It was a temperamental tongue, full of sarcasm, nostalgia, East European derision, but not lacking in tenderness, seriousness and optimism upheld against all odds. It was the original ideal European Community, a model of self-help and mutual trust that our present very loose union of nations would do well to copy.
This violently expressive language formed the basis of Malaquais' literary style, creating a realism that has often been compared with Celine's. The young author was lucky to meet a friend of Andre Gide, the writer Pierre Herbert, who had accompanied the Master to the Soviet Union on that disillusioning visit. Herbart was a fervent Communist and a homosexual whose short novel L'Age d'or "The Golden Age", is the best ever written about young homosensual passions: to our shame, this beautiful work has never been translated into English.
Herbert put Malaquais in touch with Gide, to whom he sent his novel. Gide was wildly enthusiastic about its original style and unusual subject, praising its "epic grandeur, at once clownish and tragicomic". It was published by Dencel in December Trotsky wrote a famous review of it, which is included in his collected works, and it was given brilliant reviews in the French press. When at the age of 29 Malaquais finally received the news that his novel had been awarded the Prix Renaudot, he was sharing the general boredom of the drole de guerre encamped in Lorraine on the Maginot Line, and it was some days before his commanding officer could be persuaded to let him have leave to go to Paris to receive the award and sign thousands of copies of his book.
But the war began to make itself felt and with almost surprising ease the Nazis occupied France. Malaquais made his way to the free zone in the south of France, and in Marseilles met a number of writers and artists in a similar plight, hoping to find a ship to take them to the United States. Malaquais was in a similarly dangerous situation, because after being captured by the Nazis he managed to escape.
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He was given asylum for a few months by the novelist Jean Giono. But things were looking desperate for all those would-be refugees, and Malaquais wrote imploring letters to Gide and Herbert begging for help. In his journals, Gide mentions one of these letters, accusing him and Herbart of deserting him: but Malaquais had forgotten to put his address on the letter, so it was impossible to get in touch with him. Finally, through the selfless devotion of a young American, Varian Fry, and successful interventions by Gide and Herbart, Malaquais and his companions were guided clandestinely across the Pyrenees into Spain, where Malaquais boarded a ship at Cadiz to Venezuela.
There he stayed through the war, writing his memoirs of soldiering in France, Journal de Guerre and Journal de Meteque, which of course could not be published in France under what Malaquais calls the putainiste Petain regime in Vichy - a conflation of the word putain, "prostitute", and the collaborationist traitor General Petain.
But they were published in the United States in They have only recently been published in France, to great and somewhat shamefaced acclaim. For Malaquais' great novel had fallen into oblivion in France. He taught French for some years in the US, where he wrote a considerable body of work in the form of novels, essays, plays and short stories. Only one novel, Planete sans visa, was published in France in , and went unnoticed.
While he was living in America, Malaquais became friendly with Norman Mailer, who was enthusiastic about his work. Malaquais translated The Naked and the Dead into his suitably idiosyncratic French. His novel Le Gaffeur was prefaced by Mailer, as was a collection of short stories, Coup de barre. Le Gaffeur was translated into English in as The Joker, but the task of transforming the unique style of Les Javanais into readable English has apparently proved too daunting for our unadventurous publishing houses.
Finally, Jean Malaquais returned to Europe, where he lived most of the time in Geneva. His last work was a monumental study of Kierkegaard which was originally a thesis sustained at the Sorbonne. It was natural that he should be attracted by that unclassifiable outsider, the very untheological theologian and philosopher who was a forerunner of the existentialism Malaquais had been practising without knowing it all his life.
Fortunately, Les Javanais has been brought back to life in a fine new edition by the excellent Phebus firm in Paris, which is the publisher of his Journal de guerre and which will reissue all his other deplorably neglected works. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists?
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Malaquais, Jean 1908-1998
Rugby union. Motor racing. US sports. Personal and B. Most letters are either in French or English, but some are in Spanish. Carbon copies of Malaquais' outgoing letters are found throughout the correspondence. Subseries A. Contents include original handwritten letters from Gide to Malaquais and Malaquais' typed transcriptions of these letters. Personal and Professional Papers contains page proofs of this manuscript.
Filed separately in this subseries are letters from Gide's secretary, Yvonne Davet. Of significant importance is personal correspondence between Malaquais and American writer, Norman Mailer from to Interfiled within these original letters are Malaquais' letters photocopied from the Ransom Center's Norman Mailer Papers. Scattered among these letters are several letters from Mailer's first wife, Beatrice Bea , and in later years from his sixth wife, Norris.
