A concise description of the cultural scene in France during and after World War II
- 1940 defeat of France by German troops and division of the country
a national humiliation; a confrontation of the French people with an unavoidable choice
1. Some writers
fled to spend the remaining years of the war in exile or with the Free
French Forces 1).
- 1941: German attack on the Soviet Union
1. The French Communist Party gained considerably and organized opposition to Fascism.
2. The conviction was strengthened that intellectuals could not remain politically uncommitted, for the war made choices crucial for the individual.
- After 1945: Existentialism depicted man alone in a godless universe
1. Individuals were regarded as free to determine themselves through such choices.
2. A pessimistic
mood characterized the early post-war years reflected in Jean-Paul
Sartre´s philosophy of existentialism.
Graham Greene, The Tenth Man
As an agnostic humanist Camus insisted that even in an absurd world commitment must be based on clear ethical principles:
the need to resist
any oppressor and to respect the common humanity of all men. An example
is his novel La Peste (1947), an allegory set in a city haunted by the
plague, which gave universal dimensions to the treatment of the time.
It´s a symbolical description of the fight against an epidemic in Oran
by characters whose significance lies not so much in the uncertain success
with which they fight the plague than in their firm belief in human
dignity and fraternity 2).
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