Jean-Paul Sartre the European

Hugh McDonnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Jean-Paul Sartre's 1961 famous and infamous preface to Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth has engendered the common impression of Sartre as an intellectual who was particularly hostile to Europe. In revising this perception, this article reviews Sartre's engagement with the idea of Europe over many decades. This certainly included critique, but also nuanced and positive considerations of what Europe and being European meant. This thinking about Europe is to be situated, first, in terms of Sartre's evolving philosophical project to reconcile freedom and facticity, and second, in political and intellectual contestations over Europe in the context of fascism and the Second World War, postwar international relations, and the emergence of the Third World. Sartre's contribution to these debates was an adumbration of a “knotted Europe,” the provincialization of Europe whilst retaining a commitment to universalism, and a notion of Europe as an ongoing project rather than an ossified identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-177
JournalModern Intellectual History
Issue number1
Early online date2 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2020

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