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Jean-Paul Sartre (1905 - 1980)

Related: Simone de Beauvoir (spouse) - French philosophy - exitentialism

Born in the same year: Carlo Mollino - Michael Powell - Pierre Klossowski - Clara Bow

Guy Debord had little patience with Sartre and other intellectuals who adopted anti-establishment poses while enjoying the perks of fame. He dismissed a top film maker, Jean-Luc Godard, as an "offspring of Mao and Coca Cola". [Jul 2006]

"The look", Sartre explains, is the basis for sexual desire; Sartre declares that there isn't a biological motivation for sex. Instead, even in sex (perhaps especially in sex,) men and women are haunted by a state in which consciousness and bodily being would be in perfect harmony, with desire satisfied. Such a state, however, can never be. We try to bring the beloved's consciousness to the surface of her/his body by use of magical acts performed, gestures (kisses, desires). But at the moment of orgasm the illusion is ended and we return to ourselves, just as it is ended when the skier comes to the bottom of the mountain or when the commodity that once we desired loses its glow upon our purchase of it. There will be, for Sartre, no such moment of completion because "man is a useless passion" to be the ens causa sui, the God of the ontological proof. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Being_and_Nothingness [Jul 2006]


Jean-Paul Sartre (June 21, 1905 – April 15, 1980) was a French existentialist philosopher, dramatist, novelist and critic. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sartre [Jun 2005]

Lifelong companion of Simone de Beauvoir. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sartre

Nabokov on La Nausée

Whether, from the viewpoint of literature, "La Nausée" was worth translating at all is another question. It belongs to that tense-looking but really very loose type of writing, which has been popularized by many second-raters - Barbusse, Céline and so forth. Somewhere behind looms Dostoevsky at his worst, and still farther back there is old Eugène Sue, to whom the melodramatic Russian owed so much. --Nabokov, Sunday, April 24, 1949 in The New York Times Book Review

Nabokov states that La Nausée "belongs to that tense-looking ... type of writing". If, as we may suppose, this type of writing did not end with the publication of La Nausée, who are its descendants? Bret Easton Ellis for example?

Although Nabokov derides two of my favorite authors (Céline and Dostoevsky), he shares my dislike for Sartre. From the same review:

Sartre's name, I understand, is associated with a fashionable brand of cafe philosophy, and since for every so-called "existentialist" one finds quite a few "suctorialists" (if I may coin a polite term), this made-in-England translation of Sartre's first novel. La Nausée (published in Paris in 1938) should enjoy some success.

Peter Lubin on suctorialism:

Suctorialist was first and last used (by Nabokov) in an April 24, 1949, review of a French novel for one who "reads and admires such remarkably silly nonsense as the 'existentialists' rig up." An ugly word, an ugly idea, and we may leave it, along with that novel, back in 1949.

Sartre on fantastic literature

Quoting from Todorov's book on the fantastic, page 173, Todorov seems to hold that Sartre has a similar view on fantastic literature to his own:

"According to Sartre, Blanchot and Kafka no longer try to depict extraordinary beings; for them,

there is now only one fantastic object: man. Not the man of religions and spiritualisms, only half committed to the world of the body, but man-as-given, man-as-nature, man-as-society, the man who takes of his hat when a hearse passes, who kneels in churches, who marches behind a flag.
The quote by Sartre is taken from his article on Blanchot's récit Aminadab, published in Situations.

There's no English equivalent of the French récit, which names a literary genre which tells of a single event. A few dense notes on what this word comes to mean for Blanchot in The Book to Come and elsewhere. --http://spurious.typepad.com/spurious/2006/06/what_is_the_rel.html [Nov 2006]

Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology (1943) - Jean-Paul Sartre

  • Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology (1943) - Jean-Paul Sartre [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology (1943) is a philosophical treatise by Jean-Paul Sartre that is regarded as the beginning of the growth of existentialism in the 20th century. The French title is L'Être et le Néant. Its main purpose was to define the consciousness as transcendent. The work also sought to disprove George Berkeley's famous contention that "Esse Est Percipi", or "to be is to be perceived".

    "Sartre’s overriding concern in writing Being and Nothingness was to vindicate the fundamental freedom of the human being, against determinists of all stripes. It was for the sake of this freedom that he asserted the impotence of physical causality over human beings, that he analysed the place of nothingness within consciousness and showed how it intervened between the forces that act upon us and our actions." (p.111) Neil Levy - Sartre (One World Publications 2002) --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Being_and_Nothingness [Jun 2006]

    Nausea (1938) - Jean-Paul Sartre

    In search of the cult of ugliness.

    Nausea (1938) - Jean-Paul Sartre [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    Existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre wrote La Nausée in 1938 while he was a college professor. It is one of the best-known novels of Sartre.

    The Kafka-influenced novel concerns a dejected researcher in a town similar to Le Havre who becomes convinced that inanimate objects and situations encroach on his ability to define himself, on his intellectual and spiritual freedom, evoking in the protagonist a sense of nausea.

    It is widely considered one of the canonical works of existentialism. Sartre won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1964. They said he was recognized, "for his work which, rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom and the quest for truth, has exerted a farreaching influence on our age." Sartre was one of the few people to ever decline the award, referring to it as merely a function of a bourgeois institution.

    A nausea Antoine Roquentin calls "sweetish sickness" increasingly impinges on almost everything he does or enjoys. Over time, his disgust towards existence forces him into near-insanity, self-hatred, and finally a revelation into the nature of his being.

    It was translated into English by Lloyd Alexander (New York: New Directions, 1964). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nausea_%28book%29 [May 2006]

    See also: Sartre - sickness - absurdity - disgust - 1938 - existentialism - New Directions - cult of ugliness

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