French existentialist literature was born in response to the horrors of World War II. The two most prominent representatives of French existentialism were Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. Both writers were once friends, but their differing approaches to existentialism drove them apart. Camus believed that people should appreciate the life they have, rather than focus on the meaninglessness of a world without God. Sartre believed that people should take agency for their own lives to achieve a state of higher consciousness called “pour-soi.” Sartre’s ideas of self-agency were sometimes problematic, however, in that they ascribed inferiority to selected groups and advocated for violence as a means to an end.
Ellis, Braiden, "La liberté face à l’absurde : comment exister dans le monde moderne" (2023). World Languages and Cultures Senior Capstones. 7.