The Boxer and the Goalkeeper: Sartre versus Camus by Andy Martin (2012)

Martin’s savvy, streetwise, wordplayful book is a joint biography of the two great mid-twentieth century French writers, Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. It’s told in a popular, punning, jokey style which is hip to the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll reputation of these two top thinkers and proceeds by the themes, ideas and associations of their […]

Dirty Hands by Jean-Paul Sartre (1948)

How you cling to your purity, young man! How afraid you are to soil your hands! All right, stay pure! What good will it do? Why did you join us? Purity is an idea for a yogi or a monk. You intellectuals and bourgeois anarchists use it as a pretext for doing nothing. To do nothing, to remain […]

The Respectful Prostitute by Jean-Paul Sartre (1946)

A slender play which is hard to take seriously and more a testament to the chronic anti-Americanism of 1950s French intellectuals than any kind of ‘analysis’ of the race issue in America. Like many of Sartre’s plays it presents a plight, a fraught and melodramatic situation, designed to bring out his eternal themes of freedom and […]

Huis Clos by Jean-Paul Sartre (1944)

There’s a whole nest of pitfalls that we can’t see. Everything here’s a booby-trap… (p.30) Sartre’s most famous play is just one act and forty pages long. A man is ushered by a perfunctory ‘valet’ into a closed room, tastefully decorated with Second Empire furnishings. Shortly afterwards the valet ushers two more guests in, both […]

The Flies by Jean-Paul Sartre (1943)

Sartre had been interned in a German prisoner of war camp (Stalag 12D) immediately after the fall of France, in the summer of 1940. There he wrote and staged a play (with a surprisingly Christian theme, set on Christmas Eve and titled Bariona, or the son of thunder). After nine months he was released in […]

The Last Chance by Jean-Paul Sartre (1)

When I first read Sartre’s trilogy of novels, The Roads to Freedom trilogy, back in the 1970s, we thought that’s all there was, three books and fini! But it turns out that Sartre published parts of an intended fourth novel (in the magazine he edited, Les Temps Modernes) back in 1949, and he continued working on this fourth […]

The Last Chance by Jean-Paul Sartre (2)

Never again, never, will I think about what I am – but only about what I do. (Mathieu in his diary – p.134) The Last Chance brings together all the fragments published during his lifetime, and then found among his papers after his death, of what was intended to be the fourth volume of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Roads […]

Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre (1945)

Existentialism is nothing else but an attempt to draw the full conclusions from a consistently atheistic position. (p.56) Sartre gave this public lecture at the Club Maintenant on October 29, 1945. (Just a reminder that the Second World War in Europe ended on 8 May 1945, the war against Japan ended on 15 August, so […]

Iron In The Soul by Jean-Paul Sartre (1949)

He felt himself filled with a sense of vast and pointless freedom. (p.92) 349 pages long in the Penguin paperback edition, Iron in The Soul repeats the format of the previous two novels in The Roads To Freedom trilogy by following a set of French characters over a very specific, and short, timeframe connected with the Second World […]

The Reprieve by Jean-Paul Sartre (1945)

Charles felt dirty, he was aware inside himself of a mass of damp and sticky innards. (p.202) The Reprieve is the second novel in Sartre’s Roads To Freedom trilogy. It is a long, panoramic account of the lives of some 130 characters during the fateful week in September 1938 when all Europe held its breath as […]