Sartre's conflicted relationship with his theatrical audience is explained by showing how Sartre's initial theatrical venture, Bariona, created in a POW camp in December 1940, sparked an idealized conception of the audience. The particular context in which the play was produced brought its performers and audience together into an almost mystical fusion. But these virtues, derived from pre-textual “oral“ culture, lost much of their luster with Sartre's second play, The Flies. Like its predecessor, The Flies used myth to counter German censorship, but in occupied Paris in front of a much more heterogeneous audience. The resulting comparative failure complicated Sartre's relationship to the mass audiences he sought in the post-war years. Theater audiences became emblematic of a wider public Sartre never fully trusted to accept or understand his ideas. Furthermore, Sartre's decision to stage almost all his plays between 1946 and 1959 at the “bourgeois“ Théâtre Antoine only made him even more mistrustful of audiences he often found himself writing “against.“
Yan Hamel, L’Amérique selon Sartre : littérature, philosophie, politique. Montreal : Presses Universitaires de Montréal, 2013, 267 pages.
David Detmer and John Ireland
This issue of Sartre Studies International contains articles and book reviews covering an extraordinarily wide range of topics. The first two articles focus on Sartre’s thought in relation to psychoanalysis, and more specifically, on his conflicted relationship with the brilliant, controversial psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, Sartre’s Parisian contemporary. Blake Scott argues that despite fundamentally different conceptions of subjectivity and agency, Lacan does develop a sense of subjective responsibility that Scott engages effectively with Sartre’s later thought. Betty Cannon, replying directly to Scott (who had brought her own work into the discussion), offers from a clinical point of view a current critical assessment of the relations among Sartre, Freud, and Lacan. She also provides an invaluable update of her own work and practice in relation to Sartre’s existential psychoanalysis (her groundbreaking book, Sartre and Psychoanalysis, was published in 1991), as well as assessing the influence of his thought on many other schools of psychoanalytic thought and related therapies today.
David Detmer and John Ireland
This issue of Sartre Studies International underscores Sartre’s extraordinary versatility, as it contains groundbreaking research and informative writing on his activities in politics, literature, and philosophy. By focusing on two pivotal events—Sartre’s participation in the 1952 World Congress of People for Peace in Vienna, and his canceling the premiere of his play Les Mains sales in that city—Juliane Werner sheds new light on Sartre’s political evolution, the reception of his ideas in Austria, and his role in the fierce Cold War politics— marked by propaganda and censorship—besetting that country. She suggests in particular that this Viennese episode and Sartre’s wider connection to Austria before and after the war can help us better understand the increasing radicalism of Sartre’s later political stances worldwide.
John Ireland and Constance Mui
There has rarely been a writer and thinker who saw his writing as more tied to his age than Jean-Paul Sartre. His notion of committed literature argued that writing and thought are anchored first and foremost in their “situation,” the period and context in which they are first produced, disseminated and discussed. One writes for one’s era, he maintained; that is when a piece of writing has its greatest impact. Almost forty years after his death, there is some irony in the fact that Sartre’s writings and thought continue to be invoked in so many different contexts far removed from their immediate cultural moment and situation. And this despite the legion of detractors on both sides of the Atlantic for whom the end of the Berlin wall and Soviet Russia sealed Sartre’s failed legacy and any possibility of his continued relevance.
John Ireland and Constance Mui
We are thrilled, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Sartre Studies International, to publish for the first time in English (thanks to Dennis Gilbert’s initiative and perseverance) two interviews on theater given by Sartre to Russia’s oldest continually running theater journal, Teatr, whose first issues date from the 1930s. Six years apart, these two interviews give us the flavor of Sartre addressing a Soviet audience, in early 1956, just before Russian tanks rolled into Hungary and then again in early 1962, as France negotiated its exit out of the disastrous Algerian War. While these interviews intersect at times with remarks made by Sartre in interviews and lectures during the same period in France (the need for theater to become a truly popular forum, the importance of Brecht as a model of politically engaged theater, etc.), the tone of the two interviews (the first in particular) is different, as Sartre seeks to connect with a socialist audience. These interviews also break new ground. Discussing contemporary playwrights, Sartre demonstrates, for example, his familiarity with Kateb Yacine and Algerian theater. More unexpectedly, addressing Russian readers, Sartre offers a much more positive assessment of Jean Vilar’s Théâtre National Populaire than he ever formulated in France. In short, beyond their content, these interviews help us appreciate even more the importance of the situation shaping Sartre’s pronouncements at any given moment.
Marie Cartier, Tad Shull and John Ireland
Marie Cartier La Dactylographie et l’expéditionnaire: Histoire des employés de bureau (1890-1930) by Dephine Gardey
Tad Shull Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club: Popular Music and the Avant-Garde by Bernard Gendron
John Ireland La Naissance du phénomène Sartre: Raisons d’un success 1938-1945 by Ingrid Galster
David Drake, John Ireland and Stuart Z. Charme
Jean-Francois Sirinelli, Deux intellectuels dans le siècle, Sartre et Aron, Fayard, 1995, 395 pp. ISBN 2-213-59200-4. 140 FF. Review by David Drake
Jean-Paul Sartre and Benny Levy, Hope Now. The 1980 Interviews, translated by Adrian van den Hoven with an Introduction by Ronald Aronson, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1996, 135 pp. ISBN 0-226-47630-8 $19.95 Review by John Ireland
Lewis R. Gordon, Bad Faith and Antiblack Racism, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, Humanities Press, 1995, 240 pp. ISBN 0-391- 03872-9 $17.50 Review by Stuart Z. Charme