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First World War’s Impact on Sartre’s Works Essay

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Updated: Aug 24th, 2021

Introduction

The Second World War had a significant impact on the Works of Sartre as a whole. He turned his entire attention to the concept of social responsibility portraying the great concern he had for the poor who suffered during the war. While he was at the post of a teacher, he even personally declined wearing a tie, in order to shed his social class with the removal of his tie, thus making a serious attempt to unite more closely to the worker class.

Freedom, thus became his tool for the struggle and to him now meant essentially social responsibility which is effectively elucidated in ‘L’Existentialisme est un humanisme’ (1946), ‘Existentialism and Humanism’, (1948). Sartre began to send ethical messages to the world through his novels (Les Chemins de la liberté in 1945), and plays, which he now utilized as a medium of communication making it a useful tool to convey his messages and thoughts.

Through the medium of Drama, Sartre attempted to essentially portray man as he actually is thereby using drama as a medium to enable the people to become conscious of the basic nature and tendency of man, and instigate them to dwell over the selfish and consequent destructive tendency of man by doing so, Sartre desired to bring about a radical change in the society thereby making it more desirable and cordial to live in.

Sartre wrote a number of plays, one following another during this period which comprise of ‘Les Mouches’ (produced 1943; The Flies, 1946), ‘Huis-clos’ (1944; In Camera, 1946, U.S. title, No Exit, 1946), ‘Les Mains sales’ (1948; Crime passionel, 1949; U.S. title, Dirty Hands, 1949; acting version, Red Gloves), ‘Le Diable et le bon dieu’ (1951; Lucifer and the Lord, 1953), ‘Nekrassov’ (1955), and ‘Les Séquestrés d’Altona’ (1959; Loser Wins, 1959; U.S. title, The Condemned of Altona, 1960), all of which, highlight the raw antagonism of man against man.

Political activities undertaken by Sartre due to the World war

After the Second World War, Sartre began taking a dynamic interest in the political movements of France, making him more inclined to the left. He candidly and openly admired the Soviet Union, even though he chose not to become a member of the Communist Party and in 1954 he even paid a visit to the Soviet Union, Scandinavia, Africa, the United States, and Cuba. However, sartre’s expectations of the establishment of communism were sorrowfully trodden when the Soviet tanks entered into Budapest in 1956. this instigated him in writing an article in Les Temps Modernes, “Le Fantôme de Staline,” criticizing not only the Soviet intervention but also the submission of the French Communist Party to the orders of Moscow.

The following years this critical attitude paved and encouraged a form of “Sartrian Socialism” which was expressed in his new major work, ‘Critique de la raison dialectique’ (1960; Eng. trans., of the introduction only, under the title The Problem of Method, 1963; U.S. title, Search for a Method). It was in this critique that Sartre undertook a close examination of the Marxist dialectic and ascertained that it was not inhabitable in the Soviet structure. Even though he firmly thought Marxism to be the only philosophy viable for the contemporary times, he accepted that it had become inflexible and instead of adapting itself to specific circumstances, it on the contrary constrained to adapt to a programmed belief.

Conclusion

Thus we see how the World war was instrumental in shaping the literary, social and political life and works of Jean Paul Sartre.

References

‘Huis-clos’, (1944, In Camera, 1946, U.S. title, No Exit, 1946).

‘Les Mouches’, (produced 1943; The Flies, 1946).

‘Les Mains sales’ (1948, Crime passionel; 1949, U.S. title, Dirty Hands; 1949, acting version, Red Gloves).

‘Le Diable et le bon dieu’ (1951, Lucifer and the Lord, 1953).

‘Les Séquestrés d’Altona’ (1959; Loser Wins, 1959; U.S. title, The Condemned of Altona, 1960).

‘Nekrassov’ (1955).

Sartre, ‘Critique de la raison dialectique’, (1960, Eng. trans., of the introduction only, under the title The Problem of Method; 1963, U.S. title, Search for a Method).

Sartre,Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology’ (1958) translated, Hazel E.

Sartre, ‘Existentialism and Humanism’ (1973) translated, Philip Mairet, Methuen, London.

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