Necessary and inexcusable?that is how murder appeared to them. Mediocre minds, confronted with this terrible problem, can take refuge by ignoring one of the terms of the dilemma. They are content, in the name of formal principles, to find all direct violence inexcusable and then to sanction that diffuse form of violence which takes place on the scale of world history. Or they will console themselves, in the name of history, with the thought that violence is necessary, and will add murder to murder, to the point of making of history nothing but a continuous violation of everything in man which protests against injustice. This defines the two aspects of contemporary nihilism, the bourgeois and the revolutionary. But the extremists, with whom we are concerned, forgot nothing. From their earliest days they were incapable of justifying what they nevertheless found necessary, and conceived the idea of offering themselves as a justification and of replying by personal sacrifice to the question they asked themselves. For them, as for all rebels before them, murder is identified with suicide. A life is paid for by another life, and from these two sacrifices springs the promise of a value. Kaliayev, Voinarovsky, and the others believe in the equal value of human lives. Therefore they do not value any idea above human life, though they kill for the sake of ideas. To be precise, they live on the plane of their idea. They justify it, finally, by incarnating it to the point of death. We are again confronted with a concept of rebellion which, if not religious, is at least metaphysical. Other men to come, consumed with the same devouring faith as these, will find their methods sentimental and refuse to admit that any one life is the equivalent of any other. They will then put an abstract idea above human life, even if they call it history, to which they themselves have submitted in advance and to which they will also decide, quite arbitrarily, to submit everyone else. The problem of rebellion will no longer be resolved by arithmetic, but by estimating probabilities. Confronted with the possibility that the idea may be realized in the future, human life can be everything or nothing. The greater the faith that the estimator places in this final realization, the less the value of human life. At the ultimate limit, it is no longer worth anything at all. We shall have occasion to examine this limit?that is, the period of State terrorism and of the philosophical executioners. But meanwhile the rebels of 1905, at the frontier on which they stand united, teach us, to the sound of exploding bombs, that rebellion cannot lead, without ceasing to be rebellion, to consolation and to the comforts of dogma. Their only evident victory is to triumph at least over solitude and negation. In the midst of a world which they deny and which rejects them, they try, man after man, like all the great-hearted ones, to reconstruct a brotherhood of man. The love they bear for one another, which brings them happiness even in the desert of a prison, which extends to the great mass of their enslaved and silent fellow men, gives the measure of their distress and of their hopes. To serve this love, they must first kill; to inaugurate the reign of innocence, they must accept a certain culpability. This contradiction will be resolved for them only at the very last moment. Solitude and chivalry, renunciation and hope will only be surmounted by the willing acceptance of death. Already Jeliabov, who organized the attempt on Alexander II in 1881 and was arrested forty-eight hours before the murder, had asked to be executed at the same time as the real perpetrator of the attempt. "Only the cowardice of the government," he said, "could account for the erection of one gallows instead of two." Five were erected, one of which was for the woman he loved. But Jeliabov died smiling, while Ryssakov, who had broken down during his interrogations, was dragged to the scaffold, half-mad with fear. Jeliabov did this because of a sort of guilt which he did not want to accept and from which he knew he would suffer, like Ryssakov, if he remained alone after having committed or been the cause of a murder. At the foot of the gallows, Sofia Perovskaia kissed the man she loved and her two other friends, but turned away from Ryssakov, who died solitary and damned by the new religion. For Jeliabov, death in the midst of his comrades coincided with his justification. He who kills is guilty only if he consents to go on living or if, to remain alive, he betrays his comrades. To die, on the other hand, cancels out both the guilt and the crime itself. Thus Charlotte Corday shouts at Fouquier-Tinville: "Oh, the monster, he takes me for an assassin!" It is the agonizing and fugitive discovery of a human value that stands halfway between innocence and guilt, between reason and irrationality, between history and eternity. At the moment of this discovery, but only then, these desperate people experience a strange feeling of peace, the peace of definitive victory. In his cell, Poli-vanov says that it would have been "easy and sweet" for him to die. Voinarovsky writes that he has conquered the fear of death. "Without a single muscle in my face twitching, without saying a word, I shall climb on the scaffold.... And this will not be an act of violence perpetrated on myself, it will be the perfectly natural result of all that I have lived through." Very much later Lieutenant Schmidt wlil write before being shot: "My death will consummate everything, and my cause, crowned by my death, will emerge irreproachable and perfect." Kaliayev, condemned to the gallows after having stood as prosecutor before the tribunal, declares firmly: "I consider my death as a supreme protest against a world of blood and tears," and again write?; "From the moment when I found myself behind bars, I never for one moment wanted to stay alive in any way whatsoever." His wish is granted. On May 10, at two o'clock in the morning, he walks toward the only justification he recognizes. Entirely dressed in black, without an overcoat, and wearing a felt hat, he climbs the scaffold. To Father Florinsky, who offers him the crucifix, the condemned man, turning from the figure of Christ, only answers: "I have already told you that I have finished with life and that I am prepared for death." Yes, the ancient value lives once more, at the culmination of nihilism, at the very foot of the gallows. It is the reflection, historic on this occasion, of the "we are" which we found at the termination of our analysis of the rebel mind. It is privation and at the same time enlightened conviction. It is this that shone with such mortal radiance on the agonized countenance of Dora Brilliant at the thought of him who died for himself and for tireless friendship; it is this that drives Sazonov to suicide in prison as a protest and "to earn respect for his comrades"; and this, again, which exonerates even Nechaiev on the day when he is asked to denounce his comrades by a general, whom he knocks to the ground with a single blow. By means of this, the terrorists, while simultaneously affirming the world of men, place themselves above this world, thus demonstrating for the last time in our history that real rebellion is a creator of values. Thanks to them, 1905 marks the highest peak of revolutionary momentum. But from then on, a decline sets in. Martyrs do not build Churches; they are the mortar, or the alibi. Then come the priests and the bigots. The revolutionaries who follow will not demand an exchange of lives. They accept the risk of death, but will also agree to preserve themselves as far as they can for the sake of serving the revolution. Thus they will accept complete culpability for themselves. Acquiescence in humiliation? that is the true characteristic of twentieth-century revolutionaries, who place the revolution and the Church of man above themselves. Kaliayev proves, on the contrary, that though the revolution is a necessary means, it is not a sufficient end. In this way he elevates man instead of degrading him. It is Kaliayev and his Russian and German comrades who, in the history of the world, really oppose Hegel,6 who first recognizes universal recognition as necessary and then as insufficient. Appearances did not suffice for him. When the whole world would have been willing to recognize him, a doubt would still have remained in Kaliayev's mind: he needed his own form of acquiescence, and the approbation of the whole world would not have sufficed to silence the doubt that a hundred enthusiastic acclamations give rise to in the mind of any honest man. Kaliayev doubted to the end, but this doubt did not prevent him from acting; it is for that reason that he is the purest image of rebellion. He who accepts death, to pay for a life with a life, no matter what his negations may be, affirms, by doing so, a value that surpasses him in his aspect of an individual in the historical sense. Kaliayev dedicates himself to history until death and, at the moment of dying, places himself above history. In a certain way, it is true, he prefers himself to history. But what should his preference be? Himself, whom he kills without hesitation, or the value he incarnates and makes immortal? The answer is not difficult to guess. Kaliayev and his comrades triumphed over nihilism. The Path of Chigalev But this triumph is to be short-lived: it coincides with death. Nihilism, provisionally, survives its victors. In the very bosom of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, political cynicism continues to wend its way to victory. The party leader who sends Kaliayev to his death, Azev, plays a double game and denounces the revolutionaries to the Okhrana while planning the deaths of ministers and grand dukes. The concept of provocation reinstates the "Everything is permitted," and again identifies history and absolute values. This particular form of nihilism, after having influenced individualistic socialism, goes on to contaminate so-called scientific socialism, which appears in Russia dur- 6 Two different species of men. One kills only once and pays with his life. The other justifies thousands of crimes and consents to be rewarded with honors. ing the 1880's.7 The joint legacy of Nechaiev and Marx will give birth to the totalitarian revolution of the twentieth century. While individual terrorism hunted down the last representatives of divine right, State terrorism was getting ready to destroy divine right definitively, at the very root of human society. The technique of the seizure of power for the realization of ultimate ends takes the first step toward the exemplary affirmation of these ends. Lenin, in fact, borrows from Tkachev, a friend and spiritual brother of Nechaiev, a concept of the seizure of power that he found "majestic" and that he himself recapitulated thus: "absolute secrecy, meticulous care in the choice of members, creation of professional revolutionaries." Tkachev, who died insane, makes the transition from nihilism to military socialism. He claimed to have created a Russian Jacobinism and yet only borrowed from the Jacobins their technique of action, since he, too, denied every principle and every virtue. An enemy of art and ethics, he reconciles the rational and the irrational only in tactics. His aim is to achieve human equality by seizure of the power of the State. Secret organizations, revolutionary alliances, dictatorial powers for revolutionary leaders?these were the themes that defined the concept, if not the realization, of "the apparatus" which was to enjoy so great and efficacious a success. As for the method itself, it is possible to form a fair idea of it when one learns that Tkachev proposed to suppress and eliminate all Russians over the age of twenty-five as incapable of assimilating the new ideas. A really inspired method, and one that was to prevail in the techniques of the modern super-State, where the fanatical education of children is carried on in the midst of a terrorized adult population. Caesarian socialism undoubtedly condemns individual terrorism to the extent that it revives values incompatible with the domination of historic reason. But it will restore terror on the level of the State?with the creation of an ulimately deified humanity as its sole justification. We have come full circle here, and rebellion, cut off from its real roots, unfaithful to man in having surrendered to history, now contemplates the subjection of the entire 7 The first Social Democratic group, Plekhanov's, began in 1883. universe. It is at this point that the era of Chigalevism begins?proclaimed, in The Possessed, by Verkhovensky, the nihilist who claims the right to choose dishonor. His is an unhappy and implacable mind 8 and he chooses the will to power, which, in fact, alone is capable of reigning over a history that has no other significance but itself. Chigalev, the philanthropist, is his guarantor; love of mankind will henceforth justify the enslavement of man. Possessed by the idea of equality,9 Chigalev, after long consideration, arrived at the despairing conclusion that only one system is possible even though it is a system of despair. "Beginning with the premise of unlimited freedom, I arrive at unlimited despotism." Complete freedom, which is the negation of everything, can only exist and justify itself by the creation of new values identified with the entire human race. If the creation of these values is postponed, humanity will tear itself to peices. The shortest route to these new standards passes by way of total dictatorship. "One tenth of humanity will have the right to individuality and will exercise unlimited authority over the other nine tenths. The latter will lose their individuality and will become like a flock of sheep; compelled to passive obedience, they will be led back to original innocence and, so to speak, to the primitive paradise, where, nevertheless, they must work." It is the government by philosophers of which the Utopians dream; philosophers of this type, quite simply, believe in nothing. The kingdom has come, but it negates real rebellion, and is only concerned with the reign of "the Christs of violence," to use the expression of an enthusiastic writer extolling the life and death of Ravachol. "The pope on high," says Verkhovensky bitterly, "with us around him, and beneath us Chigalevism." The totalitarian theocrats of the twentieth century and State terrorism are thus announced. The new aristocracy and the grand inquisitors reign today, by making use of the rebellion of the oppressed, over one part of our history. Their reign is cruel, but they excuse their cruelty, 8 "He represented himself as man after his fashion, and then he gave up his idea." 9 "Slander and assassination in extreme cases, but especially equality." like the Satan of the romantics, by claiming that it is hard for them to bear. "We reserve desire and suffering for ourselves; for the slaves there is Chigalevism." A new and somewhat hideous race of martyrs is now born. Their martyrdom consists in consenting to inflict suffering on others; they become the slaves of their own domination. For man to become god, the victim must abase himself to the point of becoming the executioner. That is why both victim and executioner are equally despairing. Neither slavery nor power will any longer coincide with happiness; the masters will be morose and the slaves sullen. Saint-Just was right: it is a terrible thing to torment the people. But how can one avoid tormenting men if one has decided to make them gods? Just as Kirilov, who kills himself in order to become God, accepts seeing his suicide made use of by Verkhovensky's "conspiracy," so man's deification by man breaks the bounds which rebellion, nevertheless, reveals, and thereby irrevocably commits itself to the labyrinth of tactics and terror from which history has not yet emerged. State Terrorism and Irrational Terror All modern revolutions have ended in a reinforcement of the power of the State. 1789 brings Napoleon; 1848, Napoleon III; 1917, Stalin; the Italian disturbances of the twenties, Mussolini; the Weimar Republic, Hitler. These revolutions, particularly after the First World War had liquidated the vestiges of divine right, still proposed, with increasing audacity, to build the city of humanity and of authentic freedom. The growing omnipotence of the State sanctioned this ambition on each occasion. It would be erroneous to say that this was bound to happen. But it is possible to examine how it did happen; and perhaps the lesson will follow. Apart from a few explanations that are not the subject of this essay, the strange and terrifying growth of the modern State can be considered as the logical conclusion of inordinate technical and philosophical ambitions, foreign to the true spirit of rebellion, but which nevertheless gave birth to the revolutionary spirit of our time. The prophetic dream of Marx and the over-inspired predictions of Hegel or of Nietzsche ended by conjuring up, after the city of God had been razed to the ground, a rational or irrational State, which in both cases, however, was founded on terror. In actual fact, the Fascist revolutions of the twentieth century do not merit the title of revolution. They lacked the ambition of universality. Mussolini and Hitler, of course, tried to build an empire, and the National Socialist ideologists were bent, explicitly, on world domination. But the difference between them and the classic revolutionary movement is that, of the nihilist inheritance, they chose to deify the irrational, and the irrational alone, in- stead of deifying reason. In this way they renounced their claim to universality. And yet Mussolini makes use of Hegel, and Hitler of Nietzsche; and both illustrate, historically, some of the prophecies of German ideology. In this respect they belong to the history of rebellion and of nihilism. They were the first to construct a State on the concept that everything is meaningless and that history is only written in terms of the hazards of force. The consequences were not long in appearing. As early as 1914 Mussolini proclaimed the "holy religion of anarchy," and declared himself the enemy of every form of Christianity. As for Hitler, his professed religion unhesitatingly juxtaposed the God-Providence and Valhalla. Actually his god was a political argument and a manner of reaching an impressive climax at the end of his speeches. As long as he was successful, he chose to believe that he was inspired. In the hour of defeat, he considered himself betrayed by his people. Between the two nothing intervened to announce to the world that he would ever have been capable of thinking himself guilty in relation to any principle. The only man of superior culture who gave Nazism an appearance of being a philosophy, Ernst Junger, even went so far as to choose the actual formulas of nihilism: "The best answer to the betrayal of life by the spirit is the betrayal of the spirit by the spirit, and one of the great and cruel pleasures of our times is to participate in the work of destruction." Men of action, when they are without faith, have never believed in anything but action. Hitler's untenable paradox lay precisely in wanting to found a stable order on perpetual change and no negation. Rauschning, in his Revolution of Nihilism, was right in saying that the Hitlerian revolution represented unadulterated dynamism. In Germany, shaken to its foundations by a calamitous war, by defeat, and by economic distress, values no longer existed. Although one must take into account what Goethe called "the German destiny of making everything difficult," the epidemic of suicides that swept through the entire country between the two wars indicates a great deal about the state of mental confusion. To those who despair of everything, not reason but only passion can provide a faith, and in this particular case it must be the same passion that lay at the root of the despair?namely, humiliation and hatred. There was no longer any standard of values, both common to and superior to all these men, in the name of which it would have been possible for them to judge one another. The Germany of 1933 thus agreed to adopt the degraded values of a mere handful of men and tried to impose them on an entire civilization. Deprived of the morality of Goethe, Germany chose, and submitted to, the ethics of the gang. Gangster morality is an inexhaustible round of triumph and revenge, defeat and resentment. When Mussolini extolled "the elemental forces of the individual," he announced the exaltation of the dark powers of blood and instinct, the biological justification of all the worst things produced by the instinct of domination. At the Nuremberg trials, Frank emphasized "the hatred of form" which animated Hitler. It is true that this man was nothing but an elemental force in motion, directed and rendered more effective by calculated cunning and by a relentless tactical clairvoyance. Even his physical appearance, which was thoroughly mediocre and commonplace, was no limitation: it established him firmly with the masses. Action alone kept him alive. For him, to exist was to act. That is why Hitler and his regime could not dispense with enemies. They could only define themselves, psycopathic dandies1 that they were, in relation to their enemies, and only assume their final form in the bloody battle that was to be their downfall. The Jews, the Freemasons, the plutocrats, the Anglo-Saxons, the bestial Slavs succeeded one another in their propaganda and their history as a means of propping up, each time a little higher, the blind force that was stumbling headlong toward its end. Perpetual strife demanded perpetual stimulants. Hitler was history in its purest form. "Evolution," said Junger, "is far more important than living." Thus he preached complete identification with the stream of life, on the lowest level and in defiance of all superior reality. A regime which invented a biological foreign policy was obviously acting against its own best interests. But at 1 It is well known that Goring sometimes entertained dressed as Nero and with his face made up. least it obeyed its own particular logic. Rosenberg speaks pompously of life in the following terms: "Like a column on the march, and it is of little importance toward what destination and for what ends this column is marching." Though later the column will strew ruins over the pages of history and will devastate its own country, it will at least have had the gratification of living. The real logic of this dynamism was either total defeat or a progress from conquest to conquest and from enemy to enemy, until the eventual establishment of the empire of blood and action. It is very unlikely that Hitler ever had any conception, at least at the beginning, of this empire. Neither by culture nor even by instinct or tactical intelligence was he equal to his destiny. Germany collapsed as a result of having engaged in a struggle for empire with the concepts of provincial politics. But Junger had grasped the import of this logic and had formulated it in definite terms. He had a vision of "a technological world empire," of a "religion of anti-Christian technology," of which the faithful and the militants would have themselves been the priests because (and here Junger rejoins Marx), on account of his human form, the worker is universal. "The statutes of a new authoritarian regime take the place of a change in the social contract. The worker is removed from the sphere of negotiation, from pity, and from literature and elevated to the sphere of action. Legal obligations are transformed into military obligations." It can be seen that the empire is simultaneously the factory and the barracks of the world, where Hegel's soldier worker reigns as a slave. Hitler was halted relatively soon on the way to the realization of this empire. But even if he had gone still farther, we should only have witnessed the more and more extensive deployment of an irresistible dynamism and the increasingly violent enforcement of cynical principles which alone would be capable of serving this dynamism. Speaking of such a revolution, Rauschning says that it has nothing to do with liberation, justice, and inspiration: it is "the death of freedom, the triumph of violence, and the enslavement of the mind." Fascism is an act of contempt, in fact. Inversely, every form of contempt, if it intervenes in politics, prepares the way for, or establishes, Fascism. It must be added that Fascism cannot be any- thing else but an expression of contempt without denying itself. Junger drew the conclusion, from his own principles, that it was better to be criminal than bourgeois. Hitler, who was endowed with less literary talent but, on this occasion, with more coherence, knew that to be either one or the other was a matter of complete indifference, from the moment that one ceased to believe in anything but success. Thus he authorized himself to be both at the same time. "Fact is all," said Mussolini. And Hitler added: "When the race is in danger of being oppressed... the question of legality plays only a secondary role." Moreover, in that the race must always be menaced in order to exist, there is never any legality. "I am ready to sign anything, to agree to anything.... As far as I am concerned, I am capable, in complete good faith, of signing treaties today and of dispassionately tearing them up tomorrow if the future of the German people is at stake." Before he declared war, moreover, Hitler made the statement to his generals that no one was going to ask the victor if he had told the truth or not. The leitmotiv of Goring's defense at the Nuremberg trials returned time and again to this theme: "The victor will always be the judge, and the vanquished will always be the accused." That is a point that can certainly be argued. But then it is hard to understand Rosenberg when he said during the Nuremberg trials that he had not foreseen that the Nazi myth would lead to murder. When the English prosecuting attorney observes that "from Mein Kampf the road led straight to the gas chambers at Maidenek," he touches on the real subject of the trial, that of the historic responsibilities of Western nihilism and the only one which, nevertheless, was not really discussed at Nuremberg, for reasons only too evident. A trial cannot be conducted by announcing the general culpability of a civilization. Only the actual deeds which, at least, stank in the nostrils of the entire world were brought to judgment. Hitler, in any case, invented the perpetual motion of conquest, without which he would have been nothing at all. But the perpetual enemy is perpetual terror, this time on the level of the State. The State is identified with the "apparatus"; that is to say, with the sum total of mechanisms of conquest and repression. Conquest directed toward the interior of the country is called repression or propaganda ("the first step on the road to hell," according to Frank). Directed toward the exterior, it creates the army. All problems are thus militarized and posed in terms of power and efficiency. The supreme commander determines policy and also deals with all the main problems of administration. This principle, axiomatic as far as strategy is