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  • 1 Ulster University, UK
  • 2 Mansfield College, Oxford University, UK

This issue has something of a symposium feel about it: a genuine conversation between some of our most eminent Sartre scholars, which, while clearly not planned this way, turns out to be rather appropriate in these socially distanced times. Whereas recent issues have testified to the breadth of Sartre's work, the focus this time is on Sartre's early philosophy, mainly, but not exclusively, on L'Etre et le néant.

First, Matthew Eshleman and Adrian van den Hoven have both offered full-length review articles on Sarah Richmond's new translation of this seminal work, and Richmond has written a response. Van den Hoven describes the new translation as ‘an important milestone in Sartre scholarship’, while Eshleman, building on this, tries, inter alia, to suggest ways in which it might influence future Sartre scholarship; in particular, having explored in some detail some subtle examples where Richmond's translation is clearer and more accurate than Barnes’, he suggests that the new translation might lead to certain portions of the text, so obscure as to be unintelligible in Barnes’ translation, being the focus of greater scholarly attention, including the Preface, the section in the chapter on Bad Faith entitled ‘The faith of bad faith’, and the chapters on Temporality and Transcendence in part 2. Van den Hoven explores certain of Richmond's translation decisions; readers will surely enjoy Richmond's robust defence of her translation of chiquenaude as ‘fillip’!

Secondly, Ron Santoni has written what he calls ‘an appreciation and critique’ of Jonathan Webber's interpretation of Sartre on bad faith and character, to which Webber has responded. Santoni highlights the distinction to which Webber has drawn our attention between ‘essence’ (closely linked to ‘character’, which is rooted in freely chosen projects) and ‘nature’, and summarises Webber's view of the relationship between character and bad faith. He raises questions around three concepts (those which Webber highlights in his response), namely sociality (Santoni asks whether Webber's insistence that ‘bad faith in Sartre is a “social disease” […] that necessarily influences the way one sees other people and the world’ brings him too close to the claim that ‘bad faith is essentially and necessarily social’), seriousness (Santoni resists Webber's claim that the ‘spirit of seriousness’ is just a ‘strategy that one can pursue as part of the project of seeing people as having fixed natures’, as opposed to being a form of bad faith itself), and cynicism (Santoni finds himself proposing to modify, without giving up, one of his own central claims concerning reflection, bad faith, and cynicism). Webber also considers, and argues against, Santoni's claim that ‘we are ontologically and congenitally disposed to bad faith’.

This issue also contains three reviews of a more usual sort. Liesbeth Schoonheim, reviewing both Kate Kirkpatrick's Becoming Beauvoir: A Life and Simone de Beauvoir's Diary of a Philosophy Student: Volume 2, 1928–29 (eds Barbara Klaw, Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir, Margaret Simons, and Marybeth Timmerman; trans. Barbara Klaw), finds in both books grounds for reflecting on such questions as ‘How are our affective relationships, which determine who we are and how we understand ourselves, pervaded by gendered expectations that shape our desires, while also undermining our affection?’, and notes that they also ‘further bolster the case that Beauvoir is not reducible to La Grande Sartreuse and produced philosophically original work’. Kyle Shuttleworth reviews The Mystical Sources of Existentialist Thought: Being, Nothingness, Love, by George Pattison and Kate Kirkpatrick. Although he raises some critical questions, including the authors’ decision to focus on European mysticism (calling in particular for the inclusion of the Kyoto school in their historical survey), he concludes that their monograph ‘not only provides a rich analysis for those interested in mysticism and existentialism but also a solid foundation for further inquiry into the relationship between these fields’. Finally, Nik Farrell Fox, in addition to paying his own homage to Christina Howells, who supervised his doctorate, finds that all of the essays in the Festschrift Freedom and the Subject of Theory: Essays in Honour of Christina Howells (eds Oliver Davis and Colin Davis) ‘contribute significantly to a wonderfully diverse palette of themes and applications that spring bountifully from Christina Howells’ work on freedom and necessity, mortality, and embodiment’ and represent a fitting tribute to her scholarship.

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Sartre Studies International

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Existentialism and Contemporary Culture

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