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Sartre sculptureIntroduction

Looking back from this side of the Cold War, it is no longer easy to remember the powerful appeal of Soviet Communism to a large number of American and European intellectuals in the period immediately preceding and immediately following the Second World War. In post-war France, in particular, the cultural prestige of Communism was enormous. Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon had been published in English in 1940, but it was widely circulated in a French translation only in 1945. The book scandalized the left-wing literati of Paris.

The French sculptor Jean-Louis Faure entitled this witty construction "Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir Refusing to Shake the Hand of Arthur Koestler." The operation of a mechanical device causes Sartre and de Beauvoir to turn their backs as Koestler extends his right hand. The "event" commemorated is imaginary, but the concept accurately reflects Sartre's opinion that "Every anti-Communist is a dog." (From B├ętise de l'intelligence by Jean-Louis Faure and Pierre Pachet [Paris: Editions Joca Seria, 1995]).