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International Socialism, Spring 2002


Richard Greeman [1]

Memoirs of a revolutionary


From International Socialism 2:94, Spring 2002.
Copyright © International Socialism.
Copied with thanks from the International Socialism Archive.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Susan Weissman
Victor Serge: The Course Is Set On Hope
Verso 2001, £22

Victor Serge ( Kibalchich) was a French-language writer and international revolutionary whose activity spanned the first half of the 20th century. Born in 1890 in Brussels to a family of Russian revolutionary exiles, he became a professional militant and pamphleteer in his teens. His commitment to freedom and social justice evolved from involvement in the Belgian Socialist Young Guards through French anarchist individualism and Spanish anarcho-syndicalism to Russian Communism and its Left Opposition. A stateless exile and internationalist ‘from birth’, Serge was a participant-witness at crucial turning points in world revolutionary history, including the ‘tragic bandits’ of pre First World War French anarchism, the Barcelona syndicalist uprising of 1917, the Russian Civil War (he joined the Bolshevik Party in Petrograd in 1919), the failed German Revolution of 1923 (he was a Comintern publicist in Berlin), the Left Opposition’s battle against Stalinism (he was expelled from the Bolshevik Party in 1928 for denoucing Stalin’s betrayal of the Chinese Revolution), the fight against fascism and Stalinism in Spain (he was a fraternal member of the extreme left POUM), the Nazi occupation of France, and the exodus of revolutionary refugees to Mexico (where, as Weissman’s research reveals, he was on the assassination list of the Soviet secret police, the NKVD).

Although Weissman’s book attempts to span the full range of Serge’s life, activities and ideas, the main subject of The Course is Set on Hope is Serge’s analysis of Stalinism, a subject which Weissman handles with assurance, having devoted a 1991 doctoral dissertation and half a dozen overlapping published articles to it. Weissman bases her study largely on Serge’s Memoirs and his Russia Twenty Years After (which she recently re-edited for Humanities Press). [2] She shows convincingly how Serge, while avoiding abstract theoretical arguments about ‘degenerate’ or ‘deformed’ workers’ states, compiled large syntheses of statistical and anecdotal material to present a compelling picture of a Russian ‘socialism’ dominated by 10 percent of privileged bureaucrats and party bosses on the top, with a reserve army of about 16 percent of slave labourers in the camps on the bottom, and in between a vast majority of exploited, undernourished workers driven by police terror and deprived of any say over their conditions of labour. Serge described concretely the conditions of women, workers, students and peasants in the collective farms without spending much time speculating over whether the ruling bureaucracy that exploited them was a ‘class’ or a ‘caste’, an analysis he in any case considered premature.

Weissman, who apparently favours a ‘bureaucratic collectivist’ analysis, is somewhat uncomfortable with what she considers Serge’s elusiveness and inconsistency on the question (especially since he occasionally wrote about ‘state-capitalism’ in his novels). Nor is she totally satisfied by Serge’s ‘sociological’ explanation of Stalin’s rise based on the votes of thousands of opportunists inducted into the Bolshevik Party after Lenin’s death in 1924. On the other hand, she appreciates Serge’s description of the ‘chaos’ of the ‘plan’ imposed from above by a Stalin lurching from one crisis to another. She also expounds Serge’s explanation of the Moscow Trials, where the fake confessions of Zinoviev, Bukharin and other old Bolsheviks were obtained by a combination of psychological and physical torture, prior selection of defendants (the majority of Bolsheviks refused to confess and were shot in the cellars of the secret police), and ‘party patriotism’. On this last point, she agrees with Serge’s hindsight conclusion that excessive loyalty to an increasingly bureaucratic party hamstrung first Trotsky, who remained passive between 1923 and 1926, and later the Left Opposition, which out of party discipline (long after its expulsion!) denied itself the right to appeal to the non-party masses.

