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André Malraux: Les Conquérants (The Conquerors)

Malraux’s first novel is about the 1925 Chinese Revolution against the British but seen primarily through the eyes of European and (to a certain extent) Chinese revolutionaries. The story is told by an unnamed narrator. Each political tendency seems to be represented – from Hong the terrorist to Tcheng Dai the artist to Garine the Bolshevik. Malraux also contrasts the old, Chinese way and the new way, which is either European or European-influenced. But, at least for Malraux, the point is to show a new type of hero, one who combines readiness for action, culture and lucidity. Trotsky found the book politically inept. The book does move along as the strike against the British develops and even gets quite exciting but if, like me, different political factions are not the stuff of novels, you may wish to pass on to his later works.

Publishing history

First published in French 1928 by Grasset
First English translation 1929 by Harcourt, Brace and Cape
Translated by Winifred Stephens Whale (earlier editions; Stephen Becker (later editions)