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Volume 15, Issue 2, Fall/Automne 2011

Christina Howells
Pages 82-94

Rancière, Sartre and Flaubert
From The Idiot of the Family to The Politics of Aesthetics

This paper discusses Rancière’s attitude to Sartre through an examination of the two philosophers’ analyses of Flaubert, and especially of Madame Bovary. It argues that Rancière simplifies Sartre’s conception of literary commitment and seriously downplays the subtlety of his understanding of the relationship between literature and politics. Furthermore, by limiting his sources to Sartre’s Qu’est-ce que la littérature? (1948), and not considering L’Idiot de la famille (1971–72), Rancière fails to recognise the similarities between Sartre’s account and his own, with respect to both aesthetic theory and stylistic analysis.