concerned, is applied to civil life in general. One leader, one people, signifies one master and millions of slaves. The political intermediaries who are, in all societies, the guarantors of freedom, disappear to make way for a booted and spurred Jehovah who rules over the silent masses or, which comes to the same thing, over masses who shout slogans at the top of their lungs. There is no organ of conciliation or mediation interposed between the leader and the people, nothing in fact but the apparatus?in other words, the party?which is the emanation of the leader and the tool of his will to oppress. In this way the first and sole principle of this degraded form of mysticism is born, the Fuhr-erprinzip, which restores idolatry and a debased deity to the world of nihilism. Mussolini, the Latin lawyer, contented himself with reasons of State, which he transformed, with a great deal of rhetoric, into the absolute. "Nothing beyond the State, above the State, against the State. Everything to the State, for the State, in the State." The Germany of Hitler gave his false reasoning its real expression, which was that of a religion. "Our divine mission," says a Nazi newspaper during a party congress, "was to lead everyone back to his origins, back to the common Mother. It was truly a divine mission." These origins are thus to be found in primitive howls and shrieks. Who is the god in question? An official party declaration answers that: "All of us here below believe in Adolf Hitler, our Fiihrer... and [we confess] that National Socialism is the only faith which can lead our people to salvation." The commandments of the leader, standing in the burning bush of spotlights, on a Sinai of planks and flags, therefore comprise both law and virtue. If the superhuman microphones give orders only once for a crime to be committed, then the crime is handed down from chief to subchief until it reaches the slave who receives orders without being able to pass them on to anybody. One of the Dachau executioners weeps in prison and says: "I only obeyed orders. The Fuhrer and the Reichsfuhrer alone planned all this, and then they ran away. Gluecks received orders from Kaltenbrunner and, finally, I received orders to carry out the shootings. I have been left holding the bag because I was only a little Hauptscharfuhrer and because I couldn't hand it on any lower down the line. Now they say that I am the assassin." Goring during the trial proclaimed his loyalty to the Fiihrer and said that "there was still a code of honor in that accursed life." Honor lay in obedience, which was often confused with crime. Military law punishes disobedience by death, and its honor is servitude. When all the world has become military, then crime consists in not killing if orders insist on it. Orders, unfortunately, seldom insist on good deeds. Pure doctrinal dynamism cannot be directed toward good, but only toward efficacy. As long as enemies exist, terror will exist; and there will be enemies as long as dynamism exists to ensure that: "All the influences liable to undermine the sovereignty of the people, as exercised by the Fiihrer with the assistance of the party... must be eliminated." Enemies are heretics and must be converted by preaching or propaganda, exterminated by inquisition or by the Gestapo. The result is that man, if he is a member of the party, is no more than a tool in the hands of the Fiihrer, a cog in the apparatus, or, if he is the enemy of the Fiihrer, a waste product of the machine. The impetus toward irrationality of this movement, born of rebellion, now even goes so far as to propose suppressing all that makes man more than a cog in the machine; in other words, rebellion itself. The romantic individualism of the German revolutions finally satiated in the world of inanimate objects. Irrational terror transforms men into objects, "planetary bacilli," according to Hitler's formula. It proposes the destruction, not only of the individual, but of the universal possibilities of the individual, of reflection, solidarity, and the urge to absolute love. Propaganda and torture are the direct means of bringing about disintegration; more destructive still are systematic degradation, identification with the cynical criminal, and forced complicity. The triumph of the man who kills or tortures is marred by only one shadow: he is unable to feel that he is innocent. Thus, he must create guilt in his victim so that, in a world that has no direction, universal guilt will authorize no other course of action than the use of force and give its blessing to nothing but success. When the concept of innocence disappears from the mind of the innocent victim himself, the value of power establishes a definitive rule over a world in despair. That is why an unworthy and cruel penitence reigns over this world where only the stones are innocent. The condemned are compelled to hang one another. Even the innocent cry of maternity is stifled, as in the case of the Greek mother who was forced by an officer to choose which of her three sons was to be shot. This is the final realization of freedom: the power to kill and degrade saves the servile soul from utter emptiness. The hymn of German freedom is sung, to the music of a prisoners' orchestra, in the camps of death. The crimes of the Hitler regime, among them the massacre of the Jews, are without precedent in history because history gives no other example of a doctrine of such total destruction being able to seize the levers of command of a civilized nation. But above all, for the first time in history, the rulers of a country have used their immense power to establish a mystique beyond the bounds of any ethical considerations. This first attempt to found a Church on nihilism was paid for by complete annihilation. The destruction of Lidice demonstrates clearly that the systematic and scientific aspect of the Nazi movement really hides an irrational drive that can only be interpreted as a drive of despair and arrogance. Until then, there were supposedly only two possible attitudes for a conqueror toward a village that was considered rebellious. Either calculated repression and cold-blooded execution of hostages, or a savage and necessarily brief sack by enraged soldiers. Lidice was destroyed by both methods simultaneously. It illustrates the ravages of that irrational form of reason which is the only value that can be found in the whole story. Not only were all the houses burned to the ground, the hundred and seventy-four men of the village shot, the two hundred and three women deported, and the three hundred children transferred elsewhere to be educated in the religion of the Fuhrer, but special teams spent months at work leveling the terrain with dynamite, destroying the very stones, filling in the village pond, and finally diverting the course of the river. After that, Lidice was really nothing more than a mere possibility, according to the logic of the movement. To make assurance doubly sure, the cemetery was emptied of its dead, who might have been a perpetual reminder that once something existed in this place.2 The nihilist revolution, which is expressed historically in the Hitlerian religion, thus only aroused an insensate passion for nothingness, which ended by turning against itself. Negation, this time at any rate, and despite Hegel, has not been creative. Hitler presents the example, perhaps unique in history, of a tyrant who left absolutely nothing to his credit. For himself, for his people, and for the world, he was nothing but the epitome of suicide and murder. Seven million Jews assassinated, seven million Europeans deported or killed, ten million war victims, are perhaps not sufficient to allow history to pass judgment: history is accustomed to murderers. But the very destruction of Hitler's final justification?that is, the German nation?henceforth makes this man, whose presence in history for years on end haunted the minds of millions of men, into an inconsistent and contemptible phantom. Speer's deposition at the Nuremberg trials showed that Hitler, though he could have stopped the war before the point of total disaster, really wanted universal suicide and the material and political destruction of the German nation. The only value for him remained, until the bitter end, success. Since Germany had lost the war, she was cowardly and treacherous and she deserved to die. "If the German people are incapable of victory, they are unworthy to live." Hitler therefore decided to drag them with him to the grave and to make their destruction an apotheosis, when the Russian cannon were already splitting apart the walls of his palace in Berlin. Hitler, Goring, who 2 It is striking to note that atrocities reminiscent of these excesses were committed in colonies (India, 1857; Algeria, 1945; etc.) by European nations that in reality obeyed the same irrational prejudice of racial superiority. wanted to see his bones placed in a marble tomb, Goeb-bels, Himmler, Ley, killed themselves in dugouts or in cells. But their deaths were deaths for nothing; they were like a bad dream, a puff of smoke that vanishes. Neither efficacious nor exemplary, they consecrate the bloodthirsty vanity of nihilism. "They thought they were free," Frank cries hysterically; "didn't they know that no one escapes from Hitlerism?" They did not know; nor did they know that the negation of everything is in itself a form of servitude and that real freedom is an inner submission to a value which defies history and its successes. But the Fascist mystics, even though they aimed at gradually dominating the world, really never had pretensions to a universal empire. At the very most, Hitler, astonished at his own victories, was diverted from the provincial origins of his movement towards the indefinite dream of an empire of the Germans that had nothing to do with the universal City. Russian Communism, on the contrary, by its very origins, openly aspires to world empire. That is its strength, its deliberate significance, and its importance in our history. Despite appearances, the German revolution had no hope of a future. It was only a primitive impulse whose ravages have been greater than its real ambitions. Russian Communism, on the contrary, has appropriated the metaphysical ambition that this book describes, the erection, after the death of God, of a city of man finally deified. The name revolution, to which Hitler's adventure had no claim, was once deserved by Russian Communism, and although it apparently deserves it no longer, it claims that one day it will deserve it forever. For the first time in history, a doctrine and a movement based on an Empire in arms has as its purpose definitive revolution and the final unification of the world. It remains for us to examine this pretension in detail. Hitler, at the height of his madness, wanted to fix the course of history for a thousand years. He believed himself to be on the point of doing so, and the realist philosophers of the conquered nations were preparing to acknowledge this and to excuse it, when the Battle of Britain and Stalingrad threw him back on the path of death and set history once more on the march. But, as indefatigable as history itself, the claim of the human race to divinity is once more brought to life, with more seriousness, more efficiency, and more reason, under the auspices of the rational State as it is to be found in Russia. State Terrorism and Rational Terror Marx, in nineteenth-century England, in the midst of the terrible sufferings caused by the transition from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy, had plenty of material for constructing a striking analysis of primitive capitalism. As for Socialism, apart from the lessons, which for the most part contradicted his doctrines, that he could draw from the French Revolution, he was obliged to speak in the future tense and in the abstract. Thus it is not astonishing that he could blend in his doctrine the most valid critical method with a Utopian Messianism of highly dubious value. The unfortunate thing is that his critical method, which, by definition, should have been adjusted to reality, has found itself farther and farther separated from facts to the exact extent that it wanted to remain faithful to the prophecy. It was thought, and this is already an indication of the future, that what was conceded to truth could be taken from Messianism. This contradiction is perceptible in Marx's lifetime. The doctrine of the Communist Manifesto is no longer strictly correct twenty years later, when Das Kapital appears. Das Kapital, nevertheless, remained incomplete, because Marx was influenced at the end of his life by a new and prodigious mass of social and economic facts to which the system had to be adapted anew. These facts concerned, in particular, Russia, which he had spurned until then. We now know that the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow ceased, in 1935, the publication of the complete works of Marx while more than thirty volumes still remained unpublished; doubtless the content of these volumes was not "Marxist" enough. Since Marx's death, in any case, only a minority of disciples have remained faithful to his method. The Marxists who have made history have, on the contrary, appropriated the prophecy and the apocalyptic aspects of his doctrine in order to realize a Marxist revolution, in the exact circumstances under which Marx had foreseen that a revolution could not take place. It can be said of Marx that the greater part of his predictions came into conflict with facts as soon as his prophecies began to become an. object of increasing faith. The reason is simple: the predictions were short-term and could be controlled. Prophecy functions on a very long-term basis and has as one of its properties a characteristic that is the very source of strength of all religions: the impossibility of proof. When the predictions failed to come true, the prophecies remained the only hope; with the result that they alone rule over our history. Marxism and its successors will be examined here from the angle of prophecy. The Bourgeois Prophecy Marx is simultaneously a bourgeois and a revolutionary prophet. The latter is better known than the former. But the former explains many things in the career of the latter. A Messianism of Christian and bourgeois origin, which was both historical and scientific, influenced his revolutionary Messianism, which sprang from German ideology and the French rebellions. In contrast to the ancient world, the unity of the Christian and Marxist world is astonishing. The two doctrines have in common a vision of the world which completely separates them from the Greek attitude. Jaspers defines this very well: "It is a Christian way of thinking to consider that the history of man is strictly unique." The Christians were the first to consider human life and the course of events as a history that is unfolding from a fixed beginning toward a definite end, in the course of which man achieves his salvation or earns his punishment. The philosophy of history springs from a Christian representation, which is surprising to a Greek mind. The Greek idea of evolution has nothing in common with our idea of historical evolution. The difference between the two is the difference between a circle and a straight line. The Greeks imagined the history of the world as cyclical. Aristotle, to give a definite example, did not believe that the time in which he was living was subsequent to the Trojan War. Christianity was obliged, in order to penetrate the Mediterranean world, to Hellenize itself, and its doctrine then became more flexible. But its originality lay in introducing into the ancient world two ideas that had never before been associated: the idea of history and the idea of punishment. In its concept of mediation, Christianity is Greek. In its idea of history, Christianity is Judaic and will be found again in German ideology. It is easier to understand this dissimilarity by underlining the hostility of historical methods of thought toward nature, which they considered as an object not for contemplation but for transformation. For the Christian, as for the Marxist, nature must be subdued. The Greeks are of the opinion that it is better to obey it. The love of the ancients for the cosmos was completely unknown to the first Christians, who, moreover, awaited with impatience an imminent end of the world. Hellenism, in association with Christianity, then produces the admirable efflorescence of the Albigensian heresy on the one hand, and on the other Saint Francis. But with the Inquisition and the destruction of the Albigensian heresy, the Church again parts company with the world and with beauty, and gives back to history its pre-eminence over nature. Jaspers is again right in saying: "It is the Christian attitude that gradually empties the world of its substance... since the substance resided in a conglomeration of symbols." These symbols are those of the drama of the divinity, which unfolds throughout time. Nature is only the setting for this drama. The delicate equilibrium between humanity and nature, man's consent to the world, which gives ancient thought its distinction and its refulgence, was first shattered for the benefit of history by Christianity. The entry into this history of the Nordic peoples, who have no tradition of friendship with the world, precipitated this trend. From the moment that the divinity of Christ is denied, or that, thanks to the efforts of German ideology, He only symbolizes the man-god, the concept of mediation disappears and a Judaic world reappears. The implacable god of war rules again; all beauty is insulated as the source of idle pleasures, nature itself is enslaved. Marx, from this point of view, is the Jeremiah of the god of history and the Saint Augustine of the revolution. That this explains the really reactionary aspects of his doctrine can be demonstrated by a simple comparison with his one contemporary who was an intelligent theorist of reaction. Joseph de Maistre refutes Jacobinism and Calvinism, two doctrines which summed up for him "everything bad that has been thought for three centuries," in the name of a Christian philosophy of history. To counter schisms and heresies, he wanted to re-create "the robe without a seam" of a really catholic Church. His aim?and this can be seen at the period of his Masonic adventures?is the universal Christian city. Maistre dreams of the protoplastic Adam, or the Universal Man, of Fabre d'Olivet, who will be the rallying-point of individual souls, and of the Adam Kadmon of the cabalists, who preceded the Fall and who must now be brought to life again. When the Church has reclaimed the world, she will endow this first and last Adam with a body. In the Soirees in St. Petersburg there is a mass of formulas on this subject which bear a striking resemblance to the Messianic formulas of Hegel and Marx. In both the terrestrial and the celestial Jerusalem that Maistre imagines, "all the inhabitants pervaded by the same spirit will pervade one another and will reflect one another's happiness." Maistre does not go so far as to deny personal survival after death; he only dreams of a mysterious unity reconquered in which, "evil having been annihilated, there will be no more passion nor self-interest," and where "man will be reunited with himself when his double standard will be obliterated and his two centers unified." In the city of absolute knowledge, where the eyes of the mind and the eyes of the body became as one, Hegel also reconciled contradictions. But Maistre's vision again coincides with that of Marx, who proclaims "the end of the quarrel between essence and existence, between freedom and necessity." Evil, for Maistre, is nothing but the destruction of unity. But humanity must rediscover its unity on earth and in heaven. By what means? Maistre, who is an ancien regime reactionary, is less explicit on this point than Marx. Meanwhile he was waiting for a great religious revolution of which 1789 was only the "appalling preface." He quotes Saint John, who asks that we make truth, which is exactly the program of the modern revolutionary mind, and Saint Paul, who announces that "the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." Humanity marches, by way of crimes, violence, and death, toward this final consummation, which will justify everything. The earth for Maistre is nothing but "an immense altar on which all the living must be sacrificed, without end, without limit, without respite, until the end of time, until the extinction of evil, until the death of death." His fatalism, however, is active as well as passive. "Man must act as if he were capable of all things and resign himself as if he were capable of nothing." We find in Marx the same sort of creative fatalism. Maistre undoubtedly justifies the established order. But Marx justifies the order that is established in his time. The most eloquent eulogy of capitalism was made by its greatest enemy. Marx is only anti-capitalist in so far as capitalism is out of date. Another order must be established which will demand, in the name of history, a new conformity. As for the means, they are the same for Marx as for Maistre: political realism, discipline, force. When Maistre adopts Bossuet's bold idea that "the heretic is he who has personal ideas"?in other words, ideas that have no reference to either a social or a religious tradition?he provides the formula for the most ancient and the most modern of conformities. The attorney general, pessimistic choirmaster of the executioner, announcess our diplomatic prosecutors. It goes without saying that these resemblances do not make Maistre a Marxist, nor Marx a traditional Christian. Marxist atheism is absolute. But nevertheless it does reinstate the supreme being on the level of humanity. "Criticism of religion leads to this doctrine that man is for man the supreme being. From this angle, socialism is therefore an enterprise for the deification of man and has assumed some of the characteristics of traditional religions.1 This reconciliation, in any case, is instructive as 1 Saint-Simon, who influences Marx, is, moreover, influenced himself by Maistre and Bonald. concerns the Christian origins of all types of historic Messianism, even revolutionary Messianism. The only difference lies in a change of symbols. With Maistre, as with Marx, the end of time realizes Vigny's ambitious dream, the reconciliation of the wolf and the lamb, the procession of criminal and victim to the same altar, the reopening or opening of a terrestrial paradise. For Marx, the laws of history reflect material reality; for Maistre, they reflect divine reality. But for the former, matter is the substance; for the latter, the substance of his god is incarnate here below. Eternity separates them at the beginning, but the doctrines of history end by reuniting them in a realistic conclusion. Maistre hated Greece (it also irked Marx, who found any form of beauty under the sun completely alien), of which he said that it had corrupted Europe by bequeathing it its spirit of division. It would have been more appropriate to say that Greek thought was the spirit of unity, precisely because it could not do without intermediaries, and because it was, on the contrary, quite unaware of the historical spirit of totality, which was invented by Christianity and which, cut off from its religious origins, threatens the life of Europe today. "Is there a fable, a form of madness, a vice which has not a Greek name, a Greek emblem, or a Greek mask?" We can ignore the outraged puritanism. This passionate denunciation expresses the spirit of modernity at variance with the ancient world and in direct continuity with authoritarian socialism, which is about to deconsecrate Christianity and incorporate it in a Church bent on conquest. Marx's scientific Messianism is itself of bourgeois origin. Progress, the future of science, the cult of technology and of production, are bourgeois myths, which in the nineteenth century became dogma. We note that the Communist Manifesto appeared in the same year as Renan's Future of Science. This profession of faith, which would cause considerable consternation to a contemporary reader, nevertheless gives the most accurate idea of the almost mystic hopes aroused in the nineteenth century by the expansion of industry and the surprising progress made by science. This hope is the hope of bourgeois society itself?the final beneficiary of technical progress. The idea of progress is contemporary with the age of enlightenment and with the bourgeois revolution. Of course, certain sources of its inspiration can be found in the seventeenth century; the quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns already introduced into European ideology the perfectly absurd conception of an artistic form of progress. In a more serious fashion, the idea of a science that steadily increases its conquests can also be derived from Cartesian philosophy. But Turgot, in 1750, is the first person to give a clear definition of the new faith. His treatise on the progress of the human mind basically recapitulates Bossuet's universal history. The idea of progress alone is substituted for the divine will. "The total mass of the human race, by alternating stages of calm and agitation, of good and evil, always marches, though with dragging footsteps, toward greater and greater perfection." This optimistic statement will furnish the basic ingredient of the rhetorical observations of Condorcet, the official theorist of progress, which he linked with the progress of the State and of which he was also the official victim in that the enlightened State forced him to poison himself. Sorel2 was perfectly correct in saying that the philosophy of progress was exactly the philosophy to suit a society eager to enjoy the material prosperity derived from technical progress. When we are assured that tomorrow, in the natural order of events, will be better than today, we can enjoy ourselves in peace. Progress, paradoxically, can be used to justify conservatism. A draft drawn on confidence in the future, it allows the master to have a clear conscience. The slave and those whose present life is miserable and who can find no consolation in the heavens are assured that at least the future belongs to them. The future is the only kind of property that the masters willingly concede to the slaves. These reflections are not, as we can see, out of date. But they are not out of date because the revolutionary spirit has resumed this ambiguous and convenient theme of progress. Of course, it is not the same kind of progress; Marx cannot pour enough scorn on bourgeois rational optimism. His concept of reason, as we shall see, is differ- 2 Les Illusions du progres. ent. But arduous progress toward a future of reconciliation nevertheless defines Marx's thought. Hegel and Marxism destroyed the formal values that lighted for the Jacobins the straight road of this optimistic version of history. In this way they preserved the idea of the forward march of history, which was simply confounded by them with social progress and declared necessary. Thus they continued on the path of nineteenth-century bourgeois thought. Toc-queville, enthusiastically succeeded by Pecqueur (who