Victor Serge
The Case of Comrade Tulayev,
translated by Willard R. Trask,
introduction by Susan Sontag.
New York Review Books,
368 pages, $14.95

Victor Serge was, and remains, unique: the only novelist to describe successfully, from the inside, the now long-lost milieu of the socialist movement in Europe, its Soviet product, and its destruction by Stalinism. He has been described by myself and others as a political Ishmael, comparable to the lone survivor of the wrecked vessel Pequod in Melville’s Moby-Dick.

Born in 1890 in Belgium, to a family of Russian exiles, he died in 1947 in a Mexico City taxicab. He was very likely murdered by Soviet agents. He had been associated both with Trotsky and, after the latter’s assassination in 1940, with Trotsky’s widow Natalya Sedova—with whom Serge co-authored a biography of her husband. The

 

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