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Sartre and de Gaulle: Two Conceptions of France

  • Michael Scriven

Abstract

1990 marked the tenth anniversary of the death of Jean-Paul Sartre1 and the twentieth anniversary of the death and the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Charles de Gaulle.2 Both anniversaries were commemorated in widely publicised conferences and media events staged at the Vidéothèque de Paris: Sartre from 22–4 June, de Gaulle from 26 June until 17 July.3 There was a curious and multiple irony in the chronological juxtaposition in this particular venue of these two conferences devoted to two highly significant figures of twentieth-century French intellectual and political history, to which I shall return later. Reference to these two commemorative media events, however, serves as a useful symbolic point of entry into a discussion of the relationship between arguably the most influential French intellectual and the most influential French political leader of the twentieth century.

Keywords

Postwar Period Television Series Symbolic Point French People French Nation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Sartre died on 15 March 1980.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    De Gaulle died in November 1970; he was born in November 1890.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    ‘Sartre: un colloque du groupe d’études sartriennes’, Vidéothèque de Paris, 22–4 juin 1990; ‘De Gaulle à l’écran’, Vidéothèque de Paris, 26 juin–17 juillet 1990.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    C. de Gaulle, Mémoires de guerre: L’Appel 1940–1942 (Plon, 1954), p. 7.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    C. de Gaulle, ‘Discours au Parlement de Westminster, 7 April 1960’; cited in J. Lacouture, Citations au Président de Gaulle (Seuil, 1968), p. 80.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    ‘Justice and the State’, in Sartre in the Seventies: Interviews and Essays (London: André Deutsch, 1978), pp. 175–6.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    ‘Elections: A Trap for Fools’, in Sartre in the Seventies: Interviews and Essays, p. 204.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘Un jour de victoire parmi les balles’, Combat, 4 September 1944, p. 2.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    See: C. de Gaulle, Mémoires de guerre: L’Appel 1940–42 (Plon, 1954); Mémoires de guerre: L’Unité 1942–44 (Plon, 1956).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘La France vue d’Amérique’, Le Figaro, 24 January 1945, p. 2.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    See: New York Times, 25 January 1945 and 1 February 1945.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘Victoire de gaullisme’, Le Figaro, 25 January 1945, p. 2.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    This first broadcast was reproduced in extenso under the title ‘De Gaulle et le “gaullisme”’, in L’Order de Paris, 22 October 1947, pp. 1 and 3.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘Les bastilles de Raymond Aron’, Le Nouvel observateur, 19–25 June 1968, reprinted in SIT8, pp. 175–92.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    ‘Le Prétendant’, L’Express, no. 362 (22 May 1958; reprinted SIT5, pp. 89–101); ‘La constitution du mépris’, L’Express, no. 378 (11 September 1958; reprinted SIT5, pp. 102–12); ‘Les grenouilles qui demandent un roi’, L’Express, no. 380 (25 September 1958; reprinted SIT5, pp. 113–44); ‘L’analyse du référendum’, interview in L’Express, no. 499 (4 January 1961; reprinted SIT5, pp. 145–59).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘Le Prétendant’, SIT5, p. 96.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ibid, SIT5, p. 100.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘La constitution du mépris’, SIT5, p. 102.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘T’analyse du référendum’, SIT5, p. 155.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘Les grenouilles qui demandent un roi’, SIT5, p. 155.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    The initial version of Sartre’s autobiography, entitled Jean sans terre, was written in 1953 and 1954. Sartre apparently shelved the manuscript for several years until 1961, when, prompted by a shortage of money, he decided to finalise the text for Gallimard. The redrafting of the autobiography therefore took place between 1961 and 1963.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Sartre worked on the film script of the life of Freud from 1958–60. The work was published by Gallimard in 1978 under the title Le Scénario Freud.