influenced Marx), had solemnly proclaimed that: "The gradual and progressive development of equality is both the past and the future of the history of man." To obtain Marxism, substitute the term level of production for equality and imagine that in the final stage of production a transformation takes place and a reconciled society is achieved. As for the necessity of evolution, Auguste Comte, with the law of three stages of man, which he formulates in 1822, gives the most systematic definition of it. Comte's conclusions are curiously like those finally accepted by scientific socialism.3 Positivism demonstrates with considerable clarity the repercussions of the ideological revolution of the nineteenth century, of which Marx is one of the representatives, and which consisted in relegating to the end of history the Garden of Eden and the Revelation, which tradition had always placed at the beginning. The positivist era, which was bound to follow the metaphysical era and the theological era, was to mark the advent of a religion of humanity. Henri Gouhier gives an exact definition of Comte's enterprise when he says that his concern was to discover a man without any traces of God. Comte's primary aim, which was to substitute everywhere the relative for the absolute, was quickly transformed, by force of circumstances, into the deification of the relative and into preaching a religion that is both universal and without transcendence. Comte saw in the Jacobin cult of Reason an anticipation of positivism and considered himself, with perfect justification, as the real successor of the revolutionaries of 1789. He continued and enlarged the scope of this revolution by suppressing 3 The last volume of Cours de philosophic positive appeared in the same year as Feuerbach's Essence of Christianity. the transcendence of principles and by systematically founding the religion of the species. His formula: "Set aside God in the name of religion," meant nothing else but this. Inaugurating a mania that has since enjoyed a great vogue, he wanted to be the Saint Paul of this new religion and replace the Catholicism of Rome by the Catholicism of Paris. We know that he wanted to see in all the cathedrals "the statue of deified humanity on the former altar of God." He calculated with considerable accuracy that positivism would be preached in Notre-Dame before1860. This calculation was not so ridiculous as it seems. Notre-Dame, in a state of siege, still resists: but the religion of humanity was effectively preached toward the end of the nineteenth century, and Marx, despite the fact that he had not read Comte, was one of its prophets. Marx only understood that a religion which did not embrace transcendence should properly be called politics. Comte knew it too, after all, or at least he understood that his religion was primarily a form of social idolatry and that it implied political realism,4 the negation of individual rights, and the establishment of despotism. A society whose experts would be priests, two thousand bankers and technicians ruling over a Europe of one hundred and twenty million inhabitants where private life would be absolutely identified with public life, where absolute obedience "of action, of thought, and of feeling" would be given to the high priest who would reign over everything, such was Comte's Utopia, which announces what might be called the horizontal religions of our times. It is true that it is Utopian because, convinced of the enlightening powers of science, Comte forgot to provide a police force. Others will be more practical; the religion of humanity will be effectively founded on the blood and suffering of humanity. Finally, if we add to these observations the remark that Marx owes to the bourgeois economists the idea, which he claims exclusively as his own, of the part played by industrial production in the development of humanity, and that he took the essentials of his theory of work-value from Ricardo,. an economist of the bourgeois industrial 4 "Everything that develops spontaneously is necessarily legitimate, for a certain time." revolution, our right to say that his prophecy is bourgeois in content will doubtless be recognized. These comparisons only aim to show that Marx, instead of being, as the fanatical Marxists of our day would have it, the beginning and the end of the prophecy,5 participates on the contrary in human nature: he is an heir before he is a pioneer. His doctrine, which he wanted to be a realist doctrine, actually was realistic during the period of the religion of science, of Darwinian evolutionism, of the steam engine and the textile industry. A hundred years later, science encounters relativity, uncertainty, and chance; the economy must take into account electricity, metallurgy, and atomic production. The inability of pure Marxism to assimilate these successive discoveries was shared by the bourgeois optimism of Marx's time. It renders ridiculous the Marxist pretension of maintaining that truths one hundred years old are unalterable without ceasing to be scientific. Nineteenth-century Messianism, whether it is revolutionary or bourgeois, has not resisted the successive developments of this science and this history, which to different degrees they have deified. The Revolutionary Prophecy Marx's prophecy is also revolutionary in principle. In that all human reality has its origins in the fruits of production, historical evolution is revolutionary because the economy is revolutionary. At each level of production the economy arouses the antagonisms that destroy, to the profit of a superior level of production, the corresponding society. Capitalism is the last of these stages of production because it produces the conditions in which every antagonism will be resolved and where there will be no more economy. On that day our history will become prehistory. This representation is the same as Hegel's, but in another perspective. The dialectic is considered from the 5 According to Zhdanov, Marxism is "a philosophy that is qualitatively different from any previous system." This means, for example, either that Marxism is not Cartesianism, which no one would dream of denying, or that Marxism owes essentially nothing to Cartesianism, which is absurd. angle of production and work instead of from the angle of the spirit. Marx, of course, never spoke himself about dialectical materialism. He left to his heirs the task of extolling this logical monstrosity. But he says, at the same time, that reality is dialectic and that it is economic. Reality is a perpetual process of evolution, propelled by the fertile impact of antagonisms which are resolved each time into a superior synthesis which, itself, creates its opposite and again causes history to advance. What Hegel affirmed concerning reality advancing toward the spirit, Marx affirms concerning economy on the march toward the classless society; everything is both itself and its opposite, and this contradiction compels it to become something else. Capitalism, because it is bourgeois, reveals itself as revolutionary and prepares the way for communism. Marx's originality lies in affirming that history is simultaneously dialectic and economic. Hegel, more extreme, affirmed that it was both matter and spirit. Moreover, it could only be matter to the extent that it was spirit and vice versa. Marx denies the spirit as the definitive substance and affirms historical materialism. We can immediately remark, with Berdyaev, on the impossibility of reconciling the dialectic with materialism. There can be a dialectic only of the mind. But even materialism itself is an ambiguous idea. Only to form this word, it must be admitted that there is something more in the world than matter alone. For even stronger reasons, this criticism applies to historical materialism. History is distinguished from nature precisely by the fact that it transforms science and passion by means of will. Marx, then, is not a pure materialist, for the obvious reason that there is neither a pure nor an absolute materialism. So far is it from being pure or absolute that it recognizes that if weapons can secure the triumph of theory, theory can equally well give birth to weapons. Marx's position would be more properly called historical determinism. He does not deny thought; he imagines it absolutely determined by exterior reality. "For me, the process of thought is only the reflection of the process of reality transported and transposed to the mind of man." This particularly clumsy definition has no meaning. How and by what means can an exterior process be "transported to the mind," and this difficulty is as nothing compared to that of then defining "the transposition" of this process. But Marx used the abbreviated philosophy of his time. What he wishes to say can be defined on other planes. For him, man is only history, and in particular the history of the means of production. Marx, in fact, remarks that man differs from animals in that he produces his own means of subsistence. If he does not first eat, if he does not clothe himself or take shelter, he does not exist. This primum vivere is his first determination. The little that he thinks at this moment is in direct relation to these inevitable necessities. Marx then demonstrates that his dependence is both invariable and inevitable. "The history of industry is the open book of man's essential faculties." His personal generalization consists in inferring from this affirmation, which is on the whole acceptable, that economic dependence is unique and suffices to explain everything, a concept that still remains to be demonstrated. We can admit that economic determination plays a highly important role in the genesis of human thoughts and actions without drawing the conclusion, as Marx does, that the German rebellion against Napoleon is explained only by the lack of sugar and coffee. Moreover, pure determinism is absurd in itself. If it were not, then one single affirmation would suffice to lead, from consequence to consequence, to the entire truth. If this is not so, then either we have never made a single true affirmation?not even the one stated by determinism?or we simply happen occasionally to say the truth, but without any consequences, and determinism is then false. Marx had his reasons, however, which are foreign to pure logic, for resorting to so arbitrary a simplification. To put economic determination at the root of all human action is to sum man up in terms of his social relations. There is no such thing as a solitary man; that is the indisputable discovery of the nineteenth century. An arbitrary deduction then leads to the statement that man only feels solitary in society for social reasons. If, in fact, the solitary mind must be explained by something outside man, then man is on the road to some form of transcendence. On the other hand, society has only man as its source of origin; if, in addition, it can be affirmed that society is the creator of man, it would seem as though one had achieved the total explanation that would allow the final banishment of transcendence. Man would then be, as Marx wanted, "author and actor of his own history." Marx's prophecy is revolutionary because he completes the movement of negation begun by the philosophy of illumination. The Jacobins destroyed the transcendence of a personal god, but replaced it by the transcendence of principles. Marx institutes contemporary atheism by also destroying the transcendence of principles. Faith is replaced in 1789 by reason. But this reason itself, in its fixity, is transcendent. Marx destroys, even more radically than Hegel, the transcendence of reason and hurls it into the stream of history. Even before their time, history was a regulating principle; now it is triumphant. Marx goes farther than Hegel and pretends to consider him as an idealist (which he is not, at least no more than Marx is a materialist) to the precise extent that the reign of the mind restores in a certain way a supra-historical value. Das Kapital returns to the dialectic of mastery and servitude, but replaces a consciousness of self by economic autonomy and the final reign of the absolute Spirit through the advent of communism. "Atheism is humanism mediated by the suppression of religion, communism is humanism mediated by the suppression of private property." Religious alienation has the same origin as economic alienation. Religion can be disposed of only by achieving the absolute liberty of man in regard to his material determinations. The revolution is identified with atheism and with the reign of man. That is why Marx is brought to the point of putting the emphasis on economic and social determination. His most profitable undertaking has been to reveal the reality that is hidden behind the formal values of which the bourgeois of his time made a great show. His theory of mystification is still valid, because it is in fact universally true, and is equally applicable to revolutionary mystifications. The freedom of which Monsieur Thiers dreamed was the freedom of privilege consolidated by the police; the family, extolled by the conservative newspapers, was supported by social conditions in which men and women were sent down into the mines, half-naked, attached to a communal rope; morality prospered on the prostitution of the working classes. That the demands of honesty and intelligence were put to egoistic ends by the hypocrisy of a mediocre and grasping society was a misfortune that Marx, the incomparable eye-opener, denounced with a vehemence quite unknown before him. This indignant denunciation brought other excesses in its train which require quite another denunciation. But, above all, we must recognize and state that the denunciation was born in the blood of the abortive Lyon rebellion of 1834 and in the despicable cruelty of the Versailles moralists in 1871. "The man who has nothing is nothing." If this affirmation is actually false, it was very nearly true in the optimist society of the nineteenth century. The extreme decadence brought about by the economy of prosperity was to compel Marx to give first place to social and economic relationships and to magnify still more his prophecy of the reign of man. It is now easier to understand the purely economic explanation of history offered by Marx. If principles are deceptive, only the reality of poverty and work is true. If it is then possible to demonstrate that this suffices to explain the past and the future of mankind, then principles will be destroyed forever and with them the society that profits by them. This in fact is Marx's ambition. Man is born into a world of production and social relations. The unequal opportunities of different lands, the more or less rapid improvements in the means of production, and the struggle for life have rapidly created social inequalities that have been crystallized into antagonisms between production and distribution; and consequently into class struggles. These struggles and antagonisms are the motive power of history. Slavery in ancient times and feudal bondage were stages on a long road that led to the artisanship of the classical centuries when the producer was master of the means of production. At this moment the opening of world trade routes and the discovery of new outlets demanded a less provincial form of production. The contradiction between the method of production and the new demands of distribution already announces the end of the regime of small-scale agricultural and industrial production. The industrial revolution, the invention of steam appliances, and competition for outlets inevitably led to the expropriation of the small proprietor and to the introduction of large-scale production. The means of production are then concentrated in the hands of those who are able to buy them; the real producers, the workers, now only dispose of the strength of their arms, which can be sold to the "man with the money." Thus bourgeois capitalism is defined by the separation of the producer from the means of production. From this conflict a series of inevitable consequences are going to spring which allow Marx to predicate the end of social antagonisms. At first sight there is no reason why the firmly established principle of a dialectical class struggle should suddenly cease to be true. It is always true or it has never been true. Marx says plainly that there will be no more classes after the revolution than there were Estates after 1789. But Estates disappeared without classes disappearing, and there is nothing to prove that classes will not give way to some other form of social antagonism. The essentia] point of the Marxist prophecy lies, nevertheless, in this affirmation. We know the Marxist scheme. Marx, following in the footsteps of Adam Smith and Ricardo, defines the value of all commodities in terms of the amount of work necessary to produce them. The amount of work is itself a commodity, sold by the proletarian to the capitalist, of which the value is defined by the quantity of work that produces it; in other words, by the value of the consumer's goods necessary for his subsistence. The capitalist, in buying this commodity, thereby undertakes to pay for it adequately so that he who sells it, the worker, may feed and perpetuate himself. But at the same time he acquires the right to make the latter work as long as he can. He can work for a long time, very much longer than is necessary to pay for his subsistence. In a twelve-hour day, if half the time suffices to produce a value equivalent to the value of the products of subsistence, the other six hours are hours not paid for, a plus-value, which constitutes the capitalist's own profit. Thus the capitalist's interest lies in prolonging to the maximum the hours of work or, when he can do so no longer, of increasing the worker's output to the maximum. The first type of coercion is a matter of oppression and cruelty. The second is a question of the organization of labor. It leads first to the division of labor, and then to the utilization of the machine, which dehumanizes the worker. Moreover, competition for foreign markets and the necessity for larger and larger investments in raw materials, produce phenomena of concentration and accumulation. First, small capitalists are absorbed by big capitalists who can maintain, for example, unprofitable prices for a longer period. A larger and larger part of the profits is finally invested in new machines and accumulated in the fixed assets of capital. This double movement first of all hastens the ruin of the middle classes, who are absorbed into the proletariat, and then proceeds to concentrate, in an increasingly small number of hands, the riches produced uniquely by the proletariat. Thus the proletariat increases in size in proportion to its increasing ruin. Capital is now concentrated in the hands of only a very few masters, whose growing power is based on robbery. Moreover, these masters are shaken to their foundations by successive crises, overwhelmed by the contradictions of the system, and can no longer assure even mere subsistence to their slaves, who then come to depend on private or public charity. A day comes, inevitably, when a huge army of oppressed slaves find themselves face to face with a handful of despicable masters. That day is the day of revolution. "The ruin of the bourgeoisie and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable." This henceforth famous description does not yet give an account of the end of all antagonisms. After the victory of the proletariat, the struggle for life might well give birth to new antagonisms. Two ideas then intervene, one of which is economic, the identity of the development of production and the development of society, and the other, purely systematic, the mission of the proletariat. These two ideas reunite in what might be called Marx's activist fatalism. The same economic evolution which in effect concentrates capital in a very few hands, makes the antagonism both more violent and, to a certain extent, unreal. It seems that, at the highest point of development of the productive forces, the slightest stimulus would lead to the proletariat finding itself alone in possession of the means of production, already snatched from the grasp of private ownership and concentrated in one enormous mass which, henceforth, would be held in common. When private property is concentrated in the hands of one single owner, it is only separated from collective ownership by the existence of one single man. The inevitable result of private capitalism is a kind of State capitalism which will then only have to be put to the service of the community to give birth to a society where capital and labor, henceforth indistinguishable, will produce, in one identical advance toward progress, both justice and abundance. It is in consideration of this happy outcome that Marx always extolled the revolutionary role played, unconsciously it is true, by the bourgeoisie. He spoke of the "historic rights" of capitalism, which he called a source both of progress and of misery. The historical mission and the justification of capitalism are, in his eyes, to prepare the conditions for a superior mode of production. This mode of production is not in itself revolutionary; it will only be the consummation of the revolution. Only the fundamental principles of bourgeois production are revolutionary. When Marx affirms that humanity only sets itself problems it can solve, he is simultaneously demonstrating that the germ of the solution of the revolutionary problem is to be found in the capitalist system itself. Therefore he recommends tolerating the bourgeois State, and even helping to build it, rather than returning to a less industrialized form of production. The proletariat "can and must accept the bourgeois revolution as a condition of the working-class revolution." Thus Marx is the prophet of production and we are justified in thinking that on this precise point, and on no other, he ignored reality in favor of the system. He never ceased defending Ricardo, the economist of production in the manner of Manchester, against those who accused him of wanting production for production's sake ("He was absolutely right!" Marx exclaims) and of wanting it without any consideration for mankind. "That is precisely his merit," Marx replies, with the same airy indifference as Hegel. What in fact does the sacrifice of individual men matter as long as it contributes to the salvation of all mankind! Progress resembles "that horrible pagan god who wished to drink nectar only from the skulls of his fallen enemies." But at least it is progress, and it will cease to inflict torture after the industrial apocalypse when the day of reconciliation comes. But if the proletariat cannot avoid this revolution nor avoid being put in possession of the means of production, will it at least know how to use them for the benefit of all? Where is the guarantee that, in the very bosom of the revolution, Estates, classes, and antagonisms will not arise? The guarantee lies in Hegel. The proletariat is forced to use its wealth for the universal good. It is not the proletariat, it is the universal in opposition to the particular? in other words, to capitalism. The antagonism between capital and the proletariat is the last phase of the struggle between the particular and the universal, the same struggle that animated the historical tragedy of master and slave. At the end of the visionary design constructed by Marx, the proletariat will unite all classes and discard only a handful of masters, perpetrators of "notorious crime," who will be justly destroyed by the revolution. What is more, capitalism, by driving the proletariat to the final point of degradation, gradually delivers it from every decision that might separate it from other men. It has nothing, neither property nor morality nor country. Therefore it clings to nothing but the species of which it is henceforth the naked and implacable representative. In affirming itself it affirms everything and everyone. Not because members of the proletariat are gods, but precisely because they have been reduced to the most abjectly inhuman condition. "Only the proletariat, totally excluded from this affirmation of their personality, are capable of realizing the complete affirmation of self." That is the mission of the proletariat: to bring forth supreme dignity from supreme humiliation. Through its suffering and its struggles, it is Christ in human form redeeming the collective sin of alienation. It is, first of all, the multiform bearer of total negation and then the herald of definitive affirmation. "Philosophy cannot realize itself without the disappearance of the proletariat, the proletariat cannot liberate itself without the realization of philosophy," and again: "The proletariat can exist only on the basis of world history.... Communist action can exist only as historical reality on the planetary scale." But this Christ is, at the same time, an avenger. According to Marx, he carries out the sentence that private property passes on itself. "All the houses, in our times, are marked with a mysterious red cross. The judge is history, the executioner is the proletariat." Thus the fulfillment is inevitable. Crisis will succeed crisis,6 the degradation of the proletariat will become more and more profound, it will increase in numbers until the time of the universal crisis when the world of change will vanish and when history, by a supreme act of violence, will cease to be violent any longer. The kingdom of ends will have come. We can see that this fatalism could be driven (as happened to Hegelian thought) to a sort of political quietism by Marxists, like Kautsky, for whom it was as little within the power of the proletariat to create the revolution as within the power of the bourgeois to prevent it. Even Lenin, who was to choose the activist aspect of the doctrine, wrote in 1905, in the style of an act of excommunication: "It is a reactionary way of thinking to try to find salvation in the working class in any other way than in the top- heavy development of capitalism." It is not in the nature of economics, according to Marx, to make leaps in the dark and it must not be encouraged to gallop ahead. It is completely false to say that the socialist reformers remained faithful to Marx on this point. On the contrary, fatalism excludes all reforms, in that there would be a risk of mitigating the catastrophic aspect of the outcome and, consequently, delaying the inevitable result. The logic of such an attitude leads to the approval of everything that tends to increase working-class poverty. The worker must be given nothing so that one day he can have everything. And yet Marx saw the danger of this particular form of quietism. Power cannot be looked forward to or else it is looked forward to indefinitely. A day comes when it must be seized, and it is the exact definition of this day that remains of doubtful clarity to all readers of Marx. On this point he never stops contradicting himself. He re- 6 Every ten or eleven years, Marx predicted. But the period between the recurrence of the cycles "will gradually shorten." marked that society was "historically compelled to pass through a period of dictatorship by the working classes." As for the nature of this dictatorship, his definitions are contradictory.7 We are sure that he condemned the State in no uncertain terms, saying that its existence and the existence of servitude are inseparable. But he protested against Bakunin's nevertheless judicious observation of finding the idea of provisional dictatorship contrary to what is known as human nature. Marx thought, it is true, that the dialectical truths were superior to psychological truths. What does the dialectic say? That "the abolition of the State has no meaning except among communists, where it is an inevitable result of the suppression of classes, the disappearance of which necessarily leads to the disappearance of the need for a power organized by one class for the oppression of another." According to the sacred formula, the government of people was then to be replaced by the administration of affairs. The dialectic was therefore explicit and justified the existence of the proletarian State only for the period necessary for the destruction or integration of the bourgeois class. But, unfortunately, the prophecy and its attitude of fatalism allowed other interpretations. If it is certain that the kingdom will come, what does time matter? Suffering is never provisional for the man who does not believe in the future. But one hundred years of suffering are fleeting in the eyes of the man who prophesies, for the hundred and first year, the definitive city. In the perspective of the Marxist prophecy, nothing matters. In any event, when the bourgeois class has disappeared, the proletariat will establish the rule of the universal man at the summit of production, by the very logic of productive development. What does it matter that this should be accomplished by dictatorship and violence? In this New Jerusalem, echoing with the roar of miraculous machinery, who will still remember the cry of the victim? The golden age, postponed until the end of history and coincident, to add to its attractions, with an apoc-7 Michel Collinet in The Tragedy of Marxism points out in Marx three forms of the seizure of power by the proletariat: Jacobin republic in the Communist Manifesto, authoritarian dictatorship in the 18 Brumaire, and federal and libertarian government in the Civil War in France. alypse, therefore justifies everything. The prodigious ambitions of Marxism must be considered and its inordinate doctrines evaluated, in order to understand that hope on such a scale leads to the inevitable neglect of problems that therefore appear to be secondary. "Communism in so far as it is the real appropriation of the human essence by man and for man, in so far as it is the return of man to himself as a social being?in other words, as a human being?a complete conscious return which preserves all the values of the inner movement, this communism, being absolute naturalism, coincides with humanism: it is the real end of the quarrel between man and nature, between man and man, between essence and existence, between externalization and the affirmation of self, between liberty and necessity, between the individual and the species. It solves the mystery of history and is aware of having solved it." It is only the language here that attempts to be scientific. Basically, where is the difference from Fourier, who announces "fertile deserts, sea water made drinkable and tasting of violets, eternal spring.. ."