Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, ; ; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was a French people, French philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary criticism, literary critic. He was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialist, existentialism and Phenomenology (philosophy), phenomenology, and one of the leading figures in Twentieth-Century French Philosophy, 20th-century French philosophy and Marxism. His work has also influenced sociology, critical theory, post-colonial theory, and literary studies, and continues to influence these disciplines. Sartre was also noted for his open relationship with prominent feminist and fellow existentialist philosopher and writer Simone de Beauvoir. Together, Sartre and de Beauvoir challenged the culture, cultural and society, social assumptions and expectations of their upbringings, which they considered bourgeois, in both lifestyles and thought. The conflict between oppressive, spiritually destructive conformity (psychology), conformity (''mauvaise foi'', literally, 'bad faith (existentialism), bad faith') and an "authenticity (philosophy), authentic" way of "being" became the dominant theme of Sartre's early work, a theme embodied in his principal philosophical work ''Being and Nothingness'' (''L'Être et le Néant'', 1943). Sartre's introduction to his philosophy is his work ''Existentialism Is a Humanism'' (''L'existentialisme est un humanisme'', 1946), originally presented as a lecture. He was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature despite attempting to refuse it, saying that he always declined official honors and that "a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution."


Early life

Jean-Paul Sartre was born on 21 June 1905 in Paris as the only child of Jean-Baptiste Sartre, an officer of the French Navy, and Anne-Marie (Schweitzer). His mother was of Alsace, Alsatian origin and the first cousin of Nobel Prize laureate Albert Schweitzer, whose father Louis Théophile was the younger brother of Anne-Marie's father. When Sartre was two years old, his father died of an illness, which he most likely contracted in French Indochina, Indochina. Anne-Marie moved back to her parents' house in Meudon, where she raised Sartre with help from her father Charles Schweitzer, a teacher of German who taught Sartre mathematics and introduced him to classics, classical literature at a very early age. When he was twelve, Sartre's mother remarried, and the family moved to La Rochelle, where he was frequently bullied, in part due to the wandering of his blind right eye (sensory exotropia). As a teenager in the 1920s, Sartre became attracted to philosophy upon reading Henri Bergson's essay ''Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness''. He attended the Cours Hattemer, a private school in Paris. He studied and earned certificates in psychology, history of philosophy, logic, general philosophy, ethics and sociology, and physics, as well as his ' (roughly equivalent to an Master of Arts, MA thesis) in Paris at the École normale supérieure, an institution of higher education that was the alma mater for several prominent French thinkers and intellectuals. (His 1928 M.A. thesis under the title "L'Image dans la vie psychologique: rôle et nature" ["Image in Psychological Life: Role and Nature"] was supervised by Henri Delacroix.) It was at ENS that Sartre began his lifelong, sometimes fractious, friendship with Raymond Aron. Perhaps the most decisive influence on Sartre's philosophical development was his weekly attendance at Alexandre Kojève's seminars, which continued for a number of years. From his first years in the École normale supérieure, École normale, Sartre was one of its fiercest pranksters. In 1927, his antimilitarist satirical cartoon in the revue of the school, coauthored with Georges Canguilhem, particularly upset the director Gustave Lanson. In the same year, with his comrades Nizan, Larroutis, Baillou and Herland, he organized a media prank following Charles Lindbergh's successful New York City–Paris flight; Sartre & Co. called newspapers and informed them that Lindbergh was going to be awarded an honorary École degree. Many newspapers, including ''Le Petit Parisien'', announced the event on 25 May. Thousands, including journalists and curious spectators, showed up, unaware that what they were witnessing was a stunt involving a Lindbergh look-alike. The public's resultant outcry forced Lanson to resign. In 1929 at the École normale, he met Simone de Beauvoir, who studied at the University of Paris, Sorbonne and later went on to become a noted philosopher, writer, and feminist. The two became inseparable and lifelong companions, initiating a romantic relationship, though they were not Monogamy, monogamous. The first time Sartre took the agrégation, he failed. He took it a second time and virtually tied for first place with Beauvoir, although Sartre was eventually awarded first place, with Beauvoir second. From 1931 until 1945, Sartre taught at various lycées of Le Havre (at the Lycée de Le Havre, the present-day , 1931–1936), Laon (at the Lycée de Laon, 1936–37), and, finally, Paris (at the Lycée Pasteur (Neuilly-sur-Seine), Lycée Pasteur, 1937–1939, and at the Lycée Condorcet, 1941–1944; see #World War II, below). In 1932, Sartre read ''Journey to the End of the Night, Voyage au bout de la nuit'' by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, a book that had a remarkable influence on him. In 1933–34, he succeeded Raymond Aron at the Institut Français, Institut français d'Allemagne in Berlin where he studied Edmund Husserl's phenomenological philosophy. Aron had already advised him in 1930 to read Emmanuel Levinas's ''Théorie de l'intuition dans la phénoménologie de Husserl'' (''The Theory of Intuition in Husserl's Phenomenology''). The Neo-Hegelianism, neo-Hegelian revival led by Alexandre Kojève and Jean Hyppolite in the 1930s inspired a whole generation of French thinkers, including Sartre, to discover Hegel's ''The Phenomenology of Spirit, Phenomenology of Spirit''.

