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Peas in a Matchbox

Jonathan Rée: ‘Being and Nothingness’, 18 April 2019

Being and Nothingness: An Essay in Phenomenology and Ontology 
by Jean-Paul Sartre, translated by Sarah Richmond.
Routledge, 848 pp., £45, June 2019, 978 0 415 52911 2
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... work. Being published by Gallimard was now the dream of every ambitious young writer in France – Jean-Paul Sartre among them. Sartre started studying psychology and philosophy at the Ecole Normale in Paris in 1924, at the age of 19. He had already been bowled over by Hume’s argument that the self is an illusion, and ...

What else can I do?

Sissela Bok, 1 September 1988

SartreA Life 
by Annie Cohen-Solal, translated by Anna Cancogni.
Heinemann, 591 pp., £17.95, October 1987, 0 434 14020 1
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Writing against: A Biography of Sartre 
by Ronald Hayman.
Weidenfeld, 487 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 297 79002 1
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SartreRomantic Rationalist 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 158 pp., £11.95, September 1987, 0 7011 3095 4
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... his Critique of Pure Reason as encompassing all the interests of his reason, were also those which Jean-Paul Sartre pursued throughout his life, however different he intended his answers to be from those of Kant. Few thinkers in our time have pressed these questions with Sartre’s perseverence and imagination: but his ...

Diary

Edward Said: My Encounter with Sartre, 1 June 2000

... Once the most celebrated intellectual, Jean-Paul Sartre had, until quite recently, almost faded from view. He was already being attacked for his ‘blindness’ about the Soviet gulags shortly after his death in 1980, and even his humanist Existentialism was ridiculed for its optimism, voluntarism and sheer energetic reach ...

These are intolerable

Richard Mayne, 10 September 1992

Michel Foucault 
by Didier Eribon, translated by Betsy Wing.
Faber, 374 pp., £25, August 1992, 0 571 14474 8
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... French intellectuals to the merits of his own work. In the Sixties a sharp critic and opponent of Jean-Paul Sartre, in the Seventies he joined him in public demonstrations. A compulsive reviser and re-writer, he several times promised books that never appeared. While often labelled a ‘structuralist’, he preferred the term ‘systems’ to ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: Philosophical Quick Fixes, 31 October 2002

... you could expect to get to something like it in the past would have been a chance sighting of Jean-Paul Sartre adding to an already intimidating scatter of manuscript pages while sitting in the spring sunshine outside the Deux Magots. But then France has the baccalauréat, and the inescapable philosophy paper that forms part of it, so it’s a fair ...

Double Bind

Julian Barnes, 3 June 1982

The Family Idiot: Gustave Flaubert 1821-1857 
by Jean-Paul Sartre.
Chicago, 627 pp., £17.50, January 1982, 0 226 73509 5
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Sartre and Flaubert 
by Hazel Barnes.
Chicago, 449 pp., £17.50, January 1982, 0 226 03720 7
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... This book is mad, of course. Admirable but mad – to abduct Sartre’s own phrase about Villiers de l’Isle-Adam. A work of elucidation couched in a lazily dense style; a biography seemingly concerned with externals but in fact spun from inside the biographer like a spider’s thread; a critical study which exceeds in wordage all the major works of its subject put together ...

Sartre

Pierre Bourdieu, 20 November 1980

... Sartre has undoubtedly dominated his generation and had no successor.’ This is the verdict on his work in a school text-book, a critical study of post-war French literature, published in the 1970s. It is not for the sociologist to agree or disagree with this verdict; he has to take it for what it is, i.e. an indisputable social fact, and to endeavour to account for it, to make it intelligible ...

Hink Tank

Nicholas Penny, 19 July 1984

The Gymnasium of the Mind: The Journals of Roger Hinks 1933-1963 
edited by John Goldsmith.
Michael Russell, 287 pp., £10.95, May 1984, 0 85955 096 6
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... it, whereas an ‘egregious’ American professor failed to see the point. In Rome he sits near Jean-Paul Sartre at dinner and we are made to feel that the Frenchman was jolly lucky not to have tried to talk about existentialism. Hinks hadn’t been able to ‘summon up enough energy’ to attend Sartre’s ...

Private Sartre

John Sturrock, 7 February 1985

War Diaries: Notebooks from a Phoney War 1939-40 
by Jean-Paul Sartre and Quentin Hoare.
Verso, 366 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 0 86091 087 3
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... Sartre had a passive, self-centred war, well-suited to his deeply civilian temper, with no heroics and a great deal of free time. He was mobilised in September 1939, served in the East of France until he was captured in the collapse of June 1940, spent nine months as a prisoner of war, then sat out the Occupation in Paris ...

