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1. The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre
2. The Psychology of Imagination
3. Nausea
4. Hope Now: The 1980 Interviews
5. Critique of Dialectical Reason
6. Sartre and Camus: A Historic Confrontation
7. "What is Literature?" and Other
8. The Imaginary: A Phenomenological
9. Search for a Method
10. The Transcendence of the Ego:
11. Tete-a-Tete: Simone de Beauvoir
12. The Age of Reason: A Novel
13. Existentialism Is a Humanism
14. Last Chance: Roads of Freedom
15. The Reprieve: A Novel
16. Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological
17. Existentialism And Human Emotions
18. No Exit and Three Other Plays
19. Jean-Paul Sartre: Basic Writings
20. A Commentary on Jean-Paul Sartre's

1. The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre
by Jean-Paul Sartre
Paperback: 512 Pages (2003-05-27)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$6.95
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Asin: 1400076323
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This unique selection presents the essential elements of Sartre's lifework -- organized systematically and made available in one volume for the first time in any language. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fair and far-reaching overview of Jean-Paul Sartre's work
(I was introduced to philosophy through the work of Thomas Nagel andJean-Paul Sartre.)

An excellent introduction to Jean-Paul Sartre's work, both chronologically and conceptually. Sartre has much to say about everything from love and art to consciousness and personal identity. His insights are profound and in many ways have much relevance to every day life. I would recommend his work to anyone, but especially philosophers, psychologists and ministers/priests.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Sartrean examinations and crituques
This volume contains exceptional philosophical articles on the philosophy of Sartre.It covers every and all aspect of his life and thoughts. The critiques pull no punches and omit nothing.This work takes a hard look at the soundness of Sartre's philosophy.To find out if they hold up, readthis volume.p.s. The interview with Sartre durring his later years isworth the price of the book alone.If you like Sartre, you will love thisbook. ... Read more

2. The Psychology of Imagination
by Jean-Paul Sartre
 Paperback: 282 Pages (1991-12-31)
list price: US$8.95 -- used & new: US$94.50
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Asin: 080650305X
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In this book, France's leading existentialist writer examines the function of consciousness in creating a world of unrealities. Sartre reveals a new way of conceiving of consciousness, the nature of psychic life, and the mind's complex relationship with the external world. ... Read more

3. Nausea
by Jean-Paul Sartre
Paperback: 192 Pages (2007-05-23)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$7.86
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Asin: 0811217000
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The classic Existentialist novel, with a new introduction by renowned poet, translator, and critic Richard Howard.Winner of the 1964 Nobel Prize for Literature, Jean-Paul Sartre, Frenchphilosopher, critic, novelist, and dramatist, holds a position ofsingular eminence in the world of letters. Among readers and criticsfamiliar with the whole of Sartre's work, it is generally recognizedthat his earliest novel, La Nausée (first published in 1938), ishis finest and most significant. It is unquestionably a key novel of thetwentieth century and a landmark in Existentialist fiction.

Nauseais the story of Antoine Roquentin, a French writer who is horrified athis own existence. In impressionistic, diary form he ruthlesslycatalogues his every feeling and sensation. His thoughts culminate in apervasive, overpowering feeling of nausea which "spreads at the bottomof the viscous puddle, at the bottom of our time—the time of purplesuspenders and broken chair seats; it is made of wide, soft instants,spreading at the edge, like an oil stain." Roquentin's efforts to cometo terms with life, his philosophical and psychological struggles, giveSartre the opportunity to dramatize the tenets of his Existentialistcreed. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (99)

3-0 out of 5 stars Eh...
If you've read Sartre, then I don't think there are any surprises to be found here. Similar motifs at work, it's just I thought this would be a little more interesting than what it ended up being. Again, if you are a Sartre fan, then you will probably enjoy this book, but I don't know if you will learn anything new from it. If you haven't ever read Sartre, then don't start here. Maybe try No Exit.

3-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, bad philosophy
Sartre seems to have made a point in his life obscuring his philosophical standpoints by giving sparse and rather farfetched metaphorical argumentation.
I kept on thinking Antoine Roquentin was having a crazy, paranoid trip; not that he was realizing absurdity of life. This is accentuated by hallucinatory descriptions of the world. When he finally realizes, I was inclined to slap him around, scream 'DUH'. He's whiny all the way through, though I still found him rather likeable. Yet I hated his criticism of other people, like he was saying "nothing matters, but I still thoroughly hate everyone who I think disagrees like it does matter", unconvincingly portraying realists or idealists like infantile fats. But I guess those were different times.
There's not much of a plot in here, but I enjoyed the Autodidact's character and the pure literary aspect of it. By way of philosophy it's rather weak. It makes me glad analytic philosophy happened.

1-0 out of 5 stars STAY AWAY P.O.S. BOOK ALERT!!!!
I gave up on page 92 when I noticed I kept rereading the same pages again and again not retaining anything from the previous time.....this book is terrible to the core......its the same problem I have with Camus you have The Stranger on one hand, then The Rebel in the other.....these pussyass frenchman questioning their existence because of WWI is annoying....grow some balls and become an alchoholic like the post war American Writers did.

You want the plot a guy is writing a book, or maybe he isnt, he meets people, or maybe he just looks at them..they talk....he listens......he describes things.....he walks around....he sees a pederast with his hands down his pants looking at a little girl it might have been a boy I dont remember he did say something funny to him though.....he tries to write his book, he hates his book....he hates life....he hates himself....he has a girlfriend I think....he hates her...they have a picnic....the food disgust him.....he skips the bill at a Cafe...he makes 90 year old refrences to france....I think his city is fictional, I bet he hates that to...he hates forks.....blah blah blah...

If you want good french writers stick with Celine and Genet or

2-0 out of 5 stars And the Point is...?

Antoine Roquentin is writing an historical novel. He wonders about the person he is ressurecting from scattered accounts and documents. Who is he bringing into existence?. He ponders his own life, the existence all around him,his existence. All created and recreated every minute. 'I think therefore I am' or is it 'I am therefore I think'? Does our will determine what our existence is? He feels nausea at the futility of existence and its creation.....
Maybe if I'd read this as a teenager it might have made some impression, though I doubt it. I never bought into existentialism and found discussions on it tedious to the extreme. To me it was a philosophy with a gaping hole; a turkey of an idea waiting to be shot at! For pseuds only!
Written in the 1930's, this certainly had an impact on intellectual thought, but so many better propositions have been put forward on the nature of being and reality coupled with the fact you never see any socialogical or psychological premises explained with; 'The existential view point is...' means it is (rightfully to my mind) very old hat and passe.
The idea that individual will forms our existence is only ok up to a point. Humans exist in societies. we are social animals. Environment, disability, culture etc all influence and add to our 'existence' and I've always been cynical of the concept that nothing exists until we create or know about it (its just a childish mind game devoid of merit) For eg-Austrailia was 'discovered' (and therefore existed) in and since 1769. So what were the Aborigines doing for 10,000 years? Wondering where the bloody hell they were till Cook arrived ?!
Also existentialism is very old hat, pre dated by socialization models and also the great eastern philosophies that 3000 years before Sartre considered the role of free will in determining our actions as the old idea of cause and affect didn't explain things.
I love philosophy and thought, but existentialism leaves me with nothing fresh to contemplate. Rather it justs invokes the response; 'Yeah? So?'.
'Nausea is a tedious pretentious book, unsatisfying as both a piece of literature and philosophical treatise.
Sartres truly great work emerges in his 'Roads to Freedom ' trilogy, which are pregnant with ideas and as a piece of literature, 'The Reprieve' is one of the most fabulous books I have ever read. I would strongly recommend you read these three books and totally forget this piece of embarrassing drivel.
Sartre deserves his place, but not for this.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good philosophy doesn't have to be boring
This is a seminal book on existentialism in particular and philosophy in general. Unfortunately, Sartre didn't make it as interesting as it could have been. He painstakingly describes every surrounding object or person in order to convey his sense of 'nausea'. But in doing so he bores the reader at times.

You don't have to be boring to write a good philosophical book. Some philosophers seem to be afraid of actions and events. Perhaps to them events represent something ephemeral, childish, something that would belittle them if they descend and discuss it. I think that no good philosopher should avoid dipping himself in the world with its events and details; this world is the only world we've got after all...
... Read more

4. Hope Now: The 1980 Interviews
by Jean-Paul Sartre, Benny Levy
Paperback: 142 Pages (2007-08-15)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$12.13
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Asin: 0226476316
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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In March of 1980, Le Nouvel Observateur published the final interviews between the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, then blind and debilitated, and his young assistant, Benny Lévy. Readers immediately denounced the interviews as distorted and fraudulent for portraying a Sartre who had abandoned his leftist convictions, rejected his most intimate friends, and cast aside his fundamental beliefs in favor of a messianic Judaism. Sartre's supporters argued that it was his orthodox interlocutor, Lévy, who had twisted the words of the ailing philosopher.

Yet, shortly before his death, Sartre confirmed the authenticity of the interviews and their puzzling content. Here presented in translation, the interviews are framed by two provocative essays by Benny Lévy, accompanied by a comprehensive introduction from noted Sartre authority Ronald Aronson, which places the interviews in biographical and philosophical perspective to demonstrate how they confirm and contribute to Sartre's overall philosophy. This absorbing volume at last contextualizes and elucidates the final thoughts of a brilliant and influential mind.
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3-0 out of 5 stars Alternative compendium of "the 60s"
Sartre scholar Ronald Aronson errs immediately in his intro to Hope Now: The 1980 Interviews by writing that questions about these interviews can be "posed dispassionately" now, meaning, of course, that they can be posed objectively & thereby synopsizes all that has made American liberal education the grand failure that it is. Moreover, Sartre might have disapproved. What did he write about "committed literature?"

In the weeks before his death, Sartre and long-time personal secy Benny Levy recorded a series of discussions, in the form of interviews, some of which were published in a Paris weekly newspaper. Levy, a former Maoist student leader (for the contemporary American student, Maoist student leader is probably as archaic or unknown a term as internal combustion engine) & ardent student of Sartre, fairly attacked the blind & aging writer/philosopher, at times engaging him, at times bullying him.

Thruout the interviews (which take up, really, just one-fourth of the entire book [hence 3 stars]; the rest is all intro commentary & postscripts), Sartre seemed to hold his own, citing the errors of Marxism, existentialism, & the left-wing political movements of the 60s & early 70s. I think the interviews offer the reader a good feel for that period (fondly known in the USA as "the 60s"), when Levy was known as Pierre Victor, Sartre was backing all kinds of radical & left-wing endeavors, & the 1968 student rebellions thruout Europe but especially in Paris threatened to topple the whole knowledge-is-power façade.

In the end, the students failed, but the student uprisings in the USA, then & after, were a mere burlesque of those in Europe: certainly, the knowledge-is-power concept was never questioned (US students just wanted more power with their knowledge), & the smugness that allows Mr. Aronson to pose questions dispassionately has enveloped every succeeding academic iteration.

The famous quote from Sartre's one-act play, "No Exit," was "Hell is other people." Sartre was almost 75 when these interviews took place, and then he said, "It's other people that are my old age...Old age is a reality that is mine but that others feel..." The topics that disturbed so many after the interviews were published were Judaism and Jewishness.

Levy generalizes that Jews fear the revolutionary mob because it may become the pogrom mob; Sartre counters that "there were a considerable number of Jews in the Communist Party in 1917 [in Russia]." Personally, I am at a loss to explain why Levy was reviled by Sartre scholars: Sartre states that he was profoundly influenced by the "Jewish reality" that confronted him after the war, when he met Jews that he saw as having a destiny "beyond the ravages [of] anti-Semitism."

Hope Now seems to me to be more of a coda to the 1972 documentary, "Sartre: By Himself," where he chatted amiably with the editorial staff of Le Temps Moderne and Simone de Beauvoir. That film depicted a leisurely afternoon with friends. Sartre with Levy seems more like colleagues at work. Unlike the current crop of celebrity academics, Sartre always appeared, to appropriate Harry Stack Sullivan's comment about schizophrenics, "simply human." ... Read more

5. Critique of Dialectical Reason (New Edition)(Vol. 1-2)
by Jean-Paul Sartre
Paperback: 1364 Pages (2010-03-16)
list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$29.70
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Asin: 1844673952
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Both volumes of Sartre's intellectual masterpiece, introduced by Fredric Jameson

At the height of the Algerian war, Jean-Paul Sartre embarked on a fundamental reappraisal of his philosophical and political thought. The result was the Critique of Dialectical Reason, an intellectual masterpiece of the twentieth century, now published as a two-volume set with a major new introduction by Fredric Jameson. In it, Sartre set out the basic categories for the renovated theory of history that he believed was necessary for post-war Marxism.

Sartre's formal aim was to establish the dialectical intelligibility of history itself, as what he called 'a totalisation without a totaliser'. But, at the same time, his substantive concern was the structure of class struggle and the fate of mass movements of popular revolt, from the French Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century to the Russian and Chinese revolutions in the twentieth: their ascent, stabilisation, petrification and decline, in a world still overwhelmingly dominated by scarcity.

The second volume of Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason was drafted in 1958 and published in France in 1985, first appearing in English in 1991. As in Volume One, Sartre proceeds by moving from the simple to the complex: from individual combat (through a perceptive study of boxing) to the struggle of subgroups within an organized group form and, finally, to social struggle, with an extended analysis of the Bolshevik Revolution. The book concludes with a forceful reaffirmation of dialectical reason: of the dialectic as 'that which is truly irreducible in action'.