World War II

In 1939 Sartre was drafted into the French army, where he served as a meteorologist. He was captured by German troops in 1940 in Padoux, and he spent nine months as a prisoner of war—in Nancy, France, Nancy and finally in , Trier, where he wrote his first theatre, theatrical piece, ''Barionà, fils du tonnerre'', a drama concerning Christmas. It was during this period of confinement that Sartre read Martin Heidegger's ''Sein und Zeit'', later to become a major influence on his own essay on phenomenology (philosophy), phenomenological ontology. Because of poor health (he claimed that his poor eyesight and exotropia affected his balance) Sartre was released in April 1941. According to other sources, he escaped after a medical visit to the ophthalmologist. Given civilian status, he recovered his teaching position at Lycée Pasteur near Paris and settled at the Hotel Mistral. In October 1941 he was given a position, previously held by a Jewish teacher who had been forbidden to teach by Vichy anti-Jewish legislation, Vichy law, at Lycée Condorcet in Paris. After coming back to Paris in May 1941, he participated in the founding of the underground group ''Socialisme et Liberté'' ("Socialism and Liberty") with other writers Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Toussaint Desanti, Dominique Desanti, Jean Kanapa, and École Normale students. In spring of 1941, Sartre suggested with "cheerful ferocity" at a meeting that the ''Socialisme et Liberté'' assassinate prominent war collaborators like Marcel Déat, but de Beauvoir noted his idea was rejected as "none of us felt qualified to make bombs or hurl grenades". The British historian Ian Ousby observed that the French always had far more hatred for collaborators than they did for the Germans, noting it was French people like Déat that Sartre wanted to assassinate rather than the military governor of France, General Otto von Stülpnagel, and the popular slogan always was "Death to Pierre Laval, Laval!" rather than "Death to Hitler!". In August Sartre and de Beauvoir went to the French Riviera seeking the support of André Gide and André Malraux. However, both Gide and Malraux were undecided, and this may have been the cause of Sartre's disappointment and discouragement. ''Socialisme et liberté'' soon dissolved and Sartre decided to write instead of being involved in active resistance. He then wrote ''Being and Nothingness'', ''The Flies'', and ''No Exit'', none of which were censored by the Germans, and also contributed to both legal and illegal literary magazines. In his essay "Paris under the Occupation of France, Occupation", Sartre wrote that the "correct" behaviour of the Germans had entrapped too many Parisians into complicity with the occupation, accepting what was unnatural as natural:
The Germans did not stride, revolver in hand, through the streets. They did not force civilians to make way for them on the pavement. They would offer seats to old ladies on the Metro. They showed great fondness for children and would pat them on the cheek. They had been told to behave correctly and being well-disciplined, they tried shyly and conscientiously to do so. Some of them even displayed a naive kindness which could find no practical expression.
Sartre noted when Wehrmacht soldiers asked Parisians politely in their German-accented French for directions, people usually felt embarrassed and ashamed as they tried their best to help out the Wehrmacht which led Sartre to remark "We could not be ''natural''". French was a language widely taught in German schools and most Germans could speak at least some French. Sartre himself always found it difficult when a Wehrmacht soldier asked him for directions, usually saying he did not know where it was that the soldier wanted to go, but still felt uncomfortable as the very act of speaking to the Wehrmacht meant he had been complicit in the Occupation. Ousby wrote: "But, in however humble a fashion, everyone still had to decide how they were going to cope with life in a fragmenting society ... So Sartre's worries ... about how to react when a German soldier stopped him in the street and asked politely for directions were not as fussily inconsequential as they might sound at first. They were emblematic of how the dilemmas of the Occupation presented themselves in daily life". Sartre wrote the very "correctness" of the Germans caused moral corruption in many people who used the "correct" behavior of the Germans as an excuse for passivity, and the very act of simply trying to live one's day-to-day existence without challenging the occupation aided the "New Order (Nazism), New Order in Europe", which depended upon the passivity of ordinary people to accomplish its goals. Throughout the occupation, it was German policy to plunder France, and food shortages were always a major problem as the majority of food from the French countryside went to Germany. Sartre wrote about the "languid existence" of the Parisians as people waited obsessively for the one weekly arrival of trucks bringing food from the countryside that the Germans allowed, writing: "Paris would grow peaked and yawn with hunger under the empty sky. Cut off from the rest of the world, fed only through the pity or some ulterior motive, the town led a purely abstract and symbolic life". Sartre himself lived on a diet of rabbits sent to him by a friend of de Beauvoir living in Anjou, Isère, Anjou. The rabbits were usually in an advanced state of decay full of maggots, and despite being hungry, Sartre once threw out one rabbit as uneatable, saying it had more maggots in it than meat. Sartre also remarked that conversations at the Café de Flore between intellectuals had changed, as the fear that one of them might be a ''wiktionary:mouche, mouche'' (informer) or a writer of the ''wiktionary:corbeau, corbeau'' (anonymous denunciatory letters) meant that no one really said what they meant anymore, imposing self-censorship. Sartre and his friends at the Café de Flore had reasons for their fear; by September 1940, the ''Abwehr'' alone had already recruited 32,000 French people to work as ''mouches'' while by 1942 the Paris ''Kommandantur'' was receiving an average of 1,500 letters/per day sent by the ''corbeaux''. Sartre wrote under the occupation Paris had become a "sham", resembling the empty wine bottles displayed in shop windows as all of the wine had been exported to Germany, looking like the old Paris, but hollowed out, as what had made Paris special was gone. Paris had almost no cars on the streets during the occupation as the oil went to Germany while the Germans imposed a nightly curfew, which led Sartre to remark that Paris "was peopled by the absent". Sartre also noted that people began to disappear under the occupation, writing:
One day you might phone a friend and the phone would ring for a long time in an empty flat. You would go round and ring the doorbell, but no-one would answer it. If the ''concierge'' forced the door, you would find two chairs standing close together in the hall with the fag-ends of German cigarettes on the floor between their legs. If the wife or mother of the man who had vanished had been present at his arrest, she would tell you that he had been taken away by very polite Germans, like those who asked the way in the street. And when she went to ask what had happened to them at the 84 Avenue Foch, offices in the Avenue Foch or the Rue des Saussaies she would be politely received and sent away with comforting words" [No. 11 Rue des Saussaies was the headquarters of the Gestapo in Paris].
Sartre wrote the ''feldgrau'' ("field grey") uniforms of the Wehrmacht and the green uniforms of the Order Police which had seemed so alien in 1940 had become accepted, as people were numbed into accepting what Sartre called "a pale, dull green, unobtrusive strain, which the eye almost expected to find among the dark clothes of the civilians". Under the occupation, the French often called the Germans ''les autres'' ("the others"), which inspired Sartre's aphorism in his play ''Huis clos'' ("No Exit") of "''l'enfer, c'est les Autres''" ("Hell is other people"). Sartre intended the line "''l'enfer, c'est les Autres''" at least in part to be a dig at the German occupiers. Sartre was a very active contributor to ''Combat (newspaper), Combat'', a newspaper created during the clandestine period by Albert Camus, a philosopher and author who held similar beliefs. Sartre and de Beauvoir remained friends with Camus until 1951, with the publication of Camus's ''The Rebel (book), The Rebel''. Sartre wrote extensively post-war about neglected minority groups, namely French Jews and Black people in France, black people. In 1946, he published ''Anti-Semite and Jew,'' after having published the first part of the essay, “Portrait de l’antisémite,” the year before in ''Les Temps modernes, No. 3.'' In the essay, in the course of explaining the etiology of "hate," he attacks antisemitism in France during a time when the Jews who came back from concentration camps were quickly abandoned. In 1947, Sartre published several articles concerning the condition of African Americans in the United States—specifically the racism and discrimination against them in the country—in his second ''Situations'' collection. Then, in 1948, for the introduction of Léopold Sédar Senghor’s ''l’Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache (Anthology of New Negro and Malagasy Poetry)'', he wrote “Black Orpheus” (re-published in ''Situations III),'' a critique of colonialism and racism in light of the philosophy Sartre developed in ''Being and Nothingness.'' Later, while Sartre was labeled by some authors as a resistant, the French philosopher and resistant Vladimir Jankelevitch criticized Sartre's lack of political commitment during the German occupation, and interpreted his further struggles for liberty as an attempt to redeem himself. According to Camus, Sartre was a writer who resisted; not a resister who wrote. In 1945, after the war ended, Sartre moved to an apartment on the rue Bonaparte, where he was to produce most of his subsequent work and where he lived until 1962. It was from there that he helped establish a quarterly literary and political review, ''Les Temps modernes'' (''Modern Times''), in part to popularize his thought. He ceased teaching and devoted his time to writing and political activism. He would draw on his war experiences for his great trilogy of novels, ''Les Chemins de la Liberté'' (''The Roads to Freedom'') (1945–1949).