Serge’s own claim to originality as an analyst of Stalinism was that he was apparently the first to describe (in 1933) this system as ‘totalitarian’ and compare it to the Nazi and fascist systems. However, as Weissman points out, Serge made it clear that Nazi totalitarianism stemmed from a failed socialist revolution and the inability of German capitalism to solve its problems through democratic means, whereas the origin of Stalinist totalitarianism was a proletarian revolution that had been hijacked by a party bureaucracy which was still forced to use, or rather misuse, Marxist language in order to justify its rule.

Curiously, Weissman does not take this analysis one step further as Serge did both in his 1937 book and in his final essay on the subject, Thirty Years After the Russian Revolution. [3] There, with astounding prescience, Serge suggested that the Soviet bureaucracy, an unstable formation driven by terror, would eventually be tempted to legitimise its privileges in property forms and to seek an alliance with the international capitalist bourgeoisie, as apparently happened after 1989. Serge also predicted that in such a case, the language of Marxism would inevitably be discredited in the eyes of the masses for a whole period (thus leaving them without the tools to comprehend their situation), and that the rise of nationalism among the vast Muslim populations of the Soviet Union would represent a serious reactionary threat – in 1947! Moreover, unlike other ‘totalitarianism’ theorists and Western Sovietologists who saw the Communist system as immune to change from within (thus justifying Cold War military containment of Communism), Serge saw the system as inherently unstable and in any case never doubted the continuing resistance of ordinary Russians, based on his own experience. (Russia is More Full of Revolutionaries Than Ever is the title of one of his essays).

Weissman’s ‘modest first examination of Serge’s political, social, literary and economic writings on the Soviet Union’ [4] is thus a welcome addition to Serge studies. However, like many enthusiasts and academics, she is somewhat less than modest about the importance of her particular topic. ‘Serge’s critique of Stalinism was the core of his life and work’ [5], she states at the outset, and reiterates to ‘analyse the nature of the social organism emerging in the USSR. This became his life’s work’ [6]; and again, ‘Serge spent the rest of his life trying to analyse and characterise the new social formation, to define its nature.’ This myopic attitude gets her into trouble when she comes to deal with other aspects of Serge, who after all led a rich and adventurous life, thought deeply about many topics, and will probably be remembered as much for his achievements as a novelist as for anything else.

On the topic of literature, Weissman has this to say: ‘Serge was first and foremost a political animal, and it was only when barred from political action that he turned to literary activity.’ [7] ‘Writing, for Serge, was something to do only when one was unable to fight.’

Serge wrote with a mission: to expose and analyse the significance of the rise of Stalinism. He worked continuously until he died, churning out novels, histories, pamphlets and polemics. In the years 1928 to 1936, while still in the Soviet Union, Serge wrote four [sic] novels, two [sic] short stories, and six works of history, politics and literary theory; he translated novels and poems and seven volumes of history, politics, theory and memoirs. Considering the difficult circumstances under which Serge laboured, his prodigious output is extraordinary. [8]

Indeed, prodigiously extraordinary, if measured in terms of literary Stakhanovism. [9] However, I wonder if Serge, who took literature seriously and considered himself ‘in the line of the Russian novelists’ (Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Korolenko), would be flattered by this purely quantitative appraisal of his fiction. On the qualitative side, although Weissman does sprinkle the words ‘poetic’ and ‘lyrical’ here and there in praise of Serge’s writing (his style was actually understated and evocative), her aesthetic criterion is actually utilitarian. The most she has to say about Serge’s complex and moving novel Midnight in the Century is that it is ‘useful’ for its account of certain theoretical discussions among exiled Left Oppositionists. [10] She points to Serge’s ‘ability to see social reality clearly and honestly and write about it poetically’ as if the poetry were the icing on a sociological cake. So much for aesthetics.

