Paul Nizan, communiste impossible
(Paul Nizan, the impossible communist)
with contributions from Henriette Nizan
1980 commemorated the fortieth anniversary of the death of Paul Nizan. Over the past few years we have been rediscovering his writings as a novelist, philosopher, journalist and critic, thanks in particular to Jean-Paul Sartre. Nizan was a member of the French Communist Party from 1928 to 1939. He resigned after the German-Soviet pact and was killed by German bullets at Dunkirk. His resignation, his tragic death, the slanderous campaign immediately unleashed by the Communist Party, have all contributed to create a halo of legend around his name. We needed to discover the man, and the tragic story of an impossible communist behind his legend.
Two voices come together in this book, in which Henriette Nizan has accepted to recount her memories for the first time. The author, Annie Cohen-Solal, has scrutinised a pile of unpublished documents and astonishing testimonials, such as those of Louis Aragon and Raymond Aron. The outcome is a mighty fresco of the pre-war years, underlaid by one obsessional question: how could anyone, then or now, be an intellectual and a communist, simultaneously and without heartbreak?