A searching novel about a group of revolutionaries—true believers in a cause that no longer exists—living in unlikely exile among Russian Orthodox Old Believers, also suffering for their faith. “Like Koestler in ‘Darkness at Noon,’ Serge seems to be saying that man, the particular, is more important than mankind, the abstraction.”—John Leonard, The New York Times
Perpetually fighting injustice, and seemingly always at odds with those in power, Victor Serge lived a life dedicated to revolution. Here the novelist tells his own story. Born to Russian exiles in Belgium, Serge took an active role in the Russian Revolution, though he was soon disenchanted with it and was expelled to France. From there Serge narrowly escaped the Nazis, ending up in the country that was to be his final refuge, Mexico.
Set in post-Russian-Revolutionary St. Petersburg, Conquered City is structured like a detective story in which the new regime, looking toward “the birth of a new kind of justice,” seeks out the spies, speculators, and traitors hidden among the exhausted mass of common people. “[Serge is] one of the most compelling of twentieth-century ethical and literary heroes.” —Susan Sontag
An unforgettable depiction of worlds in collapse, this first English translation of Victor Serge’s last novel is a monumental mural of World War II, taking readers from a paranoid pre-war Paris, to Leningrad under German siege, to a Berlin that is collapsing, and finally, with the war over, to the mountains of Mexico.
The best novel ever written about the Stalinist purges is also a classic tale of risk and adventure that stands beside Malraux’s Man’s Fate and Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.