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Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Negation of a Negation
Marx takes an exterior view. Economics which is exterior shapes social relations which then shape the individual. Basically huge weights are placed on the individual by Marx. Individuals are shaped by exterior forces that crush the individual now but which will eventually lead to the 'promised land' - the communist state. Sartre turns Marxism on it's head. All social groupings are a function of the praxis of individuals as individuals. For Sartre in 'Critique of Dialectical Reason' as in 'Being and Nothingness' man is free.

Who wins between Marx and Sartre? Clearly Sartre. The individual examiming thematerialist world which is basically a Presence for Sartre rather than a substratum has to examine the materialist world as an individual or bascially become stone-like and sink into silence. Sartre's starting point, the individual as an individual and as free is inescapable for the individual. Between Marx and Sartre Sartre wins hands down. After Sartre communism and Marxism are no longer viable intellectual endeavors for individuals must start from the fact of being individuals. Sartre's 'Marxism' is anti-Marxist.

Sartre's terminology is heavily dependent on Marxism and basically makes no sense except as a critique of Marxism and so 'Critque of Dialectical Reason' though it destroys Marxism hardly is a replacement for Marxism. 'Critique of Dialectical Reason' is ladder which is thrown away after climbing. So Sartre 'only' undermined communism as a viable intellecual enterprise and opened up a World rather than set a new World in place.

Sartre has to be viewed ss the most succesful philosopher of the 20th century. Yes, there are no Sartrean schools but then again there is no communism either.

(Heidegger did metaphysics. When one leaves Being behind as did Heidegger one exits philosophy and enters metaphysics. Wittenstein was philosophically mediocre - Wittgenstein put forward one clearly false theory the picture theory of language and one clearly useless theory -'language as use'. The metaphyscians have no problem with 'language as use' andmetaphysics was Wittgenstein's target. The uselessness of 'Philosophical Investigations' via the goal of undermining metaphysics which was the 'use' of language of 'Philosophical Investigations' strictly speaking proves language as use is fallacious. Robert Brandom does metaphysics, everything is transcendent vis-a-vis Brandom. 'Philosophical Investigations' is no problemo for Brandom, of course, even though Brandom focuses on language.Language as use is quite conistent with metaphysics as Brandom shows so 'Philosophical Investigations' is useless therefore fallacious. All Brandom has to say is 'this had best be dialogued and metaphysics goes on and on and on, which is, of course, the point. Quine proves 'Philosophical Investigations' fallacious. Vis-a-vis Quine there is this mysterious hidden totality which is clearly transcendent but which one must grasp to grasp anything at all.Quine never attempted to delineate this totality, of course. Vis-a-vis Quine it is transcendent and isn't to be spoken of.Quine focuses on language and Quine did metaphysics and again 'Philosophical Investigations' was no problemo.Once again 'Philosphical Investigations' is proved useless and therefore fallacious. Wittgenstein's language arguments are completely ineffective against metaphysics. There are three pre-requisites for proving 'Philosophical Invstigations' fallacious, (1) doing 'language philosophy' (this shows analysis of word meanings is not a problem as language is being closely examined) (2) being successful and (3) doing metaphysics at the same time. Such has been done many times in the 20th century)

China holds out as being communist but China is actuallycompletely divorced from Marxism which was basically an economic theory. China has a mixed economy with a large government component and a one party system and plans to keep it that way but that is hardly communism or Marxism.China is kind of Sartrean but all nations are kind of Sartrean and that was a point of 'Critique of Dialectical Reason'.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Foundation for the New Marxism, Towards a Philosophy of Totality
The CDR is by far Sartre's most original work, for beyond Being and Nothingness. As a theory of ensembles, the various groupings and reinterpretations of historical events and phenomena strike me as a call to re-evaluate our current situation. Though written in the 60s, and I am only referring to Volume 1, the chapter which is entitled "Matter as Totalized Totality" is the greatest articulation and criticism of Marxist materialism with regard to the environment, meaning, we are not merely determined by our materiality and circumstances, there is an interdependence between the person/group and the world: We mediate the world as the world mediates us. Nevertheless, the language is quite turgid, with a focus on praxis and the practico-inert, interiority/exteriority, etc. In the end at least this volume can constitute a building of a new method which is yet to be realized.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sartre's Inimitable Greatness - One response to the above reviews
Sartre was primarily a moral philosopher - not a metaphysician, epistemologist, or political philosopher. Yet, he was a bit of all these. He is a political thinker by way of his profoundly thought moral philosophy. Thus, I claim: 1) While it may be his last extensive philosophic work, Sartre's CDR is not his "last great philosophic work" - big is not always best. The tragically neglected, "Saint Genet: Actor & Martyr" is perhaps the most important book of moral philosophy since Kant's "Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals". This book was published in French in 1953, but for reasons evident to me but obscure to many, was not published until 1963 in English (i.e., America of the 1950's was for all it's extroversion, an uptight place - for all its "loss of innocence" - still is). There is a magnificent review of Saint Genet on this site to which I could not add more. Saint Genet, not Being and Nothingness is Sartre's magnum. 2) We're dealing with a generation who grew up in the heyday of Reagan's media robots - not only do they not understand Marx, his enormous stature and insight - they haven't dared to read him. The fact is the corporate/service divide which is really central to all our problems today - is none other than the reappearance of the old bourgeois/proletariat divide, "the antagonism of capital and wage labor" once again. Think about it at the pump. 3) Sartre was left with the problem of trying to reconcile his Marxism, with his very egocentric existentialism - really a syncretism - and he tries in this huge tome. (I am always amazed at how prolific Sartre was - and how good!) 4)Oddly, although existentialism conflicts with Marxian utopianism and its vision of unity (after all one could call many of our contemporary corporate anarchists existentialist), it radically opposes statism which Marx notoriously failed to do, allowing his ideas to serve as justifying ideologies for some of the worst human rights transgressions in history, in Russia, China, Cambodia, etc., transgressions which most certainly have Marx and those who truly understood him in his time "turning over in their graves". This insight, leads Sartre into a radically deep (hundreds of pages) analysis of the roots and manifestations of statism in our civilization. 5) The reviewer is right in saying that few manage to wend their way through Sartre's Critique. Rather, he wrote a neat, user-friendly Introduction, much more feasible for the general reader, covering in some depth all the main points in the argument, and his thinking as a whole. This exordium, originally a postscript to it - was published separately and went through a number of revisions - and is now available in English under the title, "Search for a Method". But please - please, do yourself a favor - before you attempt Being In Nothingness (Heidegger's Being and Time - is more essential - and in many ways "the original version" of Sartre's epistemology and metaphysics) or CDR - read Saint Genet - a masterpiece of honesty and critical investigation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sartre's Inimitable Greatness - One response to the above reviews
Sartre was primarily a moral philosopher - not a metaphysician, epistemologist, or political philosopher. Yet, he was a bit of all these. He is a political thinker by way of his profoundly thought moral philosophy. Thus, I claim: 1) While it may be his last extensive philosophic work, Sartre's CDR is not his "last great philosophic work" - big is not always best. The tragically neglected, "Saint Genet: Actor & Martyr" is perhaps the most important book of moral philosophy since Kant's "Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals". This book was published in French in 1953, but for reasons evident to me but obscure to many, was not published until 1963 in English (i.e., America of the 1950's was for all it's extroversion, an uptight place - for all its "loss of innocence" - still is). There is a magnificent review of Saint Genet on this site to which I could not add more. Saint Genet, not Being and Nothingness is Sartre's magnum. 2) We're dealing with a generation who grew up in the heyday of Reagan's media robots - not only do they not understand Marx, his enormous stature and insight - they haven't dared to read him. The fact is the corporate/service divide which is really central to all our problems today - is none other than the reappearance of the old bourgeois/proletariat divide, "the antagonism of capital and wage labor" once again. Think about it at the pump. 3) Sartre was left with the problem of trying to reconcile his Marxism, with his very egocentric existentialism - really a syncretism - and he tries in this huge tome. (I am always amazed at how prolific Sartre was - and how good!) 4)Oddly, although existentialism conflicts with Marxian utopianism and its vision of unity (after all one could call many of our contemporary corporate anarchists existentialist), it radically opposes statism which Marx notoriously failed to do, allowing his ideas to serve as justifying ideologies for some of the worst human rights transgressions in history, in Russia, China, Cambodia, etc., transgressions which most certainly have Marx and those who truly understood him in his time "turning over in their graves". This insight, leads Sartre into a radically deep (hundreds of pages) analysis of the roots and manifestations of statism in our civilization. 5) The reviewer is right in saying that few manage to wend their way through Sartre's Critique. Rather, he wrote a neat, user-friendly Introduction, much more feasible for the general reader, covering in some depth all the main points in the argument, and his thinking as a whole. This exordium, originally a postscript to CDR - was published separately and went through a number of revisions - and is now available in English under the title, "Search for a Method". But please - please, do yourself a favor - before you attempt Being In Nothingness (Heidegger's Being and Time - is more essential - and in many ways "the original version" of Sartre's epistemology and metaphysics) or CDR - read Saint Genet - a masterpiece of honesty and critical investigation.

2-0 out of 5 stars For Sartrists and Satirists
You must have read Being and Nothingness if you are considering this book so I won't describe Sartre's scholastic interest in preliminary formal considerations; as usual it takes up 3/4 of the total work. Sartre is also an imaginative writer, however, and his analyses of group terror, top-ten lists, and respectability (in vol 2) almost make up for it. I find Sartre's apparent devotion to Marxism troubling in an "objective" philosophical work, especially since much of Marx is obsolete. In other words, I don't know why you would buy this book. It used to be tedious; now it's just interesting to specialists. ... Read more

6. Sartre and Camus: A Historic Confrontation
Hardcover: 275 Pages (2004-03)
list price: US$49.98 -- used & new: US$32.99
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Asin: 159102157X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In 1952, Jean-Paul Sartre engaged Albert Camus in a celebrated and bitter public confrontation that had wide-ranging cultural significance. This book contains the first English translation of the five texts constituting this famous philosophical quarrel. Personally animated, passionately argued, polemically focused, this confrontation was as much a personal encounter as it was a theoretical debate. Alternating between stylistic brilliance and stinging sarcasm, each draws upon their years of past involvement as former friends both to make their criticisms more pointed and their theoretical critique more challenging. At the same time, their views serve as lightning rods for the wider cultural forces of which they are partial expressions. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Is there a third way?
Not only does this book contain the original articles that comprise one of the great intellectual debates of the last century, it also has very helpful contextual commentary by the editors.

One can substitute terrorism for Stalinism and the debate is, if you will forgive the cliche, as current as the headlines. But it most certainly is not at all like the sound bite debates of Cross Fire. Great breath and depth in the arguments of the participants - anguished arguments about the relationships betweenmeans and ends, justice and freedom; and finally personal responsibility.

Camus corectly sees Stalinism, read terrorism, an an unmitigated evil. Yet, he sought to live as neither victim nor executioner. That caused him no end of grief, especially as he confronted the Algerian situation. Nevertheless his arguments call to mind the views of the Polish and Czech dissidents in the 80s. An anti-politics, a living "as if" one were free. No crusade to eliminate evil from the earth, no war; rather a third way.

Sartre on the other hand saw Stalinism as an understandable, even necessary, response to the injustice inflicted on the wretched of the earth. His understanding of human nature, dare one use that term in discussing Sartre, was such that chioce was required in all circumstances. By this time, in Sartre's thinking, no third way was possible. If the choice is between victim or executioner, he would choose executioner.

Sartre is correct, one must choose. Camus is correct, there is a third way. Enter the debate if you dare. There is no easy exit.

... Read more

7. "What is Literature?" and Other Essays
by Jean-Paul Sartre
Paperback: 368 Pages (1988-10-15)
list price: US$27.00 -- used & new: US$19.45
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Asin: 0674950844
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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"What is Literature?" remains the most significant critical landmark of French literature since World War II. Neither abstract nor abstruse, it is a brilliant, provocative performance by a writer more inspired than cautious.

"What is Literature?" challenges anyone who writes as if literature could be extricated from history or society. But Sartre does more than indict. He offers a definitive statement about the phenomenology of reading, and he goes on to provide a dashing example of how to write a history of literature that takes ideology and institutions into account.

This new edition of "What is Literature?" also collects three other crucial essays of Sartre's for the first time in a volume of his. The essays presenting Sartre's monthly, Les Temps modernes, and on the peculiarly French manner of nationalizing literature do much to create a context for Sartre's treatise. "Black Orpheus" has been for many years a key text for the study of black and third-world literatures.

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Customer Reviews (2)

1-0 out of 5 stars empty philosophizing
I couldn't get over 20 pages of this essay without groaning from exasperation. The famous philosopher is presenting such a silly argument trying to distinguish prose from poetry equaling poetry to painting and music and for some reason leaving out prose as a special art which uses words to convey messages and opinions while poetry employs words to create an image not unlike the painting. For anyone more or less acquainted with the best works of literature, such separations would seem silly. Would we consider then Hemingway's short stories written with paratactic barren phrases prose or poetry? would would Sartre say about Nabokov's novels? the border between prose and poetry, literature and painting, literature and music is not that defined. different arts use different languages and codes ad are limited in their own way but it is impossible and ultimately unwise to try to create a theory separating poetry from prose on the basis of how the writers use language and what the ultimate goal of writing is. There are poetic novels that are written in such a way a mere glance at any paragraph would betray the hand of a writer, there are novels in verse like Eugene Onegin, there are finally poetry of thought dwelling on abstract ideas.

4-0 out of 5 stars Better than i expected
Like most other people, I first read Sartre early in my time at college- Nausea, Being & Nothingness, Words. And I was, of course, smitten by this man who understood so well my experience of isolation, freedom and how irritating it is when tools don't work properly and when other young men and women looked at me. And then, like (I hope) most other people (including, it must be said, Sartre), I got over it, realized that the world existed neither to irritate me nor to coddle me, and that there were more important things than the state of my Existence.