As for Serge’s contribution to the debate on revolutionary literature, Weissman writes, ‘Serge based his ideas on Trotsky’s Literature and Revolution ... in which Trotsky denied that a proletarian literature could exist’ during the period of transition to socialism. (After that literature would become ‘classless’.) But in 1932 Serge replied to Trotsky in his own Literature and Revolution [11] that ‘the period of transition might be very long’. Whole generations of workers might live and struggle and die during that period, and ‘they too would have their bards’. For this reason Serge defended the Proletcults and, from 1928 on, struck out on his own as the revolution’s ‘bard’, bringing to life the comrades he had seen fall in the struggle and singing their heroism and their tragedy. [12]

Serge’s mission was to ‘speak for those who have no voice or whose voice has been silenced’, to recreate the ‘atmosphere’ in which his characters struggle, to tell a truth he considered deeper than the economist’s figures, the historian’s facts and the theoretician’s abstractions. His ultimate goal was ‘to form the mind’ and ‘the character’ of new generations, a task he considered essential in the face of the extermination of his own revolutionary generation by Stalin and Hitler. [13] I think he succeeded, judging from the number of people who have told me over the years of the profound effect reading Serge had on their personal and political outlook.

’Character’ was an important notion for Serge, who wrote biographies of many revolutionaries, including book-length portraits of Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky (the latter in collaboration with his widow, Natalia Sedova) in which he attempted to understand their psychology and show how these outstanding minds and personalities were forged by the revolutionary struggles of semi-feudal Russia. Although Weissman’s book on Serge takes the form of a biography (and is praised as such on the jacket), she is not really comfortable with the notion and denigrates biographies, claiming they ‘often fall into the genre of exposé ... and speculation about emotional affairs designed to titillate the reader’. [14] Yet she titillates us on the first page of her preface, telling us breathlessly that one of the people she interviewed in preparing her biography ‘was murdered just days before our appointment’, but not telling us the person’s name or the circumstances of this sensational crime.

Nonetheless, the best pages of The Course Is Set On Hope are precisely the most sensational ones, concerning assassination and espionage, where Weissman departs from summarising Serge’s Memoirs and treats us to the fruits of some original biographical research she has done in the files of the FBI and the NKVD. Weissman leads us through the labyrinth of plot and counterplot among Stalin’s ‘killerocracy’, using as a red thread Serge’s involvement with NKVD defectors Walter Krivitsky, Alexander Barmine and ‘Ignace Reiss’ (who actually was murdered on the way to an appointment with Serge), but going far beyond Serge’s role to explore the chilling world of assassins and agents-provocateurs.

Her principal quarry is the Stalinist agent ‘Etienne’ (Marc Zborovsky), who wormed his way into the Left Opposition in Paris, became the closest collaborator of Trotsky’s son Leon Sedov (who died under mysterious circumstances in a Russian émigré hospital to which he was taken by Etienne), spied on all of Trotsky’s correspondence, turned his followers against each other (for example, by casting suspicion on Serge), and fingered the Trotskyist militant Rudolf Klément (assassinated in Paris) and Reiss, who was about to break openly with the NKVD and join the Trotskyists when he was murdered. Like a bloodhound, Weissman followed Zborovsky’s trail through the newly opened archives in Moscow, the files of the FBI and the US Senate committee (before which he testified in 1956) to San Francisco, where she camped on his doorstep demanding an interview (Zborovsky refused to open the door and shortly thereafter dropped dead).

Still, Weissman is ambivalent about whether she is writing an analysis of Serge’s ideas on Stalinism or tracing their development biographically. The result is a narrative which, although it begins with his birth and ends with his death, jumps around in confusing ways, ignoring chronology in order to make general points. Sometimes she narrates the same incident twice. For example, the story of the suspicious murder by ‘bandits’ of Serge’s Left Opposition comrade Chadayev in 1928 is told in full in two different places. Weissman deals with the Stalinists’ brutal 1943 attack on Serge in Mexico City by introducing this story in the middle of her book (right after Serge’s 1936 release from the gulag), in a section confusingly titled Part II. Another Exile and Two More: The Final Years. She develops the story for several pages, and then drops it to pick up the thread of Serge’s return to Europe in 1936. Eighty pages later, when she finally gets Serge to Mexico, she picks up the rest of the story, again at some length. But without continuity the reader gets lost in the details and loses the point.

