A masterpiece of early 20th-century literature
In 1903 Léon M – a devout terrorist – is given the responsibility of ‘liquidating’ Valerian Alexandrovitch Courilof, the notoriously brutal and cold-blooded Russian Minister of Education, by the Revolutionary Committee.The assassination, he is told, must take place in public and be in most grandiose manner possible in order to strike the imagination of the people. Posing as his newly appointed personal physician, Léon M takes up residence with Courilof in his summer house in the Iles and awaits instructions.
But over the course of his stay he is made privy to the inner world of Courilof – his failing health, his troubled domestic situation and, most importantly, the tyrannical grip that the Czar himself holds over all his Ministers, forcing them to obey him or suffer the most deadly punishments. Set during a period of radical upheaval in European history, The Courilof Affair is an unsparing observation of human motives and the abuses of power, an elegy to lost world and an unflinchingly topical cautionary tale.
“Nemirovsky not only unravels the machinations of a revolutionary mind, but rewrites historical events -the novel is based on a real assassination. Like Sartre and Camus, Nemirovsky paints a fictional picture that resonates deep in the contemporary mind, ensuring that terrorism is something more than just a moral and philosophical question”