The Introduction begins by exploring the evolution of France's policy of assimilation before charting its effects on francophone intellectuals. This introduction to the problems and paradoxes of anti-colonial humanism is then juxtaposed with an exploration of conceptions of intellectual work in twentieth-century France: the figures explored in the study evidently both engage with, and depart from, the sorts of work carried out by Sartre and Camus. Finally, the Introduction discusses the fraught status of the role of literature in contemporary postcolonial studies, and suggests that the period leading up to decolonisation generated both a particularly intense and, at times, a particularly conflicted dialogue between the literary and the political.
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