The Freedom of Commitment: The Role of the Writer in Sartre’s What is Literature?

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature, Department of English Language and Literature, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran

2 Graduate Student of English Language and Literature, Department of English Language and Literature, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

10.34785/J014.2020.534

Abstract

The commitment of literature stirred up controversy in the face of European cataclysm of the post-war period. The significance of literature in political spheres fell under suspicion. It came to be looked at as a passive, impractical activity that could not express the horrors of W WII. Jean-Paul Sartre, the leading literary figure of existentialism in France, faced with such criticisms, decided to investigate the role of the writer and the reader, and endeavored to open a gateway for writers to participate in their societies actively. This study is concerned with the first three chapters of the monograph including “What is Writing?,” “Why Does One Write?,” and “For Whom Does One Write?” The present analysis does not address Sartre’s Existential philosophy per se; however, it briefly examines the roots of Sartre’s conception of literature in continental philosophy and the critical responses to his work from the perspectives of Alain Robbe-Grillet and Theodor W. Adorno. This paper endeavors to give a clear insight into Sartre’s idea of commitment and the freedom of the writer, and what he introduced as “human right literature” as an antithesis to both Marxism and Capitalism.

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