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Private Sartre

John Sturrock, 7 February 1985

War Diaries: Notebooks from a Phoney War 1939-40 
by Jean-Paul Sartre and Quentin Hoare.
Verso, 366 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 0 86091 087 3
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... than for most. He spent them behind the lines in Alsace doing what he had been trained to do, by Raymond Aron no less, when both were on national service in the Twenties – which was to let up weather balloons and take sightings on them. This quaint, undemanding routine was all the Army seems to have asked of him; there is no mention of ...

Tocqueville in Saginaw

Alan Ryan, 2 March 1989

Tocqueville: A Biography 
by André Jardin, translated by Lydia Davis and Robert Hemenway.
Peter Halban, 550 pp., £18, October 1988, 1 870015 13 4
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... mouthing of Cold War platitudes which conservative politicians preferred. In post-war France, Raymond Aron saw Tocqueville as the great counter-weight to Marx. David Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd reminded Americans that Tocqueville had feared they would become ‘other-directed’ conformists, incapable of the generosity, independence and energy that ...


Pierre Bourdieu, 20 November 1980

... Révolté, is only a novelist; Blanchot is only a critic and Bataille only an essayist; while Raymond Aron is relegated to the rank of sociologist or political scientist, and is in any case disqualified for failing to adopt another necessary component of the total intellectual, left-wing commitment. The pre-war critical writings and philosophical ...

A Glass of Whisky in One Hand and Lenin in the Other

Olivier Todd: The end of French Algeria, 19 March 1998

The Memory of Resistance: French Opposition to the Algerian War (1954-62) 
by Martin Evans.
Berg, 250 pp., £34.99, November 1997, 9781859739273
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... de Gaulle. Even a lucid mind, a dispassionate philosopher and the most academic of our columnists, Raymond Aron, got very hot under the collar when the American Robert Paxton produced his pioneering study of the Vichy regime. Pierre Vidal-Nacquet has said that the Jeanson network ‘succeeded’. What did it achieve? Its main activity was carrying money ...

By the Roots

Jeremy Waldron, 9 February 1995

The Anatomy of Anti-Liberalism 
by Stephen Holmes.
Harvard, 330 pp., £23.95, November 1993, 0 674 03180 6
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... It’s odd that there are no modern theorists on the home team – no Rawls, no Popper, no Raymond Aron – particularly since it’s only recently that ‘liberal’ became a term of self-identification in political theory. Not only that, but all of Holmes’s anti-liberals (except Maistre) are 20th-century thinkers, who take themselves to be ...

Qui êtes-vous, Sir Moses?

C.R. Whittaker, 6 March 1986

Ancient History: Evidence and Models 
by M.I. Finley.
Chatto, 131 pp., £12.95, September 1985, 0 7011 3003 2
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... reflects the anthropological influence of Durkheim with its special emphasis on structures. Both Raymond Aron and more recently Paul Veyne admit the influence of the sociological methods of Dilthey, Simmel and Weber in underscoring the specificity of historical events. In De la Connaissance Historique H.-I. Marrou attacks the narrow concept of what ...

Roth, Pinter, Berlin and Me

Christopher Tayler: Clive James, 11 March 2010

The Blaze of Obscurity: The TV Years 
by Clive James.
Picador, 325 pp., £17.99, October 2009, 978 0 330 45736 1
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... finger smelling like a fishing smack’.) And he solemnly unveils a growing self-conception as the Raymond Aron of light entertainment. ‘This was worthwhile,’ he writes of a sketch he directed for the Cambridge Footlights. ‘Sartre hailing the Chinese Cultural Revolution as an act of liberation: that was a waste of time.’ The sketch which James is ...

Degeneration Gap

Andreas Huyssen: Cold War culture conflicts, 7 October 2004

The Dancer Defects: The Struggle for Cultural Supremacy during the Cold War 
by David Caute.
Oxford, 788 pp., £30, September 2003, 0 19 924908 3
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... New Left. It allowed the anti-totalitarianism of an older generation of intellectuals, including Raymond Aron and Hannah Arendt, to be dismissed as Cold War propaganda. The gap widened between the anti-Communists of the 1950s, many of them disillusioned former Communists such as Koestler, Manès Sperber and Ignazio Silone, and the anti-anti-Communists ...