So I didn't exactly have high expectations of this, and was very pleasantly surprised. Sartre's argument is based on a pretty dodgy philosophy, but quite valid feelings: anger at injustice, love of literature. Like most philosophies of literature, he makes absurd and stupid generalizations (the poet 'considers words as things, not signs' and so isn't like a 'writer'), but at least his largest generalization isn't an insult to human beings: the act of writing, he argues, is an act of freedom addressed to other free humans who happen at present to be in terrible situations of unfreedom. The relation between writer and reader can be an ideal image of a world in which people aren't forced to work in jobs they hate, or do anything else they hate for that matter. I'll take that over 'the act of writing is the putting into question of literature' any day. "The work of art, from whichever side you approach it, is an act of confidence in the freedom of men." And, I assume, women.

So Sartre argues that the writer is addressing both a real public - the people who do actually read her - and a virtual public, the people who could conceivably read her. In different historical periods these two audiences will more or less match up: when the society is one of minimal freedom for most people (Sartre's example is the 17th century), the virtual audience is more or less absent; when the society has the potential for greater freedom, the virtual audience expands (e.g., modernity.) But in any case, the writer must address her 'virtual' public through her real one. Abstract palaver has no place in Sartre's theory.

He follows this up with a great history of 20th century literature in France, which is basically a critique of surrealism and the communist party (it's important to note the latter, since everyone - including myself up till now - seems to think Sartre was a Stalinist), and the last chapter is a rousing call for writers to care about what they do. ... Read more

8. The Imaginary: A Phenomenological Psychology of the Imagination (Routledge Classics)
by Jean-Paul Sartre
Paperback: 240 Pages (2010-04-21)
list price: US$23.95 -- used & new: US$17.00
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Asin: 041556784X
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A cornerstone of Sartre’s philosophy, The Imaginary was first published in 1940. Sartre had become acquainted with the philosophy of Edmund Husserl in Berlin and was fascinated by his idea of the 'intentionality of consciousness' as a key to the puzzle of existence. Against this background, The Imaginary crystallized Sartre's worldview and artistic vision. The book is an extended examination of the concepts of nothingness and freedom, both of which are derived from the ability of consciousness to imagine objects both as they are and as they are not – ideas that would drive Sartre's existentialism and entire theory of human freedom.

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9. Search for a Method
by Jean-Paul Sartre
Mass Market Paperback: 224 Pages (1968-08-12)
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Asin: 0394704649
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Concise account of Sartre
Its thesis, that what we call freedom is the irreducibility of cultural order to natural order, forms the basis for an examination of contemporary Marxism, which Sartre calls "arrested."

What does that mean, cultural order irreducible to natural order? For one thing, a la Kierkegaard, we don't see consciousness thru the lens of a microscope; we see brain cells. For another, people are not compelled by their drives or their DNA to be farmers, stock brokers, or thieves. @The same time, life choices are not the sole domain of operant conditioning. The more desperate of us choose that way to spend our lives that has not been cut off to us by others.

Sartre's example was the Royal Air Corps Negro airplane mechanic: the profession of pilot was cut off to people of African descent because it was believed that they lacked, as baseball exec. Al Campanis said years later, the necessities (natural attributes). This mechanic stole a plane & flew it to France. Of course, he went to prison, even while the Air Corps brain trust wondered how he'd flown the plane anyway: could they have been wrong?

The "method" that Sartre chooses after his search is one developed by an old Sartre foil, Henri Lefebvre: the progressive-regressive method. What are people doing? What are their present circumstances? What are their historical antecedents? Sartre concludes that this method offers the most accurate account of why people are doing whatever they're doing (living la vida loca, fomenting revolution, or fouling up the economy) @any particular moment. Sartre expanded on this method in the sequels to "Search," Critique of Dialectical Reason I & II & in his multi-volume biography of Flaubert.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Dawn of Marxist Existentialism
As the quote on the cover suggests, this may very well be "the most important work of Sartre's to be translated since Being and Nothingness."To be sure, The Critique of Dialectical Reason may be also, or even The Family Idiot.But it must also be recalled that Search for a Method, while first published as an occasional piece for a Czech journal, was latter published as the introduction to The Critique, and, moreover, Sartre states that The Family Idiot is in fact the sequel to Search in the preface of the former tome.Indeed, both of these works are much more comprehensible after having read Search.The reason being is that Search outlines the method and general strategy utilized in both of those books (and in Saint Genet to some extent even though it came out prior).The method is of course the progressive regressive method and the strategy is a quasi anthropology mixed occasionally with a new hybrid of existential psychoanalysis.As the two major works that came out of Search can attest - those being The Critique and FI - his method is equally accessible to both large scale cultural descriptions (the Critique) and in depth profiles of a single individual.The former case asks 'what are the conditions that have created modern western man as we know him,' the latter asks what are the conditions that have created this particular individual.'

For those who are aquainted with Sartre's earlier existential writings, this kind of thinking may seem altogether foreign.The old Sartre would have been loathe to suggest any form of conditioning or that one has been made in some way or other.But, this is part of the reason why many feel he abandoned his existentialism.I, on the other hand, do not feel that he did at all.In fact I suggest his existentialism is richer and his arguments more tenable in his later phase.As Sartre himself suggested in an interview late in his life, "life taught me the force of circumstances."It will be circumstances, both grand and minute, that all go into forming the people we are, both collectively and individually.Circumstances are, in other words, the factical moments out of which our contingent choices are made.Thus, Search sets out to examine a methodology that can account for both the factical and contingent, the necessary and the random, in the making of a people, person, or culture.

By Sartre standards this is a relatively easy read with a big payoff.As I mentioned, it is crucial to understanding the major works that would follow, as well as the occasional and literary works that would follow, e.g. his many writings on politics and even plays such as Condemned of Altona.But I also feel it stands well by itself and I do not feel that the reader necessarily have a background in Being and Nothingness or earlier Sartre to get something out of it.Indeed, it is also an excellent source for those seeking alternatives to the various more popular forms of psychoanalysis as well as cultural studies.Sartre was a maverick, no doubt, and often he failed in his attempts to construct a solid theory.But here, in Search, I believe that Sartre is at his best and most profound.

5-0 out of 5 stars wonderfully evinced
Professor Barnes easily makes clear Satre's works even through his haze of Extentialism.As Sartre gave us his posture of dialectical materialism, Professor Barnes clearly explains Sartre. Thank you Professor Barnes, and, do it again and again, please.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is the best and most concise intro to Sartre.
"Search for a Method" was originally intended as a postcript tothe 1960 "Critique of Dialectical Reason," but it became theintro & then was published separately. Its thesis, "Cultural orderis irreducible to natural order," forms the basis for an examinationof contemporary Marxism, which Sartre calls "arrested." Between"Being and Nothingness" and the often puzzling posthumousmaterial, this is the best and most concise intro to Sartre by Sartre.Kudos to Professor Barnes for another outstanding translation! ... Read more

10. The Transcendence of the Ego: An Existentialist Theory of Consciousness
by Jean-Paul Sartre
Paperback: 119 Pages (1991-01-01)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$7.50
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Asin: 0809015455
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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First published in France in 1937, this important essay marked a turning point in Sartre’s philosophical development. Before writing it, he had been closely allied with phenomenologists such as Husserl and Heidegger. Here, however, Sartre attacked Husserl’s notion of a transcendental ego. The break with Husserl, in turn, facilitated Sartre’s transition from phenomenology to the existentialist doctrines of his masterwork, Being and Nothingness, which was completed a few years later while the author was a prisoner of war.

This student-friendly edition of The Transcendence of the Ego also includes an introduction and notes/annotations by the translators.
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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars The turning point in the thought of Sartre
The Transcendence of the Ego is Sartre's refutation and response to the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and his idea that a transcendental ego stands behind consciousness. Reading Being and Nothingness is tremendously aided by this short work, and the thought inside is tremendously exciting, because Sartre refutes solipsism and finally brings consciousness outside into the world. This book is highly recommended to those interested in Existentialist Philosophy.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Existential Classic
The Transendence of the Ego is the heart and soul of Sartre's philosopy.It is a classic and a must for anyone who wants to delve deeper in his/her understanding of Sartre's other philosophical views.It is a wonderfulthesis, more or less an expanded introduction to Being and Nothingness.

5-0 out of 5 stars mind blowing
transcending the ego, is the state to which 'organized' religions preach, whether christian, jew, muslim, hindu, buddhist, shamin. this little book is so deep, with so few words, it is astounding.read this and the secondhalf of Flatlander by Abbott. ... Read more

11. Tete-a-Tete: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre
by Hazel Rowley
Hardcover: 432 Pages (2005-10-01)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$6.99
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Asin: 0060520590
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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They are one of the world's legendary couples. We can't think of one without thinking of the other. Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre -- those passionate, freethinking existentialist philosopher-writers -- had a committed but notoriously open union that generated no end of controversy. With Tete-a-Tete, distinguished biographer Hazel Rowley offers the first dual portrait of these two colossal figures and their intense, often embattled relationship. Through original interviews and access to new primary sources, Rowley portrays them up close, in their most intimate moments.

We witness Beauvoir and Sartre with their circle, holding court in Paris cafes. We learn the details of their infamous romantic entanglements with the young Olga Kosakiewicz and others; of their efforts to protest the wars in Algeria and Vietnam; and of Beauvoir's tempestuous love affair with Nelson Algren. We follow along on their many travels, involving meetings with dignitaries such as Roosevelt, Khrushchev, and Castro. We listen in on the couple's conversations about Sartre's Nausea, Being and Nothingness, and Words, and Beauvoir's The Second Sex, The Mandarins, and her memoirs. And we hear the anguished discussions that led Sartre to refuse the Nobel Prize.

The impact of their writings on modern thought cannot be overestimated, but Beauvoir and Sartre are remembered just as much for the lives they led. They were brilliant, courageous, profoundly innovative individuals, and Tete-a-Tete shows the passion, energy, daring, humor, and contradictions of their remarkable, unorthodox relationship. Theirs is a great story -- and a great story is precisely what Beauvoir and Sartre most wanted their lives to be.

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Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Tete a Tete is the love story of philosophers Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir
The father of modern existentialism along with his sometime friend Albert Camus was Jean Paul Satre (1905-85). Hazel Rowley has done herself proud in delineating the love affair between Sartre and the equally brilliant feminist author Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986).
Anyone interested in the finer points of Satrian existentialistic thought will not find it in the steamy pages of Rowley's tome. Her book focuses on the personal lives of Satre and Beauvoir. It is a fascinating tale of the French beauty (de Beauvoir) and the beast (Sartre). Sartre and Beauvoir led complex love lives; never lived together and Beauvoir never had a child. She was the daughter of George de Beauvoir one time lawyer and amateur actor and Francois Brasseur a native of Verdun. Beauvoir and Satre were both brilliant students who studied at the Sorbonne winning prizes for their academic achievements. The two never married and usually spent nights apart. They did travel widely in Europe, America and the Far East.
Sartre loved women. Many ladies were sexually attracted to Sartre who was wall-eyed, short and ugly.Sartre was a little man whose face was covered with blackheadsable to talk non-stop about his ideas. Sartre and Beauvoir both taught for many years. Sartre served in the French military and was captured by the Nazis having to serve as a POW for several months. Both authors lived in occupied Paris and worked with the underground. Neither was Jewish. Following World War II Sartre was a fellow traveler and enamored of Communism. He and Beauvoir traveled to Russia and Cuba. They were among the leading Western intellectuals who were snookered by communistic propoganda. Sartre refused to accept the Nobel Prize. Sartre edited a magazine with the assistance of Beuvoir. He and she enjoyed a tight knit familial life including several of their lovers. Jealousy and sexual betrayal were rife in this menage of many!
His works include several plays including "No Exit" and long philosophical explanations of existentialism such as "Being and Nothingness". Beauvoir is most famous for "The Second Sex" a classic of feministic literature and such novels as "The Mandarins" and "She Came to Stay." Both authors were famous especially so among young intellectual. They were atheists and rebels against bourgeoisie society.
The authors sometimes shared lovers. Beauvoir had affairs with American novelist Nelson Algren and French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann best known for his film "Shoah" a nine hour examination of the holocaust as told by those who had lived through the hellish experience.Sartre was sexually insatiable with a very active libido.Sartre continued to have many mistresses until his death. He needed to be nourished and loved by female admirers. Beavoir had both male and female lovers, He and Beauvoir werekind people with brilliant minds. The two lovers and longtime friends are buried next to each other at the Cimeterie du Montparnasse in the Paris neighborhood of their apartments and coffee shops they loved to frequent.
Rowley has done an excellent job of researching the lives of this famous and influentual couple in the worlds of literature and modern philosophy. The book is well illustrated with photos and contains an excellent bibliography.

4-0 out of 5 stars Rich Productive Lives, or Serial Middle age Sexual Debauchery?
It is a given that Mme Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre lived full rich productive lives according to their own existential philosophy and according to their own (to use their words) "temporary moral codes." Thus, this book begs an interesting question: Why waste 400 pages recounting and putting all of the emphasis on the voyeuristic details of their six-decades of sexual encounters? After about four chapters of middle (and old) age sexual debauchery, treachery, double (and triple)-crosses -- all interspersed between a lot of hiking, driving, suicides and all night drinking and "hanging out" in sleazy Left Bank hotels and bars, I think we finally get the picture of the letters. This existentialist "cult of personality," with de Beauvoir and Sartre at the epicenter of a group of young (mostly) virgins and "hangers-ons," was a fad that "came-and-went" and then, began to outlive its aura and its time.

