Paul Nizan at the Prix Interallie for "La Conspiration", "L'Ouest-Éclair", on December 8, 1938
23 Rue Clovis, 75005 Paris, France
Paul Nizan attended one of France’s most prestigious high schools the Lycée Henri IV, where he met and became friends with Jean-Paul Sartre.
45 Rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris, France
Nizan studed at the École Normale Supérieure of the University of Paris, but interrupted his studies in 1926 to leave for Aden.
Paul Nizan and his friend Jean-Paul Sartre.
(It is one of the truly great Marxist novels, a work that ...)
It is one of the truly great Marxist novels, a work that incorporates the imagination of Marx to treat of the alienation of ordinary men from their fellow and their work, yet does so without once becoming scolding, combative, or sneering.
(The Conspiracy is the last and most acclaimed novel by Fr...)
The Conspiracy is the last and most acclaimed novel by French writer and activist Paul Nizan, who died two years after its publication fighting the Germans at the Battle of Dunkirk. Hailed by Jean-Paul Sartre as Nizan’s masterpiece, the book centers upon the figure of Bertrand Rosenthal, a misguided philosophy student studying in pre-war Paris. Eager to foment a revolution and having little grasp of his own motives, Rosenthal draws a small group of disciples into a conspiracy both fatuous and deadly. Simultaneously, he plunges into a forbidden - and ultimately tragic - love affair as the intertwined plots move inexorably toward their twin destinations of betrayal and death. The Conspiracy won the coveted Prix Interallié in 1938.
Paul Nizan attended one of France’s most prestigious high schools the Lycée Henri IV, where he met and became friends with Jean-Paul Sartre. So close was their friendship that, as Sartre was later to recount, they were often confused for each other.
Nizan then studied at the École Normale Supérieure of the University of Paris, but interrupted his studies in 1926 to leave for Aden. But later he returned to the École Normale Supérieure and graduated from there in 1929.
Paul Nizan spent the years 1926-1927 in Aden as a tutor to the son of French-born businessman-millionaire Antonin Besse, which provided the material for perhaps his best-known book, "Aden, Arabie" (1931). The following year he published his attack on bourgeois philosophy and philosophers, "Les Chiens de Garde", and then in 1933 "Antoine Bloyé", a sympathetic fictionalized account of his father’s life.
After joining the French Communist Party (PCF) in 1927, Nizan began writing for and editing various Communist publications. He spent the year 1934 in Moscow at the Marx-Engels Institute, participating in the first congress of the Union of Soviet Writers.
Nizan later took up a professorship teaching literature, during which time he took on a reputation among students as an affable and relaxed professor, sometimes even offering his students cigarettes during class. As a teacher, he was reticent about his own perspective on Marxist theory, instead encouraging his students to arrive independently at their own conclusions. Through this period, up to the onset of World War II, Nizan penned all of his major works, including "The Watchdogs", an exposé on materialist philosophy, and the novels Antoine Bloye and The Conspiracy.
Nizan enlisted to fight in the French army with the onset of World War II, and was killed in the Battle of Dunkirk while part of the French rearguard protecting the British evacuation.
Nizan's political views took a number of sporadic turns throughout the course of his life, with Sartre noting that Nizan in his youth had vacillated between fascist and communist sympathies, attracted to both extremes of the political spectrum. Nizan also approached the priesthood as a young man but soon turned away from that decision.
Paul Nizan joined the French Communist Party (PCF) in 1927, and began writing for and editing various Communist publications, and had his works sold in party bookstores. While Nizan was a loyal adherent to the policies of the Communist Party, his writings anticipate elements of postwar radical existentialism, leaving the contemporary reader with an ambiguous image of Nizan's political standing.
Nizan was head of the foreign politics section of the Communist paper "Ce Soir" from 1937 to 1939, and on September 25, 1939 he left the PCF after the signature of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. Given his active participation in the anti-fascist movement, as well as his commitment to the republican cause of the Spanish Civil War, Nizan could not accept the party's rapid shift against the popular front.
Paul Nizan married Henriette Alphen in 1927. They had two children - Aine-Marie and Patrick.