? The eternal springtime of mankind is foretold to us in the language of an encyclical. What can man without God want and hope for, if not the kingdom of man? This explains the exaltation of Marxist disciples. "In a society without anguish, it is easy to ignore death," says one of them. However, and this is the real condemnation of our society, the anguish of death is a luxury that is felt far more by the idler than by the worker, who is stifled by his own occupation. But every kind of socialism is Utopian, most of all scientific socialism. Utopia replaces God by the future. Then it proceeds to identify the future with ethics; the only values are those which serve this particular future. For that reason Utopias have almost always been coercive and authoritarian.8 Marx, in so far as he is a Utopian, does not differ from his frightening predecessors, and one part of his teaching more than justifies his successors. It has undoubtedly been correct to emphasize the ethical demands that form the basis of the Marxist dream. It must, in all fairness, be said, before examining the check to Marxism, that in them lies the real greatness of Marx. 8 Morelly, Babeuf, and Godwin in reality describe societies based on an inquisition. The very core of his theory was that work is profoundly dignified and unjustly despised. He rebelled against the degradation of work to the level of a commodity and of the worker to the level of an object. He reminded the privileged that their privileges were not divine and that property was not an eternal right. He gave a bad conscience to those who had no right to a clear conscience, and denounced with unparelleled profundity a class whose crime is not so much having had power as having used it to advance the ends of a mediocre society deprived of any real nobility. To him we owe the idea which is the despair of our times ?but here despair is worth more than any hope?that when work is a degradation, it is not life, even though it occupies every moment of a life. Who, despite the pretensions of this society, can sleep in it in peace when they know that it derives its mediocre pleasures from the work of millions of dead souls? By demanding for the worker real riches, which are not the riches of money but of leisure and creation, he has reclaimed, despite all appearance to the contrary, the dignity of man. In doing so, and this can be said with conviction, he never wanted the additional degradation that has been imposed on man in his name. One of his phrases, which for once is clear and trenchant, forever withholds from his triumphant disciples the greatness and the humanity which once were his: "An end that requires unjust means is not a just end." But Nietzsche's tragedy is found here once again. The aims, the prophecies are generous and universal, but the doctrine is restrictive, and the reduction of every value to historical terms leads to the direst consequences. Marx thought that the ends of history, at least, would prove to be moral and rational. That was his Utopia. But Utopia, at least in the form he knew it, is destined to serve cynicism, of which he wanted no part. Marx destroys all transcendence, then carries out, by himself, the transition from fact to duty. But his concept of duty has no other origin but fact. The demand for justice ends in injustice if it is not primarily based on an ethical justification ot justice; without this, crime itself one day becomes a duty. When good and evil are reintegrated in time and confused with events, nothing is any longer good or bad, but only either premature or out of date. Who will decide on the opportunity, if not the opportunist? Later, say the disciples, you shall judge. But the victims will not be there to judge. For the victim, the present is the only value, rebellion the only action. Messianism, in order to exist, must construct a defense against the victims. It is possible that Marx did not want this, but in this lies his responsibility which must be examined, that he incurred by justifying, in the name of the revolution, the henceforth bloody struggle against all forms of rebellion. The Failing of the Prophecy Hegel haughtily brings history to an end in 1807; the disciples of Saint-Simon believe that the revolutionary convulsions of 1830 and 1848 are the last; Comte dies in 1857 preparing to climb into the pulpit and preach positivism to a humanity returned at last from the path of error. With the same blind romanticism, Marx, in his turn, prophesies the classless society and the solution of the historical mystery. Slightly more circumspect, however, he does not fix the date. Unfortunately, his prophecy also described the march of history up to the hour of fulfillment; it predicted the trend of events. The events and the facts, of course, have forgotten to arrange themselves according to the synthesis; and this already explains why it has been necessary to rally them by force. But above all, the prophecies, from the moment that they begin to betray the living hopes of millions of men, cannot with impunity remain indeterminate. A time comes when deception transforms patient hope into furious disillusionment and when the ends, affirmed with the mania of obstinacy, demanded with ever-increasing cruelty, make obligatory the search for other means. The revolutionary movement at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth lived, like the early Christians, in the expectation of the end of the world and the advent of the proletarian Christ. We know how persistent this sentiment was among primitive Christian communities. Even at the end of the fourth century a bishop in proconsular Africa calculated that the world would only exist for another one hundred and one years. At the end of this period would come the kingdom of heaven, which must be merited without further delay. This sentiment is prevalent in the first century9 and explains the indifference of the early Christians toward purely theological questions. If the advent is near, everything must be consecrated to a burning faith rather than to works and to dogma. Until Clement and Tertullian during more than a century, Christian literature ignored theological problems and did not elaborate on the subject of works. But from the moment the advent no longer seems imminent, man must live with his faith?in other words, compromise. Then piety and the catechism appear on the scene. The evangelical advent fades into the distance; Saint Paul has come to establish dogma. The Church has incorporated the faith that has only an ardent desire for the kingdom to come. Everything had to be organized in the period, even martyrdom, of which the temporal witnesses are the monastic orders, and even the preaching, which was to be found again in the guise of the Inquisition. A similar movement was born of the check to the revolutionary advent. The passages from Marx already cited give a fair idea of the burning hope that inspired the revolutionary spirit of the time. Despite partial setbacks, this faith never ceased to increase up to the moment when it found itself, in 1917, face to face with the partial realization of its dreams. "We are fighting for the gates of heaven," cried Liebknecht. In 1917 the revolutionary world really believed that it had arrived before those gates. Rosa Luxemburg's prophecy was being realized. "The revolution will rise resoundingly tomorrow to its full height and, to your consternation, will announce with the sound of all its trumpets: I was, I am, I shall be." The Spartakus movement believed that it had achieved the definitive revolution because, according to Marx himself, the latter would come to pass after the Russian Revolution had been consummated by a Western revolution. After the revolution of 1917, a Soviet Germany would, in fact, have opened the gates of heaven. But the Spartakus movement is crushed, the French general strike of 1920 fails, 9 On the imminence of this event, see Mark ix, 1; xiii, 30; Matthew x, 23; xvi, 27-8; xxiv, 34; Luke ix, 26-7; xxi, 22, etc. the Italian revolutionary movement is strangled. Liebknecht then recognizes that the time is not ripe for revolution. "The period had not yet drawn to a close." But also, and now we grasp how defeat can excite vanquished faith to the point of religious ecstasy: "At the crash of economic collapse whose rumblings can already be heard, the sleeping soldiers of the proletariat will awake as at the fanfare of the Last Judgment, and the corpses of the victims of the struggle will arise and demand an accounting from those who are bowed down with curses." While awaiting these events, Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg are assassinated, and Germany rushes toward servitude. The Russian Revolution remains isolated, living in defiance of its own system, still far from the celestial gates, with an apocalypse to organize. The advent is again postponed. Faith is intact, but it totters beneath an enormous load of problems and discoveries which Marxism had not foreseen. The new religion is once more confronted with Galilee: to preserve its faith, it must deny the sun and humiliate free man. What does Galilee say, in fact, at this moment? What are the errors, demonstrated by history itself, of the prophecy? We know that the economic evolution of the contemporary world refutes a certain number of the postulates of Marx. If the revolution is to occur at the end of two parallel movements, the unlimited shrinking of capital and the unlimited expansion of the proletariat, it will not occur or ought not to have occurred. Capital and proletariat have both been equally unfaithful to Marx. The tendency observed in industrial England of the nineteenth century has, in certain cases, changed its course, and in others become more complex. Economic crises, which should have occurred with increasing frequency, have, on the contrary, become more sporadic: capitalism has learned the secrets of planned production and has contributed on its own part to the growth of the Moloch State. Moreover, with the introduction of companies in which stock could be held, capital, instead of becoming increasingly concentrated, has given rise to a new category of smallholders whose very last desire would certainly be to encourage strikes. Small enterprises have been, in many cases, destroyed by competition as Marx foresaw. But the complexity of modern production has generated a multitude of small factories around great enterprises. In 1938 Ford was able to announce that five thousand two hundred independent workshops supplied him with their products. Of course large industries inevitably assimilated these enterprises to a certain extent. But the essential thing is that these small industrialists form an intermediary social layer which complicates the scheme that Marx imagined. Finally, the law of concentration has proved absolutely false in agricultural economy, which was treated with considerable frivolity by Marx. The hiatus is important here. In one of its aspects, the history of socialism in our times can be considered as the struggle between the proletarian movement and the peasant class. This struggle continues, on the historical plane, the nineteenth-century ideological struggle between authoritarian socialism and libertarian socialism, of which the peasant and artisan origins are quite evident. Thus Marx had, in the ideological material of his time, the elements for a study of the peasant problem. But his desire to systematize made him oversimplify everything. This particular simplification was to prove expensive for the kulaks who constituted more than five million historic exceptions to be brought, by death and deportation, within the Marxist pattern. The same desire for simplification diverted Marx from the phenomenon of the nation in the very century of nationalism. He believed that through commerce and exchange, through the very victory of the proletariat, the barriers would fall. But it was national barriers that brought about the fall of the proletarian ideal. As a means of explaining history, the struggle between nations has been proved at least as important as the class struggle. But nations cannot be entirely explained by economics; therefore the system ignored them. The proletariat, on its part, did not toe the line. First of all, Marx's fear is confirmed: reforms and trade unions brought about a rise in the standard of living and an amelioration in working conditions. These improvements are very far from constituting an equitable settlement of the social problem; but the miserable condition of the English textile workers in Marx's time, far from becoming general and even deteriorating, as he would have liked, has on the contrary been alleviated. Marx would not complain about this today, the equilibrium having been reestablished by another error in his predictions. It has, in fact, been possible to prove that the most efficacious revolutionary or trade-union asset has always been the existence of a working-class elite who have not been sterilized by hunger. Poverty and degeneration have never ceased to be what they were before Marx's time, and what he did not want to admit they were despite all his observations: factors contributing to servitude not to revolution. One third of working-class Germany was unemployed in 1933. Bourgeois society was then obliged to provide a means of livelihood for these unemployed, thus bringing about the situation that Marx said was essential for revolution. But it is not a good thing that future revolutionaries should be put in the situation of expecting to be fed by the State. This unnatural habjt leads to others, which are even less good, and which Hitler made into doctrine. Finally, the proletariat did not increase in numbers indefinitely. The very conditions of industrial production, which every Marxist is called upon to encourage, improved, to a considerable extent, the conditions of the middle class1 and even created a new social stratum, the technicians. The ideal, so dear to Lenin, of a society in which the engineer would at the same time be a manual laborer is in conflict with the facts. The principal fact is that technology, like science, has reached such a degree of complication that it is not possible for a single man to understand the totality of its principles and applications. It is almost impossible, for instance, for a physicist today to have a complete understanding of the biological science of his times. Even within the realms of physics he cannot claim to be equally familiar with every branch of the subject. It is the same in technology. From the moment that productivity, which is considered by both bourgeois and Marxist as a benefit in itself, is developed to enormous proportions, the division of labor, which Marx thought could have been avoided, became inevitable. Every worker 1 From 1920 to 1930, in a period of intense productivity, the number of metallurgical workers decreased in the United States, while the number of salesmen working for the same industry almost doubled. has been brought to the point of performing a particular function without knowing the over-all plan into which his work will fit. Those who co-ordinate individual work have formed, by their very function, a class whose social importance is decisive. It is only fair to point out that this era of technocracy announced by Burnham was described, about twenty years ago, by Simone Weil in a form that can be considered complete, without drawing Burnham's unacceptable conclusions. To the two traditional forms of oppression known to humanity?oppression by armed force and by wealth? Simone Weil adds a third?oppression by occupation. "One can abolish the opposition between the buyer and the seller of work," she wrote, "without abolishing the opposition between those who dispose of the machine and those of whom the machine disposes." The Marxist plan to abolish the degrading opposition of intellectual work to manual work has come into conflict with the demands of production, which elsewhere Marx exalted. Marx undoubtedly foresaw, in Das Kapital, the importance of the "manager" on the level of maximum concentration of capital. But he did not believe that this concentration of capital could survive the abolition of private property. Division of labor and private property, he said, are identical expressions. History has demonstrated the contrary. The ideal regime based on collective property could be defined, according to Lenin, as justice plus electricity. In the final analysis it is only electricity, without justice. The idea of a mission of the proletariat has not, so far, been able to formulate itself in history: this sums up the failing of the Marxist prophecy. The failure of the Second International has proved that the proletariat was influenced by other things as well as its economic condition and that, contrary to the famous formula, it had a fatherland. The majority of the proletariat accepted or submitted to the war and collaborated, willy-nilly, in the nationalist excesses of the times. Marx intended that the working classes before they triumphed should have acquired legal and political acumen. His error lay only in believing that extreme poverty, and particularly industrial poverty, could lead to political maturity. Moreover, it is quite certain that the revolutionary capacity of the masses was curtailed by the decapitation of the libertarian revolution, during and after the Commune. After all, Marxism easily dominated the working-class movement from 1872 on, undoubtedly because of its own strength, but also because the only socialist tradition that could have opposed it had been drowned in blood; there were practically no Marxists among the insurgents of 1871. This automatic purification of revolution has been continued, thanks to the activities of police states, until our times. More and more, revolution has found itself delivered into the hands of its bureaucrats and doctrinaires on the one hand, and to enfeebled and bewildered masses on the other. When the revolutionary elite are guillotined and when Talleyrand is left alive, who will oppose Bonaparte? But to these historical reasons are added economic necessities. The passages by Simone Weil on the condition of the factory worker2 must be read in order to realize to what degree of moral exhaustion and silent despair the rationalization of labor can lead. Simone Weil is right in saying that the worker's condition is doubly inhumane in that he is first deprived of money and then of dignity. Work in which one can have an interest, creative work, even though it is badly paid, does not degrade life. Industrial socialism has done nothing essential to alleviate the condition of the workers because it has not touched on the very principle of production and the organization of labor, which, on the contrary, it has extolled. It even went so far as to offer the worker a historic justification of his lot of much the same value as a promise of celestial joys to one who works himself to death; never did it attempt to give him the joy of creation. The political form of society is no longer in question at this level, but the beliefs of a technical civilization on which capitalism and socialism are equally dependent. Any ideas that do not advance the solution of this problem hardly touch on the misfortunes of the worker. Only through the interplay of economic forces, so much admired by Marx, has the proletariat been able to reject the historical mission with which Marx had rightly charged it. His error can be excused because, confronted with the debasement of the ruling classes, a man who has the future of civilization at heart instinctively looks for 2 La Condition ouvriere (Paris: Gallimard). an elite as a replacement. But this instinctive search is not, in itself alone, creative. The revolutionary bourgeoisie seized power in 1789 because they already had it. At this period legality, as Jules Monnerot says, was lagging behind the facts. The facts were that the bourgeoisie were already in possession of the posts of command and of the new power: money. The proletariat were not at all in the same position, having only their poverty and their hopes and being kept in their condition of misery by the bourgeoisie. The bourgeois class debased itself by a mania for production and material power, while the very organization of this mania made the creation of an elite impossible.3 But criticism of this organization and the development of rebel conscience could, on the contrary, forge a reserve elite. Only revolutionary trade unionism, with Pelloutier and Sorel, embarked on this course and wanted to create, by professional and cultural education, new cadres for which a world without honor was calling and still calls. But that could not be accomplished in a day and the new masters were already on the scene, interested in making immediate use of human unhappiness for the sake of happiness in the distant future, rather than in relieving as much and as soon as possible the suffering of millions of men. The authoritarian socialists deemed that history was going too slowly and that it was necessary, in order to hurry it on, to entrust the mission of the proletariat to a handful of doctrinaires. For that very reason they have been the first to deny this mission. Nevertheless it exists, not in the exclusive sense that Marx gives it, but in the sense that a mission exists for any human group which knows how to derive pride and fecundity from its labors and its sufferings. So that it can manifest itself, however, a risk must be taken and confidence put in working- class freedom and spontaneity. Authoritarian socialism, on the contrary, has confiscated this living freedom for the 3 Lenin was the first to record this truth, but without any apparent bitterness. If his words are terrible for revolutionary hopes, they are no less so for Lenin himself. He dared to say, in fact, that the masses would more easily accept bureaucratic and dictatorial centralism because "discipline and organization are assimilated more easily by the proletariat, thanks to the hard school of the factory." benefit of an ideal freedom, which is yet to come. In so doing, whether it wished to or not, it reinforced the attempt at enslavement begun by industrial capitalism. By the combined action of these two factors and during a hundred and fifty years, except in the Paris of the Commune, which was the last refuge of rebel revolution, the proletariat has had no other historical mission but to be betrayed. The workers fought and died to give power to the military or to intellectuals who dreamed of becoming military and who would enslave them in their turn. This struggle, however, has been the source of their dignity, a fact that is recognized by all who have chosen to share their aspirations and their misfortunes. But this dignity has been acquired in opposition to the whole clan of old and new masters. At the very moment when they dare to make use of it, it denies them. In one sense, it announces their eclipse. The economic predictions of Marx have, therefore, been at least called in question by reality. What remains true in his vision of the economic world is the establishment of a society more and more defined by the rhythm of production. But he shared this concept, in the enthusiasm of his period, with bourgeois ideology. The bourgeois illusions concerning science and technical progress, shared by the authoritarian socialists, gave birth to the civilization of the machine-tamers, which can, through the stresses of competition and the desire for domination, be separated into enemy blocs, but which on the economic plane is subject to identical laws: the accumulation of capital and rationalized and continually increasing production. The political difference, which concerns the degree of omnipotence of the State, is appreciable, but can be reduced by economic evolution. Only the difference in ethical concepts ?formal virtue as