At the end of the book I was still patiently waiting to finally get squarely into the "heavy stuff:" their existentialist philosophy, the couple's political activities, their attitudes towards the U.S.; their lectures and speeches, their books and plays, etc. I only realized as an afterthought and at the bitter end of the book that the numerous tidbits, which had been unceremoniously skimmed over and interspersed between the lines (and literally indeed between the sheets), as asides, en passant comments, or revelations from pillow talk, was all there was! It took a rereading of the entire book to isolate, collate and finally organize the nuggets of worthwhile substance for myself so as to be able to retain a fuller more balanced picture of this iconic couple's contributions to the world.

How could the author in good conscience hide in between irrelevant sexual trysts the fact that Sartre began and wrote most of his magnum opus "Being and Nothingness" while in a German concentration camp, after receiving a copy of Heidegger's "Being in Time" from a German officer (no less)! How much more important (than hearing about his serial sexual seductions of virgins) it would have been to know Sartre's exact state of mind during those trying days as he was grappling and struggling with this foremost intellectual beast?

The text begged (literally screamed) for more details about his long running dispute and feud with Camus and Arthur Koestler on the issue of Communism. In fact, I found it the height of tawdriness that many of the references to the couple's association with other famous political and literary figures such as the Koestlers, Albert Camus, Raymond Aron, Andre Malreaux, Merleau-Ponty, and Pablo Picasso, seemed to also have been "mined" as much for their salacious and prurient, as for their intellectual, content. It seemed that only Richard Wright and his wife escaped the gossipy muck.

Although the historical milestones, of both of these philosophical giants and trailblazers were artfully used to frame the chapters, these letters required being placed in context, otherwise they are allowed to overshadow and clobber everything else. Unfortunately, it seems that everything important about this couple has here been compressed into the spicy aspects of their sex lives. And while I cannot say that it did not interest me at all that Mme Beauvoir was dismissed from her teaching job because of her Lesbian activities, I was infinitely more interested in the fact that in her magnum opus, the "Second Sex" she explains that: the world is a masculine world nourished by myths forged by men. And that in all cultures, (even those said to be matriarchal) man is regarded as the subject, and woman as "the Other." Otherness, according to Mme Beauvoir, apparently is a fundamental category of human thought. No group can set itself up as the "One," without also setting up another as the "Other." How much more important it would have been to focus on Beauvoir's most profound thesis that: We think through a man's ideal, through his myths and hero system; that women's lack of freedom can either be inflicted, in which case it constitutes oppression; or it can be chosen, in which case it represents a moral failure. And that: no matter how it occurs, sexual discrimination, like racial discrimination is an absolute evil.

Beyond her Lesbianism, and above her sexual trysts, de Beauvoir in her letters, seems to have broken the code of American culture for, even though it was like pulling teeth, from the eighth chapter on, we learn (reading between the lines of her sexual conquests) that we organize our lives through "men directed values" and "men directed morals." Breaking away from this deeply embedded and built in framework requires not just determination, but also a great deal of moral courage. American society is not unique in that it makes it easy to forego one's liberty and become a thing (in a man's world) (or in the case of Blacks, in a white dominated world).

Since there are advantages to be gained by playing up to men (or to whites and their racist values), living through them, being supported by them, etc. As a result, many women (or Blacks in the case of racism) chose to take this easier route. On this easier route, one avoids the strain involved in undertaking an authentic existence. The central problem of the sexes (or the races) is that man's (or white's) advantages lie in the fact that their vocation as men (or as a white tribe) in no way runs counter to their destiny as human beings. Their respective social and spiritual successes in both cases endow them with a virile prestige and power. The male and the white tribe thus, are not divided in the pursuit of their self-esteem. Whereas it is required of women and blacks that in order to realize their human worth they must make inhumane sacrifices against their own natures. They must give up their subjectivity and become objects. In the case of women, they must become the prey to the stronger forces of a male dominated society. For blacks, they must bow to a bankrupt set of racist values and customs. Which is to say, in either case, they must renounce their claims to their own dignity and sovereignty as free human beings and subjects.

There are other bright spots in the book too.

For instance in chapter seven, in one of his first post war public lectures Sartre summarizes the meaning of Existentialism as being neither a pessimistic nor a negative philosophy, but one whose basic doctrine is that since God is dead, there is only liberty and contingency: man must thus make himself. There is no such thing as a priori human nature or essence; existence precedes essence. Each individual has to assume his freedom and create his own life. And in the classic Ayn Rand sense, with sufficient willpower, we can transcend all emotions, discomforts, and obstacles; and then we can choose, and without excuses, take full responsibility for ourselves. Sartre's existentialist philosophy could not be more aptly summarized than in his proclamation that it is frightening to be free. We hold our destinies in our own hands. It is up to us to determine the substance of our lives, including the way we choose to love. We are not born cowardly or lazy (or even debauched); we choose to be these things. Man is responsible for what he is condemned to be: free. Existentialism is not about possibilities or intentions for the future, or about mere words, but about concrete projects, about deeds in the present. No one is a genius unless it is expressed in his works. In fact, anything less is considered "bad faith:" a failure to achieve the authentic self. Bad faith is a failure of one to face up to, and properly orientate oneself towards, and then act to promote, his own freedom.

And finally, on his views on America, we discover that when Sartre visited the U.S. for the first time in 1945, he was astonished at the level of discrimination against blacks. "In this land of freedom and equality there live thirteen million untouchables," he wrote. "They wait on your table, they polish your shoes, they operate the elevator, they carry your suitcases into your compartment, but they have nothing to do with you, nor you with them.In 1946 after returning to France, he wrote a novel called "The Respectful Prostitute," inspired by the famous Scottsboro, Alabama case, in which nine black youths were falsely accused of raping two white prostitutes. As a result of the book he was accused of being anti-American, to which he replied: "I don't even know what the words mean. The writer's duty is to denounce injustice everywhere, and all the more so when he loves the country, which lets this injustice happen."

In conclusion, one can argue that all the pieces are here, the letters attest to this fact. But it takes a heroic effort on the part of the reader to reassemble them into a coherent and respectful whole. This is what I expected the author to do. How much better it would have been, had the author foregone so much of the nihilistic debauchery, and just focused on the world class contributions of this, one of history's most important couples as reflected in the letters? It would have made it so much easier for the reader. Four stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars A love storie
between two of the most famouse philosopher of our time; Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. A must read! Roda Lerpold

5-0 out of 5 stars Simone and Sartre
All I can say about this book is that is was so hard to put it down ! It made you feel as if you were European sitting alongside Sartre and "The Beaver" sharing your most secret thoughts and being open minded sitting in your favorite cafe in Paris! You really do open your mind after reading this book ................it is something everyone should read. I will say that you must be a little open minded to even begin reading this because of some of the content but it lets you in on their most personal lives.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Book that Eventually Had to be Written
I'm surprised that it took so long, almost 20 years since the subjects' passing, for someone to assemble the record of their relationship.Perhaps it's been assumed that those who care about Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir know the story, as I thought I did.There is a tendency to keep relationships off limits, but this relationship is central to understanding the body of work of these two intellectuals.I found this book particularly relevant to understanding Simone de Beauvoir.

Rowley summarizes what is known of the various triangles, rectangles and complex situations resulting from Jean Paul Sartre's incredible need to be loved and surrounded by women... a passion he pays for both literally and figuratively.Sartre seems to see women as "prey" and to keep them he makes them in some way dependent on him (i.e. he takes their freedom away). This is the epitome of Beauvoir's thesis in The Second Sex. Beauvoir also has an active romantic life, but hers seems, more often than not, to be a reaction to Sartre's.While this content could easily be exploited, the writer avoids prurient language and the eroticism is only implied.

This book provokes old and new questions about their relationship and their views.Could the two have been so productive had they never met?How could Sartre condone/promote what was going on in Russia, particularly after visiting and experiencing his own and Zonina's lack of freedom? How could Beauvoir condone/promote Sartre when his liaisons were so sexist in nature?Did Beauvoir, despite the rhetoric, want Sartre exclusively?Did her vicarious romantic life stem from her unmet need for his secure and singular love?
... Read more

12. The Age of Reason: A Novel
by Jean-Paul Sartre
 Paperback: 416 Pages (1992-07-07)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$8.39
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Asin: 0679738959
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The first novel of Sartre's monumental Roads to Freedom series, The Age of Reason is set in 1938 and tells of Mathieu, a French professor of philosophy who is obsessed with the idea of freedom. As the shadows of the Second World War draw closer -- even as his personal life is complicated by his mistress's pregnancy -- his search for a way to remain free becomes more and more intense.

"Entertaining...the characters are well observed and conscientiously and intelligently studied."

-- Edmund Wilson, The New Yorker ... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars High-Minded Egoist in Domestic Crisis (and Astonishing Insect Metaphors)
Mathieu Delarue, a 34-year old philosophy professor, has led his life so that he has maintained complete freedom, which he defines as closing off no possibilities in his future. This makes philosophical sense to Mathieu, who wants his freedom in place, if and when he is required to perform a great act of conscience or begin a mission of self-fulfillment. It's 1938 and going to Spain to fight the Fascists has been tempting but not quite right. Meanwhile, Mathieu remains interested in the life of Gauguin, who, in his forties, left a Sunday-painter's life in France to become a great painter in Tahiti.

While Mathieu has lofty philosophical ideas, the effect of his freedom, he admits, has been to "dexterously construct an undistinguished but solid happiness upon the basis of inertia and to justify himself from time to time on the highest moral grounds." He is, in the words of other characters, a small-time government official, a solid member of the bourgeoisie, and a person whose relationship with Marcelle, his long-time girlfriend, is indistinguishable from a marriage.

Then, Marcelle becomes pregnant and Mathieu, who wastes his money drinking with students in bars, has to choose. Will there be an abortion, enabling Mathieu to preserve his so-called freedom? Or, will Mathieu marry Marcelle and basically recognize the nature of the prosaic life he has made?

Then, add to this dynamic an evil and manipulative friend who resents Mathieu's bogus sense of freedom, a childish female student who has come to represent freedom in Mathieu's mind, and a lack of money to pay for a safe abortion. The effect of this literary concoction is an absolutely great and riveting tale, where Mathieu comes to terms with his illusions and responsibilities. And, it has a surprise ending!

But say you don't like novels in which a protagonist confronts the nature and limits of his or her life? Then, read THE AGE OF REASON anyway, simply to enjoy Sartre's amazing writing. In this case, read with a ready eye for his numerous descriptions of light in Paris or for his amazing facility with similes and metaphors. You're only in Chapter 1, for example, when you read:

"Her mouth snapped out the last words: a varnished mauve-tinted mouth, like a crimson insect intent upon devouring that ashen visage."

"She collapsed on to his shoulder, sobbed a little, but she did not cry. It was all the she could allow herself: a rainless storm."

A great book and highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars If only for Ivich, this book is worth it.
Ivich is amazing. She has haunted me. I've chased her down the street in a hundred cities.

1-0 out of 5 stars Defective Book Shipped by Amazon
The first 3-5 lines of the following pages were poorly printed and the remainder of the pages were blank. The defectively printed pages were 291, 292, 293, & 294 plus pages 299, 300, 301, & 302. I have never before received a defective book from Amazon, in spite of the large number of books that I have purchased from them.

5-0 out of 5 stars Something like a French Dostoyevsky...
Having already read *The Reprieve,* I have now finished two-thirds of Sartre's "Roads to Freedom" trilogy--that's over 800 pages--and I cannot wait to begin the third volume...that's how compelling I find these novels. It's difficult to explain their appeal. In *The Age of Reason,* a philosophy professor discovers his lover is pregnant and spends the next two days frantically trying to raise enough money for an abortion. His life zigzags haphazardly through a rich cast of characters whose stories and intertwined fates--complex, tragic, absurd--continue in the next volume.

What Sartre does is immerse us in the struggles of these characters as they each attempt to define and make sense of their lives...this struggle informed, of course, by the existential principles of Sartre's own philosophy. What Sartre does so well in *The Age of Reason* is to portray the psychological torment of men and women under even fairly ordinary circumstances. Here is the quiet drama of consciousness, the sufferings of daily life...at least as it is experienced by those who give it any thought.

What does it mean to be free--to have a life that means something? These are the questions that obsess Mathieu as he runs into one dead-end after another in his search for the abortion fee and at the same time wallows in a hopeless erotic obsession with a self-destructive young female student. All the distinctive trappings of a French existential novel are here--the drinking, the brooding, the café's, the jazz bars, the intellectual dissection of every act and motive, the relentless self-analysis...it's a riveting read if you don't require a lot of explosions, kidnappings, and sordid murders to entertain you.

Unlike his stylistic experimentation in *The Reprieve,* Sartre narrates *The Age of Reason* in a traditional, straightforward style, but it's no less briskly-paced; if anything, there is a higher pitch of emotional intensity in this novel and less ennui than in *The Reprieve.* Its not absolutely necessary to read *The Age of Reason* first,I didn't, but I would definitely recommend doing so, as it enriches vastly your understanding of the characters in the second book.

