Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Orphée Noir” was first published in 1948 as the preface to Leopold Senghor’s Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre at malgache de langue française, a classic anthology of Negritude poetry.1 Frantz Fanon replied to Sartre with “L’expérience vécue du Noir” published in Esprit in May of 1951.2 This essay later became the fifth chapter of Fanon’s Peau noire, masques blancs, published in 1952.3 In Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon is not only confronting Sartre’s analysis of Negritude in “Black Orpheus,” he is also meeting head-on Sartre’s analysis of race as it pertains to the Negro in “Black Orpheus” and as it pertains to the Jew in Anti-Semite and Jew. Towards that end, Fanon claims that Sartre’s arguments about the Jewish experience are incompatible with the “lived-experience” of the Negro.
Kathryn T. Gines
Is Jean-Paul Sartre to be credited for Richard Wright's existentialist leanings? This essay argues that while there have been noteworthy philosophical exchanges between Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Richard Wright, we can find evidence of Wright's philosophical and existential leanings before his interactions with Sartre and Beauvoir. In particular, Wright's short story "The Man Who Lived Underground" is analyzed as an existential, or Black existential, project that is published before Wright met Sartre and/or read his scholarship. Existentialist themes that emerge from Wright's short story include flight, guilt, life, death, dread, and freedom. Additionally, it is argued that "The Man Who Lived Underground" offers a reversal of the prototypical allegory of the cave that we find in the Western (ancient Greek) philosophical tradition. The essay takes seriously the significance of the intellectual exchanges between Sartre, Beauvoir, and Wright while also highlighting Wright's own philosophical legacy.