opposed to historical cynicism?seems substantial. But the imperative of production dominates both universes and makes them, on the economic plane, one world.4 In any event, if the economic imperative can no longer 4 It is worth specifying that productivity is only injurious when it is considered as an end, not as a means, in which case it could have a liberating effect. be denied,5 its consequences are not what Marx imagined. Economically speaking, capitalism becomes oppressive through the phenomenon of accumulation. It is oppressive through being what it is, it accumulates in order to increase what it is, to exploit it all the more, and accordingly to accumulate still more. At that moment accumulation would be necessary only to a very small extent in order to guarantee social benefits. But the revolution, in its turn, becomes industrialized and realizes that, when accumulation is an attribute of technology itself, and not of capitalism, the machine finally conjures up the machine. Every form of collectivity, fighting for survival, is forced to accumulate instead of distributing its revenues. It accumulates in order to increase in size and so to increase in power. Whether bourgeois or socialist, it postpones justice for a later date, in the interests of power alone. But power opposes other forms of power. It arms and rearms because others are arming and rearming. It does not stop accumulating and will never cease to do so until the day when perhaps it will reign alone on earth. Moreover, for that to happen, it must pass through a war. Until that day the proletariat will receive only the bare minimum for its subsistence. The revolution compels itself to construct, at a great expenditure in human lives, the industrial and capitalist intermediary that its own system demands. Revenue is replaced by human labor. Slavery then becomes the general condition, and the gates of heaven remain locked. Such is the economic law governing a world that lives by the cult of production, and the reality is even more bloody than the law. Revolution, in the dilemma into which it has been led by its bourgeois opponents and its nihilist supporters, is nothing but slavery. Unless it changes its principles and its path, it can have no other final result than servile rebellions, obliterated in blood or the hideous 5 Although it was deniable?until the eighteenth century? during all the period in which Marx thought he had discovered it. Historical examples in which the conflict between forms of civilization did not end in progress in methods of production: destruction of the Mycenaean civilization, invasion of Rome by the barbarians, expulsion of the Moors from Spain, extermination of the Albigenses. prospect of atomic suicide. The will to power, the nihilist struggle for domination and authority, have done considerably more than sweep away the Marxist Utopia. This has become in its turn a historic fact destined to be put to use like all the other historic facts. This idea, which was supposed to dominate history, has become lost in history; the concept of abolishing means has been reduced to a means in itself and cynically manipulated for the most banal and bloody ends. The uninterrupted development of production has not ruined the capitalist regime to the benefit of the revolution. It has equally been the ruin of both bourgeois and revolutionary society to the benefit of an idol that has the snout of power. How could a so-called scientific socialism conflict to such a point with facts? The answer is easy: it was not scientific. On the contrary, its defeat resulted from a method ambiguous enough to wish to be simultaneously determinist and prophetic, dialectic and dogmatic. If the mind is only the reflection of events, it cannot anticipate their progress, except by hypothesis. If Marxist theory is determined by economics, it can describe the past history of production, not its future, which remains in the realms of probability. The task of historical materialism can only be to establish a method of criticism of contemporary society; it is only capable of making suppositions, unless it abandons its scientific attitude, about the society of the future. Moreover, is it not for this reason that its most important work is called Capital and not Revolution? Marx and the Marxists allowed themselves to prophesy the future and the triumph of communism to the detriment of their postulates and of scientific method. Then predictions could be scientific, on the contrary, only by ceasing to prophesy definitively. Marxism is not scientific; at the best, it has scientific prejudices. It brought out into the open the profound difference between scientific reasoning, that fruitful instrument of research, of thought, and even of rebellion, and historical reasoning, which German ideology invented by its negation of all principles. Historical reasoning is not a type of reasoning that, within the framework of its own functions, can pass judgment on the world. While pretending to judge it, it really tries to determine its course. Essentially a part of events, it directs them and is simultaneously pedagogic and all-conquering. Moreover, its most abstruse descriptions conceal the most simple truths. If man is reduced to being nothing but a character in history, he has no other choice but to subside into the sound and fury of a completely irrational history or to endow history with the form of human reason. Therefore the history of contemporary nihilism is nothing but a prolonged endeavor to give order, by human forces alone and simply by force, to a history no longer endowed with order. The pseudo-reasoning ends by identifying itself with cunning and strategy, while waiting to culminate in the ideological Empire. What part could science play in this concept? Nothing is less determined on conquest than reason. History is not made with scientific scruples; we are even condemned to not making history from the moment when we claim to act with scientific objectivity. Reason does not preach, or if it does, it is no longer reason. That is why historical reason is an irrational and romantic form of reason, which sometimes recalls the false logic of the insane and at other times the mystic affirmation of the word. The only really scientific aspect of Marxism is to be found in its preliminary rejection of myths and in its exposure of the crudest kind of interests. But in this respect Marx is not more scientific in his attitude than La Rochefoucauld; and that is just the attitude that he abandons when he embarks on prophecy. Therefore it is not surprising that, to make Marxism scientific and to preserve this fiction, which is very useful in this century of science, it has been a necessary first step to render science Marxist through terror. The progress of science, since Marx, has roughly consisted in replacing determinism and the rather crude mechanism of its period by a doctrine of provisional probability. Marx wrote to Engels that the Darwinian theory constituted the very foundation of their method. For Marxism to remain infallible, it has therefore been necessary to deny all biological discoveries made since Darwin. As it happens that all discoveries since the unexpected mutations established by De Vries have consisted in introducing, contrary to the doctrines of determinism, the idea of chance into biology, it has been necessary to entrust Lyssenko with the task of disciplining chromosomes and of demonstrating once again the truth of the most elementary determinism. That is ridiculous: but put a police force under Flaubert's Monsieur Homais and he would no longer be ridiculous, and there we have the twentieth century. As far as that is concerned, the twentieth century has also witnessed the denial of the principle of indeter-minism in science, of limited relativity, of the quantum theory,6 and, finally, of every general tendency of contemporary science. Marxism is only scientific today in defiance of Heisenberg, Bohr, Einstein, and all the greatest minds of our time. After all, there is really nothing mysterious about the principle that consists in using scientific reasoning to the advantage of a prophecy. This has already been named the principle of authority, and it is this that guides the Churches when they wish to subject living reason to dead faith and freedom of the intellect to the maintenance of temporal power. Finally, there remains of Marx's prophecy?henceforth in conflict with its two principles, economy and science? only the passionate annunciation of an event that will take place in the very far future. The only recourse of the Marxists consists in saying that the delays are simply longer than was imagined and that one day, far away in the future, the end will justify all. In other words, we are in purgatory and we are promised that there will be no hell. And so the problem that is posed is of another order. If the struggle waged by one or two generations throughout a period of economic evolution which is, perforce, beneficial suffices to bring about a classless society, then the necessary sacrifice becomes comprehensible to the man with a militant turn of mind; the future for him has a concrete aspect?the aspect of his child, for instance. But if, when the sacrifice of several generations has proved insufficient, we must then embark on an infinite period of universal strife one thousand times more destructive than before, then the conviction of faith is needed in order to accept the necessity of killing and 6 Roger Callois, in Critique du Marxisme (Paris: Galli-mard), remarks that Stalinism objects to the quantum theory, but makes use of atomic science, which is derived from it. dying. This new faith is no more founded on pure reason than were the ancient faiths. In what terms is it possible to imagine this end of history? Marx did not fall back on Hegel's terms. He said, rather obscurely, that communism was only a necessary aspect of the future of humanity, and did not comprise the entire future. But either communism does not terminate the history of contradictions and suffering, and then it is no longer possible to see how one can justify so much effort and sacrifice; or it does terminate it, and it is no longer possible to imagine the continuation of history except as an advance toward this perfected form of society. Thus a mystic idea is arbitrarily introduced into a description that claims to be scientific. The final disappearance of political economy? the favorite theme of Marx and Engels?signifies the end of all suffering. Economics, in fact, coincides with pain and suffering in history, which disappear with the disappearance of history. We arrive at last in the Garden of Eden. We come no nearer to solving the problem by declaring that it is not a question of the end of history, but of a leap into the midst of a different history. We can only imagine this other history in terms of our own history; for man they are both one and the same thing. Moreover, this other history poses the same dilemma. Either it is not the solution of all contradictions and we suffer, die, and kill for almost nothing, or it is the solution of contradictions and therefore, to all intents and purposes, terminates our history. Marxism, at this stage, is only justified by the definitive city. Can it be said, therefore, that this city of ends has a meaning? It has, in terms of the sacred universe, once the religious postulate has been admitted. The world was created, it will have an end; Adam left Eden, humanity must return there. It has no meaning, in the historical universe, if the dialectical postulate is admitted. The dialectic correctly applied cannot and must not come to an end.7 The antagonistic terms of a historical situation can negate one another and then be surmounted in a new synthesis. 7 See the excellent discussion by Jules Mounerot in Sociolo-gie du communisme, Part III. But there is no reason why this new synthesis should be better than the original. Or rather there is only a reason for this supposition, if one arbitrarily imposes an end to the dialectic, and if one then applies a judgment based on outside values. If the classless society is going to terminate history, then capitalist society is, in effect, superior to feudal society to the extent that it brings the advent of this classless society still nearer. But if the dialectic postulate is admitted at all, it must be admitted entirely. Just as aristocratic society has been succeeded by a society without an aristocracy but with classes, it must be concluded that the society of classes will be succeeded by a classless society, but animated by a new antagonism still to be defined. A movement that is refused a beginning cannot have an end. "If socialism," says an anarchist essayist,8 "is an eternal evolution, its means are its end." More precisely, it has no ends; it has only means which are guaranteed by nothing unless by a value foreign to evolution. In this sense, it is correct to remark that the dialectic is not and cannot be revolutionary. From our point of view, it is only nihilism? pure movement that aims at denying everything which is not itself. There is in this universe no reason, therefore, to imagine the end of history. That is the only justification, however, for the sacrifices demanded of humanity in the name of Marxism. But it has no other reasonable basis but a petitio principii, which introduces into history?a kingdom that was meant to be unique and self-sufficient? a value foreign to history. Since that value is, at the same time, foreign to ethics, it is not, properly speaking, a value on which one can base one's conduct; it is a dogma without foundation that can be adopted only as the desperate effort to escape of a mind which is being stifled by solitude or by nihilism, or a value which is going to be imposed by those whom dogma profits. The end of history is not an exemplary or a perfectionist value; it is an arbitrary and terroristic principle. Marx recognized that all revolutions before his time had failed. But he claimed that the revolution announced by him must succeed definitively. Up to now, the workers' movement has lived on this affirmation which has been 8 Ernestan: Socialism and Freedom. continually belied by facts and of which it is high time that the falsehood should be dispassionately denounced. In proportion as the prophecy was postponed, the affirmation of the coming of the final kingdom, which could only find the most feeble support in reason, became an article of faith. The sole value of the Marxist world henceforth resides, despite Marx, in a dogma imposed on an entire ideological empire. The kingdom of ends is used, like the ethics of eternity and the kingdom of heaven, for purposes of social mystification. Elie Halevy declared himself unqualified to say if socialism was going to lead to the universalization of the Swiss Republic or to European Caesarism. Nowadays we are better informed. The prophecies of Nietzsche, on this point at least, are justified. Marxism is henceforth to win fame, in defiance of its own teachings and, by an inevitable process of logic, by intellectual Caesarism, which we must now finally describe. The last representative of the struggle of justice against grace, it takes over, without having wanted to do so, the struggle of justice against truth. How to live without grace?that is the question that dominates the nineteenth century. "By justice," answered all those who did not want to accept absolute nihilism. To the people who despaired of the kingdom of heaven, they promised the kingdom of men. The preaching of the City of Humanity increased in fervor up to the end of the nineteenth century, when it became really visionary in tone and placed scientific certainties in the service of Utopia. But the kingdom has retreated into the distance, gigantic wars have ravaged the oldest countries of Europe, the blood of rebels has bespattered walls, and total justice has approached not a step nearer. The question of the twentieth century?for which the terrorists of 1905 died and which tortures the contemporary world? has gradually been specified: how to live without grace and without justice? Only nihilism, and not rebellion, has answered that question. Up to now, only nihilism has spoken, returning once more to the theme of the romantic rebels: "Frenzy." Frenzy in terms of history is called power. The will to power came to take the place of the will to justice, pretending at first to be identified with it and then relegating it to a place somewhere at the end of history, waiting until such time as nothing remains on earth to dominate. Thus the ideological consequence has triumphed over the economic consequence: the history of Russian Communism gives the lie to every one of its principles. Once more we find, at the end of this long journey, metaphysical rebellion, which, this time, advances to the clash of arms and the whispering of passwords, but forgetful of its real principles, burying its solitude in the bosom of armed masses, covering the emptiness of its negations with obstinate scholasticism, still directed toward the future, which it has made its only god, but separated from it by a multitude of nations that must be overthrown and continents that must be dominated. With action as its unique principle, and with the kingdom of man as an alibi, it has already begun, in the east of Europe, to construct its own armed camp, face to face with other armed camps. The Kingdom of Ends Marx never dreamed of such a terrifying apotheosis. Nor, indeed, did Lenin though he took a decisive step toward establishing a military Empire. As good a strategist as he was a mediocre philosopher, he first of all posed himself the problem of the seizure of power. Let us note immediately that it is absolutely false to talk, as is often done, of Lenin's Jacobinism. Only his idea of units of agitators and revolutionaries is Jacobin. The Jacobins believed in principles and in virtue; they died because they had to deny them. Lenin believes only in the revolution and in the virtue of expediency. "One must be prepared for every sacrifice, to use if necessary every stratagem, ruse, illegal method, to be determined to conceal the truth, for the sole purpose of penetrating the labor unions... and of accomplishing, despite everything, the Communist task." The struggle against formal morality, inaugurated by Hegel and Marx, is found again in Lenin with his criticism of inefficacious revolutionary attitudes. Complete dominion was the aim of this movement. If we examine the two works written at the beginning9 and at the end 1 of his career as an agitator, one is 9 What to Do? (1902). 1 The State and the Revolution (1917). struck by the fact that he never ceased to fight mercilessly against the sentimental forms of revolutionary action. He wanted to abolish the morality of revolutionary action because he believed, correctly, that revolutionary power could not be established while still respecting the Ten Commandments. When he appears, after his first experiments on the stage of history, where he was to play such an important role, to see him take the world so freely and so naturally as it had been shaped by the ideology and the economy of the preceding century, one would imagine him to be the first man of a new era. Completely impervious to anxiety, to nostalgia, to ethics, he takes command, looks for the best method of making the machine run, and decides that certain virtues are suitable for the driver of history's chariot and that others are not. He gropes a little at first and hesitates as to whether Russia should first pass through the capitalist and industrial phase. But this comes to the same as doubting whether the revolution can take place in Russia. He himself is Russian and his task is to make the Russian Revolution. He jettisons economic fatalism and embarks on action. He roundly declares, from 1902 on, that the workers will never elaborate an independent ideology by themselves. He denies the spontaneity of the masses. Socialist doctrine supposes a scientific basis that only the intellectuals can give it. When he says that all distinctions between workers and intellectuals must be effaced, what he really means is that it is possible not to be proletarian and know better than the proletariat what its interests are. He then congratulates Lassalle for having carried on a tenacious struggle against the spontaneity of the masses. "Theory," he says, "should subordinate spontaneity." 2 In plain language, that means that revolution needs leaders and theorists. He attacks both reformism, which he considers guilty of dissipating revolutionary strength, and terrorism,3 which he thinks an exemplary and inefficacious attitude. The revolution, before being either economic or sentimental, 2 Marx said much the same: "What certain proletarians, or even the entire proletariat, imagine to be their goal is of no importance." 3 We know that his elder brother, who had chosen terrorism, was hanged. is military. Until the day that the revolution breaks out, revolutionary action is identified with strategy. Autocracy is its enemy, whose main source of strength is the police force, which is nothing but a corps of professional political soldiers. The conclusion is simple: "The struggle against the political police demands special qualities, demands professional revolutionaries." The revolution will have its professional army as well as the masses, which can be conscripted when needed. This corps of agitators must be organized before the mass is organized. A network of agents is the expression that Lenin uses, thus announcing the reign of the secret society and of the realist monks of the revolution: "We are the Young Turks of the revolution," he said, "with something of the Jesuit added." From that moment the proletariat no longer has a mission. It is only one powerful means, among others, in the hands of the revolutionary ascetics.4 The problem of the seizure of power brings in its train the problem of the State. The State and the Revolution (1917), which deals with this subject, is the strangest and most contradictory of pamphlets. Lenin employs in it his favorite method, which is the method of authority. With the help of Marx and Engels, he begins by taking a stand against any kind of reformism which would claim to utilize the bourgeois State?that organism of domination of one class over another. The bourgeois State owes its survival to the police and to the army because it is primarily an instrument of oppression. It reflects both the irreconcilable antagonism of the classes and the forcible subjugation of this antagonism. This authority of fact is only worthy of contempt. "Even the head of the military power of a civilized State must envy the head of the clan whom patriarchal society surrounded with voluntary respect, not with respect imposed by the club." Moreover, Engels has firmly established that the concept of the State and the concept of a free society are irreconcilable. "Classes will disappear as ineluctably as they appeared. With the disappearance of classes, the State will inevitably disappear. The society that reorganizes production on the basis of the free and equal association of the producers will 4 Heine already called the socialists "the new puritans." Puritanism and revolution go, historically, together. relegate the machine of State to the place it deserves: to the museum of antiquities, side by side with the spinning-wheel and the bronze ax." Doubtless this explains why inattentive readers have ascribed the reason for writing The State and the Revolution to Lenin's anarchistic tendencies and have regretted the peculiar posterity of a doctrine so severe about the army, the police, the club, and bureaucracy. But Lenin's points of view, in order to be understood, must always be considered in terms of strategy. If he defends so very energetically Engels's thesis about the disappearance of the bourgeois State, it is because he wants, on the one hand, to put an obstacle in the way of the pure "economism" of Plekhanov and Kautsky and, on the other, to demonstrate that Kerensky's government is a bourgeois government, which must be destroyed. One month later, moreover, he destroys it. It was also necessary to answer those who objected to the fact that the revolution itself had need of an administrative and repressive apparatus. There again Marx and Engels are largely used to prove, authoritatively, that the proletarian State is not a State organized on the lines of other states, but a State which, by definition, is in the process of withering away. "As soon as there is no longer a social class which must be kept oppressed... a State ceases to be necessary. The first act by which the [proletarian] State really establishes itself as the representative of an entire society?the seizure of the society's means of production?is, at the same time, the last real act of the State. For the government of people is substituted the administration of things.... The State is not abolished, it perishes." The bourgeois State is first suppressed by the proletariat. Then, but only then, the proletarian State fades away. The dictatorship of the proletariat is necessary ?first, to crush or suppress what remains of the bourgeois class; secondly, to bring about the socialization of the means of production. Once these two tasks are accomplished, it immediately begins to wither away. Lenin, therefore, begins from the firm and definite principle that the State dies as soon as the socialization of the means of production is achieved and the exploiting class has consequently been suppressed. Yet, in the same pamphlet, he ends by justifying the preservation, even after the socialization of the means of production and, without any predictable end, of the dictatorship of a revolutionary faction over the rest of the people. The pamphlet, which makes continual reference to the experiences of the Commune, flatly contradicts the contemporary federalist and anti-authoritarian ideas that produced the Commune; and it is equally opposed to the optimistic forecasts of Marx and Engels. The reason for this is clear; Lenin had not forgotten that the Commune failed. As for the means of such a surprising demonstration, they were even more simple: with each new difficulty encountered by the revolution, the State as described by Marx is endowed with a supplementary prerogative. Ten pages farther on, without any kind of transition, Lenin in effect affirms that power is necessary to crush the resistance of the exploiters "and also to direct the great mass of the population, peasantry, lower middle classes, and semi-proletariat, in the management of the socialist economy." The shift here is undeniable; the provisional State of Marx and Engels is charged with a new mission, which risks prolonging its life indefinitely. Already we can perceive the contradiction of the Stalinist regime in conflict with its official philosophy. Either this regime has realized the classless socialist society, and the maintenance of a formidable apparatus of repression is not justified in Marxist terms, or it has not realized the classless society and has therefore proved that Marxist doctrine is erroneous and, in particular, that the socialization of the means of production does not mean the disappearance