As I mentioned in my review of *The Reprieve,* I can hardly believe that the Sartre of *Being and Nothingness* famewas capable of writing in such a lively and entertaining manner, *Nausea* aside. So this series has so far come as one of the most pleasant literary surprises I've had in years. If the French, their philosophy, or existentialism appeal to you at all--or just a good novel about interesting characters facing the void within life--then I'd unreservedly recommend you take a look at *The Age of Reason.*

1-0 out of 5 stars Obnoxious Characters Make for Masochistic Reading
If this novel had been my only exposure to existentialist thought, I never would have considered the philosophy seriously.The characters in this novel are so obnoxious I'd feel more comfortable hanging out with Dick Cheney in a dungeon full of scorpions, and I feel sorry for anyone who identifies with them or knows people who are like them.Sartre intentionally makes the characters so hateable because he wants to show us the necessity of taking responsibility for one's freedom, but I'm not sure his point works; such people may decide that they willfully want to own up to their whimsically obnoxious ways.If you want to read novels that present existentialist issues, I would recommend Virginia Woolf, especially works like "To the Lighthouse." ... Read more

13. Existentialism Is a Humanism
by Jean Paul Sartre
Paperback: 128 Pages (2007-07-24)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$5.21
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Asin: 0300115466
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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It was to correct common misconceptions about his thought that Sartre accepted an invitation to speak on October 29, 1945, at the Club Maintenant in Paris. The unstated objective of his lecture (“Existentialism Is a Humanism”) was to expound his philosophy as a form of “existentialism,” a term much bandied about at the time. Sartre asserted that existentialism was essentially a doctrine for philosophers, though, ironically, he was about to make it accessible to a general audience. The published text of his lecture quickly became one of the bibles of existentialism and made Sartre an international celebrity.
The idea of freedom occupies the center of Sartre’s doctrine. Man, born into an empty, godless universe, is nothing to begin with. He creates his essence—his self, his being—through the choices he freely makes (“existence precedes essence”). Were it not for the contingency of his death, he would never end. Choosing to be this or that is to affirm the value of what we choose. In choosing, therefore, we commit not only ourselves but all of mankind.
This edition of Existentialism Is a Humanism is a translation of the 1996 French edition, which includes Arlette Elkaïm-Sartre’s introduction and a Q&A with Sartre about his lecture. Paired with “Existentialism Is a Humanism” is another seminal Sartre text, his commentary on Camus’s The Stranger. In her foreword, intended for an American audience, acclaimed Sartre biographer Annie Cohen-Solal offers an assessment of both works.
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Customer Reviews (9)

2-0 out of 5 stars Pretty but not worth it
I'll give this to you--the cover of this book is designed very well: hip lower case type, mysterious empty chair, and all those pebbles make for an alluring product. But the content didn't stand up to the cover. At one point perhaps this was an important, necessary work--but now this is Sartre defending his philosophy against claims no one is making to people who are soaked in existentialism from a young age. This is not Sartre giving a great introduction to his philosophy--that was not his goal: he sought to defend existentialism from its detractors, not to explain the niceties of the theory to them. If you want a primer on Sartre's philosophy and existentialism as a whole you would be better looking at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online (Sartre: [...]; existentialism: [...]).

What you're paying for here is a well-designed cover.

5-0 out of 5 stars An overview
This lecture gave me a better overview compared to other books I've read on the philosophy. It's worth buying, although it is a little short.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Clearest Statement yet of Sartre's Version of Existentialism
This short but extremely clear volume was one of the first opportunities after the war for Sartre to explain to a lay audience his version of Existentialism. It took place on October 29, 1945 when the then already very famous French philosopher was invited to the "Club Maintenant" to "promote literary and intellectual discussion." Sartre used this lecture as an opportunity to settle scores and to set the record straight by answering all his critics at once. They had, among many other charges, leveled the uncomfortable charge that Existentialism showed only the negative and pessimistic side of human nature, and therefore as a philosophy (concerned mostly with abandonment, anguish and anxiety), was thus itself very much devoid of humanity. Sartre took these charges rather personally and to better make his points, pitched the lecture to the least sophisticated of the audience. What results is a beautifully articulated and clearly translated formulation of Sartre's basic philosophy. He answers his critics with a biting flourish, in what is not only a clear exposition, but also a penetratingly coherent piece.

To wit: Existence precedes essence, and in any case is arbitrary. In this world, man is defined by the choices he makes and by his commitments to those choices. He does not define himself prior to his existence and exists only in the present, well beyond any concept of natural determinism. In Sartre's view, there is no human nature superior to that described here.

In short, there is no God; we have been abandoned to our fate. That point however should not be misconstrued as that Existentialism is only about Atheism. It simply affirms that even if a God existed, it would make no difference to our humanity. Human nature is not a self-congratulatory condition, but rather a fearful, uncertain, anguished and forlorn condition. Thus the real problem with our humanity is not with God's existence, but with man's own existence. Existentialism argues that man does not need a God so much as he needs to rediscover himself and to comprehend that nothing can save him from himself -- not even proof of the existence of a god. In Sartre's view, this understanding alone makes Existentialism, not only profoundly human, but also optimistic about human nature and the human condition.

But more to the point, according to this formulation, anyone who believes otherwise is actually acting in "bad faith." From the Existentialist's point of view, once man is abandoned to his own fate he can have only one true goal: freedom for its own sake. That is to say, he is abandoned to his own fate with freedom (and his commitment to it) as his only universal project. At the bottom of this project, choice becomes the root node of the human condition, and the very basis of his primary reality. And because there is no god, there can be no pre-determined good. Good, like meaning, morality, judgment and values, all must be constructed from scratch as an existential project. That is to say, these all emerge directly from having made the choice and commitment to be free. Thus man has another important choice to make: to proceed through his world in either "good, " or "bad" faith.

If he proceeds in "good faith, he will discover that life has no a priori meaning. In our quest for freedom we must make committed choices that result in the invention of meaning and values as we go. Life itself is nothing until (and unless) it is lived. It is we (and not our gods or our dreams and wishes) that gives life it's meaning. And values are nothing more than the meaning we ascribe to them through our actions.Thus proceeding in "good faith" means that things must be accepted as they are; one must learn to live an authentic life of action, taking responsibility for his own existence -- without the need for either crutches or excuses.

Proceeding in "bad faith," on the other hand, means living an inauthentic life, one based on fantasy, excuses, wishes, promises and mythology. According to this formulation, God is seen as the "grand executor" and "creator" of all meaning. And as a result, man's only responsibility (both to himself and to his god) is obeying God's will and edicts. From the Existentialist point of view this approach is a barren and a coward's way out, because it forces man to shrink from being responsible for his own existence. He chooses instead a kind of self-congratulatory fetishsized life of fantasized meanings.

The last chapter of the book also has a critique of Camus' "The Stranger," but I will leave that aspect for my own review of that book. Five Stars

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great First Hand Introduction to Existentialism
This book is really good for anyone who is interested in getting a solid understanding of the French school of Atheist Existentialism from a firsthand source.If you are like me, you hate reading primers, and other secondhand attempts to interpret or reduce a philosopher's work to simple arguments.This is a simple straight forward explanation, straight from the mouth of one of the foremost figures of Existentialism.I highly recommend it for anyone interested in getting to know about Existentialism without having to read an Existentialism for dummies guide.Sartre gives a clear and concise argument for his theories that should be understandable to most anyone, with or without a background in philosophy.Sartre's whole speech only goes on for about sixty pages, so this is by no means a difficult mountain of a work.At the same time, if you are already pretty familiar with Existentialism and the work of Sartre, this might very well feel like it adds nothing significantly new to the debate.

5-0 out of 5 stars Is Existentialism a Humanism?
Is Existentialism a Humanism?

"Is Existentialism a Humanism?" was the title of Sartre's famous lecture in October 1945 given to an overflow crowd and rapidly to become the talk of the left-bank cafes, then all of Paris and Europe.The talk started by proclaiming "existence precedes essence" which meant, he explained, that individuals create their own values because there is no moral order in the universe.This freedom is the ultimate value.The talk went on by echoing his book "Being and Nothingness".He gave the lecture to answer his critics among the communists and catholics.He needed to present a viable and relevant social philosophy in order to stand comparison with these two groups.He based his appeal on Kant's ethic of universal principles.He continued by arguing that we need a sense of responsibility for other people and society as a whole (which was different from his previous contentions).In asserting that Existentialism is a Humanism Sartre means that it places the human being at the center of its attention and at the apex of its value hierarchy. Our ultimate goal should be to foster the freedom of the individual.To read more about Existentialism see Thomas R. Flynn(2006) "Existentialism: A Very ShortIntroduction", Oxford University Press.
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14. Last Chance: Roads of Freedom IV
by Jean-Paul Sartre, Craig Vasey
Paperback: 232 Pages (2009-11-30)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$10.88
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Asin: 1847065511
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This is the first English translation of Sartre's unfinished fourth volume of "Roads to Freedom", exploring the interrelations of politics, responsibility; friendship and freedom - themes central to Sartrean existentialism. "Last Chance" brings to an English-speaking audience for the first time the unfinished fourth volume of Jean-Paul Sartre's hugely important "Roads to Freedom cycle". "Sartre's Roads to Freedom" is generally read and regarded as a trilogy, made up of "Age of Reason", "The Reprieve" and "Troubled Sleep". In fact, Sartre began a fourth volume and, although he never finished the work, two chapters, "Strange Friendship" and "Last Chance", were published in French by Gallimard after his death. Set in a German prisoner of war camp, these chapters continue the story of Roads to Freedom, exploring the interrelations of politics, responsibility, friendship and freedom - themes central to Sartrean existentialism. The Pleiade edition published by Gallimard included a previously unpublished interview with Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir's account of his plans for the unfinished fourth volume, and an introduction to the unfinished fragments by the editor, Michel Contat.All this material is translated and published here in this, the first English-language edition of a work that makes an enormous contribution to our understanding of Sartre's hugely influential "Roads to Freedom" cycle. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Look at Satre's Unfinished Novel
A blurb on the back of THE LAST CHANCE: ROADS OF FREEDOM IV calls this book a scholarly edition of the fourth and unfinished volume of Sartre's ROADS OF FREEDOM series. The completed novels in this series, which is usually considered a trilogy, are the terrific THE AGE OF REASON, THE REPRIEVE, and TROUBLED SLEEP, and conclude with Mathieu, a philosophy professor, fighting bravely against Nazi troops and Brunet, an I-do-what-they-tell-me communist, organizing POWs and readying them to manage their imprisonment.

In TLC:RoF IV, the Continuum imprint provides two stories, only one printed in Sartre's lifetime, that explore the fates of Mathieu and Brunet. In "Strange Friendship", Brunet, a loyal communist, finds his personal instincts in disagreement with the Party's ideological line. This provokes an ambiguous crisis of belief and leads to an inept and deadly attempt to attain freedom. Meanwhile, "The Last Chance" shows Mathieu and Brunet, each transformed in war, exploring another dangerous road of freedom.To avoid spoilers, I'll simply say that Mathieu was paralyzed by freedom in peacetime while Brunet had surrendered his freedom to the Party. But in this story, powerful logic and experiences have made them different men.

TLC:RoF IV is a hybrid. Besides its two stories, which are pieces of the unfinished novel, the book contains various fragments. These are interesting, especially when they show Sartre trying to discover how the trauma of killing in warfare has affected Mathieu. Here, for example, is the troubled Mathieu in reverie: "Chalot sighed, and Mathieu slipped the blade in, without hate or cruelty... If he hadn't killed those Germans, he'd never have known how naked men are. Their mortality was a new dimension of intimacy."In addition, TLC contains a 1945 interview with Sartre, where he discusses his intentions in THE AGE OF REASON and THE REPRIEVE, which had just published. And, this book contains Beauvoir's overview of the unfinished novel and some critical commentary.

TLC is certainly an interesting package for those who enjoyed THE ROADS OF FREEDOM trilogy, as well as a disheartening indication of what was lost when Sartre decided to abandon this novel. Recommended.
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15. The Reprieve: A Novel
by Jean-Paul Sartre
Paperback: 464 Pages (1992-07-07)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$11.89
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Asin: 0679740783
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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An extraordinary picture of life in France during the critical eight days before the signing of the fateful Munich Pact and the subsequent takeover of Czechoslovakia in September 1938.Translated from the French by Eric Sutton. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Many Brilliant Characters Bring a Historical Crisis to Life
In THE REPRIEVE, Sartre follows the actions and thoughts of roughly 20 major characters from September 23rd to September 30th 1938. This is the week when the Sudeten crisis--Hitler's bullying scheme to annex part of Czechoslovakia---reached its climax and the French were mobilizing for war.

In THE REPRIEVE, Sartre goes at his charactes from all directions. Sometimes, he contrasts their reactions to this crisis. At one point, for example, the college boy Boris romanticizes a war to preserve Czechoslovakia, calmly considering death in battle his destiny. Meanwhile, Mathieu, a professor, believes the war has annulled his life, making his past a lie. Other times, Sartre raises a theme--innocence, martyrdom, or existential freedom. Then, his characters, through their actions, reveal the fullness of these themes. For example, the issue of martyrdom in THE REPRIEVE is embodied in the stories of Charles (a disabled veteran of The Great War), Gomez (a Republican soldier returning to the lost Spanish Civil War), and Philippe (a confused teenage pacifist who takes pointless risks to express his conscience).

Adding to the richness of THE REPRIEVE are roughly 10 couples, whose relationships range from passionate (Maurice and Zezette) to sterile (Jacques and Odette) and in which the experiences of partners range from empowered (Ivich) to powerless (Mathieu). Sartre moves the effects of the Sudeten crisis through these relationships as well, giving added depth to his characters.

In THE REPRIEVE, Sartre consistently employs a technique that is like cross-cuts in the movies. In the introduction to my edition , David Caute, observes: "Sartre now unveils the formidable resources of the modern novel (and indeed modern cinema...) to move from one location to the next with lightning rapidity, often in mid-sentence. What emerges is a collective stream of consciousness fashioned out of a mosaic of individual lives, each thrashing to be free of the looming... war."

