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Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre counted among his friends and associates some of the most esteemed intellectuals, writers, and artists of the twentieth century. In Portraits (Situations IV), Sartre collected his impressions and accounts of many of his notable acquaintances, in addition to some of his most important writings on art and literature during the early 1950s.
Portraits includes Sartre’s preface to Nathalie Sarraute’s Portrait of a Man Unknown and his homages to André Gide, Albert Camus, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The essay on Merleau-Ponty casts considerable light on the recent history of French philosophy, particularly with regard to dominant post-war political conceptions. Featured as well are lengthy studies of Sartre’s close friend Paul Nizan and of the young André Gorz that are no less revealing, as well as Sartre’s “Reply to Albert Camus,” which sealed the ideological and personal break between the two writers on its publication in 1952. Alongside these major writings are fascinating articles on Tintoretto and a number of contemporary artists, including Giacometti and Masson. Finally, Portraits concludes with two travelogue-style accounts of Sartre’s time in Italy.
This new translation by Chris Turner presents these essays in their complete form as originally intended by Sartre when he first published Situations IV in France and is thus essential reading for anyone interested in the artistic and intellectual history of the time.