Sartre's scattered commentaries and remarks on theater, published in a variety of media outlets, as well as in the most unlikely of essays (spanning philosophical texts, biographies, and literary criticism), were finally assembled late in Sartre's career and published in one volume, Un Théâtre de situations (Sartre on Theater), put together by Michel Contat and Michel Rybalka in 1973. Inevitably, a number of later or missing theatrical documents then came to light, and an updated edition of Un Théâtre de situations appeared in 1992. There still remained, however, other documents on theater which for one reason or another were not included in the later volume. Two of these documents are published interviews that Sartre gave to the Russian theater journal, Teatr, in 1956 and 1962. It is those virtually unknown interviews by Sartre on theater that we are pleased to publish here for the first time in English translation.
The Russian Teatr Interviews of 1956 and 1962
Dennis A. Gilbert and Diana L. Burgin
Sartre and the Ethics of Need
Beginning with a study of need and its relationship to violence in Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason, this paper argues that need, in the midst of scarcity, can both be a catalyst for violence and a force in the service of love. It warns against an antagonistic view of need and of ethics that emerges in Sartre's Critique, drawing on Sartre's own ongoing commitments to existentialism and also on the work of Primo Levi. In particular, it warns against the danger of reducing an ethics of need to one of Manichean violence. It also introduces the concept of ‘second-person needs’, which include (but are not limited to) needs of one's own for the needs of others to be met. This concept is resonant with the idea of authentic love introduced in Sartre's earlier, unfinished Notebooks for an Ethics, with the suggestions concerning a concrete, material ethics offered in Sartre's Rome Lecture of 1964, as well as with Sartre's concept of the fused group in the Critique itself.
Remembering the PCF and CGT
Philippe Herzog and Jean-Louis Moynot were members of the top leaderships of the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) and the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), respectively. Each participated in and lived through the dramatic years from the 1960s through the 1980s when both organizations first supported Union de la Gauche and then turned away from it, eventually precipitating both into decline in ways that would transform eventually the French political and trade union left. The strategic shifts underlying these deep and significant changes were traumatic for those who lived through them. Herzog and Moynot have recently published memoirs detailing their experiences of this period and their political lives thereafter. Both books, in different ways, give us new and important understandings of what happened during a critical moment of change in French politics.
Controlling Colonial Migrants in Interwar France and Senegal
Johann Le Guelte
This article examines the politics of interwar colonial identification practices put into place by the French colonial state in order to curtail the mobility of colonial (im)migrants. I argue that photography was used as a tool of imperial control in both French West Africa (AOF) and metropolitan France, since colonial men’s inability to provide the required photographic portraits often prevented them from moving around the empire. In response, colonial subjects appropriated photography in alternative ways to subvert these administrative restrictions. Moreover, they took advantage of metropolitan racial stereotypes to contest Western identification practices.
Through the history of the short-lived 1947 radio show La Tribune de l’Invalide, this article examines how the social and political context of the Liberation offered disability activists a unique opportunity to demand pensions, medical care, and social services hitherto denied to them by the French state. Drawing on transcripts of the broadcasts and correspondence between listeners and the show’s host Maurice Didier, the article demonstrates how disability activists played a pivotal, if little acknowledged, role in the construction of the postwar welfare state by highlighting French society’s historic neglect of disabled civilians.
Recasting the Image of the Post-1945 French Occupation of Germany
In much of the English-language scholarship on the post-1945 Allied occupation of Germany, French officials appear as little more than late arrivals to the victors’ table, in need of and destined to follow Anglo-American leadership in the emerging Cold War. However, French occupation policies were unique within the western camp and helped lay the foundations of postwar Franco-German reconciliation that are often credited to the 1963 Elysée Treaty. Exploring how the French occupation has been neglected, this article traces the memory of the zone across the often-disconnected work of French-, German-, and English-speaking scholars since the 1950s. Moreover, it outlines new avenues of research that could help historians resurrect the unique experience of the French zone and enrich our appreciation of the Franco-German “motor” on which Europe still relies.
A Reply to Alfred Betschart
Alfred Betschart has claimed that the project of existential Marxism is a contradiction in terms, but this argument, even when supported by many experts and quotes from Sartre's 1975 interview, misses the point of my Boston Review article, “The Philosophy of Our Time.” I believe the important argument today is not about whether we can prove that Sartre ever became a full-fledged Marxist, but rather about the political and philosophical possibility, and importance today, of existentialist Marxism.
Ronald Aronson praises Jean-Paul Sartre's existential Marxism in an essay in the Boston Review. I argue that existential Marxism is a case of a contradictio in adiecto. Sartre was never recognized as a Marxist by his contemporaries. He not only failed to show any interest in the question of economic exploitation, but most of the answers he gave in the Critique even contradicted Marxist theory. His expression of Marxism as the philosophy of our time seems to have rather been more an act of courtesy than the expression of deep conviction. As Sartre himself later said, Marxism and existentialism are quite separate philosophies.
Reading the Graphs of Madame Pégard
Hélène Périvier and Rebecca Rogers
This article considers how women adopted a “scientific” statistical language at the end of the nineteenth century to draw attention to their role in the moral and social economy. It explores in particular the messages contained in La Statistique générale de la femme française, a series of eighteen murals that the moderate feminist Marie Pégard sent for exhibition at the Woman’s Building at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The article begins by considering the place statistics held in France in the final decades of the century within the context of universal exhibitions. It then examines Pégard’s choice of quantified categories of social analysis to convey a sustained argument about the comparative weight of women in a modernizing French economy. The article seeks to understand how contemporaries read and interpreted the graphs, and how this mode of rendering visible the issue of women’s work played into the politics of an emerging feminist movement.
Beauvoir, Sartre and Levinas on the Ageing Body
Kathleen Lennon and Anthony Wilde
In this article, we explore Beauvoir's account of what she claims is an alienated relation to our ageing bodies. This body can inhibit an active engagement with the world, which marks our humanity. Her claims rest on the binary between the body-for-itself and the body-in-itself. She shares this binary with Sartre, but a perceptive phenomenology of the affective body can also be found, which works against this binary and allows her thought to be brought into conversation with Levinas. For Levinas, the susceptibility of the body is constitutive of our subjectivity, rather than a source of alienation. If we develop Beauvoir's thought in the direction of his, an ontological structure is suggested, distinct from Sartre – a structure which makes room for her pervasive attention to affectivity.