The war of writing: French literary politics and the decolonization of Algeria
Journal of European Studies
Sage Publications Ltd.
227 - 243
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This article examines perceptions of the Algerian war among French intellectuals and in mainstream French culture. Against the background of France's social and political situation in the 1950s - declining international prominence, the loss of its colonies, rapid industrial modernization, and increasing moves toward individualism - the essay discusses the reactions of left-leaning writers and critics to the war and the way it was represented in popular culture after the escalating violence prompted more sharply defined political positions. Focusing on the issue of two types of engagements - political and literary - the author suggests that the redefined notion of commitment, as formulated by Albert Camus and Maurice Blanchot in response to Jean-Paul Sartre's emphasis on unconditional action, offered a conception of political, social and cultural transformation designed to undo the violence inherent in Sartre's promotion of self-assured values and insular ideas. © The Author(s) 2013.