Basically, our whole misadventure has been psychological, which it should never be, and we're both guilty of it: we agreed on that together.

Longue lettre autographe signée à François Darbon


Long autograph letter signed to François Darbon, director of the Altona hostages at the Théâtre de la Renaissance, 23 September 1959.




Long autograph letter signed to actor, writer, director François Darbon (1915-1998). Darbon was the director of the very first of the Altona hostages at the Théâtre de la Renaissance on 23 September 1959. The play was not as successful as expected and led to a rift between Sartre and Darbon. In May 68, Sartre agreed to a revival of the play, but in a perilous letter he tried to reconcile with Darbon, explaining that another director would be needed.

28 May 68

My dear Darbon

I was offered the chance to take over Les Séquestrés. I accept. It seems to me that, for many reasons that we both know, the play hasn't really had a chance. I would like it to be staged completely new. Ledoux, an excellent actor, knows that he has been badly cast (we knew it too, but there was no one else then); he has declared that he will not reprise his role. Perhaps Claude Dauphin will agree to play the part.

That leaves the two of us. I think, as we said together one day, that we need to get together again, that we need to work together, quietly, without mortgages. But I think you'll agree with me that it would be desirable for our future collaboration not to begin with the revival of this cursed play. We got off on the wrong foot; too many misunderstandings have accumulated and our relationship has lost its transparency. If we had to start again, we would lose a considerable amount of time undoing the bad habits we have acquired, breaking the silence that has separated us, regaining confidence in the actors, reinventing a style, a rhythm, a speed, weighed down as we would be by the weight of things already done. It would be a success for you and for me. For my part, I'd like to entrust the work to a good actor's director - because directing in the strict sense of the word is nothing more than setting the scene, giving a few xxx (from the author's point of view, strictly speaking) and, once I'm sure I've been understood, not meddling in it any more. This is not only my intention, but also a necessity: the Baret tour, which is at the origin of this whole affair, starts around December or the beginning of January. The idea is to give a series of limited performances (60 in principle - 75 if it works) starting in September and finishing in November. Rehearsals can only take place in August: I won't be there, or even in September for the dress rehearsal.

As for you, I don't know what you'll think: I hope this letter doesn't offend you too much, especially if you don't see it as a sign of mistrust. I will always be happy, I repeat, to work with you, I know the value of your work. I know that you have served other pieces admirably. Basically, our whole misadventure has been psychological, which it should never be, and we are both guilty of it: we agreed on that together. But it is precisely for this reason, and this reason alone, that I believe we have to break with the past and erase both of us before someone can look at the play with fresh eyes. I imagine that you will be a little disappointed (after all, your child has been stolen from you) and a little relieved. But I'd like you to tell me yourself what you think of all this and let's have a drink together one of these mornings (are you free around 12.30?) If you phone me ) ODE 86-53, your day will be mine. Please, my dear Darbon, accept my friendship. 

JP Sartre., Sheets,Two pages.

Blue ink, autograph envelope


Jean-Paul Sartre

(born on 21 June 1905 in the 16th arrondissement of Paris and died on 15 April 1980 in the 14th arrondissement)

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