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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL Novembre - Book: Boris Savinkov, "What was not" (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Sun, 3 Dec 2017 07:16:35 +0200

Brutally, the door opens. Five frost-coated freaks, revolvers in hand, burst into Colonel Sliozkin's private quarters. The officer, who had fallen asleep in his office, jumped and contemplated his attackers. They are the militants of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party (PSR) who, in December 1905, participate in the insurrection of Moscow. Individual retaliation is part of the street war. And Sliozkin, known for his role in the repression, must fall. ---- Yes, but ... in the small group of insurgents, some hesitate. To kill, is it not to do evil ? Is not it behaving like the enemy ? The bursting of the tearful wife, begging her husband to be spared, makes David waver. Paralyzed by doubt, the revolutionary prefers to flee the house not to see his comrades shoot down the condemned man.

Untied, he roams the deserted and snowy streets of Moscow. A patrol calls out to him, the search, discovers his revolver. In front of the officer, a soldier slaps his heels and announces cheerfully: " Your nobility, I caught a youpin ! " Shot in time.

What was not was the true novel of the 1905 Russian Revolution, lived from within the PSR, which was then the main force of the far left in the tsarist empire. The author, Boris Savinkov, is himself a novelist. Leader of the PSR Combat Organization at the time of the assassination of Prime Minister Plehve (1904) and Grand Duke Serge (1905), he was given to the police by his comrade Azev, a spy infiltrated at the head of the organization. Arrested, he escaped from prison and fled to France. In exile, he became associated with the literary bohemian of Montparnasse and began to revise his positions. Under pseudonym, and with a brilliant pen, he publishes in 1909 The pale horse - which will inspire The Righteous, Albert Camus - then, three years later,Which was not.

With the help of fictional characters, Savinkov reconstructs the world of revolutionary socialism. From the semi-vicious worker Vania to the humorous Bolotov intellectual, to the former peasant peasant Arsene Ivanovich, the militant willing to sacrifice himself for the cause to the clandestine leader who doubts his legitimacy to allow this sacrifice , the novel communicates the violence of the time and the questions of its protagonists.

What was not published was serialized in 1912 in Zavety, a magazine published in St. Petersburg by a PSR figure, Victor Chernov, then evolving into legalism. The self-critical tone of the story, putting the internal life of the movement in the public square, caused scandal among the Social Revolutionaries. Lenin saw the text of a renegade, and a " shame ". The Prairial editions now offer a reissue in an excellently revised and prefaced translation.

William Davranche (AL Montreuil)

Boris Savinkov, What was not, Prairial, 2017, 496 pages, 21 euros.

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