Reading the transcript of Sartre’s Rome lecture—along with the discussion that followed it, recently published in French—confronts us with an alternative which, while undecidable, opens up multiple interpretations. For it is on the one hand the record of an event, the encounter between the Sartre of the Critique of Dialectical Reason, already involved in his work on Flaubert, and a number of important Italian Marxists, many of them members of the Italian Communist Party, at the Gramsci Institute in Rome in 1961. This is then an interaction of great historical interest: documenting Sartre’s approach to the Communist Party fully as much as his approach to Marxism itself—the Italian Party being a good deal more hospitable to such an exchange of views than the French one—and also testifying to the vitality and the variety of philosophical commitments of the Italian Marxism of this period.
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