Jean-Paul Sartre's Les Temps Modernes: A Literary History, 1945-1952

Jean-Paul Sartre's Les Temps Modernes: A Literary History, 1945-1952

Jean-Paul Sartre's Les Temps Modernes: A Literary History, 1945-1952

Jean-Paul Sartre's Les Temps Modernes: A Literary History, 1945-1952

Synopsis

In this study, Ranwez investigates the first seven years of Sartre's journal, characterized by an unusual intellectual, political and literary effervescence

Excerpt

One might ask why Sartre, at age forty, attempted to create and direct Les Temps Modernes, a journal whose title was taken from the film of a celebrated artist who succeeded in making people laugh at his portrayal of the human condition. Sartre, at the peak of his new glory, by turns philosopher, novelist, dramatist, essayist, scriptwriter, literary critic, and journalist, could have rested on his laurels and maintained his position at the head of the literary intelligentsia. In order to trace his development and to consider the international audience which has read and will read Sartre, it would require a much longer study than is feasible in the present work. I shall limit myself here to showing the major stages of evolution in the dialectical thought of possibly the greatest philosopher of this century whose influence on the intellectual and social world of the post-war period has been greater than that of Freud between the two world wars.

The richness and diversity of Sartre's writing, extending over almost half a century, and the circumstantial uniqueness of each of his works can be studied on two different levels. On the first level, which will be limited to the essential philosophical works, two major stages comprise his dialectic. (Within the continuing framework of Sartre's attempt to establish an anthropology, only the notion of freedom will be studied.) On the second level, based on psycho-sociohistorical events, I will demonstrate how Sartre has on three different occasions (1939 to 1941, 1950 to 1953, and 1968 to 1969) undertaken a complete self re-examination. It is evident that, according to the basic principles of his philosophy, the reflexive "cogito" is Sartre's constant intellectual course, but here it is a question of a complete change of perspective. I would like to say, however, that these divisions aim only to clarify that the three stages in question are not at all refutations of his preceding positions, but transcen-

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