Build Your Cabin

Ian Sansom: ‘Caribou Island’, 3 March 2011

Caribou Island 
by David Vann.
Penguin, 293 pp., £8.99, January 2011, 978 0 670 91844 7
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... him, as a writer, a great advantage. Even someone as sane, unsentimental and straight-thinking as Raymond Aron had to confess to the awful appeal of suicide as a subject. ‘Why are the living fascinated by the act whereby a man voluntarily brings about his own death?’ he asks in his foreword to Jean Baechler’s Suicides. ‘Probably because suicide ...

A Matter of Caste

Colin Kidd: Alexis de Tocqueville, 22 March 2007

Alexis de Tocqueville: Prophet of Democracy in the Age of Revolution 
by Hugh Brogan.
Profile, 724 pp., £30, December 2006, 1 86197 509 0
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... to maintain connections with a broader liberal tradition, including, in his native France, Raymond Aron and Jean-François Revel, for whom Tocqueville’s oeuvre was the sole haven of grace and trust within a canon of modern political philosophy whose prescriptions – from right as much as left – seemed to lead to mass extermination or ...

The Hagiography Factory

Thomas Meaney: Arthur Schlesinger Jr, 8 February 2018

Schlesinger: The Imperial Historian 
by Richard Aldous.
Norton, 486 pp., £23.99, November 2017, 978 0 393 24470 0
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... through the Cold War. Unlike his kindred spirits in Britain and France – Isaiah Berlin and Raymond Aron were more formidable thinkers – Schlesinger had a particularly intimate relationship with power. But one of the fascinating paradoxes of Richard Aldous’s biography is how slight Schlesinger’s influence in Washington actually was, despite ...


Perry Anderson: The Fall of France, 2 September 2004

La France qui tombe 
by Nicolas Baverez.
Perrin, 134 pp., €5.50, January 2004, 2 262 02163 5
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La Face cachée du ‘Monde’: Du contre-pouvoir aux abus de pouvoir 
by Pierre Péan and Philippe Cohen.
Mille et Une Nuits, 631 pp., €24, February 2003, 2 84205 756 2
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... better shape. Death has picked off virtually all the great names: Barthes (1980); Lacan (1981); Aron (1983); Foucault (1984); Braudel (1985); Debord (1994); Deleuze (1995); Lyotard (1998); Bourdieu (2002). Only Lévi-Strauss, at 95, and Derrida, at 74, survive. No French intellectual has gained a comparable international reputation since. Lack of that is ...

Jottings, Scraps and Doodles

Adam Shatz: Lévi-Strauss, 3 November 2011

Claude Levi-Strauss: The Poet in the Laboratory 
by Patrick Wilcken.
Bloomsbury, 375 pp., £30, November 2011, 978 0 7475 8362 2
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... of artists. His great-grandfather was a violinist who performed for Napoléon III; his father, Raymond, a portrait painter. Lévi-Strauss père barely made ends meet, but he saved up to take his only child to see the Ring Cycle and Stravinsky’s Les Noces. Claude drew, painted, took photographs, even wrote a trio for two violins and piano. His maternal ...

Au revoir et merci

Christopher Tayler: Romain Gary, 6 December 2018

The Roots of Heaven 
by Romain Gary, translated by Jonathan Griffin.
Godine, 434 pp., $18.95, November 2018, 978 1 56792 626 2
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Promise at Dawn 
by Romain Gary, translated by John Markham Beach.
Penguin, 314 pp., £9.99, September 2018, 978 0 241 34763 8
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... his early forties, hadn’t been thought to be living up to his early promise. Sartre, Camus and Raymond Aron had praised his first book, a novel about Polish partisans, A European Education (1945), but he had later lost his audience, producing – among other things – an eccentric satire on racism and a Parisian rewrite of Oliver Twist. The initial ...


Edward Said: My Encounter with Sartre, 1 June 2000

... not all of them in agreement with him – that included Beauvoir of course, his great opposite Raymond Aron, the eminent philosopher and Ecole Normale classmate Maurice Merleau-Ponty (who left the journal a few years later), and Michel Leiris, ethnographer, Africanist and bullfight theoretician. There wasn’t a major issue that Sartre and his circle ...

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