of classes. Confronted with its official doctrine, the regime is forced to choose: the doctrine is false, or the regime has betrayed it. In fact, together with Nechaiev and Tkachev, it is Lassalle, the inventor of State socialism, whom Lenin has caused to triumph in Russia, to the detriment of Marx. From this moment on, the history of the interior struggles of the party, from Lenin to Stalin, is summed up in the struggle between the workers' democracy and military and bureaucratic dictatorship; in other words, between justice and expediency. There is a moment's doubt about whether Lenin is not going to find a kind of means of conciliation when we hear him praising the measures adopted by the Commune: elected, revocable functionaries, remunerated like workers, and replacement of industrial bureaucracy by direct workers' management. We even catch a glimpse of a federalist Lenin who praises the institution and representation of the communes. But it becomes rapidly clear that this federalism is only extolled to the extent that it signifies the abolition of parliamentarianism. Lenin, in defiance of every historical truth, calls it centralism and immediately puts the accent on the. idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat, while reproaching the anarchists for their intransigence concerning the State. At this point a new affirmation, based on Engels, is introduced which justifies the continuation of the dictatorship of the proletariat after socialization, after the disappearance of the bourgeois class, and even after control by the masses has finally been achieved. The preservation of authority will now have as limits those that are prescribed for it by the very conditions of production. For example, the final withering away of the State will coincide with the moment when accommodation can be provided for all, free of charge. It is the higher phase of Communism: "To each according to his needs." Until then, the State will continue. How rapid will be the development toward this higher phase of Communism when each shall receive according to his needs? "That, we do not and cannot know.... We have no data that allow us to solve these questions." "For the sake of greater clarity," Lenin affirms with his customary arbitrariness, "it has never been vouchsafed to any socialist to guarantee the advent of the higher phase of Communism." It can be said that at this point freedom definitely dies. From the rule of the masses and the concept of the proletarian revolution we first pass on to the idea of a revolution made and directed by professional agents. The relentless criticism of the State is then reconciled with the necessary, but provisional, dictatorship of the proletariat, embodied in its leaders. Finally, it is announced that the end of this provisional condition cannot be foreseen and that, what is more, no one has ever presumed to promise that there will be an end. After that it is logical that the autonomy of the Soviets should be contested, Makhno betrayed, and the sailors of Kronstadt crushed by the party. Undoubtedly, many of the affirmations of Lenin, who was a passionate lover of justice, can still be opposed to the Stalinist regime; mainly, the notion of the withering away of the State. Even if it is admitted that the proletarian State cannot disappear before many years have passed, it is still necessary, according to Marxist doctrine, that it should tend to disappear and become less and less restrictive in order that it should be able to call itself proletarian. It is certain that Lenin believed this trend to be inevitable and that, in this particular sense, he has been ignored. For more than thirty years the proletarian State has shown no signs of progressive anemia. On the contrary, it seems to be enjoying increasing prosperity. Meanwhile, in a lecture at the Sverdlov University two years later, under the pressure of outside events and interior realities, Lenin spoke with a precision which left little doubt about the indefinite continuation of the proletarian super-State. "With this machine, or rather this weapon [the State], we shall crush every form of exploitation, and when there are no longer any possibilities of exploitation left on earth, no more people owning land or factories, no more people gorging themselves under the eyes of others who are starving, when such things become impossible, then and only then shall we cast this machine aside. Then there will be neither State nor exploitation." Therefore as long as there exists on earth, and no longer in a specific society, one single oppressed person and one proprietor, so long the State will continue to exist. It also will be obliged to increase in strength during this period so as to vanquish one by one the injustices, the governments responsible for injustice, the obstinately bourgeois nations, and the people who are blind to their own interests. And when, on an earth that has finally been subdued and purged of enemies, the final iniquity shall have been drowned in the blood of the just and the unjust, then the State, which has reached the limit of all power, a monstrous idol covering the entire earth, will be discreetly absorbed into the silent city of Justice. Under the easily predictable pressure of adverse imperialism, the imperialism of justice was born, in reality, with Lenin. But imperialism, even the imperialism of justice, has no other end but defeat or world empire. Until then it has no other means but injustice. From now on, the doctrine is definitively identified with the prophecy. For the sake of justice in the far-away future, it authorizes injustice throughout the entire course of history and becomes the type of mystification which Lenin detested more than anything else in the world. It contrives the acceptance of injustice, crime, and falsehood by the promise of a miracle. Still greater production, still more power, uninterrupted labor, incessant suffering, permanent war, and then a moment will come when universal bondage in the totalitarian empire will be miraculously changed into its opposite: free leisure in a universal republic. Pseudo-revolutionary mystification has now acquired a formula: all freedom must be crushed in order to conquer the empire, and one day the empire will be the equivalent of freedom. And so the way to unity passes through totality. Totality and Trials Totality is, in effect, nothing other than the ancient dream of unity common to both believers and rebels, but projected horizontally onto an earth deprived of God. To renounce every value, therefore, amounts to renouncing rebellion in order to accept the Empire and slavery. Criticism of formal values cannot pass over the concept of freedom. Once the impossibility has been recognized of creating, by means of the forces of rebellion alone, the free individual of whom the romantics dreamed, freedom itself has also been incorporated in the movement of history. It has become freedom fighting for existence, which, in order to exist, must create itself. Identified with the dynamism of history, it cannot play its proper role until history comes to a stop, in the realization of the Universal City. Until then, every one of its victories will lead to an antithesis that will render it pointless. The German nation frees itself from its oppressors, but at the price of the freedom of every German. The individuals under a totalitarian regime are not free, even though man in the collective sense is free. Finally, when the Empire delivers the entire human species, freedom will reign over herds of slaves, who at least will be free in relation to God and, in general, in relation to every kind of transcendence. The dialectic miracle, the transformation of quantity into quality, is explained here: it is the decision to call total servitude freedom. Moreover, as in all the examples cited by Hegel and Marx, there is no objective transformation, but only a subjective change of denomination. In other words, there is no miracle. If the only hope of nihilism lies in thinking that millions of slaves can one day constitute a humanity which will be freed forever, then history is nothing but a desperate dream. Historical thought was to deliver man from subjection to a divinity; but this liberation demanded of him the most absolute subjection to historical evolution. Then man takes refuge in the permanence of the party in the same way that he formerly prostrated himself before the altar. That is why the era which dares to claim that it is the most rebellious that has ever existed only offers a choice of various types of conformity. The real passion of the twentieth century is servitude. But total freedom is no more easy to conquer than individual freedom. To ensure man's empire over the world, it is necessary to suppress in the world and in man everything that escapes the Empire, everything that does not come under the reign of quantity: and this is an endless undertaking. The Empire must embrace time, space, and people, which compose the three dimensions of history. It is simultaneously war, obscurantism, and tyranny, desperately affirming that one day it will be liberty, fraternity, and truth; the logic of its postulates obliges it to do so. There is undoubtedly in Russia today, even in its Communist doctrines, a truth that denies Stalinist ideology. But this ideology has its logic, which must be isolated and exposed if we wish the revolutionary spirit to escape final disgrace. The cynical intervention of the armies of the Western powers against the Soviet Revolution demonstrated, among other things, to the Russian revolutionaries that war and nationalism were realities in the same category as the class struggle. Without an international solidarity of the working classes, a solidarity that would come into play automatically, no interior revolution could be considered likely to survive unless an international order were created. From then on, it was necessary to admit that the Universal City could only be built on two conditions: either by almost simultaneous revolutions in every big country, or by the liquidation, through war, of the bourgeois nations; permanent revolution or permanent war. We know that the first point of view almost triumphed. The revolutionary movements in Germany, Italy, and France marked the high point in revolutionary hopes and aspirations. But the crushing of these revolutions and the ensuing reinforcement of capitalist regimes have made war the reality of the revolution. Thus the philosophy of enlightenment finally led to the Europe of the black-out. By the logic of history and of doctrine, the Universal City, which was to have been realized by the spontaneous insurrection of the oppressed, has been little by little replaced by the Empire, imposed by means of power. Engels, with the approval of Marx, dispassionately accepted this prospect when he wrote in answer to Bakunin's Appeal to the Slavs: "The next world war will cause the disappearance from the surface of the globe, not only of reactionary classes and dynasties, but of whole races of reactionaries. That also is part of progress." That particular form of progress, in Engels's mind, was destined to eliminate the Russia of the czars. Today the Russian nation has reversed the direction of progress. War, cold and lukewarm, is the slavery imposed by world Empire. But now that it has become imperialist, the revolution is in an impasse. If it does not renounce its false principles in order to return to the origins of rebellion, it only means the continuation, for several generations and until capitalism spontaneously decomposes, of a total dictatorship over hundreds of millions of men; or, if it wants to precipitate the advent of the Universal City, it only signifies the atomic war, which it does not want and after which any city whatsoever will only be able to contemplate complete destruction. World revolution, by the very laws of the history it so imprudently deified, is condemned to the police or to the bomb. At the same time, it finds itself confronted with yet another contradiction. The sacrifice of ethics and virtue, the acceptance of all the means that it constantly justified by the end it pursued, can only be accepted, if absolutely necessary, in terms of an end that is reasonably likely to be realized. The cold war supposes, by the indefinite prolongation of dictatorship, the indefinite negation of this end. The danger of war, moreover, makes this end highly unlikely. The extension of the Empire over the face of the earth is an inevitable necessity for twentieth-century revolution. But this necessity confronts it with a final dilemma: to construct new principles for itself or to renounce justice and peace, whose definitive reign it always wanted. While waiting to dominate space, the Empire sees itself also compelled to reign over time. In denying every stable truth, it is compelled to go to the point of denying the very lowest form of truth?the truth of history. It has transported revolution, which is still impossible on a worldwide scale, back into a past that it is determined to deny. Even that, too, is logical. Any kind of coherence that is not purely economic between the past and the future of humanity supposes a constant which, in its turn, can lead to a belief in a human nature. The profound coherence that Marx, who was a man of culture, had perceived as existing between all civilizations, threatened to swamp his thesis and to bring to light a natural continuity, far broader in scope than economic continuity. Little by little, Russian Communism has been forced to burn its bridges, to introduce a solution of continuity into the problem of historical evolution. The negation of every genius who proves to be a heretic (and almost all of them do), the denial of the benefits of civilization, of art?to the infinite degree in which it escapes from history?and the renunciation of vital traditions, have gradually forced contemporary Marxism within narrower and narrower limits. It has not sufficed for Marxism to deny or to silence the things in the history of the world which cannot be assimilated by its doctrine, or to reject the discoveries of modern science. It has also had to rewrite history, even the most recent and the best-known, even the history of the party and of the Revolution. Year by year, sometimes month by month, Pravda corrects itself, and rewritten editions of the official history books follow one another off the presses. Lenin is censored, Marx is not published. At this point comparison with religious obscurantism is no longer even fair. The Church never went so far as to decide that the divine manifestation was embodied in two, then in four, or in three, and then again in two, persons. The acceleration of events that is part of our times also affects the fabrication of truth, which, accomplished at this speed, becomes pure fantasy. As in the fairy story, in which all the looms of an entire town wove the empty air to provide clothes for the king, thousands of men, whose strange profession it is, rewrite a presumptuous version of history, which is destroyed the same evening while waiting for the calm voice of a child to proclaim suddenly that the king is naked. This small voice, the voice of rebellion, will then be saying, what all the world can already see, that a revolution which, in order to last, is condemned to deny its universal vocation, or to renounce itself in order to be universal, is living by false principles. Meanwhile, these principles continue to dominate the lives of millions of men. The dream of Empire, held in check by the realities of time and space, gratifies its desires on humanity. People are not only hostile to the Empire as individuals: in that case the traditional methods of terror would suffice. They are hostile to it in so far as human nature, to date, has never been able to live by history alone and has always escaped from it by some means. The Empire supposes a negation and a certainty: the certainty of the infinite malleability of man and the negation of human nature. Propaganda techniques serve to measure the degree of this malleability and try to make reflection and conditioned reflex coincide. Propaganda makes it possible to sign a pact with those who for years have been designated as the mortal enemy. Even more, it allows the psychological effect thus obtained to be reversed and the people, once again, to be aligned against this same enemy. The experiment has not yet been brought to an end, but its principle is logical. If there is no human nature, then the malleability of man is, in fact, infinite. Political realism, on this level, is nothing but unbridled romanticism, a romanticism of expediency. In this way it is possible to explain why Russian Marxism rejects, in its entirety and even though it knows very well how to make use of it, the world of the irrational. The irrational can serve the Empire as well as refute it. The irrational escapes calculation, and calculation alone must reign in the Empire. Man is only an interplay of forces that can be rationally influenced. A few inconsiderate Marxists were rash enough to imagine that they could reconcile their doctrine with Freud's, for example. Their eyes were opened for them quickly enough. Freud is a heretic thinker and a "petit bourgeois" because he brought to light the unconscious and bestowed on it at least as much reality as on the super or social ego. This unconscious mind can therefore define the originality of a human nature opposed to the historic ego. Man, on the contrary, must be explained in terms of the social and rational ego and as an object of calculation. Therefore it has been necessary to enslave not only each individual life, but also the most irrational and the most solitary event of all, the expectancy of which accompanies man throughout his entire life. The Empire, in its convulsive effort to found a definitive kingdom, strives to integrate death. A living man can be enslaved and reduced to the historic condition of an object. But if he dies in refusing to be enslaved, he reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature which refuses to be classified as an object. That is why the accused is never produced and killed before the eyes of the world unless he consents to say that his death is just and unless he conforms to the Empire of objects. One must die dishonored or no longer exist? neither in life nor in death. In the latter event, the victim does not die, he disappears. If he is punished, his punishment would be a silent protest and might cause a fissure in the totality. But the culprit is not punished, he is simply replaced in the totality and thus helps to construct the machine of Empire. He is transformed into a cog in the machinery of production, so indispensable that in the long run he will not be used in production because he is guilty, but considered guilty because production has need of him. The concentration-camp system of the Russians has, in fact, accomplished the dialectical transition from the government of people to the administration of objects, but by identifying people with objects. Even the enemy must collaborate in the common endeavor. Beyond the confines of the Empire there is no salvation. This is, or will be, the Empire of friendship. But this friendship is the befriending of objects, for the friend cannot be preferred to the Empire. The friendship of people?and there is no other definition of it?is specific solidarity, to the point of death, against everything that is not part of the kingdom of friendship. The friendship of objects is friendship in general, friendship with everything, which supposes?when it is a question of self-preservation?mutual denunciation. He who loves his friend loves him in the present, and the revolution wants to love only a man who has not yet appeared. To love is, in a certain way, to kill the perfect man who is going to be born of the revolution. In order that one day he may live, he should from now on be preferred to anyone else. In the kingdom of humanity, men are bound by ties of affection; in the Empire of objects, men are united by mutual accusation. The city that planned to be the city of fraternity becomes an ant-heap of solitary men. On another plane, only a brute in a state of irrational fury can imagine that men should be sadistically tortured in order to obtain their consent. Such an act only accomplishes the subjugation of one man by another, in an outrageous relationship between persons. The representative of rational totality is content, on the contrary, to allow the object to subdue the person in the soul of man. The highest mind is first of all reduced to the level of the lowest by the police technique of joint accusation. Then five, ten, twenty nights of insomnia will culminate an illusory conviction and will bring yet another dead soul into the world. From this point of view, the only psychological revolution known to our times since Freud's has been brought about by the NKVD and the political police in general. Guided by a determinist hypothesis that calculates the weak points and the degree of elasticity of the soul, these new techniques have once again thrust aside one of man's limits and have attempted to demonstrate that no individual psychology is original and that the common measure of all human character is matter. They have literally created the physics of the soul. From that point on, traditional human relations have been transformed. These progressive transformations characterize the world of rational terror in which, in different degrees, Europe lives. Dialogue and personal relations have been replaced by propaganda or polemic, which are two kinds of monologue. Abstraction, which belongs to the world of power and calculation, has replaced the real passions, which are in the domain of the flesh and of the irrational. The ration coupon substituted for bread; love and friendship submitted to a doctrine, and destiny to a plan; punishment considered the norm, and production substituted for living creation, quite satisfactorily describe this disembodied Europe, peopled with positive or negative symbols of power. "How miserable," Marx exclaims, "is a society that knows no better means of defense than the executioner!" But in Marx's day the executioner had not yet become a philosopher and at least made no pretense of universal philanthropy. The ultimate contradiction of the greatest revolution that history ever knew does not, after all, lie entirely in the fact that it lays claim to justice despite an uninterrupted procession of violence and injustice. This is an evil common to all times and a product of servitude or mystification. The tragedy of this revolution is the tragedy of nihilism?it confounds itself with the drama of contemporary intelligence, which, while claiming to be universal, is only responsible for a series of mutilations to men's minds. Totality is not unity. The state of siege, even when it is extended to the very boundaries of the earth, is not reconciliation. The claim to a universal city is supported in this revolution only by rejecting two thirds of the world and the magnificent heritage of the centuries, and by denying, to the advantage of history, both nature and beauty and by depriving man of the power of passion, doubt, happiness, and imaginative invention?in a word, of his greatness. The principles that men give to themselves end by overwhelming their noblest intentions. By dint of argument, incessant struggle, polemics, excommunications, persecutions conducted and suffered, the universal city of free and fraternal man is slowly diverted and gives way to the only universe in which history and expediency can in fact be elevated to the position of supreme judges: the universe of the trial. Every religion revolves around the concepts of innocence and guilt. Prometheus, the first rebel, however, denies the right to punish. Zeus himself, Zeus above all, is not innocent enough to exercise this right. Thus rebellion, in its very first manifestation, refuses to recognize punishment as legitimate. But in his last incarnation, at the end of his exhausting journey, the rebel once more adopts the religious concept of punishment and places it at the center of his universe. The supreme judge is no longer in the heavens; history itself acts as an implacable divinity. History, in one sense, is nothing but a protracted punishment, for the real reward will be reaped only at the end of time. We are far, it would seem, from Marxism and from Hegel, and even farther from the first rebels. Nevertheless, all purely historical thought leads to the brink of this abyss. To the extent to which Marx predicted the inevitable establishment of the classless city and to the extent to which he thus established the good will of history, every check to the advance toward freedom must be imputed to the ill will of mankind. Marx reintroduced crime and punishment into the unchristian world, but only in relation to history. Marxism in one of its aspects is a doctrine of culpability on man's part and innocence on history's. His interpretation of history is that when it is deprived of power, it expresses itself in revolutionary violence; at the height of its power it risked becoming legal violence?in other words, terror and trial. In the universe of religion, moreover, the final judgment is postponed; it is not necessary for crime to be punished without delay or for innocence to be rewarded. In the new universe, on the other hand, the judgment pronounced by history must be pronounced immediately, for culpability coincides with the check to progress and with punishment. History has judged Bukarin in that it condemned him to death. It proclaims the innocence of Stalin: he is the most powerful man on earth. It is the same with Tito, about whom we do not know, so we are told, whether he is guilty or not. He is on trial, as was Trotsky, whose guilt only became clear to the philosophers of historical crime at the moment when the murderer's ax cracked his skull. Tito has been denounced, but not yet struck down. When he has been struck down, his guilt will be certain. Besides, Trotsky's and Tito's provisional innocence depended and depends to a large extent on geography; they were far removed from the arm of secular power. That is why those who can be reached by that arm must be judged without delay. The definitive judgment of history depends on an infinite number of judgments which will have been pronounced between now and then and which will finally be confirmed or invalidated. Thus there is the promise of mysterious rehabilitations on the day when the tribunal of the world will be established by the world itself. Some, who will proclaim themselves contemptible traitors, will enter the Pantheon of mankind; others who maintain their innocence will be condemned to the hell of history. But who, then, will be the judge? Man himself, finally fulfilled in his divinity. Meanwhile, those who conceived the prophecy, and who alone are capable of reading in history the meaning with which they previously endowed it, will pronounce sentence?definitive for the guilty, provisional sentences for the judges. But it sometimes happens that those who judge, like Rajk, are judged in their turn. Must we believe that he no longer interpreted history correctly? His defeat