|About the Book|
For all its 600 or so pages, Id be hard pressed to think of a book which Ive enjoyed reading more than this one! In a very surface way Ive been intrigued with Jean-Paul Sartre since the late 1950s when we were introduced to him & his thought in our seminary Contemporary Philosophy course. We spent some time on his writings, but were never challenged, nor did I ever take the initiative, to read any of his works. We relied on snippets from them. I wish now that Id pursued him more vigorously. It wouldve prevented me from some very unwarranted assumptions about him & what he was about, which have lasted until I read this astounding biography.Annie Cohen-Solal presents an incredible portrait of a man whom I think I would have very much enjoyed meeting & speaking with. Perhaps a quote of Sartres, spoken in 1978, two years before he died at age 74, with which Cohen-Solal concludes the biography in a way summarizes what Sartre was all about: One day, my life will end, but I dont want it to be burdened with death. I want that my death never enter my life, nor define it, that I be always a call to life. The authors account details how very much Sartre was a call to life as a philosopher, novelist, playwright, political figure, and most of all the global champion of causes of those oppressed. He valued truth, knowledge & generosity. He was ever thirsty for new insights from other people. He was also offbeat & quirky as a human being, often even contradictory. He was also humble. His way with women was legendary & its remarkable that, for never marrying, he was able to sustain multiple close relationships/friendships for more years than many marriages last! He drank, he smoked: he actually was his own worst enemy & ruined his eyesight & health ultimately. He was personable. He loved young people. And was indefatigable in his fighting for human rights & dignity. Many have called him the greatest intellectual of the 20th century. We could profit from such a one today!