Beauvoir's blues, Sartre's Jews: reading L'espoir maintenant
Abstract:This article treats the reception, and offers a new interpretation, of the dialogues between Jean-Paul Sartre and Benny Lévy published 10, 17 and 24 March 1980 in Le Nouvel Observateur and reprinted by Lévy as L'espoir maintenant. I argue that both the celebratory and derogatory readings of L'espoir maintenant have been dominated by a hermeneutics of intention that focuses on whether Sartre meant what he said in these conversations or whether he was manipulated by Lévy. However, the entire project of forging an ethical basis for a new Left politics that guided Sartre's and Lévy's efforts is foreclosed in this approach as scholars squabble over what elements belong to Lévy and Sartre respectively. Arguing instead for a hermeneutics of performativity sensitive to the flow of the discussion, where the premises and postulates often spring from the give and take of dialogue, I highlight Sartre's reworking of Jewish tropes, including messianism, as central to re-sketching his views on consciousness, history, ethics, revolutionary politics, the humanism of his existential-Marxism and his conception of the role of the intellectual
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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