ABSTRACT

Since the end of the war, French literature has been dominated by a succession of quickly alternating intellectual fashions that have kept alive the illusion of a fecund and productive modernity. First came the vogue of Sartre, Camus, and the humanistic existentialism that followed immediately in the wake of the war, soon to be succeeded by the experimentalism of the new theater, bypassed in turn by the advent of the nouveau roman and its epigones. These movements are, to a large extent, superficial and ephemeral; the traces they will leave on the history of French literature is bound to be slighter than it appears within the necessarily limited perspective of our own contemporaneity. Not all the more significant literary figures necessarily remained aloof from these trends; several took part in them and were influenced by them. But the true quality of their literary vocation can be tested by the persistence with which they kept intact a more essential part of themselves, a part that remained untouched by the vicissitudes of a literary production oriented toward public recognition-arcane and esoteric as this "public" may have been.