Birthday: November 3, 1901
Died At Age: 75
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Born in: Paris, France
Famous as: French Novelist
Spouse/Ex-: Clara Goldschmidt
father: Fernand-Georges Malraux
mother: Berthe Lamy
siblings: Roland Malraux
Died on: November 23, 1976
place of death: Créteil, France
awards: 1933 - Prix Goncourt
André Malraux was a French novelist who became France’s first ‘Minister of Cultural Affairs’. He was also a renowned art theorist who published books on the evolution of art from Renaissance to modern ages. Despite having some motor and vocal tics since childhood, he emerged as a leader in most of the careers he chose to pursue. His personality could be described best as that of an adventurer considering the fact that he journeyed to a faraway land in search of lost temples to bring back their sculptures and sell them in exchange for money. But, his true talent existed in literary and art works, which he mastered throughout his life. His novels and other literary works were his means of connecting with the outside world. His books conveyed the untold story behind wars and other aspects of life, questioning the very existence of life and its purpose. He fought in the World War II for his country and escaped twice after being captured by enemies, returning again to protect the people of his country. Despite facing constant struggles in his personal life, he always emerged as a winner in life.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on November 3, 1901 in Paris, France to Fernand-Georges Malraux, a stockbroker, and his wife, Berthe Lamy.
In 1905, his parents got divorced. He was brought up by his mother, maternal aunt Marie and maternal grandmother, Adrienne Lamy-Romagna.
He was a nervous child with some motor and vocal twitches but it did not affect his later life or literary works.
He attended the Lycée Condorcet and the School of Oriental Languages but left formal education at an early age. Since then, he educated himself with all the knowledge he could gather from libraries and museums of Paris.
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In 1923, he along with his wife, traveled to Cambodia in search of lost Khmer temples. His aim was to collect antiques from the temple and sell them to art museums at high prices. But he was arrested by the French colonial authorities for his act of removing sculptures from the temple.
He returned to his country in 1926 after finishing his jail sentence. By then, he had become highly critical of the French colonial authorities through his experiences in Indochina.
In 1928, he published his first novel ‘The Conquerors’, followed by another one in 1930, ‘The Royal Way’. Both the novels depict his experiences of Cambodia.
In 1938, he published ‘L'Espoir’ (Man's Hope), a novel influenced by his Spanish civil war experiences.
During World War II, he joined the French Army. He was captured twice by the allies but he managed to escape and joined the French Resistance.
He also wrote another novel during the war but only its first section was published after the war; the novel was titled ‘The Walnut Trees of Altenburg’.
After the war, he was appointed as the Minister of Information (1945-46) by General Charles de Gaulle.
From 1947 to 1949, he published his first book on art titled ‘The Psychology of Art’ in three volumes.
In 1957, he published the first volume of his trilogy on art titled ‘The Metamorphosis of the Gods’, with the remaining volumes published in later years.
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In 1958, he was elected as the ‘Minister of Cultural Affairs’ of France by Charles de Gaulle. He held this post from 1958 to 1969.
He also published some of his semi-autobiographical works, titled ‘Antimémoires’ (1967) and ‘La Tête d'obsidienne’ (1974).
In 1933, he published his most celebrated novel, ‘La Condition Humaine’, about the 1927 failed Communist rebellion in Shanghai. It deals with the human emotion to fight for its existence and the fact that a man determines his own fate by the choices he makes.
In 1958, he became France’s first ‘Minister of Cultural Affairs’. He proved to be an innovative and dynamic cultural administrator working to preserve France's national heritage and launching campaigns to restore the splendor of notable French buildings.
Awards & Achievements
In 1933, he was honored with the Prix Goncourt for his masterpiece novel ‘La Condition humaine’ (Man’s Fate).
After World War II, he was awarded the French military decoration ‘Croix de guerre’ for his heroic act involving combat with the enemy. He also received the ‘Médaille de la Résistance’ for his services to protect French people.
He received the ‘Distinguished Service Order’ from the British government, for his work with British liaison officers in Corrèze, Dordogne and Lot.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1922, he married Clara Goldschmidt and they were blessed with a daughter, Florence, in 1933. But, they got separated in 1938 and eventually divorced in 1947.
He went to live with Josette Clotis, journalist and novelist, in 1933. They had two sons, Pierre-Gauthier and Vincent. Unfortunately, Josette died in 1944, when she slipped while boarding a train. Their sons died in 1961 in an automobile accident.
In 1948, he tied the knot with Marie-Madeleine Lioux, a concert pianist and his widowed sister-in-law. But they got separated in 1966.
After his separation from Marie, he lived with Louise de Vilmorin, a French Novelist and poet. After she died in 1969, he spent the final years of his life with one of her relatives, Sophie de Vilmorin.
He died on 23 November 1976 in Créteil, near Paris. He was buried in the Verrières-le-Buisson (Essonne) cemetery. On the 20th anniversary of his death in 1996, his body was enshrined in the Panthéon in Paris.