Can a Communist Write a Novel? The Case of Jean Kanapa

in Sartre Studies International
Author: Ian Birchall
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In his 1938 review of Nizan’s La Conspiration Sartre enquired: ‘Can a Communist write a novel? I’m not convinced he can: he does not have the right to make himself the accomplice of his characters.’ As with so many of the questions posed in Sartre’s work, an adequate response would require a hefty volume – it would have to deal with not only Nizan himself, but such varied writers as Gorky, Babel, Sholokhov, Brecht, Seghers, Aragon, Martinet, Serge, Morris, Heinemann and many others. The following article will attempt to apply the question to one Communist novelist, a very minor figure in the history of literature, but one who crossed Sartre’s path on a number of occasions – Jean Kanapa.

Sartre Studies International

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Existentialism and Contemporary Culture

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