From Publishers Weekly
Beginning with Camus's introduction, from pied noir roots, into the Parisian circle dominated by Sartre and his existentialist milieu, Aronson (Sartre's Second Critique) opens this chronological tale with two resistance writers finding differing paths in the violent days of occupied France. Aronson's perceptive grasp of the distinct orientations of Sartre and Camus helps navigate the reader through their fluctuating political positions and oscillations between popularity and ostracism. While the initial divergence saw Camus supporting an activist resistance and Sartre offering a form of disengagement, Aronson documents the dramatic change during the Cold War and the rise of the Algerian resistance, when Sartre shifted toward embracing violence and Camus thoroughly denounced it. Through much of this postwar turmoil, each evolved his thought in an intimate opposition-an opposition that came to a decisive showdown in the pages of Sartre's Les Temps Modernes. Following a review of Camus's The Rebel, which unflinchingly panned the book, the author responded with a livid letter to the editor. Sartre's counterresponse was to be the last conversation the two ever shared. Aronson's evenhanded analysis of the quarrel reveals the frighteningly personal tack taken by these two amid a political debate that decisively ended their friendship. The consistently close reading of the writings of these authors reveals those writings in many places to be utterly personal, casting the other as a rival until the very end. Aronson's literary acuity combined with an entertaining use of anecdotes on social and personal jealousies Sartre and Camus harbored makes the book a useful biographical background to the major works of these authors and a most enjoyable tale of the turmoil of intellectual life in postwar France.
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"With meticulous even-handedness, this internationally renowned Sartre expert haas produced a remarkably non-partisan account which also reminds us that it is possible to combine the highest level of scholarship with a lively and readable style of writing. Making judicious use of archive and original interview material, which he combines with literary criticism, political insights and anecdotes, Aronson firmly locates the Camus-Sartre relationship in the political and cultural contexts of early post-War France. This important contribution to twentieth-century intellectual and cultural history reveals as never before the extent to which the two men interacted with each other through their writings both before and, importantly, after the 1952 rupture." (David Drake Times Literary Supplement