The Life and Works of Jean-Paul SartreJune 27, 2021
Sartre, who lost his father at a young age, grew up with his mother’s family. He gave his matriculation exam at Louis le Grand High School. He then continued his education at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, the University of Friborg in Switzerland, and the French Institute in Berlin.
He taught at various high schools and met Simone de Beauvoir in 1928. II. After being imprisoned by the Germans during World War II, he joined the Resistance movement. His famous play, Sinekler, was written and staged under these conditions. Likewise, his famous work, Being and Nothingness, in which he explained his philosophy, was written at this time (1943).
He quit teaching in 1945 and started publishing the literary-political magazine “Les Temps Modernes”. Almost all of his books have been shaped as theoretical texts dealing with literary and political problems. In the post-war period, Sartre started to come to the fore especially with his political activities. Despite many criticisms during the Cold War period, he supported the Soviet Union and opposed the war waged by France against Algeria. The journal he published showed an intense activity in this context.
Sartre turned down the Nobel Prize, which was intended to be given to him in 1964. He thought that this would harm both his works and his political position. He signed the declaration known as the “Declaration of the 121s” and participated in the great demonstrations of 1961-1962. He also presided over the Russell Tribunal, which was established to investigate the massacres that took place in the Vietnam War between 1966-67. Their political activities gradually intensified and took shape with their own internal transformations. The events of 1968 were a period in which Sartre also questioned his own ideas and traditional intellectual positions. On top of the Soviet intervention in Prague and the student movements in France, he began to reevaluate the theoretical political field, founding Liberation in 1973.
In 1974, Sartre’s eyes were largely blind. Therefore, his political activities slowed down, but he always acted against the pressures of the West on the East and was always sensitive to human rights. With this attitude, he set a theoretical and practical example of the place and role of the Intellectuals.
On the other hand, it cannot be said that his political activity overshadowed his literary and philosophical aspects. First of all, Sartre succeeded in making himself known as a good man of letters and a competent philosopher. When he died in Paris on April 15, 1980, he left behind texts of great value in terms of philosophy and literature. His works in which he deals with his existentialist philosophy are mainly; Paths to Freedom, Nausea, Incognito, Dirty Hands, Words, Wall.
Sartre lost his father at the age of two, and was raised by his mother’s family, his maternal grandparents (the Schweitzer family). Words (1963) chronicles Sartre’s childhood years. Sartre decides to become an atheist in his childhood. But he does not believe that the non-existence of God makes existence meaningless and unjustifiable. When he was eleven, his mother remarried. Sartre enters the famous Henri IV High School in Paris in 1920. In 1924 he was accepted into the École Normale Superieure. There he meets Simone de Beauvoir, with whom he will remain emotionally and intellectually close throughout his life. Thanks to Simone de Beauvoir’s three-volume autobiography, we also get detailed information about Sartre’s life. Sartre does his military service as a meteorologist because he has bad eyesight. In 1931, he was appointed to La Havre as a philosophy teacher. Between 1933-34 he went to Berlin to study philosophy, where he was interested in the phenomenology of Husserl and Heidegger. After returning to France, he taught philosophy at high schools such as La Havre, Laon, and Lycée Pasteur. Sartre published his first book, L’imagination, and his essay “The Transcendence of the Ego: Outline of a Phenomenological Description” in 1936. However, the work that will bring him to the French literary agenda is his novel La nausée, published in 1938.
In 1939 Sartre was drafted into the army. He was captured in 1940, but a year later he managed to escape and returned to German-occupied Paris. During the war he taught, wrote and supported the resistance in Paris. His plays Flies (Les Mouches, 1943) No Exit (Huis Clos, 1944) are staged in Paris. He also published Being and Nothingness in 1943. Sartre quit high school teaching in 1944 and devoted himself entirely to writing. After the war, he wrote novels, plays, short stories, biographies. The most famous of his biography works is the 3-volume biography of Gustave Shaubert. Together with Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, he publishes the journal Les Temps Modernes. His articles on philosophy and politics are mostly published in this journal. In the 1950s, Sartre is known as the founder and advocate of existentialism. His most important work after the war is Critique of Dialectical Reason, published in 1960. In this work, Sartre phenomenology (especially a phenomenology close to Heidegger)