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Extra resources for Andre Malraux: an Age of Oppression Pb: (Le Temps Du Mepris)

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31 them all into darkness once more... His mind went back to a night when they had been fighting, to a street in the industrial part of the city near the Alexanderplatz with its closed cigar-sellers’ shops, all bathed in moonlight. The Communists had just fled the street and, as the rumble of police-vans drew closer and closer, the last lights went out one by one. Then, when the vans had hardly finished going past, rectangles of light — split by jagged silhouettes — began streaming on to the pavements from one end of the road to the other: the street’s population had suddenly materialised again, and with strained, tense faces, were standing slightly back from the windows because of the bullets, with the smaller silhouettes of their sneaky little brats beside them.

I know how much effort and will-power it takes to bring about a just and meaningful outcome. I know too that nothing will ever compensate us for the amount of suffering so many of us here are going through, except victory in our struggle. But at least, if we are victorious, every one of our people will eventually manage to have a proper life. And so will all those men who know they are alone, who know they will go home to an empty, lonely room at night, and know they will be carrying the burden of people’s contempt and indifference, and the pointlessness of their lives, which shadow them everywhere dogging their heels, back in there with them.

The only kind of man who could ever reconcile himself to living with that mass of stone all around him would have to be a secretive and repressed sub-human being who had ended up losing all track of time. For the prisoners who were locked up in their cells, time was like a giant black spider that was swinging to and fro above their heads, every bit as mesmerising and ghastly for them as time was for their comrades who were also locked up, but condemned to death. In Kassner’s case he was suffering not so much because of his present predicament but rather from an obsession with the future, a feeling that whatever happened would be perpetuated “forever”.

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