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.