Cold War politics and anticolonialism

The first period of Sartre's career, defined in large part by ''Being and Nothingness'' (1943), gave way to a second period—when the world was perceived as split into communist and capitalist blocs—of highly publicized political involvement. Sartre tended to glorify the French Resistance, Resistance after the war as the uncompromising expression of morality in action, and recalled that the ''résistants'' were a "band of brothers" who had enjoyed "real freedom" in a way that did not exist before nor after the war. Sartre was "merciless" in attacking anyone who had collaborated or remained passive during the German occupation; for instance, criticizing Camus for signing an appeal to spare the collaborationist writer Robert Brasillach from being executed. His 1948 play ''Les mains sales'' (''Dirty Hands'') in particular explored the problem of being a politically "engaged" intellectual. He embraced Marxism but did not join the French Communist Party, Communist Party. For a time in the late 1940s, Sartre described French nationalism as "provincial" and in a 1949 essay called for a "United States of Europe". In an essay published in the June 1949 edition of the journal ''Politique étrangère'', Sartre wrote:
If we want French civilization to survive, it must be fitted into the framework of a great European civilization. Why? I have said that civilization is the reflection on a shared situation. In Italy, in France, in Benelux, in Sweden, in Norway, in Germany, in Greece, in Austria, everywhere we find the same problems and the same dangers ... But this cultural polity has prospects only as elements of a policy which defends Europe's cultural autonomy vis-à-vis America and the Soviet Union, but also its political and economic autonomy, with the aim of making Europe a single force between the blocs, not a third bloc, but an autonomous force which will refuse to allow itself to be torn into shreds between American optimism and Russian scientificism.
About the Korean War, Sartre wrote: "I have no doubt that the South Korean feudalists and the American imperialists have promoted this war. But I do not doubt either that it was begun by the North Koreans". In July 1950, Sartre wrote in ''Les Temps Modernes'' about his and de Beauvoir's attitude to the Soviet Union:
As we were neither members of the [Communist] party nor its avowed sympathizers, it was not our duty to write about Soviet labor camps; we were free to remain aloof from the quarrel over the nature of this system, provided that no events of sociological significance had occurred.
Sartre held that the Soviet Union was a "revolutionary" state working for the betterment of humanity and could be criticized only for failing to live up to its own ideals, but that critics had to take in mind that the Soviet state needed to defend itself against a hostile world; by contrast Sartre held that the failures of "bourgeois" states were due to their innate shortcomings. The Swiss journalist François Bondy wrote that, based on a reading of Sartre's numerous essays, speeches and interviews "a simple basic pattern never fails to emerge: social change must be comprehensive and revolutionary" and the parties that promote the revolutionary charges "may be criticized, but only by those who completely identify themselves with its purpose, its struggle and its road to power", deeming Sartre's position to be "existentialist". Sartre believed at this time in the moral superiority of the Eastern Bloc in spite of its human rights violations, arguing that this belief was necessary "to keep hope alive" and opposed any criticism of Soviet Union to the extent that Maurice Merleau-Ponty called him an "ultra-Bolshevik".Bondy, p. 33 Sartre's expression "workers of Billancourt must not be deprived of their hopes" (French language, Fr. "il ne faut pas désespérer Billancourt"), became a catchphrase meaning communist activists should not tell the whole truth to the workers in order to avoid decline in their revolutionary enthusiasm. In 1954, just after Stalin's death, Sartre Potemkin village, visited the Soviet Union, which he stated he found a "complete freedom of criticism" while condemning the United States for sinking into "prefascism". Sartre wrote about those Soviet writers expelled from the Soviet Writers' Union "still had the opportunity of rehabilitating themselves by writing better books". Sartre's comments on Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Hungarian revolution of 1956 are quite representative to his frequently contradictory and changing views. On one hand, Sartre saw in Hungary a true reunification between intellectuals and workers only to criticize it for "losing socialist base". He condemned the Soviet invasion of Hungary in November 1956. In 1964 Sartre attacked On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences, Khrushchev's "Secret Speech" which condemned the Stalinism, Stalinist repressions and Great Purge, purges. Sartre argued that "the masses were not ready to receive the truth". In 1973 he argued that "revolutionary authority always needs to get rid of some people that threaten it, and their death is the only way". A number of people, starting from Frank Gibney in 1961, classified Sartre as a "useful idiot" due to his uncritical position. Sartre came to admire the Polish leader Władysław Gomułka, a man who favored a "Polish road to socialism" and wanted more independence for Poland, but was loyal to the Soviet Union because of the Oder-Neisse line issue. Sartre's newspaper ''Les Temps Modernes'' devoted a number of special issues in 1957 and 1958 to Poland under Gomułka, praising him for his reforms. Bondy wrote of the notable contradiction between Sarte's "ultra Bolshevism" as he expressed admiration for the Chinese leader Mao Zedong as the man who led the oppressed masses of the Third World into revolution while also praising more moderate Communist leaders like Gomułka. As an anti-colonialist, Sartre took a prominent role in the struggle against French rule in Algeria, and the use of torture and concentration camps by the French in Algeria. He became an eminent supporter of the National Liberation Front (Algeria), FLN in the Algerian War and was one of the signatories of the ''Manifeste des 121''. Consequently, Sartre became a domestic target of the paramilitary Organisation armée secrète (OAS), escaping two bomb attacks in the early '60s. He later argued in 1959 that each French person was responsible for the collective crimes during the Algerian War of Independence. (He had an Algerian mistress, Arlette Elkaïm, who became his adopted daughter in 1965.) He opposed U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and, along with Bertrand Russell and others, organized a tribunal intended to expose U.S. war crimes, which became known as the Russell Tribunal in 1967. His work after Stalin's death, the ''Critique de la raison dialectique'' (''Critique of Dialectical Reason''), appeared in 1960 (a second volume appearing posthumously). In the ''Critique'' Sartre set out to give Marxism a more vigorous intellectual defense than it had received until then; he ended by concluding that Marx's notion of "class" as an objective entity was fallacious. Sartre's emphasis on the humanist values in the early works of Marx led to a dispute with a leading leftist intellectual in France in the 1960s, Louis Althusser, who claimed that the ideas of the young Marx were decisively superseded by the "scientific" system of the later Marx. In the late 1950s, Sartre began to argue that the European working classes were too apolitical to carry out the revolution predicated by Marx, and influenced by Frantz Fanon stated to argue it was the impoverished masses of the Third World, the "real damned of the earth", who would carry out the revolution. A major theme of Sarte's political essays in the 1960s was of his disgust with the "Americanization" of the French working class who would much rather watch American TV shows dubbed into French than agitate for a revolution. Sartre went to Cuba in the 1960s to meet Fidel Castro and spoke with Ernesto "Che" Guevara. After Guevara's death, Sartre would declare him to be "not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age" and the "era's most perfect man". Sartre would also compliment Guevara by professing that "he lived his words, spoke his own actions and his story and the story of the world ran parallel". However he stood against the persecution of gays by Castro's government, which he compared to Nazi persecution of the Jews, and said: "In Cuba there are no Jews, but there are homosexuals". During a collective hunger strike in 1974, Sartre visited Red Army Faction member Andreas Baader in Stammheim Prison and criticized the harsh conditions of imprisonment. Towards the end of his life, Sartre began to describe himself as a "special kind" of anarchist.