To illustrate how this works, I open THE REPREIVE at random to page 211, where Sartre cuts back and forth between three characters that are on trains. These are: the gurney-bound Charles, who is being evacuated in a freight car from the frontier; Georges, a thirty-something bourgeois father who is reporting to military duty and finding the experience surprisingly benign; and Maurice, a working class man and communist who, for nationalistic reasons, is joining his unit to fight in a war that communists then considered just-deserts for capitalism. Certainly, it's impressive that Sartre is able to maintain absolute clarity of character and situation as he cuts from train to train. But what's really impressive is his control of the narrative, which has enabled him to put three contrasting characters and stories on trains at the same moment. Throughout, THE REPREIVE has this amazing layering of complementary incident. But its effects may culminate as Karl, a young German, and Ella, a young French Jew, listen to the broadcast of Hitler's Big-Lie speech, when he justifies Nazi aggression toward Czechoslovakia.

Sartre's writing in THE REPRIEVE is exceptional. Usually, this takes the form of incredible precision. Even so, Sartre does put the character Mathieu at a midnight outdoor table at the Cafédes Deux Magots. There, he observes: "A woman clattered along in a hurry... a harassed mortal denizen to time, devoured by a thousand little schemes, she lifted a hand and smoothed back a stray lock of hair. I was like her once: a hive of schemes... The darkness swallowed her up as she pattered into the rue Bonaparte... clacking heels were silent."

A great novel and highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars A philosophical potboiler...
*The Reprieve* is the second book in Sartre's epic World War II trilogy, which starts with *The Age of Reason* and ends with *Troubled Sleep.* Because it happened to be the one I found in the library, I started in medias res, so to speak, with *The Reprieve.*

Maybe the greatest compliment that I can pay this novel is thateven after 450 pages I immediately ordered the other two in the trilogy and can hardly wait to start *The Age of Reason.* It's hard to believe that the same author who, in *Being and Nothingness,* gave the world what is probably the most turgid philosophical masterpiece since the works of Hegel can write a novel as quickly paced, as compulsively readable, and as utterly absorbing as *The Reprieve.* Indeed I'd been prejudiced for years against reading this trilogy because I couldn't imagine it being anything but the dullest sort of fictional clunker.

I couldn't have been more wrong!

The war hasn't even started in *The Reprieve* and yet the drama is perhaps all the more intense for the oppressive sense of the storm of blood and steel about to break. The novel covers about a week in France during which the major European powers attempt a last-minute negotiation with Hitler to maintain the peace. Sartre tells the story of this tense week through the viewpoints of a wide variety of characters from every strata of French society. In doing so, he dramatizes the impact the shadow even a looming war can throw over individual lives--paradoxically defining and negating the very concepts of freedom and individuality. On the verge of being swept into history, Sartre's characters are also on the verge of being annihilated...and on some level, whether it's instinctual, intellectual, or emotional, each of them know it and each experience a kind of terrified exhilaration.

This is a deeply philosophical novel but not in a heavy-handed or didactic way. There are very few "philosophical digressions" in the true sense in *The Reprieve*; rather Sartre's philosophy permeates the entire novel from beginning to end in so seamless and un-intrusive a fashion that you experience an understanding of existentialism from the gut. And this is perfectly as it should be; for existentialism is a response as well as a manifestation of a felt sense of being, the nausea resulting from the absurdity of human life, not an arid and wholly theoretical intellectual exercise. What is so riveting, rare, and admirable about *The Reprieve* is that Sartre--a bona-fide major philosopher--was able to repackage his ideas with the skill of a first-rate novelist.

Sorry Jean-Paul. I had you pegged wrong. You beat the pants off Camus hands-down.

4-0 out of 5 stars why appeasement doesn'twork
this is sartre's 2nd book in the "roads to freedom" series. i stongly suggest that you read them in order as one builds off the other. i liked this book alot, but it was not as powerful as "the age of reason"(see my review).

the books tells of the 5 days preceeding the munich agreement when all of europe was gearing up for war. a general knowledge of that historical moment would be very beneficial in understanding the book. unlike the 1st book which follows the traditional storytelling mode, this book jumps from scene to scene with great rapidity. these jumps can occur in the middle of a paragraph and sometimes in the middle of a sentence. this kaleidoscopic effect can be frustrating at first, but as you get comfortable with it and the various characters and story lines, it is very easy to catch the jumps. as a matter fact, it actually gives the storyline a much greater sense of movement and action than without it.

the title comes from the fact that the munich agreement does not really prevent the war as it was first thought it would do by the signators. it simply put off the inevitable. as a matter of fact, europe's giving up of czechoslovakian territory to hitler may have actually emboldened him to grab more territory, thereby starting the war. appeasement didn't work then either.

the individual stories cover a myriad of issues from cowardice to duty from both men's and women's perspectives. since it involves mainly the french, it even gives some historical insight into why the french are the way they are today.

both of these books show sartre as an excellent story teller who incorporates challenging and thoughtful themes that keep you pondering long after you have turned the last page.

4-0 out of 5 stars There is no fog in Paris in this novel
However one disagrees with Sartre's philosophy, his Marxism, and his anti-Americanism, it is difficult to argue against his personal involvement in what he believed in. Sartre was no pipe-smoking, arm-chair academic content to let others do his fighting. He was always there on the front-lines, perhaps bellicose in his utterings, but always visible. An issue he disagreed with never experienced-his-absence, and Sartre did not hesitate to also be a novelist-philosopher, and as such, he showed more moral courage than perhaps any 20th century philosopher. The equality of idea and action was perhaps an axiom for Sartre, and his life was definitely an empirical validation of such.

Definitely introspective to extremes, this novel, the second in his series "The Roads to Freedom", is the ultimate portrayal of life in France before the Munich Pact and the takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1938. As a reader, it is easy to get trapped in the stream of consciousness approach that Sartre takes in his novel. Each character is not to be found alone, but immersed in the quagmire of panic, and for some, exhiliration, at the prospect of wartime conflict. The characters define themselves by the instant, their attitudes caught in the flux, that flux impossible to arrest, but their choices completely free nonetheless. Their individuality is sometimes robbed by the gaze of the other, but captured again by choice. Ideology has a short time scale for them.

Sartre does not really shout at the reader through his characters. But their predicament is believable. Their anxiety sometimes familiar, but they also have a perhaps hidden optimism. They know it is themselves, and no other, that determines their future history. The (burden?) of choice is with them always, and they understand fully the power of consequences. But choice works for them as well as against. This makes the appreciation of these characters easy and familiar.

5-0 out of 5 stars the collective consciousness.
The only thing I will comment (because I do not give away the book) is the writing style.If you are expecting "Age of Reason" part II, then you will not get what you were looking for...the writing style or mode is very different.The way the book is put together is there aremany characters all in different parts of French territory in different walks of life, ages, sexes, etc.Often times when you are reading you will lose sight of where one character speaks or thinks and the next one.you will have to go line by line in the same paragraph, where a sentence ina paragraph represents a though of a different character and that character will not be identified...but you will know...but it becomes irrelevant who says or feels what because it is about the collective consciousness of french people in the midst of war...and this is the biggest success of the book is that this technique so succesful and masterfully implemented.It makes the book feel like events are happening so quickly and things are moving so fast which lends to the urgency of the situation in France.I feel like its a forrest fire...that starts with a brush and picks up momentum until its raging!There are new characters in this book and he has carried the old characters over.Please do yourself a favor and do not read the series out of order. ... Read more

16. Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology
by Jean Paul Sartre
 Mass Market Paperback: 811 Pages (1978)
-- used & new: US$16.84
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17. Existentialism And Human Emotions
by Jean-Paul Sartre
Kindle Edition: 96 Pages (1967-05-31)
list price: US$8.00
Asin: B002MCZ4DM
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Existentialism and Human Emotions Reviewed.
This book, I highly recommend to any aspiring student of Existentialism.Sartre takes the time to juxtapose Freudian psychoanalysis with his version of Existential psychoanalysis, which affords the reader an opportunity to feel the impact of Adler on Sartre. Sartre touches all the essential elements of Existentialism, Decisions, time and Existentialism as humanism.This is much better starting point for those interested in Sartre than Being and Nothingness

5-0 out of 5 stars Existentialism
Yes, I was in fact groping in the darkness about the essence of the philosophy of 'existentialism'so long. I shuffled thru the pages of Satre's magnum opus - Being and nothingness ( I don't know whether I have quoted it correctly)! But yr reference to this edition of Satre's essential philosophy of existentialism has opened the door of my understanding. In fact yr quick despatch of the book has helped me a lot of quintessence of the philosophy. Whether I agree or don't agree with his viewpoint is a different issue. But I thank AmazonBooh Agency, for the prompt arrival of the edition. In fact I badly need a book like this.

Kalyan Kumar Guha

5-0 out of 5 stars Good
Great translation of a popular writing. By far the most comprehensible of the translations I've found.

5-0 out of 5 stars Existentialism Made Easy
If Sartre wanted to endear himself to the masses, he did himself no favors with the cover to Existentialism and Human Emotions, with his pipe-puffing professoriality conveying enough know-it-allness to give most anyone not assigned to read it a hearty guffaw. Which is a shame really, as this 96-page essay serves as an excellent primer for anyone who thinks of existentialism as a ponderous, do-nothing philosophy (If all I am to do is exist, why do anything else?), defining the terms, fielding common accusations from other religious and philosophical camps, and connecting existential philosophy to other critical traditions.

That said, the title is a bit misleading, or incomplete at least - it really just introduces and retorts the accusations Sartre wrote the essay in reaction to. It does this brilliantly though, especially on pp18-33 where he fairly systematically explains the philosophical reasoning behind the 3 quintessentially existential emotions of anguish, forlornness, and despair. Outside of this and a section from page 41-51 where he addresses 3 major emotional objections to existential philosophy, he is speaking on a more general plane - I almost think that it would be published today under the title Existentialism for Dummies.

What I found most engaging in the text (mostly the section simply entitled "Existentialism" that takes up the first 51 pages) was his connection of the notion of subjectivity in religious, philosophical, and practical discourse, summed up in this passage from pp22-23: "If existence really does precedes essence, there is no explaining things away by reference to a fixed and given human nature. In other words, there is no determinism, man is free, man is freedom. On the other hand, if God does not exist, we find no values or commands to turn to which legitimize our conduct. So, in the bright realm of values, we have no excuse behind us, nor justification before us. We are alone, with no excuses."

In context of a modern world of jihad, know-nothing consumerism, religious fundamentalism, and a creeping sense of dislocation in both the family and the workplace, Sartre's words are scathingly prophetic, as each of these elements of the modern world has one thing in common: each subjective way of looking at the world is equally right - or equally wrong - and we are without recourse when things don't go as we hoped ("To be sure, this may seem a harsh thought to someone whose life hasn't been a success").

But the wondrous thing about the text is that, despite the focus on words like anguish and despair, Sartre ends up coming off as fairly optimistic. This achieved at least partially by his following the notion of subjectivity with the notion of intersubjectivity - "this is the world in which man decides what he is and what others are." I would describe this as almost a fusion of the classically opposite Civil Society and State of Nature - every person is dependent on other people insomuch as those people influence our own "projects," as Sartre calls them; in other words, when they impose their wills enough that their world, their projects become part of ours.

He follows this up in the short section entitled "The Hole," stating, "A good part of our life [and it may simply be the translator's choice, but I found it encouraging that he said "life," not "lives"] is passed in plugging up holes, in filling empty spaces, in realizing and symbolically establishing a plenitude." He actually hilariously (though not intentionally so) applies this to sexual intercourse and eating in two of the more entertaining passages, with the mouth and the you-know-what being the holes literally and symbolically filled.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Sartre takes atheism to its logical conclusions.He starts with the assumption that there is no God and deduces a proper philosophy based on that one starting assumption.From that point of view, this book is a wonderful argument for theism via reductio ad absurdum.Sartre argue that existence precedes essence, and hence man is totally in charge of his own destiny.There is no human nature, there is no pre-set things that we must conform to, we decide our own fate.There is also no objective moral values.Sartre laments the fact that some say there is no God but still hold to objective moral values and don't act any differently or believe any differently about other things.This book is very, very easy to read and can certainly be read in only one sitting.This is the kind of philosophy that theists need to read and internalize to show atheists the logical conclusions of their atheism.There is no better proof for theism than this book. ... Read more

18. No Exit and Three Other Plays
by Jean-Paul Sartre
Paperback: 275 Pages (1989-10-23)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$6.23
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Asin: 0679725164
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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4 plays about an existential portrayal of Hell, the reworking of the Electra-Orestes story, the conflict of a young intellectual torn between theory and conflict and an arresting attack on American racism. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (52)

5-0 out of 5 stars Philosphy and Theatre: Two Masterpieces and Two Lesser Titles
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) is extremely difficult to approach, for his reputation rests heavily upon the work BEING AND NOTHINGNESS: AN ESSAY ON PHENOMENOLOGICAL ONTOLOGY--an extremely complex work that many regard as the single greatest work of 20th Century philosophy and which is largely beyond the grasp of everyone but the most gifted philosophers themselves. Fortunately for the rest of us, Sartre translated his vision of the world into more accessible forms.Although his novel NAUSEA is widely known, he is more likely to be known for his plays--and for one in particular, the celebrated NO EXIT.This collection includes that play (in French titled HUIS CLOS), THE FLIES (LES MOUCHES), DIRTY HANDS (LES MAINS SALES) and THE RESPECTFUL PROSTITUTE (LA PUTAIN RESPECTUEUSE.)Each of these plays in some way revolve around ideas of self-determination, freedom of choice, and responsibility to one's self, addressing issues that are at the heart of French existentialism.

