Journal founded by Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre closes after 74 years
Simone de Beauvoir called its Sunday afternoon editorial meetings the highest form of friendship, but after 74 years Les Temps Modernes, the monthly journal she founded with Jean-Paul Sartre, has closed.
The death of its last editor, Claude Lanzmann, last July made the decision by its French publisher, Gallimard, to shut the magazine almost inevitable. Lanzmann, an early contributor and student of Sartre, had taken up the baton from De Beauvoir, a former lover, when she died in 1986. His passing broke the magic circle of history. Besides, who could today measure up to those three intellectual heavyweights?
Reading issues from its first decade feels as novel today as it did then. Its tone is original, the reportage reads like literature, the style is uncompromising, and the analysis combative. New Journalism is often considered to have emerged in New York in the late 1950s. But it could be argued it came from Paris in the late 1940s with Les Temps Modernes, which was among the first to break down the divide between literature and journalism.
The first issue in October 1945 provoked a big bang in journalism and politics, and not just in France.
Its manifesto was translated and published widely, including in Cyril Connollys Horizon in London. It read: Every writer of bourgeois origin has known the temptation of irresponsibility. I personally hold Flaubert personally responsible for the repression that followed the Commune because he did not write a line to try to stop it. It was not his business, people will perhaps say. Was the Calas trial Voltaires business? Was Dreyfuss condemnation Zolas business? We at Les Temps Modernes do not want to miss a beat on the times we live in. Our intention is to influence the society we live in. Les Temps Modernes will take sides.