Paul Berman, the prisoner intellectuals [Review of Michael Scammell’s biography, “Koestler : The Literary and Political Odyssey of a Twentieth Century Skeptic”] from The New Republic May 27, 2010.
Interesting to notice the Anarchist solidarity efforts of Alexander Berkman and G.P. Maximoff getting some sort of recognition…
“of the various works from 1940 that I have been discussing, Maximoff’s The Guillotine at Work has got to be the most powerful emotionally speaking, and the most convincing, intellectually speaking, and the most horrifying, morally speaking.”
However… I had to laugh at this patronising guff about Maximoff: “He did not know how to reach out to the mainstream journalists and intellectuals in America or anywhere else.” Yes, those 1930’s journalists and intellectuals were just waiting for the anarchists, who never called. Yeah, right. Presumably we’ll be seeing the New republic reviewing The Tragic Procession in an issue soon…? Shows we need an account of the publication of The guillotine at work. (All the papers are in Amsterdam’s IISH, the Yelensky, not Maksimov papers).
Secondly, I’m not convinced Berkman’s Prison memoirs of an anarchist proves he came out thinking the point of the anarchist movement is to “produce steely men such as himself”. It’s as much about remaining committed, but also being human. But to recognise that would have derailed Berman’s argument. Just shows we still need a biography of Berkman.