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Adrian van den Hoven

In his lengthy interview with Bernard Dort, published in Sartre on Theater1, the dramatist gives a detailed justification for the theme and setting of his play. His goal was “to demystify heroism – that is, military heroism – by showing its link with limitless violence.” Sartre decided not to situate the action in France “because [he] wanted [to have] a fairly wide audience” and satisfy in that way “an aesthetic need of theater, the need for distancing the object to some extent by displacing it in space in and time”.

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Adrian van den Hoven

The book, Hope Now: The 1980 Interviews, as re-translated by me and introduced by Ronald Aronson, is not identical to the interviews that appeared in French in Le Nouvel Observateur or in English translation in Dissent and in Telos. Benny Lévy added a seven-page “Presentation” and a twelve-page “The Final Word” to the book; he also divided the interviews in twelve sections and provided each with a heading.

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Les Conférences du Havre sur le roman

Sartre et le roman : théorie et pratique

Adrian van den Hoven

*Full article is in French

English abstract:

The five lectures of La Lyre havraise (November 1932– March 1933) constitute an attempt to elucidate the techniques of the modern novel. For this, Jean-Paul Sarture considers the dis - tinction between the novel and the récit introduced by Alain and Fernandez. The lectures consider Les Faux-Monnayeurs (The Counterfeiters) by André Gide; Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley; Ulysses by James Joyce; The Waves, Mrs. Dalloway and Orlando by Virginia Woolf; Men of Good Will by Jules Romains; and The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos. The analysis prefigures the techniques employed by Sartre in the novels published later in his literary career.

French abstract:

Les cinq conférences de La Lyre havraise (novembre 1932–mars 1933) constituent une tentative d’élucidation des techniques du roman moderne. Pour cela, Sartre se base sur les distinctions entre le roman et le récit introduites par Alain et Fernandez. Ces conférences traitent des Faux-Monnayeurs d’André Gide, de Contrepoint d’Aldous Huxley, du monologue intérieur d’Ulysse de James Joyce, des Vagues, de Mrs. Dalloway et d’Orlando de Virginia Woolf, des Hommes de bonne volonté de Jules Romains et du 42ième Parallèle de John Dos Passos. Ces analyses préfigurent les techniques employées par Jean-Paul Sartre dans ses oeuvres romanesques qu’il publiera plus tard dans sa carrière littéraire.

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Adrian van den Hoven

This collection of twenty-one articles by thirteen American, six British, and two Canadian scholars is divided into four sections: Sartre and Philosophy; Sartre and Psychology; Sartre: (Auto)biography, Theater, and Cinema; and, finally, Sartre and Politics. The great diversity of approaches and commentaries is a tribute to the stature of Sartre, whose writings continue to have an impact on the English-speaking world and farther afield.

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Adrian van den Hoven

Neither the apparently cold-blooded murder of a complete stranger, the central event in The Stranger, nor Hugo's murder of Hoederer in Dirty Hands—a political assassination or crime of passion, depending on how one views it—can be considered unusual acts, in literature or in life. The topic of murder has itself created an extremely popular genre: the detective novel or "whodunit," which has become a huge industry and has aficionados everywhere, Sartre being one. In French theater, the topic of political assassination has resulted in such famous plays as de Musset's Lorenzaccio (1834), which ostensibly deals with Florence in the sixteenth century and the tyrannical Alexandre de Médicis, who is assassinated by his young cousin, but is in fact "a limpid transposition of the failed revolution of July 1830." It is well known that Sartre was an admirer of Musset and Romantic theater. In 1946, Jean Cocteau, who helped with the staging of Les Mains sales (Dirty Hands), wrote L'Aigle ` deux têtes (The Two-Headed Eagle), which was inspired "by the sad life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her tragic death by the hand of the Franco-Italian assassin, Luigi Lucheni." Sartre himself, in Nausea, has Anny use the engraving in Michelet's Histoire de France depicting the assassination of the Duke de Guise as a perfect illustration of "privileged situations."

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Adrian van den Hoven

In this hilarious satire Sartre takes aim at the French bourgeois press, pokes fun at Beckett, Camus and especially his own philosophy. He creates a fictitious swindler Georges de Valera who assumes the identity of a so-called defector Nekrassov. Together with Sibilot, who is in charge of the anticommunist page at Soir à Paris, they bamboozle the editor Palotin (based on Pierre Lazareff) and the entire board into beleiving that Nekrassov is the Soviet Minister of the Interior who has just defected. The bourgeois are portrayed as gullible mediocrities who in the name of anticommunism are willing to believe “anything” Nekrassov tells them. In the end the “genius” Nekrassov absconds with Sibilot's daughter and the paper is forced to print yet more lies to explain his disappearance. The play is composed of eight tableaux that illustrate Sartre's talents as a comic writer. The play was not a commercial success. The critics panned it and the public was unwilling to believe that all defectors from the U.S.S.R. were fakes. Also, soon after the play was produced the anticommunist hysteria began to diminish and the Hungarian uprising put paid to any notion of a benign Soviet union.

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Adrian van den Hoven

While reading Ron Aronson’s illuminating guide to the secular life, it struck me that, given the context, an exploration of the topic of Sartre and atheism was very much in order.

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Adrian Van Den Hoven

This article analyzes articles and interviews published in Sartre on Theater and focuses on five plays (Bariona, The Flies, No Exit and The Condemned of Altona) in order to arrive at a coherent conception of Sartre's theater. Sartre views the stage as “belonging to a different imaginary realm“ in which the characters' language, gestures and the props function in a synecdochical relationship in respect to the spectators. It is their task to grasp these “signs“ and bundle them into a coherent and meaningful whole. Because Sartre views the theater as an imaginary realm, he can free himself from the strictures of his philosophy: 1) the irreversibility of time; 2) the fact that life does not give us a second chance; and 3) that death means that our life falls into the public domain. This freedom allows Sartre to deal with temporality in a novel way and to deal with “life after death“ as life simply continued. Conversely, he can scramble temporality for psychological reasons in order to bring out deep rooted personal conflicts, as he does in The Condemned of Altona.

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Adrian van den Hoven and Steven Hendley

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Jorge Lizarzaburu, Adrian van den Hoven and Donovan Irven

Patrick Baert, The Existentialist Moment: The Rise of Sartre as a Public Intellectual (Cambridge: Polity, 2015), 240 pp., $69.95, ISBN: 978-0- 7456-8539-7 (hardback)

Alice Kaplan, Looking for The Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), 288 pp., $26, ISBN: 978-0-226-24167-8 (hardback)

Jeremy Ekberg, The Myth of Identity in Modern Drama (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015), 185 pp., £41.99, ISBN 978-1-4438-7722-0 (hardcover)

Gary Cox, Existentialism and Excess: The Life and Times of Jean-Paul Sartre (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), 352 pp., £19.99, ISBN 978-1-474- 23533-4 (hardcover)