Weissman’s confusing anachronism can actually be quite misleading. For example, in order to demonstrate Serge’s democratic credentials, she claims that ‘he opposed one-party rule in 1918, and declared in 1923 that a coalition government, although fraught with risks, would be less dangerous than Stalin’s secret police state’. [15] She repeats these claims later, stating, ‘Serge consistently defended broad democratic rights both inside and outside the party, and had even suggested in 1923–1924 that a coalition government was preferable to the bureaucratic rule on its way to becoming the ‘dictatorship of the secretariat and secret police’. [16] In fact, Serge proclaimed no such view either in 1918 (when he was a prisoner in a French concentration camp) or in 1923–1924 (when he was a Comintern journalist and undercover agent in Berlin and Vienna). Although he had private doubts about the dangers of bureaucracy and dictatorship early on, Serge first put forward these conclusions in hindsight, in 1937 (for example, in Russia Twenty Years After), when he tried to draw lessons from the the revolution’s mistakes. To be charitable to Weissman, this is probably what she intends to say, but since she gives no references for these claims there is no way for a reader not to be misled.

Unfortunately, anachronism and confusion over dates is so prevalent that the reader never gets a sense of Serge’s development as a man and a thinker, only a set of ‘positions’. And since Serge’s ‘position’ developed over time, Weissman inevitably ends up finding him inconsistent, for example on the essential issue of liberty and revolution. She writes:

Serge never succeeded in reconciling these contradictory stands. He clearly demonstrated the revolution was hemmed in from all sides: from within the anarchists, Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs), Mensheviks and Kadets, all opposed the Bolsheviks and formed part of the counter-revolution ... along with the White generals ... and the armies of 14 capitalist powers ... [Yet] later Serge examined the measures taken out of necessity and theorised that certain of them [for example, the Cheka secret police] formed the foundation of Stalinist totalitarianism. [17]

To begin with, Serge did not lump the Russian anarchists with the counter-revolutionaries, as Weissman does consistently in her study. (Nor does she quote any of Serge’s writing when he was an anarchist.) Moreover, she seems to ignore the central concept which guided Serge’s conduct throughout his revolutionary career: the militant’s ‘double duty’ to defend the revolution from both its external enemies (the counter-revolutionaries) and its inner enemies (intolerance and bureaucracy). Serge first discussed ‘double duty’ in print in Literature and Revolution (1932), and it may be his most original contribution to revolutionary morality. The problem, of course, is how to balance these two duties of criticism and support from inside a movement to which one gives critical support.

Serge’s revolutionary career was just such a balancing act, and as such it is instructive when seen chronologically and in context. Serge was already a seasoned 29 year old anarchist militant when he arrived in Red Petrograd at the height of the civil war, and he was immediately shocked by the grim uniformity imposed on the press by the regime. How did he apply his concept of ‘double duty’? As he wrote back to his friends and to anarchist journals in France, he saw no other group than the Communists effectively defending the fledgling Russian republic; and since he had come to Russia to defend it, he decided to join them as a libertarian, hoping for the day when he could successfully fight the Communists’ authoritarianism. On two occasions Serge took up arms in defence of Petrograd against the White armies at the gate. He patrolled the city at night with a rifle invading people’s apartments to hunt out counter-revolutionaries. He defended the Red Terror with his pen as well.

At the same time, privately, Serge used his personal connections with Gorky (who spoke directly to Lenin), with Zinoviev, and with many prominent Chekists, to intercede and save anarchist militants who had run foul of the regime. He attended Kropotkin’s funeral, probably the last legal anarchist demonstration in Russia, and was the only Communist there (not counting menacing policemen). He met privately with the more trustworthy of the delegates who came from France, Italy and Spain to attend the early Congresses of the Comintern and the Profintern (the Red International of Labour Unions), opened their eyes to the realities of Moscow, and shared with them his doubts and misgivings about the revolution. These rather risky private initiations bore fruit. These comrades – revolutionary syndicalists like Rosmer, Ghezzi, Nin and Maurin, later Surrealists like Rosenthal and Naville – were at the core of the anti-Stalinist left in the 1920s and 1930s.

