Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs

Publication Date



The Ethics and Politics of Love focuses primarily upon Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, and Jean-Paul Sartre during the period 1935 to 1960, specifically the periods before and after the Second World War (1939 -- 1945), and the Franco-Algerian War (1954 -- 1962). I argue that inquiring into each thinker's theory of love yields crucial and hitherto unexplored insights into their ethical and political theories: "love" thus represents my particular Ariadne's thread to guide us into, and then back outside of their daunting oeuvres and singular lives. I use their documented thoughts on love as an analytical tool with which to interrogate the basic motivations for, and premises and conclusions of their ethics and politics. Their amorous theory thus essentially charts the main course of their engaged lives and works. This particular method of inquiry has been overlooked by both Anglophone and Francophone critics, and so my contribution yields new perspectives from which to critique the thought of three of the most influential authors and philosophers of twentieth-century France. The interpretive argument signposts the intellectual development of the three main protagonists alongside key historical events such as: the rise and fall of European fascism, the Occupation, the historical problematic of French colonial practices, and finally, each thinker's respective interventions in the Franco-Algerian War. The results are significant, offering novel explanations of the grounds for their socio-economic policy, political solidarity, wartime interventions, and the key political changes in their lives and works generally construed.


love ethics politics 20th century


The Carol Raymond Award

Document Type




Degree Name

French Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member (Chair)

Putnam, Walter

Second Committee Member

Bishop, Stephen

Third Committee Member

Thomson, Iain