I'm looking for an English expression as I'd like to form a special interest group on the international level. In French, the expression is écrivain engagé. This is along the lines of "literature of commitment" which is defined as follows:

"Literature of commitment" is the act, for a writer or artist, to formulate commentary or criticism, even though he is supposed to write up a dissertation with beauty being the only objective, this commentary being a way to serve a human ideal. This concept is opposed to that of art being carried out solely for artistic purposes and mostly developed around the twentieth century.

I've come across "committed writer" but the hits on Google seem to indicate that it isn't used in the same fashion. George Orwell is the kind of writer we're thinking of here.

  • 3
    "Propagandist" has the closest denotational meaning, although the connotation is quite negative in English,. Aug 22 '12 at 21:50
  • 2
    @MarkBeadles I don't think “propagandist” is right, it's too strong (besides being pejorative). Maybe something about writing for a cause? Aug 22 '12 at 22:00
  • 1
    While Britannica suggests “literature of commitment” for littérature engagée, “committed writer” doesn't sound right. Aug 22 '12 at 22:03
  • 2
    @James Poulson: I think that's a somewhat waffly definition you've cited, and I don't recall "Literature of commitment" being a known term when I was getting my degree in English and French Language & Literature. But I do know "committed writer" was commonly used. More of French than English writers - George Orwell was a notable exception, but at the time we seemed to discuss his commitment to righting the wrongs in Spain more than his commitment to guarding against totalitarianism in Britain. Aug 22 '12 at 23:04
  • 3
    I deleted a slew of comments to reduce the confusion following the bouncing back and forth. I also made some edits to try to make this question more topical for our site. I will leave it for the community to decide if it should be reopened or if it needs more editing.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Aug 23 '12 at 0:11

When I read this question (over on French.SE), I immediately thought I would translate it with “a writer with a cause”. Two things confirm this first intuition: 1. Gilles agrees, 2. it is actually used out there in the wild…

  • 1
    Brilliant. This is a great fit. Thank you very much :) .
    – James P.
    Aug 23 '12 at 10:03
  • 1
    It sounds good, I agree. Talking about Sartre, English Wikipedia translates the concept with actively committed to causes. "Littérature engagée" is a typically French concept, which does not mean it doesn't exist in literature in other languages, of course : Orwell, Brinks, to name a few.
    – None
    Aug 23 '12 at 11:17
  • Here's an update. I've launched a page on the world's most famous social network with the intention of creating a special interest group. Show support if you're registered on there and thanks again F'x :) facebook.com/DevelopersWithACause
    – James P.
    Aug 29 '12 at 0:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.