© 2018

Sartre in Cuba–Cuba in Sartre


  • Offers a political and social history of Cuba in 1960 to contextualize Sartre’s France-Soir articles on the country

  • Considers the impact of Sartre on Cuba, both before and after his visit, and the influence that Cuba had on Sartre’s philosophy

  • Looks beyond Sartre’s account to broader questions of state violence, imperialism, colonialism, terrorism, revolution and resistance


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. William Rowlandson
    Pages 1-6
  3. William Rowlandson
    Pages 7-10
  4. William Rowlandson
    Pages 11-14
  5. William Rowlandson
    Pages 15-22
  6. William Rowlandson
    Pages 29-36
  7. William Rowlandson
    Pages 37-41
  8. William Rowlandson
    Pages 43-48
  9. William Rowlandson
    Pages 49-57
  10. William Rowlandson
    Pages 59-64
  11. William Rowlandson
    Pages 65-73
  12. William Rowlandson
    Pages 75-84
  13. William Rowlandson
    Pages 93-100
  14. William Rowlandson
    Pages 101-103
  15. William Rowlandson
    Pages 105-108
  16. Back Matter
    Pages 109-132

About this book


This book explores Sartre’s engagement with the Cuban Revolution.

In early 1960 Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir accepted the invitation to visit Cuba and to report on the revolution. They arrived during the carnival in a land bursting with revolutionary activity. They visited Che Guevara, head of the National Bank. They toured the island with Fidel Castro. They met ministers, journalists, students, writers, artists, dockers and agricultural workers. Sartre spoke at the University of Havana.

Sartre later published his Cuba reports in France-Soir.

Sartre endorsed the Cuban Revolution. He made clear his political identification. He opposed colonialism. He saw the US as colonial in Cuban affairs from 1898. He supported Fidel Castro. He supported the agrarian reform. He supported the revolution.

His Cuba accounts have been maligned, ignored and understudied.

They have been denounced as blind praise of Castro, ‘unabashed propaganda.’ They have been criticised for ‘clichés,’ ‘panegyric’ and ‘analytical superficiality.’ They have been called ‘crazy’ and ‘incomprehensible.’ Sartre was called naïve. He was rebuked as a fellow traveller. He was, in the words of Cuban author Guillermo Cabrera Infante, duped by ‘Chic Guevara.’

This book explores these accusations. Were Sartre’s Cuba texts propaganda? Are they blind praise? Was he naïve? Had he been deceived by Castro? Had he deceived his readers? Was he obligated to Castro or to the Revolution?

He later buried the reports, and abandoned a separate Cuba book. His relationship with Castro later turned sour.

What is the impact of Cuba on Sartre and of Sartre on Cuba?


Cuba Bay of Pigs Simone de Beauvoir Fidel Castro philosophy Che Guevara existentialism revolution colonialism Marxism

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Modern LanguagesUniversity of KentCanterburyUnited Kingdom

About the authors

William Rowlandson is Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the University of Kent, UK. Previous publications include Imaginal Landscapes (2015), Borges, Swedenborg and Mysticism (2013), critical edition of Biografía de un cimarrón (2010), Reading Lezama’s ‘Paradiso’ (2007).

Bibliographic information