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Sartre and Camus

In/Justice and Freedom in the Algerian Context

Ouarda Larbi Youcef

justice.”-Albert Camus “Freedom is what we do with what is done to us.”-Jean-Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus met for the first time in June 1943 in Paris. Their friendship lasted almost a decade, more precisely, until 1952, though not

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Camus et la « littérature algérienne »

Une notion stratégique dans l’espace littéraire francophone

Tristan Leperlier

En 2010, à l’occasion du cinquantenaire de la mort d’Albert Camus, le projet d’une « Caravane Camus » sillonant l’Algérie, d’abord soutenue par l’État algérien, avait finalement été annulé : « c’est cette “algérianité” de Camus, revendiquée par ses

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Sartre, Camus and a Marxism for the 21st Century

David Schweikart

Ever since Marx, philosophy must lead to action. Otherwise it is irrelevant …. Philosophers must be angry, and, in this world, stay angry. Jean-Paul Sartre (1972) 1 I. The Quarrel On June 30, 1952 Albert Camus sent a seventeen-page letter to the

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The Tragic Nostalgia of Albert Camus

Robert Zaretsky

Algeria is never far from the center of Albert Camus's life and work—no further, in effect, than Ithaka is from the center of Odysseus's thoughts. In fact, Camus tended to see his native country through his readings of ancient Greek myth and tragedy. This article traces the ways in which Camus, with materials provided by ancient Greece, not only represented his native land, but also elaborated a “Mediterranean” school of thought—la pensée du Midi—that emphasizes the role of moderation or “measure.” There is an undeniable aspect of nostalgia to Camus's rendering of his country and its past, but this does not undermine its validity. By making use of Svetlana Boym's fruitful distinction between reflective and restorative forms of nostalgia, I suggest that the combination of the two categories lies at the heart of Camus's “philosophy of limits.”

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Revolution or Revolt? Les Mains Sales and Les Justes

Benedict O'Donohoe

Sartre's evocation of ideological socialism in Dirty Hands' protagonist Hugo, as opposed to the pragmatism of the realist, Hoederer, found an attentive audience in April 1948. The means are justified by the ends, Hoederer insists, although that means “getting one's hands dirty.“ Eighteen months later, Camus produced Les Justes, which offers an implicit rebuttal of Sartre's position. Kaliayev-like Hugo, an idealist and an intellectual-is rebuked by his hard-line colleague, Fedorov, for failing to throw his grenade at the Archduke's carriage merely because he was accompanied by children. Kaliayev's vindication of the individual's moral conscience, even in the midst of collective action, counters Hoederer's position. For Camus, the ends do not necessarily justify the means; there are always lines to be drawn in the name of an ethical stance which, ultimately, protects human dignity from the allure of morally compromised “progress.“ Consideration of each playwright's notion of authenticity, as embodied in their respective protagonists, leads us to consider whether Sartre had, in effect, anticipated Kaliayev in the person of Hugo and foreshadowed his critique of Camus's L'Homme révolté, which led to their definitive quarrel.

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Simone de Beauvoir on Existentialist Theater

Dennis A. Gilbert

My article focuses on Le Théâtre existentialiste (Existentialist Theater) by Simone de Beauvoir, recently translated and published in the volume of the Beauvoir Series on her literary writings. The first part introduces the original sound recording of this text and the circumstances behind its possible production in New York City in 1947 and my discovery of it at Wellesley College in 1996. The second part analyzes the divisions of Beauvoir's remarks as she presents Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and their principal plays from the period of the Occupation: The Flies, No Exit, and Caligula. The third part then evaluates certain of Beauvoir's key concepts in terms of how they were able to define adequately the substance of existentialist theater for a postwar American audience and whether they remain valid for a more contemporary theatrical public some six decades later.

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The Violence of the Political and the Politics of Violence: Dirty Hands Reconsidered

Larry Busk

This article considers Sartre's perspective on political violence with reference to his 1948 play Dirty Hands. Focusing on the concrete political questions that confronted Sartre in his context, it traces the development and result of conversations with Merleau-Ponty, Camus and the Marxist tradition that shaped his thinking on this subject. At the end of this dialectical process, Sartre arrived at a position that refused both bourgeois humanism, with its disavowal of political violence, and what is here termed Official Communism – the prevailing Manichean politics of his day and the institutionalized repression that went along with it. In other words, he affirmed the violence of the political without by that token affirming the politics of violence. It is argued here that these conversations and this conclusion are dramatically illustrated in Dirty Hands.

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Sartre, Camus and the Algerian War

David Drake

When considering Sartre’s and Camus’ positions on the Algerian War of Independence, it is useful to begin by briefly locating both men in relation to colonialism in general and Algeria in particular. The first point, an obvious one, but one which needs to be made, is that while Camus, the child of Belcourt, had first-hand knowledge of life in working-class Algiers, and as a journalist of the misery of Kabylia in the late 1930s, Sartre, the Parisian intellectual par excellence, had almost no direct knowledge of the country. I say almost no direct knowledge because he and de Beauvoir did pass through southern Algeria en route to French West Africa in 1950 but apparently paid scant attention to the political situation in that country.

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Camus versus Sartre: The Unresolved Conflict

Ronald Aronson

By what incredible foresight did the most significant intellectual quarrel of the twentieth century anticipate the major issue of the twenty-first? When Camus and Sartre parted ways in 1952, the main question dividing them was political violence—specifically, that of communism. And as they continued to jibe at each other during the next decade, especially during the war in Algeria, one of the major issues between them became terrorism. The 1957 and 1964 Nobel Laureates were divided sharply over which violence most urgently demanded to be addressed and attacked—the humiliations and oppressions, often masked, that Sartre described as systematically built into daily life under capitalism and colonialism, or the brutal and abstract calculus of murder seen by Camus as built into some of the movements that claimed to liberate people from capitalist and colonial oppression.

The Sartre-Camus conflict remains, fifty years later, philosophically unresolved. And I would argue—against today's conventional wisdom so persistently asserted by Tony Judt—it is also historically unresolved, despite today.

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Democracy is an Exercise in Modesty

Albert Camus