This dissertation is an attempt to show how politics and myth interact in Malraux’s literary work and the parallels this affords with his life. More precisely, it seeks to illustrate how an ostensibly rational political position can be absorbed by the endeavour to generate faith in a new notion of Man. In Part I of the dissertation, attention is paid to the intellectual background against which Malraux’s left-wing commitment was formed. In particular, the fact that there was considerable diversity of opinion within the European Left of the inter-war years, and even an overlap with some of the ideas of the Right. This made Malraux’s opinions less fixed than is often assumed. Consequently, scrutiny is given to Malraux’s loyalty to a great hero of the Left, Trotsky, and the similar sentiments that he showed for the literary giants of the French Right. In Part II, the focus is turned on Malraux’s assumptions about his craft as a writer and his assumptions about humanity. Both sets of assumptions enabled Malraux to portray man as a creature who is not trapped by time and history. Malraux’s assumptions about the fulfilment of humanity are studied in conjunction with Kant’s and Hegel’s, and Part II ends with analysis of the mythical dimension of Malraux’s fiction, in which he erects his new notion of Man. The third and final part of the dissertation examines the ubiquitous nature of the need for faith; how it can invest a rational and materialist commitment to change, like Communism. The Communist myth of action is analysed in conjunction with Malraux’s myth of redeeming fraternity. This is followed by a final chapter which examines the paradox inherent in Malraux’s faith in fraternity, and adduces his assumptions about humanity which make his eventual allegiance to the Right in French politics, less surprising in retrospect than it was at the time.
Last updated: 15.2.2005 15.2.2005