85 Years Ago: Simone de Beauvoir and John Paul Sartre Behind The Trigger

simone-de-beauvoir-jean-paul-sartre-fairground-at-porte-d_orlc3a9ans-1929

As begins L. P. Hartley’s novel The Go-Between: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

Indeed, they do. Almost exactly 85 years ago, existentialist philosopher and feminist Simone de Beauvoir visited a fairground attraction with existentialist and Marxist Jean-Paul Sartre, at the very beginning of their long-lasting relationship. The attraction? A shooting gallery that took your picture when you hit the target.

Despite her closed eyes, the photograph is evidence that she didn’t miss.

To read more, follow the link.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • DiverEngrSL17K

    Excellent article and link, Nathaniel — many thanks! A really interesting perspective on two of history’s best-known social idealists, who really believed in the principles of their chosen philosophies, and before the harsh reality that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” had sunk in ( this applies to any political and social system, regardless, as history has repeatedly demonstrated — a most unfortunate product of human nature and the human condition in general ).

    BTW, is it possible that Madame Beauvoir just happened to be caught with her eyes shut in the instant when she blinked and the photograph was taken, or did she really squeeze them shut while flinching at the moment of firing?

    • Not sure, Diver, I wasn’t there!

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        I know, but thanks all the same and kudos for posting this interesting article :).

    • Julio

      I’d assumed it was a reaction to the flash gun going off, not the one she is holding.

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        I think you’re right — good call!

  • Manny Fal

    Existentialists and feminists shouldn’t be on this gun blog just because they held a gun. More appropriate are warlords and dictators.

    • iksnilol

      Really, are we getting into a political discussion on a blog that “Firearms, not politics” as its tagline?

      To be honest, what have existentialists and feminists done to you?

      • mikewest007

        I don’t know, but I’m regretting that warlords and dictators didn’t do anything to him. I heard some of them are real… fun guys.

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      You have an appropriate point there, but since we already know that warlords and dictators are usually already familiar with firearms due to their backgrounds and tend to rule at the point of a gun ( a flagrant misuse and abuse of a valuable tool in the course of establishing the personal will to power and dominion ), it can be much more interesting to see an interest in firearms among persons whom one would not normally expect to have such an interest to begin with.

    • I see that the significance of marksmanship photo booths being common at local fairgrounds 85 years ago is lost on you.

  • FourString

    I mean I always knew shooting firearms was an existentialist affair… ;]

  • Edwin

    When someone sends you a tip or link like this, you should really give them credit. It’s the polite thing to do.

    • tincankilla

      or if you pick it up from another blog or forum.