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Jean-Paul Sartre

Les Temps modernes is publishing here for the first time a film script written by Sartre during the winter of 1943-1944. We thank Daniel Accursi for generously passing it along and Michel Contat for preparing it for publication. Sartre’s article entitled “A film for the postwar period,” which appeared [unsigned] in L’Ecran français and was incorporated into the Lettres françaises [clandestine], no. 15, April 1944, clearly indicates the purpose of this project: “On screen—and only on screen—is there place for a panic-stricken, a furious or a serene crowd. The novelist can evoke the masses; if the dramatist wants to represent them on stage, he must symbolize them by using half a dozen characters who assume the name and function of the chorus; only films show them. And it is to the masses themselves that they do so: to fifteen million or twenty million spectators. It is in this manner that film can speak about the crowd to the crowd. That is what the great pioneers of film, such as Griffith, Cecil B. de Mille and King Vidor understood so well. This does not mean that films cannot show love stories or conflicts between individuals. Far from it. But they must reinsert them into their social setting. The speed with which the camera can move from place to place also permits it to situate a story in the whole universe. The wellknown rule of theatrical unity in French classical drama does not apply at all to film. One can even introduce several plots simultaneously, have them unfold in different settings and have their very diversity contribute to the creation of a complete social situation. The film’s unity therefore emanates from its profound meaning, from the epoch it restores, and not from the concatenation of the circumstances that make up a minuscule and unique anecdote.

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Andrew Ryder

Sartre's play Les Mouches (The Flies), first performed in 1943 under German occupation, has long been controversial. While intended to encourage resistance against the Nazis, its approval by the censor indicates that the regime did not recognize the play as a threat. Further, its apparently violent and solitary themes have been read as irresponsible or apolitical. For these reasons, the play has been characterized as ambiguous or worse. Sartre himself later saw it as overemphasizing individual autonomy, and in the view of one critic, it conveys an “existentialist fascism.” In response to this reading, it is necessary to attend to the elements of the play that already emphasize duty to society. From this perspective, the play can be seen as anticipating the concern with collective responsibility usually associated with the later Sartre of the 1960s. More than this, the play's apparent “ambiguity” can be found to exemplify a didacticism that is much more complex than sometimes attributed to Sartre. It is not only an exhortation about ethical responsibility, but also a performance of the difficulties attendant to that duty.

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Benedict O'Donohoe

Sartre's Resistance myth, The Flies (1943), and Camus's contemporaneous modern tragedy, The Misunderstanding (1944), show remarkable similarities in conception, composition, themes, characters, relationships and intrigue. However, from the moment when the plots converge—each protagonist choosing to remain in his precarious new situation—they also diverge diametrically: Camus's Jan is doomed to reified passivity and death; Sartre's Oreste is galvanised into decisive action and new life. Does Camus's orientation toward nihilistic despair translate a negative assessment of his war-time role as an intellectual, and Sartre's much more positive disposition equally represent his affirmation of writing as a valid resistance activity?

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Thomas R. Flynn and Steven Hendley

Ronald Aronson and Adrian van den Hoven (eds.), We Have Only This Life To Live: The Selected Essays of Jean-Paul Sartre, 1939-1975 Review by Thomas R. Flynn

Sonia Kruks, Simone de Beauvoir and the Politics of Ambiguity Review by Steven Hendley

Sean B. Carroll, Brave Genius: A Scientist, a Philosopher, and Their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize Review by Damon Boria

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We open this issue with a translation of a scenario which Sartre wrote during the winter of 1943-44 entitled “Resistance.” It is not unlike several of Sartre’s plays in that it focuses on a weak hero who feels finally compelled to act in a difficult situation. It also displays some striking similarities with the outline provided by Simone de Beauvoir in The Force of Circumstance of “La derniére Chance” [“The Last Chance”]. It is set in occupied France and deals initially with captured soldiers in a POW camp, several of whom are eager to get back to Rouen in order to join the resistance. The conflict between collaborators—those who preached active participation or passive acquiescence in the Nazi power game—and the various forms of resistance— from printing clandestine papers to acts of sabotage—is subtly analyzed in the scenario. The multiple reversals of fortune and the ultimate peripeteia—so typical of Sartre’s plays and stories as well as of the nineteenth century tradition of the “well-made play and story,” do not seem out of place in the WWII setting of occupied France where one’s attitudes and actions could be fatal at any time.

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The Wall, the Ban, and the Objectification of Women

Has "Uncle Sam" Learned any Lessons from "Typhoid Mary?"

