Existentialism and Excess : The Life and Times of Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre is one of the undisputed giants of 20th-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, entertaining, 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 Ward II adventures as a POW and member of the resistance, his post-war politicization, his immense amphetamine fulled 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 belief that he was being pursued by a giant lobster, his escape from POW camp, his many affairs, his meetings with Roosevelt, Hemingway, John Huston, Mao, Castro, Che Guevara, Khrushchev, Tito, his feuds with Aron, Camus, and Merleau-Ponty, the bombing of his apartment, his influence on the May 1968 uprising, his long and complex relationship with Simone de Beauvoir.
Existentialism and Excess also gives serious consideration to his ideas and many philosophical works, novels, stories, plays, and biographies revealing their intimate connection with his personal life.
An entertaining, thought-provoking and compulsive book, much like the man himself.