“Very few people know that Sartre also wrote a fairy tale,” commented Michel Rybalka when he suggested that we translate chapter IV, “Le conte de fées,” from Sartre’s unfinished novel “Une Défaite”, published as part of Ecrits de jeunesse. This story is at once an ironic self-portrait of the young man in his early twenties and, no less important, a first attempt to deal with such concepts as “being-for-others,” “existence” and “consciousness.” Even if the story is part of Sartre’s “juvenalia,” it shows a surprisingly sophisticated grasp of literary technique. Cosima’s role is much more than that of a typical interlocutor, she plays an active role in guiding the narrator along so that the story is transformed into a commentary about psychological interaction and the creative process.

Sartre Studies International

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Existentialism and Contemporary Culture

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