Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)
French novelist, playwright, existentialist philosopher, and literary critic. Sartre was
awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1964, but he declined the award in protest of the
values of bourgeois
society. His longtime companion was Simone de Beauvoir, whom he
met at the
École Normale Superieure
"The bad novel aims to please by flattering, whereas the good one is an exigence and an
act of faith. But above all, the unique point of view from which the author can present the
world to those freedoms whose concurrence he wishes to bring about is that of a world to
be impregnated always with more freedom." (from
What Is Literature
Jean-Paul Sartre was born in Paris
. His father was a naval officer who died when Jean-
Paul was young. Through his mother, the former Anne-Marie Schweitzer, he was a great
nephew of Albert Schweitzer. Sartre lived after his father's early death with his
grandfather, Charles Schweitzer and his mother in Paris.
When his mother remarried in
1917, the family moved to La Rochelle. Sartre attended the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. He
graduated from the
in 1929. From 1931 to 1945 he worked as
a teacher and traveled in Egypt, Greece, and Italy. In 1933-34 he studied in Berlin
writings of the German philosophers Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger.
At the Left Bank cafés Sartre gathered around him a group of intellectuals in the 1930s.
II Sartre was drafted in 1939, imprisoned a year later in Germany, but
released in 1941 (or he escaped). However, he lost his freedom he valued above all for a
short time. In Paris he joined resistance movement, writing for such magazines as Les
. After the war he founded a monthly literary and political
Les Temps Modernes
, and devoted full time to writing and political activity.
Sartre was never a member of Communist party, although he tried to reconcile
existentialism and Marxism and collaborated with the French Communist Party as the
only hope of bettering the lot of the working classes.
However, when Albert Camus, with
whom Sartre was closely linked in the 1940, openly criticized Stalinism, Sartre hesitated
at that time about such acts. The publication of Camus's novel
in 1951 caused
a break between the two friends.
"Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count no one but