Man’s Fate by André Malraux


Ask the hardest question of a cursed time: How to die with dignity, having acted with meaning, in the absence of God, in behalf of others?

Fraternity was Malraux’s great theme in fiction. 

For the self, there is dignity; for the community, there is fraternity. 

Malraux looked at loneliness, anonymity, hunger and greed, and he recommend revolt as an act of choice, an opportunity for heroism, an arena for meaning, a smithy for forging value. 

What is deepest in a man is rarely what one can use directly to make him act. 

“His mythomania is a means of denying life, don’t you see, of denying, and not of forgetting.”

Suffering can have meaning only when it does not lead to death, and that’s where it almost always leads.”

“Yes,” she said at last. “And yet that’s perhaps a man’s idea. For me, for a woman, suffering—it’s strange—makes me think of life rather than of death...Because of child-birth, perhaps...” 

Can it be that one is never jealous except because of what one supposes the other supposes? 

What good is a soul, if there is neither God nor Christ?

“There is no possible dignity, no real life for a man who works twelve hours a day without knowing why he works.”

Still that distracted voice. “He will kill himself,” thought Kyo. He had listened to his father enough to know that he who seeks the absolute with such uncompromising zeal can find it only in sensation. A craving for the absolutely, a craving for immortality—hence a fear of death: Ch’en should have been a coward; be he felt, like every mystic, that his absolute could be seized only in the moment. Whence no doubt his disdain for everything that did not lead to the moment that would join him to himself in a dizzy embrace. From this human form which dominated it—the formless matter of which fatality is made. There was something mad about this silent comrade meditating upon his familiar vision of horror, but also something sacred—as there always is about the presence of the inhuman. Perhaps he would kill Chiang only to kill himself. As Kyo tried to make out through the darkness that angular face with its kindly lips, he felt in himself the shudder of the primordial anguish, the same as that which threw Ch’en into the arms of the octopuses if sleep and into those of death. 

“My father believes,” said Kyo slowly, “that the essence of man is anguish, the consciousness of his own fatality, from which all fears are born, even the fear of death ... but that opinion frees you from it; therein lies its virtue.”

“One can always find terror in himself. One only needs to look deep enough:...”

He was discovering the gambling is a suicide without death. 

“‘It takes nine months to make a man, a single day to kill him.’ does not take nine months, it takes fifty years to make a man, fifty years of sacrifice, of will, of...of so many things! And when this man is complete, when there is nothing left in him of childhood, nor of adolescence, when he is really a man—he is good for nothing but to die.”

“On the road of vengeance, little May, one find life...”