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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, 978 0 415 52911 2
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... la recherche du temps perdu, but by 1918 he had persuaded Proust to entrust him with all his future work. Being published by Gallimard was now the dream of every ambitious young writer in France – Jean-PaulSartre 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 ...

Diary

Edward Said: An encounter with J-P Sartre

1 June 2000
... Once the most celebrated intellectual, Jean-PaulSartre 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 ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: Philosophical Quick Fixes

31 October 2002
... rush. This is quite an advance in the direction of mass philosophical participation when the nearest you could expect to get to something like it in the past would have been a chance sighting of Jean-PaulSartre 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 ...
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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... can I know? What ought I to do? What may I hope?’ Immanuel Kant’s three questions, set forth in his Critique of Pure Reason as encompassing all the interests of his reason, were also those which Jean-PaulSartre 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 ...
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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... just as volatile. In his twenties a Stalin-quoting Communist, he later blamed the CP for blinding French intellectuals to the merits of his own work. In the Sixties a sharp critic and opponent of Jean-PaulSartre, 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 ...

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 ...

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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... made by T.S. Eliot in allusion to a maxim by La Rochefoucauld but also the fact that he, Hinks, shared it, whereas an ‘egregious’ American professor failed to see the point. In Rome he sits near Jean-PaulSartre 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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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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... it significant that Anne Whitmarsh, beginning a careful and detailed study of Simone de Beauvoir with a section called ‘Biographical Notes’, should make the first entry read, ‘1905 21 June: Jean-PaulSartre 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 four volumes of ...

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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... On the morning of 16 April 1980, two well-known Oxford figures chanced to meet in the High. ‘Have 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 ...

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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... of evidence is still incomplete: there’s another volume of the translation of Lettres au Castor 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 ...
1 November 1984
Philosophy in France Today 
edited by Alan Montefiore.
Cambridge, 201 pp., £20, January 1983, 0 521 22838 7
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French Literary Theory Today: A Reader 
edited by Tzvetan Todorov, translated by R. Carter.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £19.50, October 1982, 0 521 23036 5
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Histoire de la Sexualité. Vol. II: L’Usage des Plaisirs 
by Michel Foucault.
Gallimard, 285 pp., £8.25, June 1984, 2 07 070056 9
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Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics 
by Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow.
Chicago, 256 pp., $8.95, December 1983, 0 226 16312 1
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The Foucault Reader 
edited by Paul Rabinow.
Pantheon, 350 pp., $19.95, January 1985, 0 394 52904 9
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Michel Foucault and the Subversion of Intellect 
by Karlis Racevskis.
Cornell, 172 pp., £16.50, July 1983, 0 8014 1572 1
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Michel Foucault’s Archaeology of Western Culture: Toward a New Science of History 
by Pamela Major-Poetzl.
Harvester, 281 pp., £22.50, May 1983, 0 7108 0484 9
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Michel Foucault: Social Theory as Transgression 
by Charles Lemert and Garth Gillan.
Columbia, 169 pp., £8.50, January 1984, 0 231 05190 5
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Foucault, Marxism and Critique 
by Barry Smart.
Routledge, 144 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 7100 9533 3
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... With the death of Michel Foucault the end of another era of French philosophy suddenly seems imminent. Jean-PaulSartre died long after the Existentialist era had dwindled, and that phase of his philosophical work had been absorbed. Like Jacques Lacan’s death, however, Foucault’s comes at a point where debate has ...

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