Jean-Paul Sartre (June 21, 1905 - April 15, 1980) was a French existentialist philosopher, dramatist, novelist and critic.
Jean Paul SartreHis longtime companion was Simone de Beauvoir, whom he met at the École Normale Supérieure in 1929.
There were two main periods in his career. The first period was defined by his work Being and Nothingness. He believed in the fundamental freedom of human beings and reflected on what he saw as the unbearable nature of that freedom.
In the second major period in his career, Sartre was known as a politically engaged intellectual. He embraced Communism, though he never officially joined the Communist party. Sartre spent much of his life attempting to reconcile his existentialist ideas, which claimed that one must self-determine one's existence, with Communist principles, which taught that socioeconomic forces beyond one's control play a critical role in determining the course of one's life.
Nausea (La Nausée), 1938
The Wall (Le Mur), 1939
Being and Nothingness (L'Etre et le Néant), 1943
Existentialism and Humanism, 1946
Anti-Semite and Jew (Réflexions sur la question juive), 1943
Critique of Dialectical Reason (Critique de la raison dialectique)
No Exit (Huis-Clos), 1944
The Roads to Freedom (Les Chemins de la liberté) trilogy, comprising of:
The Age of Reason, 1945
The Reprieve, 1947
Iron in the Soul, 1949
The Words (les Mots), 1964 - autobiographical
The Flies, a play (Les Mouches), 1943
"Preface" to Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth
note: see the French version of this article for a more complete list of works
Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964, but refused it.
He is buried in Cimetière du Montparnasse, in Paris, France. There were 50,000 people present at his funeral.
Sartre equals Satire
Some men, due to the gravity with which they carry themselves, lend themselves readily to satire. Sartre, with his somber manner and complex ideas, has become one of the most frequently lampooned writers in history; these parodies range from the erudite to the ridiculous.
Here is a recipe for tuna casserole from the Jean-Paul Sartre Cookbook:
"Place the casserole dish in a cold oven. Place a chair facing the oven and sit in it forever. Think about how hungry you are. When night falls, do not turn on the light."
And here is a sketch entitled "Mrs. Premise and Mrs. Conclusion visit Jean-Paul Sartre," from episode 27 of Monty Python's Flying Circus.
Mrs Premise: Coo-ee! Jean-Paul? Jean-Paul! It's only us. Oh pardon ... c'est m'me nous...(They enter. We do not see Jean-Paul although we hear his voice.)
Mrs Premise: Jean-Paul. Your famous trilogy Rues i Liberte, is it an allegory of man's search for commitment?
Mrs Premise: I told you so.
Mrs Conclusion: Oh coitus.
And a line from an apocryphal Star Trek episode:
"I am Sartre of Borg. Your existence is futile."
Arguably, however, the greatest spoof of Sartre is Sartre himself. The stereotypical Frenchmen is disgusted by all things that do not meet his exacting standards of high culture; Sartre takes this to an unintentionally comedic extreme in Nausea by introducing a man who is revolted by the entire universe. In fact, given a bad French accent and a properly horrified demeanor, merely reading the book aloud can elicit laughter.
Heiner Wittmann. L'esthétique de Sartre. Artistes et intellectuels, traduit de l'allemand par N. Weitemeier et J. Yacar, Éditions L'Harmattan (Collection L'ouverture philosophique), Paris 2001.
H. Wittmann, Sartre und die Kunst. Die Porträtstudien von Tintoretto bis Flaubert, Gunter Narr Verlag, Tübingen 1996.