Ontology and politics: the representation of communists in Sartre's fiction and theatre
Abstract:How does Sartre represent communist characters in his novels and plays? And how is his imaginative representation of communists related to both his political and artistic evolution in the 1940s and 1950s? After noting the paucity of communist characters in Sartre's imaginative æuvre, I examine in detail the communists in Les Mains sales and Les Chemins de la liberté, and argue that there is a fundamental paradox which may explain why there are so few such characters in Sartre's work: the ontological 'negativity and anxiety' that characterized Sartre's most developed protagonists did not square with his political view of the ideal militant. Once he became a 'fellow-traveller' who condemned 'negativity' and celebrated the 'necessities of praxis ', Sartre abandoned the portrayal of communists in his theatre and fiction. Even more radically, he gave up writing theatre and fiction altogether.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: March 1, 2006
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- Journal of Romance Studies promotes innovative critical work in the areas of linguistics, literature, performing and visual arts, media, material culture, intellectual and cultural history, critical and cultural theory, psychoanalysis, gender studies, social sciences, and anthropology. The primary focus is on those parts of the world that speak, or have spoken, French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese, but work on other cultures may be included. Issues cross national and disciplinary boundaries in order to stimulate new ways of thinking about cultural history and practice.
Published in Association with the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.
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