Personal and Professional Papers contains Mailer's edits of this manuscript. A small segment of letters in which Mailer discussed the mental health of Malaquais' son, Jeannot, is restricted until Jeannot's death. Related to Mailer is a large volume of lengthy letters from convicted murderer Jack Henry Abbott. Abbott contacted Mailer in upon learning that Mailer was writing about convicted murderer Gary Gilmore for his book, The Executioner's Song.
Oh no, there's been an error
Abbott offered to write about his own prison experiences and Mailer ultimately assisted Abbott in publishing In the Belly of the Beast Malaquais became acquainted with Abbott after Mailer and other notables petitioned to have Abbott released from prison in and Malaquais frequently hosted Abbott in his home. Six weeks after his release, Abbott fatally stabbed a man and was convicted and returned to prison.
In his letters, Abbott recounts details of the stabbing, discusses philosophical topics, and often mentions Mailer. Abbott's writings and other attachments accompany some letters. Though his letters mention Mailer, they often focus on the political situation in Japan and his admiration for Malaquais' work and his attempt to get his writings published in Japan. Also present are letters from one of Malaquais' translators, Mary Guggenheim. Subseries B.
Professional correspondence contains letters from French, American, English, Mexican, and other publishers; agents including Madeline B. Contracts, royalty statements, and other attachments are frequently interfiled with this correspondence, such as the contract between Mailer and Malaquais for his French translation of The Naked and the Dead filed with the Albin Michel correspondence. Also included is a file of letters associated with Malaquais numerous university appointments and files of letters associated with various works.
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In to , Malaquais and his wife, Elisabeth, collaborated on an English translation of an anthology of contemporary French literature that was never published. A file includes letters to many notable writers, including Samuel Beckett, in order to secure rights to republish their work. Personal and Professional Papers contains documents related to Malaquais' life as a writer.
Biographical papers, contracts, film project material, journals, manuscripts written by other authors, notes and research material, photographs, scrapbooks, and material related to his university appointments are found in this series. Of primary interest is material related to writer Norman Mailer. This only item associated with Malaquais' translation of Mailer's The Naked and the Dead is a first edition of the novel inscribed to Malaquais in December The volume contains remarkable annotations and translation notes made by Malaquais.
As Mailer admits, Malaquais wasn't fond of the novel and this copy contains numerous pages with words underlined and lines connecting words suggesting Malaquais' disapproval of ideas and word repetition. Manuscript drafts for Mailer's introduction to Malaquais' The Joker published in France as Le gaffeur and a essay entitled "War of the Oxymorons" are also among the materials.
The personal correspondence in the second series includes the original letters between Mailer and Malaquais that were used for this manuscript. Also present is a small amount of photographs of Malaquais and Mailer taken between and ; Elisabeth Malaquais and Norris Mailer also appear in some of the photos. In addition to fiction and prose, Malaquais explored film-making particularly while living in Mexico in the early s. He wrote several scripts and treatments and this series contains a small sample of this work. Within this segment is research and grant applications for a documentary film Malaquais wanted to make about the native Indians of Peru.
Also of importance are five incomplete journals written in French, particularly the journal dated to that was apparently buried and kept by his wife for safe-keeping. Reviews and clippings in English, French, and other languages are also included in this series. In addition, two scrapbooks contain clippings from to Due to the fragility of these scrapbooks, each has been restricted and a digitized version is available for use. Access Note: Based on restrictions imposed by the donor, any material related to Jean Jeannot Malaquais' health is closed until Jeannot's death.
Some letters from Joseph Church, Norman Mailer, and all letters from Bethsabee de Rothschild were removed and are restricted until that time. Knopf, Inc. Records at the Ransom Center contain additional material related to Jean Malaquais. Three VHS tapes containing various segments about Malaquais televised on French television , undated have been transferred to the Ransom Center Film Collection. In addition to material found within the Jean Malaquais Papers, the following sources were used:.
Kirkup, James. Mailer, Norman. Repository Browse List. Accessing Materials Described Here. Hamilton, Mark Michael Clement Byrne , "Clem" Crespin, Vitalis Putnam's Sons Minton, Walter J. Carrefour Books and Archives Wilson Company Lifezis, Hugo Helming, James Fischer Publishing Corp.
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