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Jean-Paul Sartre. Born 1905 From France Worked with the French Resistance in World War II Wrote novels, short stories, and plays Became a Marxist Turned down Nobel Prize (1964) Died 1980. Sartre’s Contributions. Popularized existentialism

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Jean-Paul Sartre

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Jean paul sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre

  • Born 1905

  • From France

  • Worked with the French Resistance in World War II

  • Wrote novels, short stories, and plays

  • Became a Marxist

  • Turned down Nobel Prize (1964)

  • Died 1980

Sartre s contributions

Sartre’s Contributions

  • Popularized existentialism

  • Argued for absolute freedom and responsibility for human beings

  • Author of many memorable quotations and examples

    • “Man is a useless passion”

    • “Hell is other people”

Jean paul sartre

  • Existentialism is a philosophy of human existence

  • The existence of a human being is prior to that human’s essence

  • What I am now is a matter of the free choices I have made

  • “Subjectivity must be the starting point”

Atheist existentialism

Atheist Existentialism

  • Denies the existence of God

  • If there is no God, there is at least one kind of creature, the human being, in whom existence precedes essence

  • There is no human nature, because there is no God to conceive of it: man is only what he wills himself to be



  • The starting point for humans is subjective because humans make themselves what they are

  • Making ourselves what we are leaves us responsible for our own actions

  • Humans are responsible not only for themselves, but for all humanity, since we “create an image of man as we think he ought to be”

  • We always choose the good, which is good for all



  • Heidegger described humans as forlorn because we must face the consequences of the non-existence of God

  • It is distressing because there is no ultimate source of values if God does not exist

  • Dostoyevsky: If God does not exist, everything is permitted

Reality alone counts

Reality Alone Counts

  • An person is of a certain kind (e.g., writer) only insofar as he engages in that activity

  • What a person hopes or wishes to be does not matter; only the produced realities do

  • In assessing a person, we must take all his activities into account

  • For man is the sum of his undertakings

Optimistic toughness

Optimistic Toughness

  • Existentialists write of people with character flaws

  • They do not attribute these to circumstances or heredity, but to free choices

  • The existentialist keeps open the possibility of change in anyone in any circumstance

Subjectivity again

Subjectivity Again

  • The only firm beginning is “I think; therefore, I exist”

  • Everything else is mere probability

  • This prevents man from being reduced to an object



  • There is a universal human condition: mortal being in the world

  • This is objective, and the situation of any human can be understood

  • But it is subjective, as the human condition is always being built through individual human choices

The novel defined

Extended work of fiction written

in prose; Foer’s novel includes:

detective story

humor writing

first-person testimonials

epistles (letters)

photographs and concludes with a reversible flip-book

Walter Kirn on Foer’s work: “Everything is Included” like an “overstuffed fortune cookie”

The Novel (Defined)

Literary terms

Literary Terms

  • Stream of Consciousness: the uninterrupted flow of impressions and perceptions, thoughts, and feelings

  • Especially popular among the Modernist writers post-WWI (i.e. Woolf, Joyce and Faulkner)

  • This technique mingles memories, feelings, and seemingly random associations

  • Also termed free indirect discourse

  • Technique is reflective of human mind

Synonyms for coming of age

Synonyms for “coming of age”

  • Aging

  • Growth (esp. “growing up”)

  • Development

  • Maturation

  • Initiation

Jean paul sartre

  • Protagonist: 9-yr-old boy who invents

  • Setting: Post-9/11 NYC

  • Tension: Loss of father, obsession

  • Style: groundbreaking, demanding



  • Growth after loss

  • Finding meaning and one’s place in the world

  • The human experience- we all have an unspoken human connection

  • Father-son relationships

  • Mortality-life and death

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