and death in fact prove it. Then who guarantees that those who judge him today will not be traitors tomorrow, hurled down from the height of their judgment seat to the concrete caves where history's damned are dying? The guarantee lies in their infallible clairvoyance. What proof is there of that? Their uninterrupted success. The world of trial is a spherical world in which success and innocence authenticate each other and where every mirror reflects the same mystification. Thus there will be a historic grace,5 whose power alone can interpret events and which favors or excommunicates the subject of the Empire. To guard against its caprices, the latter has only faith at his disposal?faith as defined in the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius: "We should always be prepared, so as never to err, to believe that what I see as white is black, if the hierarchic Church defines it thus." Only this active faith held by the representatives of truth can save the subject from the mysterious ravages of history. He is not yet free of the universe of trial to which he is bound by the historic sentiment of fear. But without this faith he runs a perpetual 5 "The ruse of reason," in the historical universe, presents the problem of evil in a new form. risk of becoming, without having wished to do so and with the best intentions in the world, an objective criminal. The universe of trial finally culminates in this concept, at which point we have come full circle. At the end of this long insurrection in the name of human innocence, there arises, by an inevitable perversion of fact, the affirmation of general culpability. Every man is a criminal who is unaware of being so. The objective criminal is, precisely, he who believed himself innocent. His actions he con-' sidered subjectively inoffensive, or even advantageous for the future of justice. But it is demonstrated to him that objectively his actions have been harmful to that future. Are we dealing with scientific objectivity? No, but with historical objectivity. How is it possible to know, for example, if the future of justice is compromised by the unconsidered denunciation of present injustice? Real objectivity would consist in judging by those results which can be scientifically observed and by facts and their general tendencies. But the concept of objective culpability proves that this curious kind of objectivity is only based on results and facts which will only become accessible to science in the year 2000, at the very earliest. Meanwhile, it is embodied in an interminable subjectivity which is imposed on others as objectivity: and that is the philosophic definition of terror. This type of objectivity has no definable meaning, but power will give it a content by decreeing that everything of which it does not approve is guilty. It will consent to say, or allow to be said, to philosophers who live outside the Empire, that in this way it is taking a risk in regard to history, just as the objective culprit took a risk, though without knowing it. When victim and executioner have disappeared, the matter will be judged. But this consolation is of any value only to the executioner, who has really no need of it. Meanwhile, the faithful are regularly bidden to attend strange feasts where, according to scrupulous rites, victims overwhelmed with contrition are offered as sacrifice to the god of history. The express object of this idea is to prevent indifference in matters of faith. It is compulsory evangelization. The law, whose function it is to pursue suspects, fabricates them. By fabricating them, it converts them. In bourgeois society, for example, every citizen is supposed to approve the law. In objective society every citizen will be presumed to disapprove of it. Or at least he should always be ready to prove that he does not disapprove of it. Culpability no longer has any factual basis; it simply consists of absence of faith, which explains the apparent contradiction of the objective system. Under a capitalist regime, the man who says he is neutral is considered objectively to be favorable to the regime. Under the regime of the Empire, the man who is neutral is considered hostile objectively to the regime. There is nothing astonishing about that. If a subject of the Empire does not believe in the Empire, he is, of his own choice, nothing, historically speaking; therefore he takes sides against history and is, in other words, a blasphemer. Even lip service paid to faith will not suffice; it must be lived and acted upon in order to be served properly and the citizen must be always on the alert to consent in time to the changes in dogma. At the slightest error potential culpability becomes in its turn objective culpability. Consummating its history in this manner, the revolution is not content with killing all rebellion. It insists on holding every man, even the most servile, responsible for the fact that rebellion ever existed and still exists under the sun. In the universe of the trial, conquered and completed at last, a race of culprits will endlessly shuffle toward an impossible innocence, under the grim regard of the grand inquisitors. In the twentieth century power wears the mask of tragedy. Here ends Prometheus' surprising itinerary. Proclaiming his hatred of the gods and his love of mankind, he turns away from Zeus with scorn and approaches mortal men in order to lead them in an assault against the heavens. But men are weak and cowardly; they must be organized. They love pleasure and immediate happiness; they must be taught to refuse, in order to grow up, immediate rewards. Thus Prometheus, in his turn, becomes a master who first teaches and then commands. Men doubt that they can safely attack the city of light and are even uncertain whether the city exists. They must be saved from themselves. The hero then tells them that he, and he alone, knows the city. Those who doubt his word will be thrown into the desert, chained to a rock, offered to the vultures. The others will march henceforth in darkness, behind the pensive and solitary master. Prometheus alone has become god and reigns over the solitude of men. But from Zeus he has gained only solitude and cruelty; he is no longer Prometheus, he is Caesar. The real, the eternal Prometheus has now assumed the aspect of one of his victims. The same cry, springing from the depths of the past, rings forever through the Scythian desert. Rebellion and Revolution The revolution based on principles kills God in the person of His representative on earth. The revolution of the twentieth century kills what remains of God in the principles themselves and consecrates historical nihilism. Whatever paths nihilism may proceed to take, from the moment that it decides to be the creative force of its period and ignores every moral precept, it begins to build the temple of Caesar. To choose history, and history alone, is to choose nihilism, in defiance of the teachings of rebellion itself. Those who rush blindly to history in the name of the irrational, proclaiming that it is meaningless, encounter servitude and terror and finally emerge into the universe of concentration camps. Those who launch themselves into it preaching its absolute rationality encounter servitude and terror and emerge into the universe of the concentration camps. Fascism wants to establish the advent of the Nietzschean superman. It immediately discovers that God, if He exists, may well be this or that, but He is primarily the master of death. If man wants to become God, he arrogates to himself the power of life or death over others. Manufacturer of corpses and of sub-men, he is a sub-man himself and not God, but the ignoble servant of death. The rational revolution, on its part, wants to realize the total man described by Marx. The logic of history, from the moment that it is totally accepted, gradually leads it, against its most passionate convictions, to mutilate man more and more and to transform itself into objective crime. It is not legitimate to identify the ends of Fascism with the ends of Russian Communism. The first represents the exaltation of the executioner by the executioner; the second, more dramatic in concept, the exaltation of the executioner by the victims. The former never dreamed of liberating all men, but only of liberating a few by subjugating the rest. The latter, in its most profound principle, aims at liberating all men by provisionally enslaving them all. It must be granted the grandeur of its intentions. But, on the other hand, it is legitimate to identify the means employed by both with the political cynicism that they have drawn from the same source, moral nihilism. Everything has taken place as though the descendants of Stirner and of Nechaiev were making use of the descendants of Kaliayev and Proudhon. The nihilists today are seated on thrones. Methods of thought which claim to give the lead to our world in the name of revolution have become, in reality, ideologies of consent and not of rebellion. That is why our period is the period of private and public techniques of annihilation. The revolution, obedient to the dictates of nihilism, has in fact turned against its rebel origins. Man, who hated death and the god of death, who despaired of personal survival, wanted to free himself in the immortality of the species. But as long as the group does not dominate the world, as long as the species does not reign, it is still necessary to die. Time is pressing, therefore; persuasion demands leisure, and friendship a structure that will never be completed; thus terror remains the shortest route to immortality. But these extremes simultaneously proclaim a longing for the primitive values of rebellion. The contemporary revolution that claims to deny every value is already, in itself, a standard for judging values. Man wants to reign supreme through the revolution. But why reign supreme if nothing has any meaning? Why wish for immortality if the aspect of life is so hideous? There is no method of thought which is absolutely nihilist except, perhaps, the method that leads to suicide, any more than there is absolute materialism. The destruction of man once more affirms man. Terror and concentration camps are the drastic means used by man to escape solitude. The thirst for unity must be assuaged, even in the common grave. If men kill one another, it is because they reject mortality and desire immortality for all men. Therefore, in one sense, they commit suicide. But they prove, at the same time, that they cannot dispense with mankind; they satisfy a terrible hunger for fraternity. "The human being needs happiness, and when he is unhappy, he needs another human being." Those who reject the agony of living and dying wish to dominate. "Solitude is power," says Sade. Power, today, because for thousands of solitary people it signifies the suffering of others, bears witness to the need for others. Terror is the homage that the malignant recluse finally pays to the brotherhood of man. But nihilism, if it does not exist, tries to do so; and that is enough to make the world a desert. This particular form of madness is what has given our times their forbidding aspect. The land of humanism has become the Europe of today, the land of inhumanity. But the times are ours and how can we disown them? If our history is our hell, still we cannot avert our faces. This horror cannot be escaped, but is assumed in order to be ignored, by the very people who accepted it with lucidity and not by those who, having provoked it, think that they have a right to pronounce judgment. Such a plant could, in fact, thrive only in the fertile soil of accumulated iniquities. In the last throes of a death struggle in which men are indiscriminately involved by the insanity of the times, the enemy remains the fraternal enemy. Even when he has been denounced for his errors, he can be neither despised nor hated; misfortune is today the common fatherland, and the only earthly kingdom that has fulfilled the promise. The longing for rest and peace must itself be thrust aside; it coincides with the acceptance of iniquity. Those who weep for the happy periods they encounter in history acknowledge what they want: not the alleviation but the silencing of misery. But let us, on the contrary, sing the praises of the times when misery cries aloud and disturbs the sleep of the surfeited rich! Maistre has already spoken of the "terrible sermon that the revolution preached to kings." It preaches the same sermon today, and in a still more urgent fashion, to the dishonoured elite of the times. This sermon must be heard. In every word and in every act, even though it be criminal, lies the promise of a value that we must seek out and bring to light. The future cannot be foreseen and it may be that the renaissance is impossible. Even though the historical dialectic is false and criminal, the world, after all, can very well realize itself in crime and in pursuit of a false concept. This kind of resignation is, quite simply, rejected here: we must stake everything on the renaissance. Nothing remains for us, moreover, but to be reborn or to die. If we are at the moment in history when rebellion has reached the point of its most extreme contradiction by denying itself, then it must either perish with the world it has created or find a new object of faith and a new impetus. Before going any farther, this contradiction must at least be stated in plain language. It is not a clear definition to say like the existentialists, for example (who are also subjected for the moment to the cult of history and its contradictions) ,1 that there is progress in the transition from rebellion to revolution and that the rebel is nothing if he is not revolutionary. The contradiction is, in reality, considerably more restricted. The revolutionary is simultaneously a rebel or he is not a revolutionary, but a policeman and a bureaucrat who turns against rebellion. But if he is a rebel, he ends by taking sides against the revolution. So much so that there is absolutely no progress from one attitude to the other, but coexistence and endlessly increasing contradiction. Every revolutionary ends by becoming either an oppressor or a heretic. In the purely historical universe that they have chosen, rebellion and revolution end in the same dilemma: either police rule or insanity. On this level, therefore, history alone offers no hope. It is not a source of values, but is still a source of nihilism. Can one, at least, create values in defiance of history, on the single level of a philosophy based on eternity? That comes to the same as ratifying historical injustice and the sufferings of man. To slander the world leads to the nihilism defined by Nietzsche. Thought that is derived from history alone, like thought that rejects history completely, deprives man of the means and the reason for living. The former drives him to the extreme decadence of "why live?" the latter to "how live?" History, necessary but not 1 Atheist existentialism at least wishes to create a morality. This morality is still to be defined. But the real difficulty lies in creating it without reintroducing into historical existence a value foreign to history. sufficient, is therefore only an occasional cause. It is not absence of values, nor values themselves, nor even the source of values. It is one occasion, among others, for man to prove the still confused existence of a value that allows him to judge history. Rebellion itself makes us the promise of such a value. Absolute revolution, in fact, supposes the absolute malleability of human nature and its possible reduction to the condition of a historical force. But rebellion, in man, is the refusal to be treated as an object and to be reduced to simple historical terms. It is the affirmation of a nature common to all men, which eludes the world of power. History, undoubtedly, is one of the limits of man's experience; in this sense the revolutionaries are right. But man, by rebelling, imposes in his turn a limit to history, and at this limit the promise of a value is born. It is the birth of this value that the Caesarian revolution implacably combats today because it presages its final defeat and the obligation to renounce its principles. The fate of the world is not being played out at present, as it seemed it would be, in the struggle between bourgeois production and revolutionary production; their end results will be the same. It is being played out between the forces of rebellion and those of the Caesarian revolution. The triumphant revolution must prove by means of its police, its trials, and its excommunications that there is no such thing as human nature. Humiliated rebellion, by its contradictions, its sufferings, its continuous defeats, and its inexhaustible pride, must give its content of hope and suffering to this nature. "I rebel, therefore we exist," said the slave. Metaphysical rebellion then added: "we are alone," by which we still live today. But if we are alone beneath the empty heavens, if we must die forever, how can we really exist? Metaphysical rebellion, then, tried to construct existence with appearances. After which purely historical thought came to say that to be was to act. We did not exist, but we should exist by every possible means. Our revolution is an attempt to conquer a new existence, by action that recognizes no moral strictures. That is why it is condemned to live only for history and in a reign of terror. Man is nothing, according to the revolution, if he does not obtain from history, willingly or by force, unanimous approval. At this exact point the limit is exceeded, rebellion is first betrayed and then logically assassinated, for it has never affirmed, in its purest form, anything but the existence of a limit and the divided existence that we represent: it is not, originally, the total negation of all existence. Quite the contrary, it says yes and no simultaneously. It is the rejection of one part of existence in the name of another part, which it exalts. The more profound the exaltation, the more implacable is the rejection. Then, when rebellion, in rage or intoxication, adopts the attitude of "all or nothing" and the negation of all existence and all human nature, it is at this point that it denies itself. Only total negation justifies the concept of a totality that must be conquered. But the affirmation of a limit, a dignity, and a beauty common to all men only entails the necessity of extending this value to embrace everything and everyone and of advancing toward unity without denying the origins of rebellion. In this sense rebellion, in its original authenticity, does not justify any purely historical concept. Rebellion's demand is unity; historical revolution's demand is totality. The former starts from a negative supported by an affirmative, the latter from absolute negation and is condemned to every aspect of slavery in order to fabricate an affirmative that is dismissed until the end of time. One is creative, the other nihilist. The first is dedicated to creation so as to exist more and more completely; the second is forced to produce results in order to negate more and more completely. The historical revolution is always obliged to act in the hope, which is invariably disappointed, of one day really existing. Even unanimous consent will not suffice to create its existence. "Obey," said Frederick the Great to his subjects; but when he died, his words were: "I am tired of ruling slaves." To escape this absurd destiny, the revolution is and will be condemned to renounce, not only its own principles, but nihilism as well as purely historical values in order to rediscover the creative source of rebellion. Revolution, in order to be creative, cannot do without either a moral or metaphysical rule to balance the insanity of history. Undoubtedly, it has nothing but scorn for the formal and mystifying morality to be found in bourgeois society. But its folly has been to extend this scorn to every moral demand. At the very sources of its inspiration and in its most profound transports is to be found a rule that is not formal but that nevertheless can serve as a guide. Rebellion, in fact, says? and will say more and more explicitly? that revolution must try to act, not in order to come into existence at some future date in the eyes of a world reduced to acquiescence, but in terms of the obscure existence that is already made manifest in the act of insurrection. This rule is neither formal nor subject to history, it is what can be best described by examining it in its pure state?in artistic creation. Before doing so, let us only note that to the "I rebel, therefore we exist" and the "We are alone" of metaphysical rebellion, rebellion at grips with history adds that instead of killing and dying in order to produce the being that we are not, we have to live and let live in order to create what we are. Part Four Rebellion and Art Art is the activity that exalts and denies simultaneously. "No artist tolerates reality," says Nietzsche. That is true, but no artist can get along without reality. Artistic creation is a demand for unity and a rejection of the world. But it rejects the world on account of what it lacks and in the name of what it sometimes is. Rebellion can be observed here in its pure state and in its original complexities. Thus art should give us a final perspective on the content of rebellion. The hostility to art shown by all revolutionary reformers must, however, be pointed out. Plato is moderately reasonable. He only calls in question the deceptive function of language and exiles only poets from his republic. Apart from that, he considers beauty more important than the world. But the revolutionary movement of modern times coincides with an artistic process that is not yet completed. The Reformation chooses morality and exiles beauty. Rousseau denounces in art a corruption of nature by society. Saint-Just inveighs against the theater, and in the elaborate program he composes for the "Feast of Reason" he states that he would like Reason to be impersonated by someone "virtuous rather than beautiful." The French Revolution gave birth to no artists, but only to a great journalist, Desmoulins, and to a clandestine writer, Sade. It guillotines the only poet of the times.1 The only great prose-writer2 took refuge in London and pleaded the cause of Christianity and legitimacy. A little later the followers of Saint-Simon demanded a "socially useful form 1 Andre Chenier. (ed.) 2 Francois Rene Chateaubriand, (ed.) of art. "Art for progress" was a commonplace of the whole period, and one that Hugo revived, without succeeding in making it sound convincing. Valles alone brings to his malediction of art a tone of imprecation that gives it authenticity. This tone is also employed by the Russian nihilists. Pisarev proclaims the deposition of aesthetic values, in favor of pragmatic values. "I would rather be a Russian shoemaker than a Russian Raphael." A pair of shoes, in his eyes, is more useful than Shakespeare. The nihilist Nekrassov, a great and moving poet, nevertheless affirms that he prefers a piece of cheese to all of Pushkin. Finally, we are familiar with the excommunication of art pronounced by Tolstoy. Revolutionary Russia finally even turned its back on the marble statues of Venus and Apollo, still gilded by the Italian sun, that Peter the Great had had brought to his summer garden in St. Petersburg. Suffering, sometimes, turns away from too painful expressions of happiness. German ideology is no less severe in its accusations. According to the revolutionary interpreters of Hegel's Phenomenology, there will be no art in reconciled society. Beauty will be lived and no longer only imagined. Reality, become entirely rational, will satisfy, completely by itself, every appetite. The criticism of formal conscience and of escapist values naturally extends itself to embrace art. Art does not belong to all times; it is determined, on the contrary, by its period, and expresses, says Marx, the privileged values of the ruling classes. Thus there is only one revolutionary form of art, which is, precisely, art dedicated to the service of the revolution. Moreover, by creating beauty outside the course of history, art impedes the only rational activity: the transformation of history itself into absolute beauty. The Russian shoemaker, once he is aware of his revolutionary role, is the real creator of definitive beauty. As for Raphael, he created only a transitory beauty, which will be quite incomprehensible to the new man. Marx asks himself, it is true, how the beauty created by the Greeks can still be beautiful for us. His answer is that this beauty is the expression of the naive childhood of this world and that we have, in the midst of our adult struggles, a nostalgia for this childhood. But how can the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance, how can Rembrandt, how can Chinese art still be beautiful in our eyes? What does it matter! The trial of art has been opened definitively and is continuing today with the embarrassed complicity of artists and intellectuals dedicated to calumniating both their art and their intelligence. We notice, in fact, that in the contest between Shakespeare and the shoemaker, it is not the shoemaker who maligns Shakespeare or beauty but, on the contrary, the man who continues to read Shakespeare and who does not choose to make shoes?which he could never make, if it comes to that. The artists of our time resemble the repentant noblemen of nineteenth-century Russia; their bad conscience is their excuse. But the last emotion that an artist can experience, confronted with his art, is repentance. It is going far beyond simple and necessary humility to pretend to dismiss beauty, too, until the end of time, and meanwhile, to deprive all the world, including the shoemaker, of this additional bread of which one has taken advantage oneself. This form of ascetic insanity, nevertheless, has its reasons, which at least are of interest to us. They express on the aesthetic level the struggle, already described, of revolution and rebellion. In every rebellion is to be found the metaphysical demand for unity, the impossibility of capturing it, and the construction of a substitute universe. Rebellion, from this point of view, is a fabricator of universes. This also defines art. The demands of rebellion are really, in part, aesthetic demands. All rebel thought, as we have seen, is expressed either in rhetoric or in a closed universe. The rhetoric of ramparts in Lucretius, the convents and isolated castles of Sade, the island or the lonely rock of the romantics, the solitary heights of Nietzsche, the primeval seas of Lautreamont, the parapets of Rimbaud, the terrifying castles of the surrealists, which spring up in a storm of flowers, the prison, the nation behind barbed wire, the concentration camps, the empire of free slaves, all illustrate, after their own fashion, the same need for coherence and unity. In these sealed worlds, man can reign and have knowledge at last. This tendency is common to all the arts. The artist reconstructs the world to his plan. The symphonies of nature know no rests. The world is never quiet; even its silence eternally resounds with the same notes, in vibrations that escape our