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Midnight in the Century

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3.99  ·  Rating details ·  155 ratings  ·  15 reviews
In 1933, Victor Serge was arrested by Stalin’s police, interrogated, and held in solitary confinement for more than eighty days. Released, he spent two years in exile in remote Orenburg. These experiences were the inspiration for Midnight in the Century, Serge’s searching novel about revolutionaries living in the shadow of Stalin’s betrayal of the revolution.

Among the exil
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Hardcover, 284 pages
Published November 28th 1982 by Writers & Readers Publishing (first published 1976)
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3.99  · 
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Steven Godin
Victor Serge was unique. A voice for those who would be silenced, writing from the inside to those on the outside, highlighting the socialist movement in Europe, the product of Soviet States, and it's eradication through Stalin. Although based on Russian activities, Serge would dedicate "Midnight in the Century" to his Spanish comrades and dissident Communists who like the novels characters were victims of persecution. It's east to see why he was such a political writer, spending five years in a ...more
William2
Though it’s not necessary to start, since there’s a fine glossary here, the more you know about the Russian revolution and events leading up to it, the more this book will resonate with you. Early on this novel’s reminiscent of Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, though the writing is better and even blackly humorous at times. Published in Paris in 1939, the novel is about Stalin’s betrayal of the revolution. Actually, according to Richard Pipes (see The Russian Revolution)—and I think Serge wou ...more
Edward
Introduction

--Midnight in the Century

Glossary
Kevin
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Phew, this went on the back burner for a while. Anyway, yet another tale of the witchhunt by Stalin against the Trotskyist opposition during one of the several Five Year Plans in the 1930's, dealing with very similar themes to Victor Serges' other tales, such as The Case of Comrade Tulayav (which I consider his best). In fact, Midnight in the Century is a relatively short tale (but do not ask why it took me a month to finish it - sidetracked) compared to Tulayev, focusing on a small Left-Opposti ...more
Tuck
oh so well written fictional accounts of the 'true left' and their troubles in ussr after stalin decides they are dangerous and need liquidating. you see, they wanted to take back the revolution from what turned into the ridiculous and obscene 'bourgeoisie bureaucracy" and still fight for the little guy, the peasant, who was getting screwed (once again) by the 'powers that be", in this case stalin and co, instead of czars and aristocracy.
so, big ideas, illustrated in little stories of 5 exiled
...more
Daniel Polansky
Victor Serge had it worse than you and wrote about it better, a professional revolutionary who’s unflinching moral honesty put him just below Trotsky on Stalin’s hit list. Inspired by the 8 months Serge spent in prison, and the two years he spent exiled to a distant eastern town, Midnight in the Century is about that moment when the early, heroic supporters of the Russian revolution began to realize they were defeated, that their extraordinary efforts would be wasted and worse than wasted in ser ...more
julieta
Jun 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eslavófila
This book was a challenge. The story jumps around a lot, you never follow just one character, but many. There are some great thoughts though, and at some parts humor. But in general it's all very grim, although I knew I would get that, the thing is, the story is too cut up and hard to follow. I was really looking forward to reading it, Serge actually lived in Mexico by the end of his life, (like Trosky) and he had an influence on Octavio paz. This book basically gives you his thoughts on Stalini ...more
Maurizio Manco
"Non c'è nulla - e ciò pesa tonnellate." (p. 68)

"Il pensiero comincia dall’emozione. Tu stai di fronte a un paesaggio, c’è qualcuno accanto a te, tu tendi la mano e gli dici: guarda, perché vorresti offrirgli quello che vedi, ed è l’inizio di tutto: sei un pittore, un poeta, un romanziere, uno scultore, un drammaturgo, sei un uomo che fa saltare le proprie frontiere, tu vivi, perché siete in due a vivere… Il paesaggio più bello rattrista quando lo si guarda da solo." (p. 170)
Jeffrey
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author lived a remarkable life, and writes engaging fiction based on his experiences. His masterful attention to the nuances of people‘s facial expressions, posture, twitches, and other details, yields rich characterizations of people and circumstances. That said, I would recommend someone reading VS for the first time would do better to start with The Case of Captain Tulayev or Unforgiving Years. If one enjoys those, this one is likely to satisfy as well.
Dale
Nov 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, russia
This novel is based on the three years that Serge spent in "internal exile" in Orenburg Russia ("Chernoe" in the novel), near the border with Kazakhstan. The town is essentially a penal colony for political dissidents, designed to make life as difficult as possible, while offering maximum scope for surveillance and pressure to be applied.

This was the period of Stalinist ascendancy. The "left opposition", led by Trotsky, Radek, and others, had been purged from the party and were in exile, in pris
...more
Terence
Dec 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I have to admit that I was turned on to this book by my pal Josh's old band Blacklist who named an album after this - and it's printed by NYRB. As a novel it is an insanely grueling story with very little hope, but some amazingly beautiful passages of horrible things. It hits a rhythm half way through where the characters and their arrests and situations. Not what I typically would pick up but there's some excellent writing here and a decent glossary section in the end to help a non-Russian unde ...more
Stephen Coates
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it
The fictional account of a group of Russian men and women living in village in the interior living outwardly normal lives yet meeting clandestinely to discuss their grievances about the regime and life in general is very plausible given what I'd read in Sheila Fitzpatrick's "Everyday Stalinism" and Nadezhda Mandelstam's "Hope Against Hope". Yet, while I enjoyed the book, it was not as good as Serge's "The Case of Comrade Tulayev" and the narrative was not as straightforward as was Tulayev and th ...more
Timothy Frasca
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This made me want to track down all the rest of his books. The subject matter (the Gulag) is grim as usual, and yet there is an underlying thread of passion for the lost vision of the Russian Revolution's promising start, the affection for the Siberian landscape, and just the recognizable humanity of the (mostly doomed) victims.
Andrew Davis
A sad and tragic story of Russia in 1930's. It makes a slavery system iddillic when compared with an oppression, hunger and forced labour of Koba's workers' paradise, turned into a humanity grinder. Rightly compared with the thermidor period during the French Revolution.
It mentions Stalin's order to Chinese communists in Wuhan to end their resistance to Chiang Kasher troops, and when implemented they were promptly massacred then.
Also, in early thirties Stalin insisted that the Social Democratic
...more
Jason Bergman
Frequently well written, but dull.
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NYRB Classics: Midnight in the Century, by Victor Serge 2 34 Oct 20, 2014 02:25PM  

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Victor Lvovich Kibalchich (В.Л. Кибальчич) was born in exile in 1890 and died in exile in 1947. He is better known as Victor Serge, a Russian revolutionary and Francophone writer. Originally an anarchist, he joined the Bolsheviks five months after arriving in Petrograd in January 1919, and later worked for the newly founded Comintern as a journalist, editor and translator. He was openly critical o ...more