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Madah-Sartre: The Kidnapping, Trial, and…

Madah-Sartre: The Kidnapping, Trial, and Conver(sat/s)ion of Jean-Paul…

by Alek Baylee Toumi

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A French play about the kidnapping of the (deceased) Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir by Muslim terrorists. The two French intellectuals had come back to attend the funeral of a friend who had been murdered in Algeria, and on the way back, were kidnapped and their captors attempted to convert them to Islam. This is an interesting premise, but not as well executed as it could have been. There is a lot of posturing by both parties, and the result is more a debate than a play, but Sartre seems strangely less than his usual self. I suppose that's natural when you've been dead 13 years, but that's the point. If, as he claimed, Sartre had been living in heaven and had actually spoken with God, he would not have still claimed to be an atheist. This is a big hold, and one you can drive a truck through, but it isn't the only weakness. There is a strange subplot about a wounded taxi driver that could be interesting as its own play, but it doesn't add anything here. In addition, there is very little of de Beauvoir, an intellectual in her own right who is left with the women, as would be expected, but has been rendered silent for much of the play, while Sartre and his captors debate. There is one small scene with her, and then the play ends with her, but otherwise she is definitely the second sex. The God described by Sartre is the typical liberal God - female, of course, and fun-loving, who lets people into heaven if they've helped the world be better. In fact, the God he describes sounds so boring I can't imagine Sartre would have stayed in heaven for 13 years. Disappointing. ( )
  Devil_llama | Dec 9, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0803211155, Paperback)

“Hell is other people,” Jean-Paul Sartre famously wrote in No Exit. The fantastic tragicomedy Madah-Sartre brings him back from the dead to confront the strange and awful truth of that statement. As the story begins, Sartre and his consort in intellect and love, Simone de Beauvoir, are on their way to the funeral of Tahar Djaout, an Algerian poet and journalist slain in 1993. En route they are kidnapped by Islamic terrorists and ordered to convert . . . or die. Since they are already dead, fearless Sartre gives the terrorists a chance to convince him with reason.
What follows is, as James D. Le Sueur writes in his introduction, “one of the most imaginative and provocative plays of our era.” Sartre, one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century, finds himself in an absurd yet deadly real debate with armed fanatics about terrorism, religion, intellectuals, democracy, women’s rights, and secularism, trying to bring his opponents back to their senses in an encounter as disturbing as it is compelling.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:01 -0400)

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