Adonis Diaries

The secret meeting of The Being and the Giant: Jean Paul Sartre and Charles De Gaulle

Posted on: November 1, 2015

The secret meeting of The Being and the Giant: Jean Paul Sartre and Charles De Gaulle

Jean Paul Sartre and Charles De Gaulle met in secrecy on May 18, 1969 between 11 pm and 2 am in the town of Sneem in Ireland, in the province of Kerry, close to Heron’s Cove where his wife Yvonne and him were settled during their vacation.

De Gaulle had resigned a year ago from power and refused to meddle in the presidential campaign that was raging in France.

Maurice Clavel arranged for this secret meeting by whisking Sartre clandestinely to the meeting place. The two men wanted that the conversation to be kept secret and not to talk about the conversation to anyone and no one was with them to record the communication.

Sartre had written “ L’Etre et le Neant” (The being and the void) and had declined the Nobel of literature for his book “Les Mots“. A decision that frustrated President de Gaulle because it touched the honor of France.

Bernard Fauconnier asked Sartre to write about the meeting and he was to submit the draft to Sartre. The latter died before reading the manuscript.  Fauconnier published his book in 1989.

Did Sartre divulged anything? Did De Gaulle transmit any thing from the conversation?  Or this conversation is a fiction gathered from the literature and stories of these two men?

Apparently, de Gaulle was worried about the Future and wanted to listen to the input of Sartre on the future. Probably, de Gaulle wanted to influence Sartre to convey his worries since the philosopher fascinated the new generations, was considered the godfather of the recurring upheavals and de Gaulle admitted that Sartre was doing well in his mission.

Jean Paul Sartre (this 150 cm and very ugly French philosopher) crossed all the red lines confounding the common sense consensus in the French and European communities.

When Sartre entered the room, de Gaulle was taking a nap and he didn’t stand up to meet Sartre.

De Gaulle was curious: Did you understand anything from the May 1968 upheaval by the youth? My first impression was that these rich kids organized a vast carnival but I had to take action.

Sartre: The movement has taken me by surprise. I met with the youth and followed their discussions but I remained clueless as to their purposes. It was an important symptom, but Not an event. The youth didn’t want to change the world: They wanted to change their traditional life, a path course that was determined by their parents and the community.

De Gaulle was upset that Sartre had signed on a letter that encouraged killing for a cause…

Jean Paul Sartre wrote: When we transcend our pen for a sword, we inevitably end up signing on calls for murder.

De Gaulle said:  We pretended to fight confused passions. We struggled for a cohort of denied and refused principles. And we strove to pay back a very cruel reality.

Jean Paul Sartre told de Gaulle: When I read what I published decades ago, I don’t understand much of what I meant. It is as my double was dictating to me. All these lucubration trying to affirm the free-will of individuals and encouraging them to stand fast. It is my double the clever one and I have been carrying him all along.

Sartre poured some whiskey in the glass of de Gaulle who reacted obfuscated. Sartre said: Come on. This time it is a little for France.  De Gaulle laughed internally and had tears. He said: If Yvonne could see me laughing. I have been told you are the Devil.

Sartre retorted: That would make you the Good God? You see, we always end up talking about our women.

Simone de Beauvoir is far more intelligent than I: She see everything and comprehend everything. For me, I am this hard working writer, and nothing comes easily to me.

De Gaulle: Why you never married Simone?

Sartre: I proposed to her long time ago but she didn’t care for marriage. It is better that way: I wouldn’t have been that prolific in my writing. I wonder what I would have done if I had kids.

De Gaulle: I couldn’t imagine you having children. It is like Flaubert, Stendhal, Balzac, Chateaubriand… You writers are like religious clerics, you live an apostolic style, churning out book after book

Sartre: Apparently I have a daughter.

De Gaulle: That is refreshing to know and I’m glad for you. You can consider yourself among the normal people after all.

De Gaulle was feeling slightly tipsy after two shots, even though Sartre had already emptied half the bottle. He said:

A person is but two dates: When he is born and the other date is inscribed without his consent. Do you believe in the role of the individual?

Sartre: Yes, I do. A game of dupes.

De Gaulle: You wouldn’t have tackled all these problems if you didn’t believe in the individual. Otherwise, you would have behaved as a fascist or a true Communist who care only for the masses.

De Gaulle resumed: If I couldn’t write and talk and converse, I would have let go of all these struggles for power. Reasonably, you should not have kept any friend siding with him, but you have been the conscious of Europe for many decades.  Simply, save the grain. Avoid inciting or fomenting further useless catastrophes and killing.

Sartre didn’t regret what he wrote: It was too late to back track and regurgitate many of the non-sense that circumstances cornered him into taking dubious positions.

What Sartre was convinced of was that the western societies will tremble from the mass uprising of the third world for all the damages and plunders they effected upon these people. The Western nations will have to pay dearly, but at the end the reparation will be in blood.

Note 1: Andre Malraux also had a final conversation with de Gaulle and published “Les chenes qu’on abat” in 1971 (after de gaulle passed away). Malraux is to have commented “After Auschwitz, all tragedies are insignificant”. If Malraux lived long enough he would have witnessed the genocides in Cambodia by the Red Khmer, Rwanda, Congo, kid soldiers, food embargo on Iraq. De Gaulle considered Mao of China as the biggest criminal in history who let millions of his people die of hunger.

Note 2: De Gaulle wanted to visit Ireland because his grandmother was Irish. He insisted on visiting Derrynane to pay a tribute to Daniel O’Connell who joined the Irish brigade during the French revolution. Daniel returned to Ireland totally disgusted with the excesses committed by the revolution and preferred exile to joining confrontations with the British in Ireland.

Note 3: During the conversation, de Gaulle reminisced of his stay in Lebanon in the 30’s and said that the girls in Lebanon were more beautiful than anywhere else. (Currently, it is Brazil ranked #1 for beautiful women. Probably, the beautiful girls of Lebanon had immigrated to Brazil since then)

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adonis49

adonis49

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