Amani Othman and William W. Darrow

Discrimination against women and other vulnerable groups prevailed throughout the twentieth century; it persists today. This historical case study analyzes the life and times of “Typhoid Mary,” an unmarried, Irish Catholic, immigrant woman who was persecuted as an intransigent carrier of a deadly infectious disease. Being a Mexican immigrant, Muslim, or unattractive woman could condemn someone for similar mistreatment today. The failure to overcome prejudice impedes the effectiveness of public health to protect infected patients and susceptible persons from harm and to interrupt disease transmission in communities; it jeopardizes the realization of social quality. Social justice, solidarity, equal valuation, and human dignity will be achieved through resistance to the human rights violations of the Trump administration and the resilience of strong women like Mary Mallon.

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Jane Hiddleston

Sartre's writing on colonialism and anti-colonial critique is diverse, protean and frequently self-contradictory, and for this reason has generated a good deal of controversy. His celebrated and notorious 'Orphée noir', written as the preface to Senghor's Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache de langue française, has been read as both veneration and critique of the negritude movement, and he has been named both spokesman and traitor of anti-colonial resistance in Africa. Explicating the dynamics of an assertion of black identity in contradistinction to colonial influence, Sartre introduced revolutionary black poetry to the European audience it was directed against, only to be condemned by some of the other negritude thinkers, such as Alioune Diop, as eurocentric and blinded by his own position as a metropolitan, and therefore colonial, intellectual. The version of negritude promoted in 'Orphée noir' was criticised by such thinkers for being too rigid and essentialist, yet conversely, Fanon objected that Sartre's stress on the movement as transitory and provisional meant that was insufficiently immersed in 'authentic black experience'. In addition, Sartre's more journalistic writing, which called for the withdrawal of the French presence in Algeria during the war of independence, aptly served to draw attention to dissension about the Algerian question within French society, but, as Robert Young points out, the Marxist approach underpinning many of these pieces has also been seen as universalising.

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Matthew Eshleman

Although most of the contemporary debates around subjectivity are framed by a rejection of the metaphysical subject, more time needs to be spent developing the implications of abandoning the meta-physics of constraint. Doing so provides the key to approaching our pressing problem that concerns freedom, and only once invisible, ideal "constraints" have been adequately understood will all of the contemporary puzzlement that concerns intentional resistance to power be assuaged. While Sartre does not solve the problem of freedom bequeathed to us by Foucault, it is clear that he struggled with similar issues, and that his work sheds important light on the issue of ideal constraint. Once more, on Sartre's second view, power and freedom are not mutually exclusive, and in this he advances over much contemporary liberal thought. Thus, on the approach of what would be Sartre's hundredth birthday, I invite others to take this opportune moment to reevaluate the early work of this once shining philosophical star, only recently and perhaps prematurely eclipsed by anti-humanism, and recognize that now, more than ever, Sartre's thought is relevant to our very pressing concerns.

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Basil Kingstone

For over fifty years Francis Jeanson has been one of the world’s exemplary radical thinkers and actors. We Sartreans know him as the author of one of the earliest, and still most insightful, books on Sartre’s philosophy, Le Problème moral et la philosophie de Jean-Paul Sartre [Available in translation. See Sartre and the Problem of Morality, Bloomington, 1980], Sartre par lui-même, and Sartre dans sa vie, as well as of the review of Camus’ L’Homme révolté [The Rebel, New York, 1954] which instigated the Sartre/Camus break. Then came Algeria. As his biographer writes, “His intervention against the Algerian War shapes our collective destiny. Without Francis Jeanson, the resistance of French intellectuals to this colonial war would have been different” (Marie-Pierre Ulluoa, Francis Jeanson: un intellectuel en dissidence [Paris: Berg International, 2001], 244). At the beginning of the insurrection he and his first wife wrote a book about French colonialism and its effects on Algeria. He then organized the Jeanson network, the “porteurs des valises” who hid Algerian activists and deserters from the French army, and raised money for the FLN. In this role he lived underground for several years and was tried and sentenced in absentia to 10 years prison, a sentence which was only commuted at the end of the war. Jeanson was invited to Chalon-sur-Saône to direct its House of Culture and then worked as a philosopher participating in a continuing education program for psychiatrists in a mental hospital. He then returned to a small family house in Claouey, on the Bassin d’Arcachon, where he has continued to write and involve himself in such activities as the France-Sarajevo Association, which has encouraged a multi-ethnic Bosnia.

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Jorge Lizarzaburu, Adrian van den Hoven and Donovan Irven

Vichy regime rewarded them highly to use their influence to normalize the occupation and Pétain’s government. The verso of collaborationism was the establishment of the French Resistance. In the intellectual arena, Sartre and other militant thinkers