Existentialism and Excess: The Life and Times of Jean-Paul Sartre

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 9/8/2016
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic

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Jean-Paul Sartre is an undisputed giant of twentieth-century philosophy. His intellectual writings popularizing existentialism combined with his creative and artistic flair have made him a legend of French thought. His tumultuous personal life - so inextricably bound up with his philosophical thinking - is a fascinating tale of love and lust, drug abuse, high profile fallings-out and political and cultural rebellion.

This substantial and meticulously researched biography is accessible, fast-paced, often amusing and at times deeply moving. Existentialism and Excess covers all the main events of Sartre's remarkable seventy-five-year life from his early years as a precocious brat devouring his grandfather's library, through his time as a brilliant student in Paris, his wilderness years as a provincial teacher-writer experimenting with mescaline, his World War II adventures as a POW and member of the resistance, his post-war politicization, his immense amphetamine fueled feats of writing productivity, his harem of women, his many travels and his final decline into blindness and old age.

Along the way there are countless intriguing anecdotes, some amusing, some tragic, some controversial: his loathing of crustaceans and his belief that he was being pursued by a giant lobster, his escape from a POW camp, the bombing of his apartment, his influence on the May 1968 uprising and his many love affairs. Cox deftly moves from these episodes to discussing his intellectual development, his famous feuds with Aron, Camus, and Merleau-Ponty, his encounters with other giant figures of his day: Roosevelt, Hemingway, Heidegger, John Huston, Mao, Castro, Che Guevara, Khrushchev and Tito, and, above all, his long, complex and creative relationship with Simone de Beauvoir.

Existentialism and Excess also gives serious consideration to Sartre's ideas and many philosophical works, novels, stories, plays and biographies, revealing their intimate connection with his personal life.

Cox has written an entertaining, thought-provoking and compulsive book, much like the man himself.

Author Biography

Gary Cox has a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Birmingham, UK, where he is also an Honorary Research Fellow. He is also the author of How to Be a Philosopher (Bloomsbury, 2014), The Sartre Dictionary (Bloomsbury, 2008) How to Be an Existentialist (Bloomsbury 2009) and Deep Thought (Bloomsbury 2015).

Table of Contents

1 Genius
2 Stowaway Traveller
3 Exile
4 Very Heaven
5 Castor
6 Le Havre
7 Apricot Cocktails
8 Ostraconophobia
9 La Petite Russe
10 The Mighty Gallimard
11 Sex Before War
12 War of Words
13 Occupation
14 Political Animal
15 Differences
16 Crushing Camus and Genet
17 Blood Pressure Rising
18 The Ghost of Stalin
19 Corydrane Creations
20 The Philosopher and the Film Director
21 Explosive Situation
22 Nobel Words
23 Help of the Helpless
24 Revolution in the Air
25 Ultra-Lefty
26 The Long Road Down
27 Immortality
28 A Kind of Conclusion

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