Sartre, Jean-Paul, 1905-1980

Alternative names
Birth 1905-06-21
Death 1980-04-15
French, English

Biographical notes:

Sartre, Jean-Paul (1905-1980), existentialist philosopher, dramatist and novelist, author of La Nausée (1938), Huis clos (1943), and L'être et le néant (1943).

From the description of Jean-Paul Sartre collection, [ca. 1950-1970]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702138367

The life of Jean-Paul Sartre, French novelist and Existentialist philosopher, has been recounted in numerous books. Of particular relevance to this collection is John Gerassi's own biographical study, Jean-Paul Sartre: Hated Conscience of his Century (1989; University of Chicago Press).

From the guide to the John Gerassi collection of Jean-Paul Sartre, 1964-1998, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)


From the description of Papers relating to the English adaptation and New York premiere of Les mains sales, 1948-1949. (Indiana University). WorldCat record id: 38589646

Jean-Paul Sartre, 1905-1980, novelist and Existentialist philosopher.

From the description of John Gerassi collection of Jean-Paul Sartre, 1964-1998. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702162313

Jean-Paul Sartre was a French existentialist philosopher, dramatist and novelist.

From the description of L'art baroque. (Johns Hopkins University). WorldCat record id: 54514740

Jean-Paul Sartre, a leader of the French existentialist movement, was born in Paris in 1905. He studied philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure, and in 1929 met Simone de Beauvoir, a student at the Sorbonne. The two had a life-long, non-monogamous relationship, in which each influenced the philosophy of the other, each of them condemning bourgeois thought and behavior. The same year, Sartre completed his doctorate in philosophy and then completed his two years of military service as a meteorologist. In 1931, released from the military, he began teaching high school in Le Havre.

In the spring of 1936, he sold his first book, Melancholia, to a publisher, and the following year he was reassigned to teach in Paris. Drafted in 1939 in the face of Nazi antagonism, and after nine months of guarding the border, his division was swiftly captured by the invading German army. Sartre was released after a year due to poor health, and he returned to Paris to continue teaching, and he quickly began working with the Resistance, where he met Albert Camus. In 1944, he left teaching to pursue writing as a career.

The years following the war saw Sartre become a main name in French literature and philosophy, drawing adulation and animosity as he worked to incorporate and synthesize communism with existentialism. He remained active in politics throughout his life, supporting the socialist independence fighters in Algeria, vocally opposed the Vietnam War, and defended Black September after the massacre at the Munich Olympics. In 1964, he declined the Nobel Prize for Literature, citing as precedent his refusal to accept the Legion of Honor after the war, and saying that “[t]he writer must refuse to let himself be transformed by institutions, even if these are of the most honorable kind, as is the case here.”

L’Idiot de la Famille was published in 1971, but Sartre had been considering and working on it for nearly three decades. Although his heyday of the 50’s and 60’s was well past, upon his death in 1980 of a lung edema, all the newspapers devoted the entire cover page to him, and his funeral drew a massive crowd.

From the guide to the Jean Paul Sartre's Notes for L'Idiot de la Famille (MS 337), [1960's?], (University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries. Special Collections Dept.)


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  • Authors, French--20th century
  • Authors, French--20th century--Archives
  • Philosophers
  • Philosophy
  • Philosophers--France
  • Drama, French--Translations into English


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  • France (as recorded)