Emma Barrett Fiedler


Drawing from the analysis of Sartre’s monumental biography of the French writer Gustave Flaubert and Bourdieu’s critical response to it, this article explores anew the dialectics of agency and coercion through the lenses of sartrian philosophy and bourdieusian sociology. From his birth to his childhood and his death in 1880, the biographical elements of the life of Madame Bovary’s author and the contents of his literary works were depicted by Sartre and Bourdieu in a dialogue questioning the writer’s individual goals, strategies, limits and fate. Put in a historical perspective, this socio-philosophical confrontation between the theoretical aims and methods of existentialist psychoanalysis and structuralist socio-analysis reopens the oldest of debates between actor-centered philosophy of action and socio-centered logic of practice, between the transcendence of ego and the transcendence of social, or freedom and determinism.

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Bourdieu/Sartre; Gustave Flaubert; literature; structuralism/phenomenology; psychoanalysis; existentialism

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