CHOICE OF ACTION by Michel-Antoine Burnier


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A history of Jean-Paul Sartre's involvement in practical politics, and the analyses he put forth in Les Temps Modernes between 1945 and 1965. It is a lively history: Burnier sticks close to his sources, which abound in Gallic insult and passionate polemic. And the controversies remain surprisingly fresh. After his individualistic ""bourgeois"" idealism in the Thirties and the Resistance struggles which politicized his existentialism, Sartre became a leftist watchdog of the French Communist Party, which he considered opportunistic and Stalinistic but the only true representative of the working classes. In the early Fifties, cold-war polarization changed his principled neutralism into fellow-travel, until the Hungarian revolt and the FCP's flaccidity on the Algerian issue pushed him into loyal opposition, this time more programmatically. De Beauvoir stayed in tow, Merleau-Ponty and Camus fell away. Meanwhile, there were profound transformations in Sartre's philosophical thought, which Burnier simply mentions, discussing his literary work in greater detail. No H. Stuart Hughesian splendors here, but a concise, forthright book, distinctly valuable for a limited audience.

Pub Date: July 9th, 1968
Publisher: Random House