By Victor Serge; Richard Greeman (transl.)

Startlingly human and unflinchingly sincere, this thinly veiled fictionalized firsthand account of gifted political author Victor Serge’s time in criminal is a vital addition to the canon of criminal writing in addition to an unfiltered view of humanity within the early twentieth century. Rejecting the chance to provide political propaganda, Serge’s portrayal of imprisonment is in its place an insightful and emotionally wrought story of repression. The depraving brutality that Serge skilled at the back of bars is instantly a reflect of a society at battle and a deeply own query of function. initially released in 1930 and translated from the French by means of Richard Greeman in 1977, this reprint makes a desirable and compelling novel to be had back with a brand new advent through Greeman that situates the paintings within the context of Serge’s existence.

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Dispirited, he retreated to a French anarchist agricultural commune north of Petersburg. 19 After the fiasco of the 1923 Communist putsch in Hamburg, Serge fled to Vienna. It was there, working along side Gramsci, Lukács, and Lucien Laurat, that he finally found time to seriously study Marx—and discover Freud. In 1925, with his hopes for a European revolution dashed and in conflict with the bureaucratic leadership of the Comintern, Serge returned to Russia to participate in the Left Opposition’s fore-doomed struggle against Stalin.

The construction and populating of prisons is apparently dying capitalism’s answer to massive youth unemployment, and Serge would certainly have seen today’s so-called war on drugs as a war against the poor. Nearly half of America’s two million prisoners are ‘guilty’ of non-violent crimes, mostly low-level marijuana and coke dealing—the principal occupations open to Black and immigrant youth, nearly half of whom have ‘done time’ by age thirty-five. The United States, once a model of liberal democracy, has now surpassed Russia and China in percentage of its population behind bars, with about two million men and women trapped in the criminal justice system.

In any case, as a Belgian-born, Francophone Soviet-Russian writer, he falls through the cracks between academic literature departments. 30 On the other hand, back in 1968, when this translation of Men in Prison was first published, British and American book reviewers immediately recognized its value as literature: It is a stream of exquisite and refined consciousness undergoing man’s most barbaric experience. Not even in “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” is there such a penetrating and disturbing account of what prison means to the body and soul.

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