Existential Marxism in Postwar France: From Sartre to Althusser
by Mark Poster
# Hardcover: 415 pages
# Publisher: Princeton Univ (January 1977)
from a committed amazon reviewer:
Mark Poster walks the reader through sections of the history of 20th century French philosophy, delving a bit into other times and nations as well, in order to tell a story about what he terms "existential marxism". The sections on the influence of Hegel, as mediated by Kojeve and Hyppolite, are fairly good, though Vincent Descombes _Modern French Philosophy_ is better. Considering the importance that the early Marx has in Poster's narrative, Poster's handling of Marx and his French reception is a little quick, and doesn't offer as much as it should to readers unfamiliar with the _1844 Manuscripts_. Poster's discussion of existentialism is a little better, though the almost complete lack of attention to the philosophy Kierkegaard and Heidegger was a little puzzling. Poster's treatment of Merleau-Ponty is quite interesting, as is the relatively in depth section on Henri Lefebvre. Though it may not have been his intention, Poster demonstrates how Merleau-Ponty and Lefebvre prefigure a lot of ideas in parlance among 'postmodern' theorists, like the focus on ambiguity and open-endedness in M-P's case, and an analysis on the loss of signification and the alienation of every day life in Lefebvre's writing. Given Merleau-Ponty and Lefebvre's anticipation of and contributions to much of what are now considered 'postmodern' ideas, it's a shame the two are not more widely read. Hopefully Poster's sympathetic treatment will go a little ways to rectifying this.