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This review is taken from PN Review 67, Volume 15 Number 5, May - June 1989.

Lives & Letters
FUNERARY COMEBACKS
Howard Davies, Sartre and 'Les Temps Modernes' (Cambridge) £27.50
Claude Francis and Fernande Gontier, Simone de Beauvoir, translated by Lisa Nesselson (Sidgwick & Jackson) £15.00

'Un come-back funéraire'. This was Sartre's mordant, delighted comment at a time of renewed interest in his work in the 1970s. In the 1980s, after his physical demise, that comeback gathered momentum. As Annette Lavers has pointed out, Sartre seems to have been undefeated by the radical event of death. His posthumous output has been considerable in bulk and quality, and secondary biographical and critical material has proliferated. Howard Davies's book is especially interesting in that it resurrects a relatively neglected area: Sartre's involvement with Les Temps Modernes (hereafter TM), the magazine he helped to found in 1945, and his and TM's attempts to develop a 'synthetic anthropology'. Davies offers, not only a well-researched and perceptive biography of a magazine and contribution to the cultural and political history of post-war France, but what we might call, employing Sartrean terms, a new totalization that could - for those who share Sartre's concerns - lead to productive praxis.

Though TM, inevitably, is closely identified with Sartre - some of his most important works first appeared there - the magazine was never, Davies stresses, a one-man band, but a dynamic and often internally tense collective venture in which Sartre moved between background and foreground, modifying and modified. In a sense, 'TM is Sartre's greatest creation, by virtue of the extent to which it ...


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