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Wednesday, 23 April 2008

A Dangerous Liaison

A Dangerous Liaison by Carol Seymour-Jones
details the relationship between Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in all its salacious and gossipy detail. Sartre expounded ideas of living in good faith at great length in his novels and philosophical writing. He also borrowed de Beauvoir's idea of the look to come up with a concept that (as the look or the gaze) heavily influenced both photographers and writers on photography.

For all his ideals of living in good faith, Sartre was a bit of a self-deceiver. He believed in "The Writer" as an idealised philosopher king, thought the Cultural Revolution was a great idea and never went near the sea for fear of being seized by a giant squid.

Sartre ossified himself into a French philospher totem - that's why he looked so much like a philospher should look.

Lithuanian photographer, Antanas Sutkus, captured this aspect of him in this great picture. He didn't get Sartre in among the squids of the sea, but did persuade him out onto this expanse of sand dunes near Vilnius, Lithuania. You can read more about Lithuanian photography here.

And here is a review of A Dangerous Liaison from The Weekend Guardian.

by Joanna Briscoe

The story of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre is hardly mired in obscurity. All that unlicensed shagging, bisexuality, existentialism and turban-wearing; all that philosophical rigour, complete with bohemian outbursts against the bourgeoisie, make this a tale so well known it could virtually be appropriated by Disney. Picture a toadish Sartre expounding to a lipsticked De Beauvoir at Café de Flore with a coterie of underaged lovers panting in the jewelled light of the spirit bottles. Continue reading here.

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