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This text offers an assessment of Jean-Paul Sartre as an exemplary figure in the evolving political and cultural landscape of post-1945 France. Sartre's originality is located in the tense relationship that he maintained between deeply held revolutionary political beliefs and a residual yet critical attachment to traditional forms of cultural expression. A series of case studies centred on Gaullism, communism, Maoism (Part 1), the theatre, art criticism and the media (Part 2), illustrate the continuing relevance and appeal of Sartre to the contemporary world.
Michael Scriven is Professor of European Studies at the University of the West of England, Bristol.