'Master, Slave and Merciless Struggle'

Sin and Lovelessness in Sartre's Saint Genet

in Sartre Studies International
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  • 1 King's College London kate.kirkpatrick@kcl.ac.uk
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In his biography of Jean Genet, Sartre says his aim is ‘to demonstrate that freedom alone can account for a person in his totality’. Building on my reading of Being and Nothingness in Sartre on Sin, I examine the compatibility of Sartrean freedom and love in Saint Genet. Sartre’s account of Genet’s person is largely a loveless one in which there is no reciprocity, others are ‘empty shells’ and love is ‘only the lofty name which [Genet] gives to onanism’. I use Saint Genet to suggest Genet’s lovelessness is the direct result of locating the totality of personhood in freedom. This location results in a lonely experience of subjectivity as ‘master, slave and merciless struggle’ – never lover or beloved, whether on the divine plane or the human.

Sartre Studies International

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Existentialism and Contemporary Culture

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