Simone de Sartre

Douglas Johnson, 7 June 1984

La Cérémonie des Adieux 
by Simone de Beauvoir.
Gallimard, 559 pp., frs 90
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Simone de Beauvoir Today 
by Alice Schwarzer, translated by Marianne Howarth.
Chatto, 120 pp., £6.95, February 1984, 0 7011 2784 8
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Lettres au Castor et à Quelques Autres 
by Jean-Paul Sartre, edited by Simone de Beauvoir.
Gallimard, 520 pp., frs 120, May 1983, 9782070260782
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... Has anyone ever written a satirical account of the first meeting between Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre? In an age when victims long to be mocked, in a country where satire is an essential part of the cultural heritage, and with two principals who have together inspired much controversy and aroused much dislike, the apparent absence of ridicule must be significant ...

Decent Insanity

Michael Ignatieff, 19 December 1985

The Freud Scenario 
by Jean-Paul Sartre, edited by J.-B. Pontalis, translated by Quintin Hoare.
Verso, 549 pp., £16.95, November 1985, 0 86091 121 7
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... Huston-Sartre, Sartre-Huston: an odd couple, but not an inconceivable one. Huston wasn’t scared or contemptuous of intellectuals, and he had even directed Sartre’s No Exit in New York. The Freud oeuvre was hardly natural material for Hollywood, but Jones’s biography and the version of the Freud-Fliess letters then just published led Huston to think that Freud’s discovery of the unconscious would make a gripping intellectual adventure story ...

La Grande Sartreuse

Douglas Johnson, 15 October 1981

Simone de Beauvoir and the Limits of Commitment 
by Anne Whitmarsh.
Cambridge, 212 pp., £14.50, June 1981, 9780521236690
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Un Fils Rebelle 
by Olivier Todd.
Grasset, 293 pp., £5.50, June 1981, 2 246 21231 6
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The Intellectual Resistance in Europe 
by James Wilkinson.
Harvard, 358 pp., £14, July 1981, 0 674 45775 7
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... with a section called ‘Biographical Notes’, should make the first entry read, ‘1905 21 June: Jean-Paul Sartre born in Paris’, and the last: ‘1980: Death of Sartre’. There are those for whom Simone de Beauvoir is important only because of her association with Sartre. Her ...

All in the Family

Sylvia Lawson, 3 December 1992

Letters to Sartre 
by Simone de Beauvoir and Quintin Hoare.
Radius, 531 pp., £20, December 1991, 0 09 174774 0
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Witness to My Life: The Letters of Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvior, 1926-1939 
edited by Simone de Beauvior, translated by Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAfee.
Hamish Hamilton, 448 pp., £20, November 1992, 9780241133361
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... et à quelques autres to come, and Quintin Hoare has translated only two-thirds of the Lettres à Sartre. But you could already tabulate the chronologies into a glorious, full-colour-coded spreadsheet jigsaw, mapping the stories from the Sartre biographies (Annie Cohen-Solal, John Gerassi, Ronald Hayman) over those from the ...

L’Emmerdeur

Douglas Johnson, 20 May 1982

La Cérémonie des Adieux 
by Simone de Beauvoir.
Gallimard, 559 pp., £9.25, November 1981
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Mes Années Sartre 
by Georges Michel.
Hachette, 217 pp., £6.15
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Oeuvres Romanesques 
by Jean-Paul Sartre, edited by Michel Contat and Michel Rybalka.
Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 2174 pp., £22.50, January 1982
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... you heard the good news?’ called out the one, the former head of a prestigious college. ‘Sartre is dead.’ The other, a well-known and distinguished man about French history, was delighted. According to his own account, the two of them then enacted a little dance or jig to express their pleasure. The occasion may be compared with Mrs Bessie ...

Baby-Sitter

Elaine Showalter, 14 June 1990

Simone de Beauvoir: A Biography 
by Deirdre Bair.
Cape, 718 pp., £19.95, June 1990, 9780224020480
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Lettres à Sartre. Vol I: 1930-1939 
by Simone de Beauvoir, edited by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir.
Gallimard, 400 pp., frs 120, February 1990, 2 07 071829 8
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Lettres à Sartre. Vol II: 1940-1963 
by Simone de Beauvoir, edited by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir.
Gallimard, 443 pp., frs 120, February 1990, 2 07 071864 6
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Journal de Guerre, Septembre 1939-Janvier 1941 
by Simone de Beauvoir, edited by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir.
Gallimard, 371 pp., February 1990, 2 07 071809 3
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In the Shadow of Sartre 
by Liliane Siegel, translated by Barbara Wright.
182 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 9780002153362
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... women; pebbly and awkward, she cannot wed the prince. She is only his night-time consort in what Sartre and Beauvoir grandly termed their ‘morganatic’ marriage, waiting to be loved and released into her true kingdom of the body and mind. Deirdre Bair’s massive and enthralling biography, the product of almost a decade’s writing and research, shows the ...

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