Updated with some comments from two blog readers – that there was an earlier question of Faut-il brûler le Louvre, and a later use of the term, with a suggestion of a longer historical lineage.
I had previously thought that the use of the expression ‘Faut-il brûler… ?’ – ‘must we burn.. ?’ someone or something was due to Simone de Beauvoir. Her text Faut-il brûlerSade? first appeared in Les temps modernes in 1951 and 1952, and was then collected in Privilèges in 1955 and later reprinted with the essay title as that of the book.
I’m uncomfortable with the use of the term ‘burn’, given the legacy of actual book burnings, though that is presumably part of the point of its use. But today I realised that Maurice Merleau-Ponty wrote a short piece entitled ‘Faut-il brûler Kafka’, which was first published in Action in 1946. It is collected in his
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