Late life and death

In 1964 Sartre renounced literature in a witty and sardonic account of the first ten years of his life, ''Les Mots'' (''The Words (book), The Words''). The book is an ironic counterblast to Marcel Proust, whose reputation had unexpectedly eclipsed that of André Gide (who had provided the model of ''littérature engagée'' for Sartre's generation). Literature, Sartre concluded, functioned ultimately as a bourgeois substitute for real commitment in the world. In October 1964, Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature but he declined it. He was the first Nobel laureate to voluntarily decline the prize, and remains one of only two laureates to do so. According to Lars Gyllensten, in the book ''Minnen, bara minnen'' ("Memories, Only Memories") published in 2000, Sartre himself or someone close to him got in touch with the Swedish Academy in 1975 with a request for the prize money, but was refused. In 1945, he had refused the Légion d'honneur. The Nobel prize was announced on 22 October 1964; on 14 October, Sartre had written a letter to the Nobel Institute, asking to be removed from the list of nominees, and warning that he would not accept the prize if awarded, but the letter went unread;Histoire de lettres Jean-Paul Sartre refuse le Prix Nobel en 1964
, Elodie Bessé
on 23 October, ''Le Figaro'' published a statement by Sartre explaining his refusal. He said he did not wish to be "transformed" by such an award, and did not want to take sides in an East vs. West cultural struggle by accepting an award from a prominent Western cultural institution. Nevertheless, he was that year's prizewinner. After being awarded the prize he tried to escape the media by hiding in the house of Simone's sister Hélène de Beauvoir in Goxwiller, Alsace. Though his name was then a household word (as was "existentialism" during the tumultuous 1960s), Sartre remained a simple man with few possessions, actively committed to causes until the end of his life, such as the May 1968 in France, May 1968 strikes in Paris during the summer of 1968 during which he was arrested for civil disobedience. President Charles de Gaulle intervened and pardoned him, commenting that "you don't arrest Voltaire". In 1975, when asked how he would like to be remembered, Sartre replied:
I would like [people] to remember ''Nausea'', [my plays] ''No Exit'' and ''The Devil and the Good Lord'', and then my two philosophical works, more particularly the second one, ''Critique of Dialectical Reason''. Then my essay on Jean Genet, Genet, ''Saint Genet''. ... If these are remembered, that would be quite an achievement, and I don't ask for more. As a man, if a certain Jean-Paul Sartre is remembered, I would like people to remember the milieu or historical situation in which I lived, ... how I lived in it, in terms of all the aspirations which I tried to gather up within myself.
Sartre's physical condition deteriorated, partially because of the merciless pace of work (and the use of amphetamine) he put himself through during the writing of the ''Critique'' and a massive analytical biography of Gustave Flaubert (''The Family Idiot''), both of which remained unfinished. He suffered from hypertension, and became almost completely blind in 1973. Sartre was a notorious chain smoker, which could also have contributed to the deterioration of his health. Pierre Victor (A.k.a. Benny Levy), who spent much of his time with the dying Sartre and interviewed him on several of his views. According to Victor, Sartre had a drastic change of mind about the existence of god and started gravitating toward Messianic Judaism. This is Sartre’s before-death profession, according to Pierre Victor: ''“I do not feel that I am the product of chance, a speck of dust in the universe, but someone who was expected, prepared, prefigured. In short, a being whom only a Creator could put here; and this idea of a creating hand refers to god.”'' Simone de Beauvoir later revealed her anger at his change of mind by stating, “How should one explain this senile act of a turncoat? All my friends, all the Sartreans, and the editorial team of ''Les Temps Modernes'' supported me in my consternation.” Sartre died on 15 April 1980 in Paris from edema of the lung. He had not wanted to be buried at Père-Lachaise Cemetery between his mother and stepfather, so it was arranged that he be buried at Montparnasse Cemetery. At his funeral on Saturday, 19 April, 50,000 Parisians descended onto boulevard du Montparnasse to accompany Sartre's cortege. The funeral started at "the hospital at 2:00 p.m., then filed through the fourteenth arrondissement, past all Sartre's haunts, and entered the cemetery through the gate on the Boulevard Edgar Quinet". Sartre was initially buried in a temporary grave to the left of the cemetery gate. Four days later the body was disinterred for cremation at Père-Lachaise Cemetery, and his ashes were reburied at the permanent site in Montparnasse Cemetery, to the right of the cemetery gate.