Serge’s attitude toward the Communists’ repression of the revolt of the Kronstadt sailors was a typical embodiment of his sense of ‘double duty’. At the beginning he intervened personally, along with his anarchist father-in-law Russakov and the US anarchists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, attempting to mediate the conflict between the government and the rebels (rather daring for a disciplined party member in the middle of a civil war). He criticised the brutal way the regime handled the affair: refusing to negotiate or listen to the sailors’ quite justifiable demands and slandering them as ‘counter-revolutionaries’ commanded by a White general. In the end, however, with enemy battleships poised as the ice melted and with the island fortress of Kronstadt no longer defending Petrograd from the Whites, Serge reluctantly sided with the Communists in repressing the rebels, believing that the country was too exhausted to begin a ‘third’ revolution. Disgusted, he then left politics to form a short-lived anarchist farming commune and ultimately accepted a Comintern job in Berlin where he hoped to help bring to birth a new European revolution which would relieve Russia’s isolation and revive the participatory, democratic side of socialism on an international scale.

Concerning what Weissman calls Serge’s ‘contradictory stand’ about the Cheka leading to ‘Stalinist totalitarianism’, it is true that Serge, as we have seen, justified the Red Terror as a necessary defence against the White Terror, which he considered much more bloody since the counter-revolution must massacre large and numerous classes of people to triumph. (Weissman is excellent on this point in her discussion of the bloodbath of workers that followed the defeat of the peacefully-elected Finnish Socialist Republic, abandoned by the Bolsheviks at Brest-Litovsk). Serge also concluded that the Cheka was ‘Lenin’s biggest mistake’.

What Weissman fails to tell her readers is what Serge thought Lenin should have done (and what future revolutions should do). Serge thought that the counter-revolutionaries, who were numerous and dangerous behind the Red lines, could have been hunted out and brought before mass tribunals. There suspects could at least hear the charges against them, face their accusers, contradict witnesses, speak in their defence and, if found guilty, be jailed or shot. I remember this happening in Havana during the first days of the Cuban Revolution, and although the spectacle was at times quite horrifying and there were probably some injustices done, these mass trials were effective and purifying. On the other hand, the Cheka secret police method of condemning a suspect to death on the basis of written reports, without seeing or hearing him or her or permitting any defence, could only lead to the creation of an all-powerful and totally paranoid inquisition which could and did turn on the revolution and devour it. One may not agree with Serge’s solutions, but it is perhaps misleading to contend, as Weissman does, that he was inconsistent and had no solution.

Finally, Serge did away with the false problem of ‘Bolshevism leading to Stalinism’ as follows: ‘It is often said that "the germ of all Stalinism was in Bolshevism at its beginning". Well, I have no objection. Only, Bolshevism also contained many other germs, a mass of other germs ... To judge the living man by the death germs which the autopsy reveals in a corpse – and which he may have carried in him since his birth – is that very sensible?’ [18]

Serge’s interpretation of his double duty was thus complex, evolving through time and depending on concrete circumstances. Although one could argue with the politics of any one of Serge’s judgements, I find his attitude of double duty as a whole exemplary, in the sense of setting an example we can all try to follow. On the other hand, our ability to understand Serge’s specific ‘positions’ depends on our understanding of the context: where Serge wrote what he wrote (in an official party publication, a letter to a comrade, a polemic, a novel, his Notebooks, his Memoirs) and when he wrote it (at the time or in retrospect). Unfortunately, context is not Weissman’s strong suit, what with her attitude towards biography and her aversion to chronology. Only readers thoroughly conversant with Serge and Bolshevik historiography can follow her arguments, whereas new readers would be better advised to read Serge’s Memoirs and Russia Twenty Years After, on which most of Weissman’s interpretation is based.

