Vian's politics and The Empire Builders : LUSENET : Boris Vian : One Thread

I am a Theater and Comparative Literature student at the University of Oregon, and I am writing an honor's thesis on the topic of The Empire Builders (Les Batisseurs d'empire) as an anti-colonial play. Unfortunately there's virtually nothing on Vian's politics )except his anti-militarism) or on the play (except to suggest its some sort of death-fantasy of Vian's, as if he identifies with the Father). I have an excellent article by Laurence Porter on The Empire Builders as an anti-colonial play, some stuff on "Le Deserteur," and Vian's "essay," "La probleme du colon." Does anyone know of anything else I could turn to in the way of a direct source?

-- Jeremy M. Barker (, July 18, 2002


Hi Jeremy. I've just seen your query. If you're still looking I have a few ideas, though nothing very direct. Vian was well known to Sartre and de Beauvoir and their circle. I have found references to him in various publications about them and by them - de B.'s letters, for example. There must have been reviews of the original production of Empire Builders, perhaps in Sartre's own magazine. Alternatively, Vian seems to have been on warm terms with Raymond Queneau and the Oulipo crowd: you might search there. Lastly, I searched for Queneau and in the latter part of the listing I found references to a French writer, whose name I forget, but I'll look again and post it to you - who had done a study in English of mid-twentieth century French drama. Even more lastly, I'm not sure of the exact dates, but Empire Builders was probably written/conceived/produced at the the height of the Algerian independence movement, so it may appear in political histories of the period. Now I think about it, you might want to think of the impact of the French phase of the Vietnam war of independence on Vian and his circle. Good luck!

-- Brian Clover (, September 15, 2002.

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