Sartre's primary idea is that people, as humans, are "condemned to be free".''Existentialism and Humanism'', p.29 "This may seem paradoxical because condemnation is normally an external judgment which constitutes the conclusion of a judgment. Here, it is not the human who has chosen to be like this. There is a contingency of human existence. It is a condemnation of their being. Their being is not determined, so it is up to everyone to create their own existence, for which they are then responsible. They cannot not be free, there is a form of necessity for freedom, which can never be given up." This theory relies upon his position that there is no creator, and is illustrated using the example of the paper cutter. Sartre says that if one considered a paper cutter, one would assume that the creator would have had a plan for it: an essence. Sartre said that human beings have no essence before their existence because there is no Creator. Thus: "existence precedes essence". This forms the basis for his assertion that because one cannot explain one's own actions and behavior by referring to any specific human nature, they are necessarily fully responsible for those actions. "We are left alone, without excuse." "We can act without being determined by our past which is always separated from us." Sartre maintained that the concepts of authenticity and individuality have to be earned but not learned. We need to experience "death consciousness" so as to wake up ourselves as to what is really important; the authentic in our lives which is life experience, not knowledge. Death draws the final point when we as beings cease to live for ourselves and permanently become objects that exist only for the outside world. In this way death emphasizes the burden of our free, individual existence. "We can oppose authenticity to an inauthentic way of being. Authenticity consists in experiencing the indeterminate character of existence in anguish. It is also to know how to face it by giving meaning to our actions and by recognizing ourselves as the author of this meaning. On the other hand, an inauthentic way of being consists in running away, in lying to oneself in order to escape this anguish and the responsibility for one’s own existence." While Sartre had been influenced by Heidegger, the publication of Being and Nothingness did mark a split in their perspectives with Heidegger remarking in, ''Letter on Humanism'',
Existentialism says existence precedes essence. In this statement he is taking ''existentia'' and ''essentia'' according to their metaphysical meaning, which, from Plato's time on, has said that ''essentia'' precedes ''existentia''. Sartre reverses this statement. But the reversal of a metaphysical statement remains a metaphysical statement. With it, he stays with metaphysics, in oblivion of the truth of Being.
Herbert Marcuse also had issues with Sartre's opposition to metaphysics in ''Being and Nothingness'' and suggested the work projected anxiety and meaninglessness onto the nature of existence itself:
"Insofar as Existentialism is a philosophical doctrine, it remains an idealistic doctrine: it Reification (fallacy), hypostatizes specific historical conditions of human existence into ontological and metaphysical characteristics. Existentialism thus becomes part of the very ideology which it attacks, and its radicalism is illusory."
As a junior lecturer at the Lycée du Le Havre, Havre in 1938, Sartre wrote the novel ''Nausea (novel), La Nausée'' (''Nausea''), which serves in some ways as a manifesto of existentialism and remains one of his most famous books. Taking a page from the Husserl, German phenomenology (philosophy), phenomenological movement, he believed that our ideas are the product of experiences of real-life situations, and that novels and plays can well describe such fundamental experiences, having equal value to discursive essays for the elaboration of philosophical theories such as existentialism. With such purpose, this novel concerns a dejected researcher (Roquentin) in a town similar to Le Havre who becomes starkly conscious of the fact that inanimate objects and situations remain absolutely indifferent to his existence. As such, they show themselves to be resistant to whatever significance human consciousness might perceive in them. He also took inspiration from phenomenologist epistemology, explained by Franz Adler in this way: "Man chooses and makes himself by acting. Any action implies the judgment that he is right under the circumstances not only for the actor, but also for everybody else in similar circumstances." This indifference of "things in themselves" (closely linked with the later notion of "being-in-itself" in his ''Being and Nothingness'') has the effect of highlighting all the more the freedom Roquentin has to perceive and act in the world; everywhere he looks, he finds situations imbued with meanings which bear the stamp of his existence. Hence the "nausea" referred to in the title of the book; all that he encounters in his everyday life is suffused with a pervasive, even horrible, taste—specifically, his freedom. The book takes the term from Friedrich Nietzsche's ''Thus Spoke Zarathustra'', where it is used in the context of the often nauseating quality of existence. No matter how much Roquentin longs for something else or something different, he cannot get away from this harrowing evidence of his engagement with the world. The novel also acts as a realization of some of Immanuel Kant's fundamental ideas about freedom; Sartre uses the idea of the autonomy of the will (that morality is derived from our ability to choose in reality; the ability to choose being derived from human freedom; embodied in the famous saying "Condemned to be free") as a way to show the world's indifference to the individual. The freedom that Kant exposed is here a strong burden, for the freedom to act towards objects is ultimately useless, and the practical application of Kant's ideas proves to be bitterly rejected. Also important is Sartre's analysis of psychological concepts, including his suggestion that consciousness exists as something other than itself, and that the conscious awareness of things is not limited to their knowledge: for Sartre intentionality applies to the emotions as well as to cognitions, to desires as well as to perceptions. "When an external object is perceived, consciousness is also conscious of itself, even if consciousness is not its own object: it is a non-positional consciousness of itself." However his critique of psychoanalysis, particularly of Freud has faced some counter-critique. Richard Wollheim and Thomas Baldwin (philosopher), Thomas Baldwin argued that Sartre's attempt to show that Sigmund Freud's theory of the unconscious is mistaken was based on a misinterpretation of Freud.

