Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre

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Biography of Jean-Paul Sartre

(Paris, 1905-ID, 1980) French philosopher and writer. Precocious reader of the French classics, in 1915 he joined the Henri IV Lyceum of Paris and met Paul Nizan, with whom he began a close friendship. The following year, his mother’s second marriage (considered by Jean-Paul Sartre as “treason”) forced him to move to La Rochelle; Until 1920 he did not return to Paris. In 1924 he began his university studies at the École Normale Supérieure, where he met Simone de Beauvoir, with whom he established a relationship that would last his whole life.

After completing the military service, he began to practise as a high school teacher; In 1933 he obtained a scholarship of studies that allowed him to move to Germany, where he came into contact with the philosophy of Husserl and Heidegger. In 1938 he published the nausea, a novel that sought to divulge the principles of existentialism and which provided him with a certain celebrity, while becoming a symbol of that philosophical movement. Mobilized at the beginning of the Second World War, he was taken prisoner, although he managed to escape in 1941 and return to Paris, where he worked at the Liceo Condorcet and collaborated with Albert Camus in Combat, the newspaper of the Resistance.

 Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre

In 1943 it published the Being and the nothing, its most famous philosophical work, personal version of the philosophy existentialist of Heidegger. The human being exists as a thing (in itself), but also as a conscience (for itself) that knows of the existence of the things without being itself itself like those things, but its negation (nothingness). Consciousness places man at the possibility of choosing what will be; This is the condition of human freedom. Choosing their action, the man chooses himself, but does not choose his existence, which is already given to him and is a requirement of his choice; From here the famous Maxim existentialist: «existence precedes the essence».

Jean-Paul Sartre Two years later, already reached the popularity, it abandoned the teaching to devote itself exclusively to write; In collaboration with Raymond Aron, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Simone de Beauvoir, he founded Les Temps Modernes, one of the most influential left-wing thinking magazines of the postwar period.

At that time, Sartre began a fluctuating relationship with communism, made of approaches (one of which provoked its rupture with Camus in 1956) and aways motivated by its denunciation of Stalinism or its protest by the Soviet intervention in Hungary. In his last philosophical work, critique of Dialectical Reason (1960), a reconciliation of dialectical materialism was proposed with existentialism, which he considered to be a parasitic ideology of Marxism, and sought to establish a foundation of the Marxist dialectic showing that human rational activity, praxis, is necessarily dialectic.

 Jean-Paul Sartre

In 1964 he rejected the Nobel Prize in literature not to “let himself be recovered by the system”; Decisively contrary to American policy in Vietnam, he collaborated with Bertrand Russell in the establishment of the Stockholm International Tribunal for the prosecution of war crimes.

After taking part directly in the student Revolt of May 1968, it multiplied its public gestures of leftism, assumed the direction of the newspaper La Cause du Peuple and founded Tout!, of Maoist and libertarian orientation. In 1975 began the progressive breakdown of his health; The blindness separated him from reading and writing during the last years of his life, after completing his last great work, the Idiot of the Family (1971-1972); Dedicated to the subject of literary creation, it was the fruit of the ten years that dedicated to the investigation of the personality of Gustave Flaubert.

Works by Jean-Paul Sartre

Novels and stories

Nausea (nausée 1938)
The wall (Le mur)
The Chamber (La Chambre)
Eróstrato (Érostrate)
Intimacy (Intimité)
The childhood of a boss (L’enfance d’un chef)
The Paths of Freedom (Les Chemins de la Liberté, 1945 – 1949)
I: The Age of Reason (L’âge de raison, 1945)
II: The postponement (Le sursis)
III: Death in the Soul (La mort dans l’âme, 1949)
The luck is cast (Les Jeux sont faits) (1947)


Barioná, the son of Thunder (Bario, ou le fils du Tonnerre, 1940)
The Flies (Les mouches, 1943)
A closed Door (Huis Clos, 1944)
Dead without burial (morts sans sépulture, 1946)
The respectful whore (the Putain respectueuse, 1946)
Dirty Hands (Les mains sales, 1948)
The Devil and God (le Diable et le bon Dieu, 1951)
Kean (1954)
Nekrasov (1955)
The kidnapped ones of Altona (Le sequestres D’Altona, 1959)
Les Troyennes (1965)


Scenarios (Situations, 1947 – 1976):
Situations I: Man and Things (1947)
Situations II: What is literature? (What littérature?, 1948)
Situations III: The Republic of Silence: Political and Literary Studies (1949)
Situations IV: Literature and Art (1964)
Situations V: Colonialism and neocolonialism (Colonialisme et néo-Colonialisme, 1964)
Situations VI: Problems of Marxism 1 (Problèmes du marxisme I, 1964)
Situations VII: Problems of Marxism 2 (Problèmes du marxisme II, 1965)
Situations VIII: Around 68 (Autour de 68, 1972)
Situations IX: The writer and his language and other texts (1972)
Situations X: Self-portrait at the Age of Seventy (1976)


The Imagination (1936)
The Transcendence of the Ego (1938)
Sketch of a Theory of the Emotions (1939)
The imaginary. Phenomenological Psychology of the Imagination (L’imaginaire. Psychologie phénoménologique l’imagination, 1940)
Being and nothing (L´être et le néant, 1943)
Existentialism is a humanism (1945 and 1949)
Criticism of the dialectic reason (tome I) (Critique of the Raison Dialectique, 1960)

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