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The conclusions a writer must draw from this position were set forth in "Qu'est-ce
que la littérature?" (What Is Literature?), 1948: literature is no longer an activity
for itself, nor primarily descriptive of characters and situations, but is concerned
with human freedom and its (and the author's) commitment. Literature is committed;
artistic creation is a moral activity.
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Sartre is one of those writers for whom a determined philosophical position is the
centre of their artistic being. Although drawn from many sources, for example, Husserl's
idea of a free, fully intentional consciousness and Heidegger's existentialism,
the existentialism Sartre formulated and popularized is profoundly original. Its
popularity and that of its author reached a climax in the forties, and Sartre's
theoretical writings as well as his novels and plays constitute one of the main
inspirational sources of modern literature. In his philosophical view atheism is
taken for granted; the "loss of God" is not mourned. Man is condemned to freedom,
a freedom from all authority, which he may seek to evade, distort, and deny but
which he will have to face if he is to become a moral being. The meaning of man's
life is not established before his existence. Once the terrible freedom is acknowledged,
man has to make this meaning himself, has to commit himself to a role in this world,
has to commit his freedom. And this attempt to make oneself is futile without the
"solidarity" of others.