Wallace Stevens, “Esthétique du mal” (1944), XIV. (Cited by Susan Sontag in her introduction to Victor Serge’s The Case of Comrade Tulayev, New York Review Books, 2004, p. xix.)
Stevens is quoting from an essay by Serge – “The Revolution at Dead-End” – published in the American journal Politics in 1944. In it, Serge recalls how the fear and paranoia that would later sweep the USSR were already in the air in 1926. According to Serge, conspiracy theorist Konstantinov, a disgraced former member of the secret police and responsible for many executions, disappeared in Siberia in the 1930s.