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The 'Anti-Existentialist Offensive': The French Communist Party against Sartre (1944-1948)

David Drake

Keywords: EXISTENTIALISM; MARXISM; INTELLECTUALS; FRENCH COMMUNIST PARTY (PCF); JEAN-PAUL SARTRE

Abstract

This article considers Sartre's relations with the French Communist Party (PCF) in the years immediately following the Liberation when the PCF considered that, of all the prominent French intellectuals, it was Sartre who posed the greatest threat. This article opens by situating the PCF within the French political landscape immediately after the Liberation and addressing its attitudes towards intellectuals. It then examines the main themes of the attacks launched by the PCF, between 1944 and the staging of Les Mains sales (Dirty Hands) in 1948, on both Sartre and existentialism and the reasons for these attacks. It concludes by noting the differences between the PCF and Sartre on three specific political issues during this period.

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