Vian and Sartre : LUSENET : Boris Vian : One Thread

All right, this question's a little complex, so please bear with me. In its simplest form, I'm trying to determine what happened between Jean-Paul Sartre and Boris Vian, when, and how serious was it. Amongst most of the English language writers on Vian, they concentrate on Vian's involvement with Les Temps Moderne. In about 1946, I suppose, he began his "Chroniques du Menteur," of which he published about six or so. Another three or four were written but never published. They criticized the magazine in many ways and seemed out of place as Les Temps Moderne was becoming a largely Communist magazine. As the story goes, Vian's column annoyed Sartre, who refused to print them. On the other hand, Sartre and SImone de Beauvoir's biographers point out that Sartre began a lifelong, until his death in 1980, in fact, affair with Vian's first wife, Michele L'Eglise. Vian and her divorced in 1951 or 2 or so under messy circumstances which seems to have driven a wedge between Sartre, who sympathized with L'Eglise, and Vian, with whom de Beauvoir sypathized. But it's all unclear. Who fired Vian from TM, Sartre, de Beauvoir, who was acting as his representative while he was in the US for the large part of 1946, or Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the utterly humorless hardline Communist whom Vian, I suppose, would have thought an intolerable bore? And for that matter, if Sartre didn't do in Vian, did they remain close or at least on friendly terms until the divorce? And lastly, Vian and de Beauvoir. In her biography, Deidre Bair claims de Beauvoir was deeply troubled by Vian's death as late as 1962, byt Les Temps Moderne never even ran an obituary for their former columnist.

-- Jeremy Barker (, September 06, 2003



The connections between Satre and the Vians I think are very complicated. If you read "Froth on the Daydream" Stanley Chapman's translation of L'ecume you will see that Vian hilariously pillories Satre's "fame".

My knowledge of the period is sketchy, I have never been fortunate to be immersed In French culture long enough to learn its literary and philosphicval history.

I can offer but a few personal (and probably unfoundsed) observations.

Principally, Satre believed in group action and Vian didn't. Vian felt no matter what side the group was on, it had its rules and therefore obedience and "disobedience".

Vian was an individualist. He never gave up (for any cause or any other reason) his right to be inappropriate, playful, maverick. Vian played around with his column so much they had to drop him. He even used it to attack Combat's position. Not that he opposed it, he was just misbehaving.

His only adherence to a group was the College du Pataphyisique - a kind of Silly People's Party celebrating Alfred Jarry's sense of the absurd -- you can get the sense of it in Jarry's Adventures of Dr Faustroll.

Sartre and de Beauvoir loved Boris and promoted him often. Satre nominated Vian for the a celebrated price for a novel, probably L'Ecume. Satre certainly had a relationship with Vian's first wife Michele. I didn't know the separation was messy.


-- Robert Whyte (, September 06, 2003.

Thanks for the reply. I haven't had a chance to read all of the thesis paper yet but it seems quite interesting.

-- Jeremy Barker (, September 06, 2003.

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