ears. As for those that we perceive, they carry sounds to us, occasionally a chord, never a melody. Music exists, however, in which symphonies are completed, where melody gives its form to sounds that by themselves have none, and where, finally, a particular arrangement of notes extracts from natural disorder a unity that is satisfying to the mind and the heart. "I believe more and more," writes Van Gogh, "that God must not be judged on this earth. It is one of His sketches that has turned out badly." Every artist tries to reconstruct this sketch and to give it the style it lacks. The greatest and most ambitious of all the arts, sculpture, is bent on capturing, in three dimensions, the fugitive figure of man, and on restoring the unity of great style to the general disorder of gestures. Sculpture does not reject resemblance, of which, indeed, it has need. But resemblance is not its first aim. What it is looking for, in its periods of greatness, is the gesture, the expression, or the empty stare which will sum up all the gestures and all the stares in the world. Its purpose is not to imitate, but to stylize and to imprison in one significant expression the fleeting ecstasy of the body or the infinite variety of human attitudes. Then, and only then, does it erect, on the pediments of teeming cities, the model, the type, the motionless perfection that will cool, for one moment, the fevered brow of man. The frustrated lover of love can finally gaze at the Greek caryatides and grasp what it is that triumphs, in the body and face of the woman, over every degradation. The principle of painting is also to make a choice. "Even genius," writes Delacroix, ruminating on his art, "is only the gift of generalizing and choosing." The painter isolates his subject, which is the first way of unifying it. Landscapes flee, vanish from the memory, or destroy one another. That is why the landscape painter or the painter of still life isolates in space and time things that normally change with the light, get lost in an infinite perspective, or disappear under the impact of other values. The first thing that a landscape painter does is to square off his canvas. He eliminates as much as he includes. Similarly, subject-painting isolates, in both time and space, an action that normally would become lost in another action. Thus the painter arrives at a point of stabilization. The really great creative artists are those who, like Piero della Francesca, give the impression that the stabilization has only just taken place, that the projection machine has suddenly stopped dead. All their subjects give the impression that, by some miracle of art, they continue to live, while ceasing to be mortal. Long after his death, Rembrandt's philosopher still meditates, between light and shade, on the same problem. "How vain a thing is painting that beguiles us by the resemblance to objects that do not please us at all." Delacroix, who quotes Pascal's celebrated remark, is correct in writing "strange" instead of "vain." These objects do not please us at all because we do not see them; they are obscured and negated by a perpetual process of change. Who looked at the hands of the executioner during the Flagellation, and the olive trees on the way to the Cross? But here we see them represented, transfigured by the incessant movement of the Passion; and the agony of Christ, imprisoned in images of violence and beauty, cries out again each day in the cold rooms of museums. A painter's style lies in this blending of nature and history, in this stability imposed on incessant change. Art realizes, without apparent effort, the reconciliation of the unique with the universal of which Hegel dreamed. Perhaps that is why periods, such as ours, which are bent on unity to the point of madness, turn to primitive arts, in which styliza-tion is the most intense and unity the most provocative. The most extreme stylization is always found at the beginning and end of artistic movements; it demonstrates the intensity of negation and transposition which has given modern painting its disorderly impetus toward interpreting unity and existence. Van Gogh's admirable complaint is the arrogant and desperate cry of all artists. "I can very well, in life and in painting, too, do without God. But I cannot, suffering as I do, do without something that is greater than I am, that is my life?the power to create." But the artist's rebellion against reality, which is automatically suspect to the totalitarian revolution, contains the same affirmation as the spontaneous rebellion of the oppressed. The revolutionary spirit, born of total negation, instinctively felt that, as well as refusal, there was also consent to be found in art; that there was a risk of contemplation counterbalancing action, beauty, and injustice, and that in certain cases beauty itself was a form of injustice from which there was no appeal. Equally well, no form of art can survive on total denial alone. Just as all thought, and primarily that of non-signification, signifies something, so there is no art that has no signification. Man can allow himself to denounce the total injustice of the world and then demand a total justice that he alone will create. But he cannot affirm the total hideousness of the world. To create beauty, he must simultaneously reject reality and exalt certain of its aspects. Art disputes reality, but does not hide from it. Nietzsche could deny any form of transcendence, whether moral or divine, by saying that transcendence drove one to slander this world and this life. But perhaps there is a living transcendence, of which beauty carries the promise, which can make this mortal and limited world preferable to and more appealing than any other. Art thus leads us back to the origins of rebellion, to the extent that it tries to give its form to an elusive value which the future perpetually promises, but of which the artist has a presentiment and wishes to snatch from the grasp of history. We shall understand this better in considering the art form whose precise aim is to become part of the process of evolution in order to give it the style that it lacks; in other words, the novel. Rebellion and the Novel It is possible to separate the literature of consent, which coincides, by and large, with ancient history and the classical period, from the literature of rebellion, which begins in modern times. We note the scarcity of fiction in the former. When it exists, with very few exceptions, it is not concerned with a story but with fantasy (Thea-genes and Charicleia or Astrcea). These are fairy tales, not novels. In the latter period, on the contrary, the novel form is really developed?a form that has not ceased to thrive and extend its field of activity up to the present day, simultaneously with the critical and revolutionary movement. The novel is born at the same time as the spirit of rebellion and expresses, on the aesthetic plane, the same ambition. "A make-believe story, written in prose," says Littre about the novel. Is it only that? In any case, a Catholic critic, Stanislas Fumet, has written: "Art, whatever its aims, is always in sinful competition with God." Actually, it is more correct to talk about competition with God, in connection with the novel, than of competition with man's civil status. Thibaudet expresses a similar idea when he says of Balzac: "The Comedie humaine is the Imitation of God the Father." The aim of great literature seems to be to create a closed universe or a perfect type. The West, in its great creative works, does not limit itself to retracing the steps of its daily life. It consistently presents magnificent images which inflame its imagination and sets off, hotfoot, in pursuit of them. After all, writing or even reading a novel is an unusual activity. To construct a story by a new arrangement of actual facts has nothing inevitable or even necessary about it. Even if the ordinary explanation of the mutual pleasure of reader and writer were true, it would still be necessary to ask why it was incumbent on a large part of humanity to take pleasure and an interest in make-believe stories. Revolutionary criticism condemns the novel in its pure form as being simply a means of escape for an idle imagination. In everyday speech we find the term romance used to describe an exaggerated description or lying account of some event. Not so very long ago it was a commonplace that young girls, despite all appearance to the contrary, were "romantic," by which was meant that these idealized creatures took no account of everyday realities. In general, it has always been considered that the romantic was quite separate from life and that it enhanced it while, at the same time, betraying it. The simplest and most common way of envisaging romantic expression is to see it as an escapist exercise. Common sense joins hands with revolutionary criticism. But from what are we escaping by means of the novel? From a reality we consider too overwhelming? Happy people read novels, too, and it is an established fact that extreme suffering takes away the taste for reading. From another angle, the romantic universe of the novel certainly has less substance than the other universe where people of flesh and blood harass us without respite. However, by what magic does Adolphe, for instance, seem so much more familiar to us than Benjamin Constant, and Count Mosca than our professional moralists? Balzac once terminated a long conversation about politics and the fate of the world by saying: "And now let us get back to serious matters," meaning that he wanted to talk about his novels. The incontestable importance of the world of the novel, our insistence, in fact, on taking seriously the innumerable myths with which we have been provided for the last two centuries by the genius of writers, is not fully explained by the desire to escape. Romantic activities undoubtedly imply a rejection of reality. But this rejection is not a mere escapist flight, and might be interpreted as the retreat of the soul which, according to Hegel, creates for itself, in its disappointment, a fictitious world in which ethics reigns alone. The edifying novel, however, is far from being great literature; and the best of all romantic novels, Paul et Virginie, a really heartbreaking book, makes no concessions to consolation. The contradiction is this: man rejects the world as it is, without accepting the necessity of escaping it. In fact, men cling to the world and by far the majority do not want to abandon it. Far from always wanting to forget it, they suffer, on the contrary, from not being able to possess it completely enough, estranged citizens of the world, exiled from their own country. Except for vivid moments of fulfillment, all reality for them is incomplete. Their actions escape them in the form of other actions, return in unexpected guises to judge them, and disappear like the water Tantalus longed to drink, into some still undiscovered orifice. To know the whereabouts of the orifice, to control the course of the river, to understand life, at last, as destiny?these are their true aspirations. But this vision which, in the realm of consciousness at least, will reconcile them with themselves, can only appear, if it ever does appear, at the fugitive moment that is death, in which everything is consummated. In order to exist just once in the world, it is necessary never again to exist. At this point is born the fatal envy which so many men feel of the lives of others. Seen from a distance, these existences seem to possess a coherence and a unity which they cannot have in reality, but which seem evident to the spectator. He sees only the salient points of these lives without taking into account the details of corrosion. Thus we make these lives into works of art. In an elementary fashion we turn them into novels. In this sense, everyone tries to make his life a work of art. We want love to last and we know that it does not last; even if, by some miracle, it were to last a whole lifetime, it would still be incomplete. Perhaps, in this insatiable need for perpetuation, we should better understand human suffering if we knew that it was eternal. It appears that great minds are sometimes less horrified by suffering than by the fact that it does not endure. In default of inexhaustible happiness, eternal suffering would at least give us a destiny. But we do not even have that consolation, and our worst agonies come to an end one day. One morning, after many dark nights of despair, an irrepressible longing to live will announce to us the fact that all is finished and that suffering has no more meaning than happiness. The desire for possession is only another form of the desire to endure; it is this that comprises the impotent delirium of love. No human being, even the most passionately loved and passionately loving, is ever in our possession. On the pitiless earth where lovers are often separated in death and are always born divided, the total possession of another human being and absolute communion throughout an entire lifetime are impossible dreams. The desire for possession is insatiable, to such a point that it can survive even love itself. To love, therefore, is to sterilize the person one loves. The shamefaced suffering of the abandoned lover is not so much due to being no longer loved as to knowing that the other partner can and must love again. In the final analysis, every man devoured by the overpowering desire to endure and possess wishes that those whom he has loved were either sterile or dead. This is real rebellion. Those who have not insisted, at least once, on the absolute virginity of human beings and of the world, who have not trembled with longing and impotence at the fact that it is impossible, and have then not been destroyed by trying to love halfheartedly, perpetually forced back upon their longing for the absolute, cannot understand the realities of rebellion and its ravening desire for destruction. But the lives of others always escape us, and we escape them too; they have no firm outline. Life from this point of view is without style. It is only an impulse that endlessly pursues its form without ever finding it. Man, tortured by this, tries in vain to find the form that will impose certain limits between which he can be king. If only one single living thing had definite form, he would be reconciled! There is not one human being who, above a certain elementary level of consciousness, does not exhaust himself in trying to find formulas or attitudes that will give his existence the unity it lacks. Appearance and action, the dandy and the revolutionary, all demand unity in order to exist, and in order to exist on this earth. As in those moving and unhappy relationships which sometimes survive for a very long time because one of the partners is waiting to find the right word, action, gesture, or situation which will bring his adventure to an end on exactly the right note, so everyone proposes and creates for himself the final word. It is not sufficient to live, there must be a destiny that does not have to wait for death. It is therefore justifiable to say that man has an idea of a better world than this. But better does not mean different, it means unified. This passion which lifts the mind above the commonplaces of a dispersed world, from which it nevertheless cannot free itself, is the passion for unity. It does not result in mediocre efforts to escape, however, but in the most obstinate demands. Religion or crime, every human endeavor in fact, finally obeys this unreasonable desire and claims to give life a form it does not have. The same impulse, which can lead to the adoration of the heavens or the destruction of man, also leads to creative literature, which derives its serious content from this source. What, in fact, is a novel but a universe in which action is endowed with form, where final words are pronounced, where people possess one another completely, and where life assumes the aspect of destiny? 3 The world of the novel is only a rectification of the world we live in, in pursuance of man's deepest wishes. For the world is undoubtedly the same one we know. The suffering, the illusion, the love are the same. The heroes speak our language, have our weaknesses and our strength. Their universe is neither more beautiful nor more enlightening than ours. But they, at least, pursue their destinies to the bitter end and there are no more fascinating heroes than those who indulge their passions to the fullest, Kirilov and Stavrogin, Mme Graslin, Julien Sorel, or the Prince de Cleves. It is here that we can no longer keep pace with them, for they complete things that we can never consummate. Mme de La Fayette derived the Princesse de Cleves from the most harrowing experiences. Undoubtedly she is Mme de Cleves and yet she is not. Where lies the difference? The difference is that Mme de La Fayette did not go into a convent and that no one around her died of despair. No doubt she knew moments, at least, of agony in her extraordinary passion. But there was no culminating-point; she survived her love and prolonged it by ceasing to live it, and finally no one, not even herself, would have known its pattern if she had not given it the perfect delineation of faultless prose. Nor is there any story more romantic and beautiful than that of Sophie Tonska and Casimir in Gobineau's Pleiades. Sophie, a sensitive and beautiful woman, who makes one understand Stendahl's confession that "only women of great character can make me happy," forces Casimir to confess his love for her. Accustomed to being loved, she becomes impatient with Casimir, who sees her every day and yet never departs from an attitude of irritating detachment. Casimir confesses his love, but in the tone of one stating a legal case. He has studied it, knows it as well as he knows himself, and is convinced that this love, without which he cannot live, has no future. He has therefore decided to tell her of his love and at the same 3 Even if the novel describes only nostalgia, despair, frustration, it still creates a form of salvation. To talk of despair is to conquer it. Despairing literature is a contradiction in terms. time to acknowledge that it is vain and to make over his fortune to her?she is rich, and this gesture is of no importance?on condition that she give him a very modest pension which will allow him to install himself in the suburb of a town chosen at random (it will be Vilna) and there await death in poverty. Casimir recognizes, moreover, that the idea of receiving from Sophie the necessary money on which to live represents a concession to human weakness, the only one he will permit himself, with, at long intervals, the dispatch of a blank sheet of paper in an envelope on which he will write Sophie's name. After being first indignant, then perturbed, and then melancholy, Sophie accepts; and everything happens as Casimir foresaw. He dies, in Vilna, of a broken heart. Romanticism thus has its logic. A story is never really moving and successful without the imperturbable continuity which is never part of real life, but which is to be found on the borderland between reality and reverie. If Gobineau himself had gone to Vilna he would have got bored and come back, or would have settled down comfortably. But Casimir never experienced any desire to change nor did he ever wake cured of his love. He went to the bitter end, like Heathcliff, who wanted to go beyond death in order to reach the very depths of hell. Here we have an imaginary world, therefore, which is created by the rectification of the actual world?a world where suffering can, if it wishes, continue until death, where passions are never distracted, where people are prey to obsessions and are always present to one another. Man is finally able to give himself the alleviating form and limits which he pursues in vain in his own life. The novel creates destiny to suit any eventuality. In this way it competes with creation and, provisionally, conquers death. A detailed analysis of the most famous novels would show, in different perspectives each time, that the essence of the novel lies in this perpetual alteration, always directed toward the same ends, that the artist makes in his own experience. Far from being moral or even purely formal, this alteration aims, primarily, at unity and thereby expresses a metaphysical need. The novel, on this level, is primarily an exercise of the intelligence in the service of nostalgic or rebellious sensibilities. It would be possible to study this quest for unity in the French analytical novel and in Melville, Balzac, Dostoievsky, or Tolstoy. But a brief comparison between two attempts that stand at different poles of the world of the novel?the works of Proust and American fiction of the last few years?will suffice for our purpose. The American novel 4 claims to find its unity in reducing man either to elementals or to his external reactions and to his behavior. It does not choose feelings or passions to give a detailed description of, such as we find in classic French novels. It rejects analysis and the search for a fundamental psychological motive that could explain and recapitulate the behavior of a character. This is why the unity of this novel form is only the unity of the flash of recognition. Its technique consists in describing men by their outside appearances, in their most casual actions, of reproducing, without comment, everything they say down to their repetitions,5 and finally by acting as if men were entirely defined by their daily automatisms. On this mechanical level men, in fact, seem exactly alike, which explains this peculiar universe in which all the characters appear interchangeable, even down to their physical peculiarities. This technique is called realistic only owing to a misapprehension. In addition to the fact that realism in art is, as we shall see, an incomprehensible idea, it is perfectly obvious that this fictitious world is not attempting a reproduction, pure and simple, of reality, but the most arbitrary form of stylization. It is born of a mutilation, and of a voluntary mutilation, performed on reality. The unity thus obtained is a degraded unity, a leveling off of human beings and of the world. It would seem that for these writers it is the inner life that deprives human actions of unity and that tears people away from one another. This is a partially legitimate suspicion. But rebellion, which is one of the sources of the art of fiction, can find satisfaction only in constructing unity on the basis of affirming this interior reality and not of denying it. To 4 I am referring, of course, to the "tough" novel of the thirties and forties and not to the admirable American efflorescence of the nineteenth century. 5 Even in Faulkner, a great writer of this generation, the interior monologue only reproduces the outer husk of thought. deny it totally is to refer oneself to an imaginary man. Novels of violence are also love stories, of which they have the formal conceits?in their own way, they edify.6 The life of the body, reduced to its essentials, paradoxically produces an abstract and gratuitous universe, continuously denied, in its turn, by reality. This type of novel, purged of interior life, in which men seem to be observed behind a pane of glass, logically ends, with its emphasis on the pathological, by giving itself as its unique subject the supposedly average man. In this way it is possible to explain the extraordinary number of "innocents" who appear in this universe. The simpleton is the ideal subject for such an enterprise since he can only be defined?and completely defined?by his behavior. He is the symbol of the despairing world in which wretched automatons live in a machine-ridden universe, which American novelists have presented as a heart-rending but sterile protest. As for Proust, his contribution has been to create, from an obstinate contemplation of reality, a closed world that belonged only to him and that indicated his victory over the transitoriness of things and over death. But he uses absolutely the opposite means. He upholds, above everything, by a deliberate choice, a careful selection of unique experience, which the writer chooses from the most secret recesses of his past. Immense empty spaces are thus discarded from life because they have left no trace in the memory. If the American novel is the novel of men without memory, the world of Proust is nothing but memory. It is concerned only with the most difficult and most exacting of memories, the memory that rejects the dispersion of the actual world and derives, from the trace of a lingering perfume, the secret of a new and ancient universe. Proust chooses the interior life and, of the interior life, that which is more interior than life itself in preference to what is forgotten in the world of reality? in other words, the purely mechanical and blind aspects of the world. But by his rejection of reality he does not deny reality. He does not commit the error, which would counterbalance the error of American fiction, of suppressing 6 Bernardin de Saint-Pierre and the Marquis de Sade, with different indications of it, are the creators of the propagandist novel. the mechanical. He unites, on the contrary, into a superior form of unity, the memory of the past and the immediate sensation, the twisted foot and the happy days of times past. It is difficult to return to the places of one's early happiness. The young girls in the flower of their youth still laugh and chatter on the seashore, but he who watches them gradually loses his right to love them, just as those he has loved lose the power to be loved. This melancholy is the melancholy of Proust. It was powerful enough in him to cause a violent rejection of all existence. But his passion for faces and for the light attached him at the same time to life. He never admitted that the happy days of his youth were lost forever. He undertook the task of re-creating them and of demonstrating, in the face of death, that the past could be regained at the end of time in the form of an imperishable present, both truer and richer than it was at the beginning. The psychological analysis of Remembrance of Things Past is nothing but a potent means to an end. The real greatness of Proust lies in having written Time Regained, which resembles the world of dispersion and which gives it a meaning on the very level of integration. His difficult victory, on the eve of his death, is to have been able to extract from the incessant flight of forms, by means of memory and intelligence alone, the tentative trembling symbols of human unity. The most definite challenge that a work of this kind can give to creation is to present itself as an entirety, as a closed and unified world. This defines an unrepentant work of art. It has been said that the world of Proust was a world without a god. If that is true, it is not because God is never spoken of, but because the ambition of this world is to be absolute perfection and to give to eternity the aspect of man. Time Regained, at least in its aspirations, is eternity without God. Proust's work, in this regard, appears to be one of the most ambitious and most significant of man's enterprises against his mortal condition. He has demonstrated that the art of the nov