Career as public intellectual

While the broad focus of Sartre's life revolved around the notion of human freedom, he began a sustained intellectual participation in more public matters towards the end of the Second World War, around 1944–1945. Before World War II, he was content with the role of an apolitical liberal intellectual: "Now teaching at a lycée in Laon ... Sartre made his headquarters the Dome café at the crossing of Montparnasse and Raspail boulevards. He attended plays, read novels, and dined [with] women. He wrote. And he was published." Sartre and his lifelong companion, de Beauvoir, existed, in her words, where "the world about us was a mere backdrop against which our private lives were played out". Sartre portrayed his own pre-war situation in the character Mathieu, chief protagonist in ''The Age of Reason (Sartre), The Age of Reason'', which was completed during Sartre's first year as a soldier in the Second World War. By forging Mathieu as an absolute rationalist, analyzing every situation, and functioning entirely on reason, he removed any strands of authentic content from his character and as a result, Mathieu could "recognize no allegiance except to [him]self", though he realized that without "responsibility for my own existence, it would seem utterly absurd to go on existing". Mathieu's commitment was only to himself, never to the outside world. Mathieu was restrained from action each time because he had no reasons for acting. Sartre then, for these reasons, was not compelled to participate in the Spanish Civil War, and it took the invasion of his own country to motivate him into action and to provide a crystallization of these ideas. It was the war that gave him a purpose beyond himself, and the atrocities of the war can be seen as the turning point in his public stance. The war opened Sartre's eyes to a political reality he had not yet understood until forced into continual engagement with it: "the world itself destroyed Sartre's illusions about isolated self-determining individuals and made clear his own personal stake in the events of the time." Returning to Paris in 1941 he formed the "Socialisme et Liberté" resistance group. In 1943, after the group disbanded, Sartre joined a writers' Resistance group, in which he remained an active participant until the end of the war. He continued to write ferociously, and it was due to this "crucial experience of war and captivity that Sartre began to try to build up a positive moral system and to express it through literature". The symbolic initiation of this new phase in Sartre's work is packaged in the introduction he wrote for a new journal, ''Les Temps modernes'', in October 1945. Here he aligned the journal, and thus himself, with the Left and called for writers to express their political commitment. Yet, this alignment was indefinite, directed more to the concept of the Left than a specific party of the Left. Sartre's philosophy lent itself to his being a public intellectual. He envisaged culture as a very fluid concept; neither pre-determined, nor definitely finished; instead, in true existentialism, existential fashion, "culture was always conceived as a process of continual invention and re-invention." This marks Sartre, the intellectual, as a pragmatism, pragmatist, willing to move and shift stance along with events. He did not dogmatically follow a cause other than the belief in liberty, human freedom, preferring to retain a pacifist's objectivity. It is this overarching theme of freedom that means his work "subverts the bases for distinctions among the disciplines". Therefore, he was able to hold knowledge across a vast array of subjects: "the international world order, the political and economic organisation of contemporary society, especially France, the institutional and legal frameworks that regulate the lives of ordinary citizens, the educational system, the media networks that control and disseminate information. Sartre systematically refused to keep quiet about what he saw as inequalities and injustices in the world." Sartre always sympathized with the Left, and supported the French Communist Party (PCF) until the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary. Following the Liberation of France, Liberation the PCF were infuriated by Sartre's philosophy, which appeared to lure young French men and women away from the ideology of communism and into Sartre's own existentialism. From 1956 onwards Sartre rejected the claims of the PCF to represent the French working classes, objecting to its "authoritarian tendencies". In the late 1960s Sartre supported the Maoism, Maoists, a movement that rejected the authority of established communist parties. However, despite aligning with the Maoists, Sartre said after the May events: "If one rereads all my books, one will realize that I have not changed profoundly, and that I have always remained an anarchist." He would later explicitly allow himself to be called an anarchist."Interview with Jean-Paul Sartre" in ''The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre'', ed. P. A. Schilpp, p. 21. In the aftermath of a war that had for the first time properly engaged Sartre in political matters, he set forth a body of work which "reflected on virtually every important theme of his early thought and began to explore alternative solutions to the problems posed there". The greatest difficulties that he and all public intellectuals of the time faced were the increasing technological aspects of the world that were outdating the printed word as a form of expression. In Sartre's opinion, the "traditional bourgeois literary forms remain innately superior", but there is "a recognition that the new technological 'mass media' forms must be embraced" if Sartre's ethical and political goals as an authentic, committed intellectual are to be achieved: the demystification of bourgeois political practices and the raising of the consciousness, both political and cultural, of the working class. The struggle for Sartre was against the monopolising moguls who were beginning to take over the media and destroy the role of the intellectual. His attempts to reach a public were mediated by these powers, and it was often these powers he had to campaign against. He was skilled enough, however, to circumvent some of these issues by his interactive approach to the various forms of media, advertising his radio interviews in a newspaper column for example, and vice versa. Sartre's role as a public intellectual occasionally put him in physical danger, such as in June 1961, when a plastic bomb exploded in the entrance of his apartment building. His public support of Algerian self-determination at the time had led Sartre to become a target of the campaign of terror that mounted as the colonists' position deteriorated. A similar occurrence took place the next year and he had begun to receive threatening letters from Oran, Oran, Algeria. Sartre's role in this conflict included his comments in his preface to Frantz Fanon's ''The Wretched of the Earth'' that, "To shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses at the same time: there remains a dead man and a free man". This comment led to some criticisms from the right, such as by Brian C. Anderson and Michael Walzer. Writing for the Hoover Institution, Walzer suggested that Sartre, a European, was a hypocrite for not volunteering to be killed. However Sartre's stances regarding post-colonial conflict have not been entirely without controversy on the left; Sartre's preface is omitted from some editions of ''The Wretched of the Earth'' printed after 1967. The reason for this is for his public support for Israel in the Six-Day War. Fanon's widow, Josie considered Sartre's pro-Israel stance as inconsistent with the anti-colonialist position of the book so she omitted the preface.Christian Filostrat
"Frantz Fanon's Widow Speaks: Interview with Frantz Fanon's Widow Josie Fanon"
''Negritude Agonistes''. Accessed 05 June 2021.
When interviewed at Howard University in 1978, she explained "when Israel declared war on the Arab countries [during the Six-Day War], there was a great pro-Zionist movement in favor of Israel among western (French) intellectuals. Sartre took part in this movement. He signed petitions favoring Israel. I felt that his pro-Zionist attitudes were incompatible with Fanon's work". Recent reprints of Fanon's book have generally included Sartre's preface.


