Moravagine by Blaise Cendrars - Book Review - Kristopher Cook

Moravagine by Blaise Cendrars

by Kristopher Cook
Moravagine by Blaise Cendrars Book Cover
Released from the hospital by his starstruck psychiatrist (the narrator), who foresees a companionship in crime, Moravagine travels from Moscow to San Antonio to deepest Amazonia, engaged in schemes and scams. He also enjoys a busy sideline in rape and murder.
Genre: Contemporary
Available from: Amazon UK | Amazon US
Estimated Read: 2 minutes

There’s no other book that comes close to the tonality of Blaise Cendrars’ 1926 classic Moravagine. This is the wild ride of a criminally insane convict and his enabler, the narrator of this story.

During their tour of the globe, they both become acquainted with revolutions, extreme violence, war and murder. As the journey progresses, the narrator begins to back away from Moravagine’s actions, allowing him free reign to cause as much terror and suffering as he wants.

It’s Moravagine’s remorseless actions that provoke the reader into wanting the narrator to step-in, to help put an end to the suffering, but instead, he does nothing but observe.

Life is crime, theft, jealousy, hunger, lies, disgust,
stupidity, sickness, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, piles of corpses.

Blaise Cendrars, Moravagine

In this observation, or study would be apter, we learn of the degradation that a single human being can stoop to find purpose in one’s life.

Blaise Cendrars

Cendrars himself was a man who fought in many battles, even losing his arm in the process.

This goes some way to explaining his use of such large scale revolutionary ideas that take place, along with the suffering of the people.

Despite the jarring subject matter, the book is far from gruesome. In fact, it is somewhat suggestive, which definitely helps to categorise it above a book like Frisk.

Philosophically speaking, Moravagine is beyond eccentric in his beliefs. Much of it’s misguided, but it’s entertaining nonetheless. This goes back to the narrator.

I feel he could have stepped in more and given more of an opinion, or social commentary on what was taking place.

Many believe this to be to the book’s advantage, but personally, I guess I wasn’t as invested in this one.

It might be the lack of coercion, or it could be to do with the books opening third, which has a jumbled narrative taking you in many different directions at once.

Only a soul full of despair can ever attain serenity and, to be in despair, you must have loved a good deal and still love the world.


Nihilism of Me

One of the central themes running through this book is the utter nihilism that takes part on behalf of Moravagine.

He takes pride in his vicious actions, with no regard for others around him. Pain, suffering, death, they’re all your problems, not mine.

Closing Thoughts

Moravagine is a difficult book to describe, let alone recommend.

While there are exciting parts, and sections that offer some witty dark-humour, the book overall fell flat shortly after the mid-point.

It’s for this reason that I think you’d be better off sticking with American Psycho or Irene’s Cunt that will challenge you much more within a refined narrative.

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