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Publisher’s Note

This is particularly true in the works which he produced during the World War II era. Having been drafted into the French Army in , Sartre was taken prisoner-of-war in with the fall of France. This experience was important for two reasons: 1 it sharpened his political position as a leftist thinker who decried the fascism that threatened Europe at that time, and 2 it provided the occasion for his first venture into playwriting; he wrote a Christmas play based on a biblical theme and addressed it to his fellow prisoners-of-war. He was released in , and from that moment he committed himself firmly to the activities of the Resistance.

In , Sartre gave up teaching and devoted himself entirely to his writing; his busy schedule would no longer permit the drudgery of traditional employment. Sartre's pre-war work is largely a defense of individual freedom and human dignity; in his post-war writing, he elaborates on these themes and strongly emphasizes the idea of social responsibility; this latter development was influenced by his growing admiration of Marxist thinking.

In , Sartre presented his first play, The Flies, as well as his monumental philosophical treatise, Being and Nothingness, both of which established him as one of France's most profound and gifted writers. A year later, he wrote No Exit, another attempt to reveal his ideas about freedom and the human condition. As the leading French exponent of existentialism, Sartre was prepared to use any literary form or genre to communicate his ideas widely. The theater was a good way of doing this, but he also felt that the novel might also prove to be useful. So in , he published the first two volumes of a proposed four-volume series entitled The Roads to Freedom.

The first two volumes, The Age of Reason and The Reprieve, were the only ones which he completed until , when he finished Iron in the Soul. At that time, he decided that the novel was not as effective a genre as the theater, so he abandoned plans to write a fourth installment.

Sartre: A Philosophical Biography

The years between volumes two and three were feverish ones for Sartre; he wrote plays The Respectable Prostitute, ; The Chips are Down, ; and Dirty Hands, , literary criticism, and a significant philosophical essay delivered originally as a lecture to the "Club Maintenant" Existentialism Is a Humanism, All of this work served to reinforce the basic principles of existential thought which Sartre had announced earlier, and it prepared him for a decade during which he again returned to the theater as a means of popularizing his ideas.

He wanted to show humanity as it is, and he realized that the theater was the best place to demonstrate man in action, in dramatic circumstance, and in the midst of living. All of Sartre's plays show the raw passions of frustrated humankind — and although the plays sometime seem pessimistic, Sartre defended them vehemently on the grounds that they do not exclude the notion of salvation. He believed, as we shall see elsewhere in these Notes, that commitment was essential for human freedom and dignity, and that commitment was "an act, not a word.

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In , he wrote the extremely dense and complicated Critique of Dialectical Reason, a political treatise which contains the essay "Search for a Method. In , Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize for his literary achievements. His autobiographical work, The Words, was hailed by readers and critics alike as being "one of the most remarkable books of the twentieth century" Washington Star.

But Sartre refused the Nobel Prize, eschewing it as a cultural symbol with which he did not wish to be associated. The last years of Sartre's life were consumed with his work on Flaubert, the nineteenth-century French novelist. He sought to present a "total biography" of Flaubert through the use of Marx's ideas on history and class as well as of Freud's explorations of the psyche. At Sartre's death in , only three of the proposed four volumes had been completed. Sartre was one of the most substantial thinkers and writers of the twentieth century and will remain known for his tireless contributions to existentialism.

By writing them, he chose to create visual pictures, containing his philosophical ideas, for audiences to hear and see. Baudelaire Situations I. Previous Section 7. Next Existentialism before Sartre.

Sartre's restorative conception of the narrative

Removing book from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title. Existentialism is a philosophy that is relatively modern.

Existentialism: Crash Course Philosophy #16

It is true that there are wide-ranging disagreements among existentialists such that Christians such as Kierkegaard and atheists such as Nietzsche are recognised as existentialist philosophers. The basic foundation of existentialism is not shaken by the opposing views of those two, and that is the belief that existence precedes essence. No one explores the depth and scope of this theme better and more persistently than Jean-Paul Sartre. This page book by Gary Cox is a handy, easy-to-read introduction to Sartre and his philosophy.


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Cox brings us to the early life of Sartre and the place that we have come to associate with him and vice versa — Paris. Sartre was born on 21 June Sartre was a precocious child and reader. He was a leader among his peers in spite of his seemingly physical frailty and poor physique. It may thus be a matter of some surprise that Sartre grew to have strong sexual stamina and developed a personality that women found attractive.

His infatuation with Olga had some unintended comic moments including a period where he tried to turn her into a philosophy teacher when she thought her calling was to be a waitress. He could see what was happening to the Jews, but could not push himself to do more in keeping with the philosophy that he was developing about that time. His great thesis encapsulated in Being and Nothingness was published in