Synopses & Reviews
is the last and most acclaimed novel by French writer and activist Paul Nizan, who died two years after its publication fighting the Germans at the Battle of Dunkirk. Hailed by Jean-Paul Sartre as Nizan’s masterpiece, the book centers upon the figure of Bertrand Rosenthal, a misguided philosophy student studying in pre-war Paris. Eager to foment a revolution and having little grasp of his own motives, Rosenthal draws a small group of disciples into a conspiracy both fatuous and deadly. Simultaneously, he plunges into a forbidden—and ultimately tragic—love affair as the intertwined plots move inexorably toward their twin destinations of betrayal and death.
The Conspiracy won the coveted Prix Interallié in 1938. This new edition includes Walter Benjamin’s critique of the book, available here for the first time in English.
"A complex mixture of history and analysis constitutes the great value of Nizan's book ... A hard, true testimony at a time when 'the Young' are forming groups and congratulating themselves, when the young man thinks he has rights because he is young." Jean-Paul Sartre
"It is a delicate, sometimes lyrical, evocation of the atmosphere and attitudes of the late Twenties. It catches the tone of youthful conversation and shows the interplay between intelligence and absurdity, feeling and frivolity, without any of the propagandist simplifications one might have expected from a Communist writer dealing with the privileged denizens of the Ecole Normale Supérieure ... The Conspiracy is a genuine piece of literature." John Weightman
The Conspiracy, winner of the Prix Interallié in 1938, was Paul Nizan's last novel and was hailed by Jean-Paul Sartre as his masterpiece. It is centered upon the figure of Bertrand Rosenthal, philosophy student at the Ecole Normale, would-be revolutionary and scion of a haut- bourgeois Jewish family. Seeking to prove his commitment to the cause of Revolution by moving from words to deeds, Rosenthal involves his little group of disciples in a conspiracy as fatuous as that devised by Conrad in The Secret Agent. Simultaneously, he plunges into a forbidden--and ultimately tragic--love affair. The intertwined plots move inexorably towards their twin destinations of betrayal and death.
This new edition makes available for the first time in English Walter Benjamin's political assessment of the book.
A sardonic reflection on the idealisms and absurdities of intellectual youth.
About the Author
was born in Tours, France in 1905, the son of a railway engineer. A close friend of Sartre at the Lycée Henri IV and at the Ecole normale supérieure, he joined the Communist Party in the late 1920s and became one of its best-known journalists and intellectuals. His works include Aden, Arabie
; Les Chiens de Garde
; Antoine Bloyé
; and Le Cheval de Troie
. In 1939, following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Nizan left the party and was killed the following year in the Battle of Dunkirk fighting against the German army.
Jean-Paul Sartre was a prolific philosopher, novelist, public intellectual, biographer, playwright and founder of the journal Les Temps Modernes. Born in Paris in 1905 and died in 1980, Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964—and turned it down. His books include Nausea, Intimacy, The Flies, No Exit, Sartre’s War Diaries, Critique of Dialectical Reason, and the monumental treatise Being and Nothingness.
Walter Benjamin was a German-Jewish Marxist literary critic, essayist, translator, and philosopher. He was at times associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory and is the author of Illuminations, The Arcades Project, and The Origin of German Tragic Drama.
Quintin Hoare is the director of the Bosnian Institute and has translated numerous works by Sartre, Antonio Gramsci, and other French authors. He lives in the United Kingdom.