Serge ended his Memoirs of a Revolutionary 1901–1941 with his 1941 arrival in Mexico, where he died in 1947, and so readers familiar with Serge look forward to an account of his life, his struggles, and his ideas during those final years. Unfortunately, Weissman devotes a scant 15 pages to the Mexican years and tells us precious little about Serge’s Mexican writings (mostly unpublished), which were prolific on every subject from the military conduct of the Second World War and the problem of Stalinism in post-war Europe to literature, psychoanalysis, Mexican anthropology, the atom bomb, and the role of human intelligence in history (not counting the three novels he completed in Mexico). Weissman summarises them as follows: ‘In the end Serge left hundreds of essays, all of which deserve publication. His thoughts expressed throughout were broadly similar.’ [19]

I am not sure all these essays are equally deserving of publication, since many of them (for example, on Russian, Japanese and Nazi military tactics in 1943) are quite dated. But the thoughts they expressed during this period of re-examination and revision were not ‘broadly similar’, and they do deserve to be read and analysed by Serge scholars. Unfortunately Weissman’s book refers (glancingly) to only three of the manuscripts Serge left in what she refers to vaguely and inaccurately as the ‘Serge archive, Mexico’. Let me state that there is no ‘Serge archive’ in Mexico. In 1996 Serge’s son Vlady Kibalchich and I, after searching for years for a safe place to deposit Victor’s posthumous papers, found a home for them at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University. The catalogue of the Victor Serge collection there is available online [20] and runs to 77 pages: rich fodder for future Serge scholars, but unfindable from Weissman’s bibliography. Moreover, most of Serge’s posthumous manuscripts (like his other writings) are in French, which is apparently a problem for Weissman.

Weissman does discuss some of Serge’s Mexican-period writings, but (with the three exceptions mentioned above) mostly on the basis of published works available in English or Spanish translation (including John Manson’s wonderful unpublished translations of Serge’s Notebooks, available on line at Her rare attempts at coping with Serge’s French (the English version of the Memoirs being abridged) are hopeless. She has the newly liberated Serge ‘worried’ that he’ll ‘end up full of resentment’ when the French text makes it clear that he was worried that his French friends would think he had arrived from Russia ‘full of rancour’. [21] She has him say that ‘political deportation is never ended because of firm convictions’ (which makes little sense) when the French text means that Oppositionists who stick firmly to their convictions (as opposed to ‘capitulators’) never get released. [22]

Weissman is right on the mark to insist, as she does, that Serge never abandoned socialism and defended the historical justice of the October Revolution to the very end. This point is essential, since, as Weissman shows, his willingness to publish articles (for money – he was poor) in right social democrat papers like the New Leader and a compromising personal letter sent to Malraux in the hope of getting help to return to Europe allowed his detractors to spread the rumor of his ‘deathbed conversion’ to anti-socialism. She has done a yeoman’s service in publishing Serge’s Thirty Years After the Russian Revolution, written the month before he died, staunchly defending the Bolsheviks’ role in 1917 and pointing to the bankruptcy of conservatism, Christianity and liberalism, which did nothing to prevent fascism.

On the other hand, in his final years Serge was searching for new answers in a rapidly changing world, which got him more or less expelled from the rigidly ‘Marxist’ exile group of Pivert, Gironella, and Malaquais (not Malaquaise, as Weissman writes) who were convinced that the Second World War would be followed by a new edition of 1917. Serge’s posthumous manuscripts, many of which were probably not intended for publication, explore a variety of solutions to the problem of socialism and democracy in a world economy he saw as increasingly ‘collectivist’, whether nominally capitalist or Communist. Far from being ‘broadly similar’, Serge’s thoughts need to be sorted out and analysed (especially now that photocopies of his manuscripts are available from Yale). Weissman takes a few shots at analysing some of the bits that have been translated, but lacks a coherent overview. She concludes, ‘Serge thought that the new [post Second World War] Europe would be totalitarian and fascistic.’ [23] Yet two pages later she declares, ‘Serge was certain that socialism would ultimately win, and that it would first come in Europe, because Stalinism was inherently a weak system, even though he considered it more powerful and more dangerous than capitalism.’ Right.