Sartre wrote successfully in a number of literary modes and made major contributions to literary criticism and literary biography. His plays are richly symbolic and serve as a means of conveying his philosophy. The best-known, ''Huis-clos'' (''No Exit''), contains the famous line "L'enfer, c'est les autres", usually translated as "Hell is other people." Aside from the impact of ''Nausea'', Sartre's major work of fiction was ''The Roads to Freedom'' trilogy which charts the progression of how World War II affected Sartre's ideas. In this way, ''Roads to Freedom'' presents a less theoretical and more practical approach to existentialism. John Huston got Sartre to script his film ''Freud: The Secret Passion''. However it was too long and Sartre withdrew his name from the film's credits.Roudinesco, Elisabeth. ''Jacques Lacan & Co: A History of Psychoanalysis in France, 1925–1985''. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990, p. 166 Nevertheless, many key elements from Sartre's script survive in the finished film. Despite their similarities as polemicists, novelists, adapters, and playwrights, Sartre's literary work has been counterposed, often pejoratively, to that of Camus in the popular imagination. In 1948 the Roman Catholic Church placed Sartre's ''œuvre'' on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, ''Index Librorum Prohibitorum'' (List of Prohibited Books).


; Plays, screenplays, novels, and short stories * ''Nausea (novel), Nausea'' / ''La nausée'' (1938) * ''The Wall (Sartre short story collection), The Wall'' / ''Le mur'' (1939) * ''Bariona'' / ''Bariona, ou le fils du tonnerre'' (1940) * ''The Flies'' / ''Les mouches'' (1943) * ''No Exit'' / ''Huis clos'' (1944) * ''Typhus'', wr. '44, pub. '07; adapted as ''The Proud and the Beautiful'' * ''The Age of Reason (Sartre), The Age of Reason'' / ''L'âge de raison'' (1945) * ''The Reprieve'' / ''Le sursis'' (1945) * ''The Respectful Prostitute'' / ''La putain respectueuse'' (1946) * ''The Victors (Men Without Shadows)'' / ''Morts sans sépulture'' (1946) * ''The Chips Are Down (screenplay), The Chips Are Down'' / ''Les jeux sont faits (film), Les jeux sont faits'' (screenplay, dir. Jean Delannoy; 1947) * ''In the Mesh'' / ''L'engrénage'' (1948) * ''Dirty Hands'' / ''Les mains sales'' (1948) * ''Troubled Sleep'' (London ed. (Hamilton) has title: ''Iron in the soul'') / ''La mort dans l'âme'' (1949) * ''Intimacy'' (1949) * ''The Devil and the Good Lord'' / ''Le diable et le bon dieu'' (1951) * ''Kean'' (1953) * ''Nekrassov'' (1955) * ''The Crucible (1957 film), The Crucible'' (screenplay, 1957; dir. Raymond Rouleau) * ''The Condemned of Altona'' / ''Les séquestrés d'Altona'' (1959) * ''Hurricane over Cuba'' / ''written and printed in 1961 in Brazil, along with Rubem Braga and Fernando Sabino'' (1961) * ''Freud: The Secret Passion'' (screenplay, 1962; dir. John Huston) * ''The Trojan Women'' / ''Les Troyennes'' (1965) * ''The Freud Scenario'' / ''Le scénario Freud'' (1984) ; Autobiographical * ''Sartre By Himself'' / ''Sartre par lui-mème'' (1959) * ''The Words (book), The Words'' / ''Les Mots'' (1964) * ''Witness to My Life'' & ''Quiet Moments in a War'' / ''Lettres au Castor et à quelques autres'' (1983) * ''War Diaries: Notebooks from a Phony War'' / ''Les carnets de la drole de guerre'' (1984) ; Philosophic essays * ''The Transcendence of the Ego'' / ''La transcendance de l'égo'' (1936) * ''Imagination: A Psychological Critique'' / ''L'imagination'' (1936) * ''Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions'' / ''Esquisse d'une théorie des émotions'' (1939) * ''The Imaginary (Sartre), The Imaginary'' / ''L'imaginaire'' (1940) * ''Being and Nothingness'' / ''L'être et le néant'' (1943) * ''Existentialism Is a Humanism'' / ''L'existentialisme est un humanisme'' (1946) * ''Existentialism and Human Emotions'' / ''Existentialisme et émotions humaines'' (1957) * ''Search for a Method'' / ''Question de méthode'' (1957) * ''Critique of Dialectical Reason'' / ''Critique de la raison dialectique'' (1960, 1985) * ''Notebooks for an Ethics'' / ''Cahiers pour une morale'' (1983) * ''Truth and Existence'' / ''Vérité et existence'' (1989) ; Critical essays * ''Anti-Semite and Jew'' / ''Réflexions sur la question juive'' (wr. 1944, pub. 1946) * ''Baudelaire'' (1946) * ''Situations (essay series), Situations I: Literary Critiques'' / ''Critiques littéraires'' (1947) * ''Situations (essay series), Situations II: What Is Literature?'' / ''Qu'est-ce que la littérature ?'' (1947) * "Black Orpheus" / "Orphée noir" (1948) * ''Situations (essay series), Situations III'' (1949) * ''Saint Genet, Actor and Martyr'' / ''S.G., comédien et martyr'' (1952) * ''The Henri Martin Affair'' / ''L'affaire Henri Martin'' (1953) * ''Situations (essay series), Situations IV: Portraits'' (1964) * ''Situations (essay series), Situations V: Colonialism and Neocolonialism'' (1964) * ''Situations (essay series), Situations VI: Problems of Marxism, Part 1'' (1966) * ''Situations (essay series), Situations VII: Problems of Marxism, Part 2'' (1967) * ''The Family Idiot'' / ''L'idiot de la famille'' (1971–72) * ''Situations (essay series), Situations VIII: Autour de 1968'' (1972) * ''Situations (essay series), Situations IX: Mélanges'' (1972) * ''Situations (essay series), Situations X: Life/Situations: Essays Written and Spoken'' / ''Politique et Autobiographie'' (1976)