Unlike many European dramatists of his era, Sartre was not an absurdist author per se, and while his plays sometimes make use of an unexpected premise, they are generally naturalistic in tone.NO EXIT, first played in 1944, is easily the most famous: a man and two women, none of them of any great moral or intellectual worth, are led into a small room.It gradually transpires that they are dead--and that they are completely incompatible.This is hell: humans determined to impose their wills and ideas and visions upon unwilling others, working without ceasing to undercut each other in a vain effort to gain individual advantage.Written in a single act and requiring about ninety minutes to perform, it is easily one of the most intense plays ever seen on stage, a combination of intellectual and emotional ferocity beyond easy description.It is truly one of the great masterpieces of western drama.

The other titles are less well known to English-speaking audiences.Of them THE FLIES is the most widely performed.Pre-dating NO EXIT by a year, it is a full-length drama based on the ancient Greek ORESTIA, in which Orestes returns to his home--but unlike the original he has no intention of avenging his father's murder until he realizes that he can freely elect to do so as long as he freely embraces the consequences of his actions.As in most of Sartre's works, much of the play revolves around the necessity of the individual to define himself for himself, and often in rejection of the manipulative status quo, and the play possesses tremendous theatrical sweep.The characters are elegantly and powerfully redrawn from the Greek revenge tragedy, and the overall play itself has the power of its ritualistic orgins.

DIRTY HANDS debuted in 1948 and proved extremely controversial, albeit for reasons that Sartre himself may not have foreseen.In general terms, it is the story of a World War II communist party worker who, on party orders, commits murder and who is afterward shocked to find how utterly meaningless his act has been--ideas and issues that are very typical of Sartre's work.But the play's story pitted one faction of the communist party against another, questioned how effectively any person could define themselves within a political system, and in doing so thoroughly outraged half the nation.Almost three decades had to pass before it was once more performed in France.This said, it is easily the most problematic of the four plays; it seems unduly long, unduly dry, a bit awkward in construction, and very obvious in its statements.

Like NO EXIT, THE 1946 THE RESPECTFUL PROSTITUTE is a one act, and although it does not rise to same artistic level as NO EXIT or THE FLIES it has unique sting nonetheless.The play, somewhat surprisingly, is set in a small town in the deep south of the United States, where a newly arrived prostitute finds herself caught up a drunken murder that gives rise to a double killing calculated to cover up the first crime.Again, issues of self-determination arise, but on this occasion with an unexpected twist: the central character, the prostitute, is a woman of no particular intelligence.She is just smart enough to know that she has been duped and manipulated, but not smart enough to sort out the implications and ramifications of her situation as it unfolds.The play has an undeniable power, but Sartre is writing outside his direct knowledge here, and although technically accurate, his portrait of southern racism does not ring entirely true.

Whenever I review plays I like to note that plays are not really written to be read.They are intended to be seen and heard on the stage, and many readers find it difficult to envision how a particular script will play out before an audience.The fact that each of these four plays has considerable philosophical depth may add to the difficulties involved.NO EXIT is a masterpiece, no doubt about it, and I think most people will find it highly readable--and I think most people will find THE FLIES not far behind.THE RESPECTFUL PROSTITUTE is flawed, and it may leave some readers wondering at the point, but it is short and worth the effort.DIRTY HANDS is probably best left to those who are more interested in Sartre's overall work than those who just want to read a good play.Recommended overall, and given five stars on the basis of NO EXIT and THE FLIES, with RESPECTFUL PROSTITUTE rated at four stars and DIRTY HANDS at three.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer

5-0 out of 5 stars To see ourselves as others see us
Sartre's play, "No Exit," has a well-known premise--Garcin, Inez, and Estelle are an eternal triangle, captive in a small drawing room of hell, an endless merry-go-round of mutual torture for their sins. Another premise can be read, the major premise, actually--there is hope even in hell (contrary to Dante's epigram and Sartre's minor premise). And if there is hope in hell, there is even more hope for those who have not yet arrived.

The key to this interpretation is Joseph Garcin. He stands apart from Inez and Estelle who are both complicit in murder/suicide. Garcin is no murderer but a self-accused coward, a deserter in time of war. Cruelty to his wife is the ostensible reason for his damnation, but Garcin is troubled by that not at all, "I have no regrets." He is extremely troubled by his reputation as coward, among his living colleagues, among his present, eternal companions.

Garcin is obsessive in his need for vindication. He is totally a "being-for-others," to use Sartre's own terminology from "Being and Nothingness." He defines himself exclusively as he is seen by others. He is Kafka's Joseph K. ("The Trial") in the next phase of existence. Garcin would do better to emulate either of Joseph Heller's characters, Yossarian or Orr ("Catch 22"), or to take the meaning of Hillel's, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?"

Estelle in life would talk to others while watching herself in the mirror, "seeing myself as the others saw me," in an echo of wee Rabbie Burns. To escape his hell Garcin must see himself _not_ as others see him. There are no mirrors in the drawing room to distract him. This may be an inkling of a way out, encouragement from the landlords. For Garcin's prospects "no exit" may be too pessimistic, the original "huis clos" possibly more apt.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bad Faith is destined to shadow man's existence (whether in Heaven or Hell)
Sartre explores and "projects" some of his deepest existential themes (freedom, consciousness, and acting in bad faith) through this short play, written immediately after his magnum opus "Being and Nothingness." The plot centers around three people (Garcin, Inez and Estelle) all condemned to serve out their sentences in hell together. Mostly due to their own self-hatred and embarrassment for having ended up in hell in the first place, they predictably all hate each other, but nevertheless proceed trying to convince each other (and themselves) that they are worthy individuals, unjustly condemned to their stations in Sartre's metaphorical hell.

In Sartre's view, apparently this tableau of struggling with "bad faith" in hell is just a mirror image of what goes on outside it; as in both cases humans are continually acting towards one another in mutual "bad faith." Almost as a psychological imperative, they are always busy "fronting each other off;" pretending not to know that they are as much moral criminals and criminals of conscience as they are "real criminals:" all of whom got exactly what they deserved. But as the plot unfolds, we discover that they all also are indeed "real criminals," justly sentenced.

Despite this, in each case they shrink not only from the reality of their crimes and from the reasons why they ended up in hell, but more importantly, they also shrink from the primary responsibility of their own freedom, and from who they are and to their humanity. As a result, the reader gets to see that these criminals are not condemned to hell just for their moral crimes, but also for crimes of conscience: their cowardice and "bad faith" as human beings. In this, they see their cowardice through the eyes of their cellmates, their eternal torturers.

The tension of the play is created by and is centered on the interplay of the dialogues between different dyadic pairings of the couples. In each, they all struggle in their own idiosyncratic way to some how convince themselves and their respective partners (using the partner as mirrors), that they are better than the reality they each "fail to own up to." In short, they are all trying to "end run" their own "bad faith" creating a "false reality" by using their cellmates as a positively distorted reflection of themselves. In this very act, they lose the right to construct an authentic reality and an authentic self.

The question the play begs: is how, writ large, do human beings deal with the "bad faith" of their own existence, and its corresponding failure to create a reality where the authentic self can thrive. That is how can they still come out on the other side of their conscience with their humanity and self-image authentically intact, as mature, responsible and heroic human beings?

Sartre, with his own experience as a captured prisoner of war in France during WW-II intruding into the play as an important backdrop in the subtext (While under Nazi torture, Sartre admitted to seriously considering betraying France), assures us that there is no clear answer to this question, and thus no safe exit out of his metaphorical jail into a pristine and heroic world where the problem of "bad faith" is either an easy decision, or does not exist at all. The challenges presented by "bad faith" it seems are in our hands, completely independent of the domain of our humanity: Wherever he goes, "Bad faith" is destined to shadow man's existence.

Three stars

5-0 out of 5 stars Jean-Paul Sartre "No Exit & 3 other plays"
No Exit and Three Other Plays
An enjoyable & easy way to get into Sartre's Existentialism. "No Exit":3 people locked in a hotel room forever;Hell as other people:the last lines indicate how we can survive. "The Flies": The Electra story reformed; one can revolt against Fate and choose ones Destiny. "Dirty Hands":a free-thinker tries to find his own answer to the conflicts and pressures of others who have him caught up in their own political/moral/ethical prejudices;what price to stand alone? "The Respectful Prostitute": Power, racism and manipulation in 1950's Deep South USA;a naive/courageous prostitue escapes problems in New York to find herself at the centre of local racial bigotry and state encouraged murder;her decision could save or destroy all of those involved.

4-0 out of 5 stars good enough condition
the book is in decent condition it does look very worn on the cover but the text is very clean ... Read more

19. Jean-Paul Sartre: Basic Writings
by Jean-Paul Sartre
Paperback: 336 Pages (2001-01)
list price: US$37.95 -- used & new: US$24.74
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Asin: 0415213681
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Jean-Paul Sartre:Basic Writings is the first collection of Sartre's key philosophical writings and provides an indispensable resource for readers of his work.Stephen Priest's clear and helpful introductions make the volume an ideal companion to those coming to Sartre's writing for the first time. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

1-0 out of 5 stars Poor TOC
Yes, of course the content is good. And the basic formatting is fine. But the TOC has no Chapter names, which make navigating this collection of writings very difficult. There is no way to know what the content of a chapter is other then opening the chapter to see what it contains. Its a very simple edit for the publisher of this eBook that would make a big difference and help to justify the steep price. (For those without an eidetic memory the workaround is to create a note and manually add the chapter content reference ~ 45min)

4-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant editing; but with some practical flaws
The works selected are an excellent representation of Sartre's oeuvre, and the real strength of this book is Professor Priest's brilliant and very readable introductions to each chapter.
The drawbacks are the following:
1.) Although the chapter introductions are exceedingly helpful, it would also have been a plus to include footnoting within Sartre's texts (there is such widespread use of philosophical jargon which the layman is not familiar with.)
2.) There is a rather large incidence of typographical errors (or possibly errors in translation) - enough to be noticeable.
3.) At least some examples of Sartre's fiction ought to have been included, since they are so much more accessible than his strictly philosophical tracts.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Anti-Semite
This review is of a single essay by Sartre, "The Anti-Semite".He uses his notion of people's needing to turn away from their own natures and not look too closely at themselves, as causal to anti-semitism.He is probably correct that mankind in general wishes to concentrate the mind upon some external idea.Religion does this, of course, giving people a beautiful or demanding abstraction to focus upon at the expense of one's own nature.This is no brilliant insight.It is an idea as old as Genesis.Sartre's creation of a relationship between this
aspect of man's existence and anti-semitism is that the anti-semite concentrates feeling, thought and force of will upon the Jew individually or collectively in order to keep his own mind from
concentrating on his true nature.

As an explanation of anti-semitism Sartre is spouting pure nonsense.He says, for instance, that one cannot understand
anti-semitism unless one knows that Jews are totally blameness.

Sartre's general philosophy is of interest to many people, but is of no particular importance to me.However, his theory of the cause of anti-semitism is of importance when people accept what he is saying.His stated view is much akin to notions that anti-semitism is some sort of "virus" that infects the sufferer or that anti-semitism is "the most virulent form of raceism" or similar notions which have Jews in the position of young children being attacked, perhaps killed, by a child molester turned child killer.This view, widely promoted, is an attempt to force the public's minds to ignore cause-and-effect.Sartre's argument is infantile; it has no more connection to real causes of anti-semitism than a comic book or a video game has to real life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Liberty, equality, fraternity
In the introduction of the book Sartre's philosophical writings are spoken of as connected with the three fundamental values given in the slogan of the French Revolution, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. The first Existensial writings are devoted to individual development expression and freedom. The second period in Sartre's philosophical life, the Marxist period is said to be devoted to the value of'Equality'. And the third less extensive period to the value of ' Fraternity' In this period Sartre calls for the disappearance of the State, and places the focus on bonds of friendship, Fraternity. This rough classification is of course ' rough' and as Steven Priest makes clear Sartre is an Existensialist throughout concerned with the fundamental themes of human life, liberty, justice, life, death, anxiety, being, nothingness, truth and authentic existence.
The work is divided into eighteen chapters each of which deals with a major theme of this kind.
In it the reader can have a good feeling of the overall development of Sartre's philosophy, and can judge what they regard to be of value in it.
My own sense is that the truly important Sartre is the Sartre of the first period, of the existence precedes essence, of the making of meaning in our own life through our action, period.
But the philosophy of this first period too would seem to me to fall short of answering true human needs, and providing hope of ultimate meaning.For that one has to go to a kind of religious existensialism which of course Sartre would have nothing to do with.