1. Richard Greeman ( has translated four of Serge’s novels into English and written numerous literary and political articles on Serge. He is secretary of the International Victor Serge Foundation and Serge’s literary executor. He is based in France.

2. See Appendix: Recent works in English by or about Victor Serge at the end of this article.

3. Written in 1947 and published for the first time in appendix to Weissman’s edition of Russia Twenty Years After (London 1996).

4. S. Weissman, The Course Is Set On Hope (London 2001), p. xii.

5. Ibid., p. 6.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid., p. 67.

8. Ibid., p. 111.

9. On the other hand, Serge did translate, albeit for money, Henriette Chaguinian’s Hydrocentrale (Paris 1933), that paean to the Five Year Plan.

10. S. Weissman, op. cit., p. 152.

11. V. Serge, Litterature et Révolution (Paris 1933, 1976 and 1978). Serge also wrote a regular chronicle of Soviet literary and intellectual life in the 1920s for the French review Clarté, edited by Henri Barbusse.

12. Although Serge dedicated a novel to Trotsky, the old man (who kept up with French fiction and wrote articles about Malraux, Malaquais and Céline) never bothered to read it. See R. Greeman, Did Trotsky Read Serge? in Revolutionary History, vol. 7, no. 2 (1999), special issue on Culture and Revolution in the Thought of Leon Trotsky.

13. For further reading, see R. Greeman, Victor Serge and the Novel of Revolution in S. Weissman (ed.), The Ideas of Victor Serge: A Life as a Work of Art (Glasgow 1999).

14. S. Weissman, The Course Is Set On Hope, op. cit., p. 7.

15. Ibid., p. 4.

16. Ibid., p. 119.

17. Ibid., p. 28.

18. V. Serge, Reply to Ciliga, New International, February 1939. Quoted ibid., p. 324.

19. Ibid., p. 170.

20. [Note by ETOL: This link has not been checked.]

21. S. Weissman, The Course Is Set on Hope, op. cit., p. 194.

22. Ibid., p. 164.

23. Ibid., p. 273.

Recent works in English by or about Victor Serge



Victor Serge, The Case of Comrade Tulayev, translated by Willard Trask (Journeyman Press/Pluto Press, London)


Bill Marshall, Victor Serge: The Uses of Dissent (Berg, New York and Oxford)


David Cotterill (ed.), The Serge-Trotsky Papers: Correspondence and Other Writings Between Victor Serge and Leon Trotsky (Pluto Press, London and Boulder, Colorado). Includes essays by David Cotterill, Philip Spencer and Susan Weissman


Revolutionary History, vol. 5, no. 3, Victor Serge: The Century of the Unexpected. Essays on Revolution and Counter-Revolution (Socialist Platform Ltd, London)


Victor Serge, Russia Twenty Years After (includes Serge’s previously unpublished Thirty Years After the Russian Revolution), translated with an introduction by Max Shachtman; new edition prepared with introductory essay by Susan Weissman (Humanities Press, London)


Susan Weissman (ed.), The Ideas of Victor Serge: A Life as a Work of Art (Critique Books, Glasgow)


Victor Serge, Revolution in Danger: Writings from Russia 1919–1921, translated with an introduction by Ian Birchall (Redwords, London)


Victor Serge, Witness To the German Revolution, translated with an Introduction by Ian Birchall (Redwords, London)


Susan Weissman, Victor Serge, The Course Is Set On Hope (Verso, New York and London)


Victor Serge, Mémoires d’un Révolutionnaire et Autres Écrits Politiques 1908–1947 (Robert Laffont, Paris)


Victor Serge: Writer and Revolutionary, website hosted by John Eden, richly illustrated by drawings and photos, includes excellent introductions to Serge’s life and work, previously unpublished translations of Serge’s Notebooks, and short essays:


Richard Greeman’s website (under construction) includes a dozen of his literary, political and biographical studies of Victor Serge from the 1960s up to today

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