The Conspiracy is the last and most acclaimed novel by French writer and activist Paul Nizan, who died two years after its publication fighting the Germans at the Battle of Dunkirk. Hailed by Jean-Paul Sartre as Nizan’s masterpiece, the book centers upon the figure of Bertrand Rosenthal, a misguided philosophy student studying in pre-war Paris. Eager to foment a revolution and having little grasp of his own motives, Rosenthal draws a small group of disciples into a conspiracy both fatuous and deadly. Simultaneously, he plunges into a forbidden—and ultimately tragic—love affair as the intertwined plots move inexorably toward their twin destinations of betrayal and death.
The Conspiracy won the coveted Prix Interallié in 1938. This new edition includes Walter Benjamin’s critique of the book, available here for the first time in English.
“A complex mixture of history and analysis constitutes the great value of Nizan’s book ... A hard, true testimony at a time when ‘the Young’ are forming groups and congratulating themselves, when the young man thinks he has rights because he is young.”
“It is a delicate, sometimes lyrical, evocation of the atmosphere and attitudes of the late Twenties. It catches the tone of youthful conversation and shows the interplay between intelligence and absurdity, feeling and frivolity, without any of the propagandist simplifications one might have expected from a Communist writer dealing with the privileged denizens of the Ecole Normale Supérieure ... The Conspiracy is a genuine piece of literature.”