FRANCE: The Last Renaissance Figure

When asked why he had ceased writing novels, André Malraux liked to give a Delphic reply: "Narration today has been replaced by the image."

In Malraux's case, the image replaced more than narration: it replaced the man. Long before he died of lung congestion last week at the age of 75, the last Renaissance figure had become a legend and an exemplar of "I'homme engagé" (the committed man). With the possible exception of Lawrence of Arabia—whom he greatly admired—no other 20th century figure so theatrically fused the strands of scholarship and art, politics...

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