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    See in this respect the television programme produced by Michel Favart entitled ‘Sartre contre Sartre’ and broadcast on 25 and 28 September and 1 October 1990 on La Sept and FR3. Despite Sartre’s increasingly hostile attitude to de Gaulle during the Algerian crisis, it needs to be noted that at the moment of the ‘Affaire des 121’ in 1960, de Gaulle is alleged to have protected Sartre from facing criminal charges on the grounds that ‘one does not arrest Voltaire’; see ES2, p. 47.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    See: ES, pp. 445–9 and 454–6; and Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘Vietnam: Le Tribunal’, in SIT8, pp. 7–124.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    ‘Lettre au Président de la République’, SIT8, pp. 42–3; ‘Réponse du Président de la République’, SIT8, pp. 43–5; ‘Sartre à de Gaulle’, Le Nouvel observateur, 26 April 1967; reprinted in SIT8, pp. 46–57.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘Sartre à de Gaulle’, SIT8, pp. 49–50. Despite their disagreements over the Russell Tribunal, Sartre’s postwar anti-Americanism ultimately echoed de Gaulle’s own anti-American sentiments. See O. Todd, Un fils rebelle (Grasset, 1981), p. 201.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Ibid., pp. 50–1.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘L’alibi’, Le Nouvel observateur, no. 1 (19 November 1960; reprinted in SIT8, pp. 143–4).Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    (i) ‘L’imagination au pouvoir’, interview between Jean-Paul Sartre and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Le Nouvel observateur, special supplement, 20 May 1968; (ii) ‘Les bastilles de Raymond Aron’, Le Nouvel observateur, 19–25 June 1968, reprinted in SIT8, pp. 175–92; (iii) ‘L’ideé neuve de mai 1968’, Le Nouvel observateur, 26 June 1968, reprinted in SIT8, pp. 193–207; (iv) ‘Il n’y a pas de bon gaullisme’, Le Nouvel observateur, 4–10 November 1968, reprinted in SIT8, pp. 226–32.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    ‘Les bastilles de Raymond Aron’, SIT8, p. 192.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    ‘Il n’y a pas de bon gaullisme’, SIT8, p. 227.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    See: P. Gavi, Jean-Paul Sartre and P. Victor, On a raison de se révolter (Gallimard, 1974), pp. 63–5.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    See M. Scriven, ‘Sartre attiré et repoussé par la télévision’, Les Temps Modernes, nos 531–3 (October–December 1990), pp. 1072–95.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Cited in J.-D. Wolfromm, ‘Qui avait peur de Jean-Paul Sartre?’, Le Matin de Paris, 3 July 1980, p. 34.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    See: (i) M. Clavel, ‘Mon témoignage sur l’affaire Sartre’, Le Nouvel observateur, 6 October 1975, p. 37; (ii) J.-D. Wolfromm, ‘Qui avait peur de Jean-Paul Sartre?’.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    R.-A. Vivien, in F. Mitterrand, Sartre: une vie, television programme broadcast on Antenne 2, 15 April 1990.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Synopsis, ‘75 ans d’histoire par ceux qui l’ont faite’, p. 22. On p. 12 reference is made to ‘Charles de Gaulle’s appeal of 18 June’, on p. 14 ‘Gaullism [which] sets up a cossetted state apparatus in London’, on p. 18 to ‘anger and despondency after de Gaulle’s coup d’état of May 1958’, and on p. 20 to an alleged remark by de Gaulle: ‘Even if Jean-Paul Sartre were to go stark naked on the Champs Elysées, I would not arrest him’. This latter comment is clearly an ironic reference to de Gaulle’s remark made in 1960 that ‘one does not arrest Voltaire’.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Interview with Benny Lévy, 20 March 1990.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    P. Gavi, Jean-Paul Sartre and P. Victor, On a raison de se révolter (Gallimard, 1974), p. 63.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    ‘M. Jean-Paul Sartre s’explique et polémique avec M. Marcel Jullian’, Le Monde, 27 September 1975, p. 23.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    B. Levy in F. Mitterrand, Sartre: une vie, television programme broadcast on Antenne 2, 15 April 1990. Interestingly and paradoxically, Olivier Todd perceives a fundamental similarity between Sartre and de Gaulle in what he describes as their mutual exploitation of a mystifying rhetoric; in Sartre’s case in the philosophical domain, in de Gaulle’s case in the political sphere. See O. Todd, Un fils rebelle (Grasset, 1981), pp. 199–200.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael Scriven 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Scriven
    • 1
  1. 1.University of the West of EnglandBristolUK

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