See also

* Sartre's ''Roads to Freedom'' Trilogy * Situation (Sartre) * Place Jean-Paul-Sartre-et-Simone-de-Beauvoir * 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature



* * * * * * * * * (Detailed chronology of Sartre's life on pages 485–510.) * * * * * * * *

Further reading

* Allen, James Sloan, "Condemned to Be Free", ''Worldly Wisdom: Great Books and the Meanings of Life'', Savannah: Frederic C. Beil, 2008. . * Joseph S. Catalano, ''A Commentary on Jean-Paul Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason'', University of Chicago Press, 1987. . * L.S. Cattarini, ''Beyond Sartre and Sterility: Surviving Existentialism'' (Montreal, 2018: contact argobookshop.ca) * Steven Churchill and Jack Reynolds (eds.), '' Jean-Paul Sartre: Key Concepts'', London/New York: Routledge, 2014. * Wilfrid Desan, ''The Tragic Finale: An Essay on the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre'' (1954). * Robert Doran, "Sartre's ''Critique of Dialectical Reason'' and the Debate with Lévi-Strauss", ''Yale French Studies'' 123 (2013): 41–62. * Thomas Flynn, ''Sartre and Marxist Existentialism: The Test Case of Collective Responsibility'', Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984. * Judaken, Jonathan (2006) ''Jean-Paul Sartre and the Jewish Question: Anti-antisemitism and the Politics of the French Intellectual''. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. * R. D. Laing and D. G. Cooper, ''Reason and Violence: A Decade of Sartre's Philosophy, 1950–1960'', New York: Pantheon, 1971. * Suzanne Lilar, ''A propos de Sartre et de l'amour'', Paris: Grasset, 1967. * Axel Madsen, ''Hearts and Minds: The Common Journey of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre'', William Morrow & Co, 1977. * Élisabeth Roudinesco, ''Philosophy in Turbulent Times: Canguilhem, Sartre, Michel Foucault, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida'', Columbia University Press, New York, 2008. * Edward Said, 2000
My Encounter with Sartre
London Review of Books * Jean-Paul Sartre and Benny Levy, ''Hope Now: The 1980 Interviews'', translated by Adrian van den Hoven, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. * P.V. Spade
Class Lecture Notes on Jean-Paul Sartre's ''Being and Nothingness''
1996. * Gianluca Vagnarelli, ''La democrazia tumultuaria. Sulla filosofia politica di Jean-Paul Sartre'', Macerata, EUM, 2010. * Jonathan Webber, ''The Existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre'', London: Routledge, 2009. * H. Wittmann, ''Sartre und die Kunst. Die Porträtstudien von Tintoretto bis Flaubert'', Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag, 1996. * H. Wittmann, ''L'esthétique de Sartre. Artistes et intellectuels'', translated from German by N. Weitemeier and J. Yacar, Éditions L'Harmattan (Collection L'ouverture philosophique), Paris 2001. * H. Wittmann, ''Sartre and Camus in Aesthetics. The Challenge of Freedom'', edited by Dirk Hoeges. Dialoghi/Dialogues. Literatur und Kultur Italiens und Frankreichs, vol. 13, Frankfurt/M: Peter Lang 2009. .

External links

* *

By Sartre

"Americans and Their Myths"
Sartre's essay in ''The Nation (U.S. periodical), The Nation'' (18 October 1947 issue)
Sartre Texts
on Philosophy Archive

* * hdl:10079/fa/beinecke.bauer, George H. Bauer Jean Paul Sartre Manuscript Collection. General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

On Sartre

UK Sartre Society
* Alfredo Gomez-Muller: ''Sartre, de la nausée à l'engagement''. Paris, éditions du Félin, 2014.
Groupe d'études sartriennes

essay by Andy Blunden
"Jean Paul Sartre: Existentialism"
''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy''

''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy''
"Jean-Paul Sartre"
''Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy''
Articles, archives, and forum
Critique and Engagement: Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–2015), Labyrinth 1/2015
edited by Yvanka B. Raynova
History and Choice: Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–2015), Labyrinth 2/2015
edited by Yvanka B. Raynova
"The Second Coming of Sartre"
John Lichfield, ''The Independent'', 17 June 2005
"The World According to Sartre"
essay by Roger Kimball

A review of Ian Birchall, ''Sartre Against Stalinism''
"Sartre's Existential Marxism and the Quest for Humanistic Authenticity"
essay by Daniel Jakopovich in the journal ''Synthesis Philosophica''

Living with Mother. Sartre and the problem of maternity
, Benedict O'Donohoe, International Webjournal''Sens Public''.
"L'image de la femme dans le théâtre de Jean-Paul Sartre – Jean-Paul Sartre: sexiste?" by Stephanie Rupert

Pierre Michel, ''Jean-Paul Sartre et Octave Mirbeau''

''In Our Time (radio series), In Our Time'' on BBC Radio 4, Radio 4 (RealAudio)
Sartre: philosophy, literature, politics (articles)
''Sens Public'' (international Web journal)

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