5-0 out of 5 stars an excellent selection
As far as collections of Sartre's philosophical works go, this one is the best I've come across.The book is broken down into sections such as "Existentialism", "The Other", "Nothingness", "Politics", and so on.16 chapters in all, each offering key excerpts from Sartre's entire corpus, especially focused on a specific philosophical matter.The editor, Stephen Priest, does a good job of introducing each chapter and his contributions offer excellent insight both to those who haven't gotten too far into Sartrean philosophy as well as those of us who occasionally need a refresher course.This book reminds me of why I first got interested in reading Sartre.It brings out the exciting spirit of Existentialist philosophy by focusing on the most poignant passages of Sartre's works.I do feel the book to be a bit pricey for a paperback, but all in all it is a rather aesthetically pleasing book.The binding and layout are high quality, as is usual for Routledge texts.Also, this book offers the complete "Existentialism and Humanism" lecture, including transcript of a question and answer forum which you will not find in most editions.Priest also does a decent job of providing biographical information in the chapter "Sartre in-the-world." ... Read more

20. A Commentary on Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness (Midway Reprint)
by Joseph S. Catalano
Paperback: 256 Pages (1985-09-15)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$25.68
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Asin: 0226096998
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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"[A Commentary on Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness] represents, I believe, a very important beginning of a deservingly serious effort to make the whole of Being and Nothingness more readily understandable and readable. . . . In his systematic interpretations of Sartre's book, [Catalano] demonstrates a determination to confront many of the most demanding issues and concepts of Being and Nothingness. He does not shrink—as do so many interpreters of Sartre—from such issues as the varied meanings of 'being,' the meaning of 'internal negation' and 'absolute event,' the idiosyncratic senses of transcendence, the meaning of the 'upsurge' in its different contexts, what it means to say that we 'exist our body,' the connotation of such concepts as quality, quantity, potentiality, and instrumentality (in respect to Sartre's world of 'things'), or the origin of negation. . . . Catalano offers what is doubtless one of the most probing, original, and illuminating interpretations of Sartre's crucial concept of nothingness to appear in the Sartrean literature."—Ronald E. Santoni, International Philosophical Quarterly
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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Lucid and exact exposition.
Sartre's philosophy reduces to a radical dichotomy of por soi and en soi.The logic for this radical dichotomy is his ontological argument.The ontological argument is the springboard for all of Sartre's later deductions.He is quite faithful to his principle, derived from the ontological argument.In this book, the author gives an excellent and lucid exposition of Sartre's reasoning on the ontological argument and shows how his entire corpus is derived from it.He shows that Sartre's lack of an ethic is grounded in Hume's understanding of personal identity, that is found in Hume's book, A Treatise of Human Nature.If experience is as radically discontinuous as Hume states it, then we cannot generalize from experience and therefore cannot formulate ethical norms.One can see the philosophical basis for Satre's Nausea when one understands the ontological argument.In fact, it is a precursor of deconstructionist understanding of words and language.Sartre ultimately resorts to a utilitarian ethical theory which, quite frankly, cannot be reconciled with his overall work.Although I adamantly disagree with Sartre, this book operates as a perfect solution for those who have difficulty understanding him.

5-0 out of 5 stars "If you want it, come and get it."
This is the best commentary on Sartre's book I've seen. In fact, you should probably read this book before Being and Nothingness, and then tackle that forbiddingly ponderous and dense volume afterwards. Many people start, but never finish the book, and this book may help you get "over the hump" in that sense, since it'll simplify things considerably and give you a leg up on some of the more difficult points. Anyway, since this is an excellent commentary on Sartre's book, I just wanted to add a few comments myself, especially about one particular existential idea that I find odd.

I should warn you ahead of time that this is a very dark book review, just as Being and Nothingness itself can be, that being my point of departure. But a lot of it is black humor or satire and not meant to be taken seriously.

Sartre wrote in this book that "Life is a useless passion." He and other existential philosophers have maintained that life is "absurd,"--an idea that became a major tenet of existential thought.

Well, as the memory of the 20th century fades behind us, let us consider how absurd or useless life may truly be. Although existential philosophy traces its roots back to Kierkegard in the last half of the 19th century, it was the 20th century in which existentialism really came to prominence, as philosophers attempted to create a philosophy of being to cope with the devastation of a century that saw not only the greatest scientific and medical advances, but also the greatest conflagrations of mass death and destruction in man's history--and which, ironically enough--were mostly made possible by man's own new-found technological capabilities. With these awesome new powers at his command, mankind unflichingly, even enthusiastically, embarked on a new era of unabashed and uninhibited mass death and destruction unprecedented in human history.

It was indeed a century to remember, made all the more memorable by the millions of people caught in its deadly milieu. Millions died in World War I; 20 million more died during the Spanish Flu epidemic immediately afterward, and made worse by the weakened condition of state infrastructures and medical facilities after the war.

In World War II, millions more died, including 20 million dead in Russia alone either directly from war casualties or indirectly through starvation, disease, and privation. Six million Jews, 1 million Russians--and even a quarter million Gypsies--were rounded up and systematically exterminated in the death camps ("better living through chemistry"), and tens of millions more died of starvation in India because the price of rice went through the roof.

That doesn't take into consideration the myriad smaller conflicts, genocides, pogroms, famines, and other disasters in which thousands to millions of people died. Unfortunately, there was no shortage of them to grace and adorn each ill-fated decade of the 20th century, as more and more people were caught in its inimitable and seemingly inexorable machines of death.

In addition to WWI in the teens and WWII in the 40's, respectively, there was the genocide of Armenians in the 1920's (1,000,000 people dead), the Rape of Nanking (300,000 dead), the Great Purges in Russia in the 30's (3,000,000 people executed or dead in the labor camps) the Korean War in the 50's, the famines in Biafra in the 60's and Ethiopia in the 80's, and America's geopolitical debacle, the Vietnam war of the 60's and early 70's.

And there's more fun yet to come. Let's not forget the ever-lovin' Idi Amin in Uganda during the 70's (if you can say one good thing about Amin, it's that he was content to stay within his own borders and slaughter his own, instead of starting wars with everybody else, like most dictators). Africans, knowing a good thing when they see one, followed Amin with the internal massacres and tribal conflicts in Rwanda, Burundi, Sierra Leone, and Sudan in the 90's (to mention the most important ones), with untold millions of innocent people slaughtered, maimed, dead from disease and starvation, or displaced in refugee camps.

Lest you think I'm unjustly singling out Africa, there was the recent genocide and atrocities committed in the former Yugoslavia, the recent terrorism in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, and the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians (which has been going on for about 4,000 years--give 'em time--they'll figure out that they really hate each other eventually).

Not to mention the spectre of nuclear annihilation, which somehow, humans have managed to avoid--at least for the time being. (No doubt the human race will screw that up, too). And last but not least--we now have the spectre of mass annihilation through bioweapons. (Isn't it great being part of such a technologically advanced race? We come up with such clever and fun little toys.)

Yeah, you have to hand it to the human race. We know how to make progress. We've gone from sacrificing virgins (what genius invented that idea?) to being able to kill millions of people at a time with a single nuclear blast in only about 2,000 years. When the first two atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 200,000 people (including, presumably some virgins, which made it okay, I guess) vanished in less than a second. And now we have bombs that are up to 5,000 times more powerful than these.

But getting back to my main point. Given the above, describing life as "absurd" seems pretty lame, to say the least. Sartre was even awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature. When the news of the prize came out, Life magazine called him "The wall-eyed little man who figured it all out." (Maybe Sartre should have just gotten corrective lenses for his eye problem and called it a day). But really, is this the best they can do?

Don't get me wrong, I like much of what Sartre says and I might even go so far as to say he was a brilliant philosopher, but some people have been upset by what they see as Sartre's and other existential philosophers' overly "pessimistic" view of life. Given how things have generally turned out for the human race, however, especially in the 20th century, saying life is "absurd" seems itself an absurdly naive and over-optimistic understatement, and hardly anything for people to get upset about.

Given the above, I don't think it is possible to be overly pessimistic about individual human existence, and perhaps more importantly, about the prospects for human society as a whole.

There is always the possibility (it does occasionally happen) that an individual human being will become more enlightened. You can always tell when someone has become "enlightened." His friends all start avoiding him like the plague and think he's gone totally nuts. At the social level, however, this never happens--since there are no, and never have been, any truly enlightened human societies--and probably never will be.

Not to beat a dead horse or anything (another sadistic human custom, no doubt), but I'll mention one more social criticism of contemporary society that I happen to agree with. Especially in the west, adult life is mostly concerned with the accumulation of wealth and power--neither of which, as Arthur C. Clarke once wrote--should be the main concern, much less the only concern, of full-grown, mature men. It goes without saying that a society based on such consumerist ideals will never become truly advanced or enlightened. No wonder S-F writers dream of getting off the planet--they may not know where they're going in the universe either--but they sure as hell know it's a cosmic cluster-f_ck down here.

I haven't even touched on the problem of individual crime, since I've been more concerned here with the broader social and historical issues. Suffice it to say that a society in which the mass media glorifies and makes heroes of serial murderers just to sell more magazines, newspapers, and advertising can't be all bad. After all, they'll probably make more money that way, which will be good for the stock--and in this market--that's nothing to shake a stick at.

But returning to my earlier point, failing to achieve "true enlightenment" is the least of our worries, however, because if we were even close, that in itself would be quite an achievement. If human societies were just "advanced" as opposed to truly enlightened, we'd probably be 10 times better off than we are now.

Well, we're about as far away from true enlightenment as you can get. In fact, the really tragic thing is that the human societies of the 20th century brought most of the above disasters down on themselves--tragedies which a less violent and more reasonable, socially intelligent, and responsible race would have been able to avoid. Or to put it another way, in another unfortunate and bizarre twist of human psychology, despite humans being the most intelligent and "evolved" species on the planet, it would seem we are also the only social species that is less intelligent as a group than we are individually. Or, as Mark Twain once said, "A committee is the only critter with 10 bellies and no brain."

Not that I'm a total nihilist. There is always the slim hope humans will change. I truly hope the human race will come to its senses before time runs out. It seems unlikely, however. Humans are too quarrelsome, violent, warlike, greedy, selfish, intolerant, bigotted, venal, petty, vain, neurotic, irrational, illogical, ignorant, short-sighted, and just generally vicious, mean-spirited and uncivilized a species (I could go on but one has to stop somewhere), and there just aren't enough truly good humans out there to make a difference. There are a few good people out there, I admit--but let's face it--we all know that in this life "nice guys finish last." Similarly, the lessons of human history make it abundantly clear that unless good is very, very careful, evil usually wins out.

Oh well. It's sad to say, since it's my own species I'm talking about, but the earth, and probably the universe as well, will probably be better off without us.

I realize I've painted a pretty dim, dark, and ultimately depressing view (a 3D view?) of humanity and of humanity's future prospects. I hope I am wrong. Unfortunately, the history of the human race doesn't give one much cause for optimism. If we can screw it up, the human race probably will--even our own future. After all, we've screwed up 99% of our past history--and the future is just history that hasn't happened yet.

Speaking of which, I don't want to give you the impression that there's no room for optimism in my life. In fact, I'm about the most "optimistic" guy out there--I'm just optimistic that the human race will Bite the Big One some day through its own habitual and perverse self-destructiveness and figure out some creative and fun way to wipe itself off the surface of the planet in one fell swoop. Although our history may be nothing to be proud of--I have every expectation and confidence that our ending will be a truly monumental and awe-inspiring achievement. I just hope I live long enough to see it; it would be a real bummer to miss out on humanity's glorious, universal, and final holocaust of mass death and destruction. Given humanity's talent for careening from disaster to disaster throughout its history, I'm sure it will be sooner rather than later--after all why delay the fun? Just think of the 20th century as the dress rehearsal for humanity's last curtain call.

Come to think of it, why we're called "humanity" I don't really understand. We should be called "inhumanity." "Humanity" has to be the only one-word oxymoron in the English language. (For those of you who weren't paying attention in your English class, an "oxymoron" is a rhetorical figure of speech in which incongruous or contradictory words are combined, as in "thunderous silence", or "mournful optimist," or "a just society," or "a kind and wise human being.")

I know some people will say it'll never happen--that the human race will become wise before it's too late and somehow turn back from the brink of disaster. Obviously these people have never stuck their noses inside a single history book for more than five minutes. But the ultimate problem, and the ultimate reality--is that we humans, both individually and as a species--would rather live down to our lowest impulses and desires rather than the reverse. After all, that takes genuine discipline and real moral fiber--which is no fun at all for a snarling, primitive, vicious ground monkey with a brain too big for his Johnson (among other things--such as the 40,000 nuclear missiles and bombs still in existence).

But there is always hope, and the future is as good place for our hopes to reside as any--because if there's going to be any hope for the human race, it will have to be there--since there obviously isn't any hope for humanity based on our past.

And maybe what I've said here is what Sartre and the other existentialists really meant to say? Perhaps being civilized philosophers and academic-types, they were just trying to be polite and soft-pedal it a bit.

Well, I'm not a philosopher, I'm not an academic (not anymore, anyway)--and maybe I'm not even civilized! So does that mean I'm telling it like it is?

We'll see. In the meantime, I'm sure the geopolitical gladiatorial games that is human civilization will continue to provide all the sadistic and voyeuristic "bread and circuses" action (coming to you live on the 6 o'clock news!) you could want.

5-0 out of 5 stars Joseph Catalano's A COMMENTARY OF "BEING and NOTHINGNESS"
If you find yourself extremely frustrated in your attempt to plow through Sartre's massive BEING AND NOTHINGNESS, there is simply no better guide than Catalano's commentary. No first time reader of Sartre's book should be without this guide. Catalano does not shy away from the difficult and abstruse points of BEING AND NOTHINGNESS, but helps the reader understand Sartre's rather peculiar style of phenomenology. If one wants to understand one of the landmark works of 20th century Continental philosphy, one needs to read the original text. However, most nonacademic readers, and even most professional American philosophers, lack the crucial background to truly grasp what Sartre is attemtping to accomplish. Before reading BEING AND NOTHINGNESS, I recomend reading several of Sartre's literary works, and two shorter philosophical texts, THE TRANSCENDENCE OF THE EGO and THEORY OF THE EMOTIONS. Then expect to spend several months (at least if you have to work for a living) with Sartre's treatise. Be sure to have Catalano's book by your side. It will give you both the necessary background for understanding the text, as well as lucid commentary on some very difficult passages of Sartre's work. In the end, do not shy away from the original text. Even if you find yourself unsympathetic to Sartre's ideas and style of philosophy, I believe you will find that Sartre has some rather vivid insights about human existence. ... Read more

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