At the Existentialist Café Others
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Great philosophy meets powerful biography in this entertaining and immensely readable portrait of mid-20th century Paris and the fascinating characters of Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus, and their circle, who loved and hated, drank and debated with each other--and forever changed the way we think about thinking. At the Existentialist Café is a thrilling look at the famous group of post-war thinkers who became known as the Existentialists: Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus, Heidegger, and their circle. Starting with Paris after the devastation of the Second World War, Sarah Bakewell (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for her previous book) takes us inside the passionate debates and equally passionate lives of these brilliant, if flawed, characters. Here is a wonderful, vibrant look at the social, artistic and political currents that shaped the existentialist movement--a mode of thinking and being that, as Bakewell vividly shows, deeply affects us today. Never has the story of this influential group, and especially that of the legendary relationship between Sartre and de Beauvoir, been told with such verve and sweep, weaving personal life with social upheaval and the universal quest for understanding. From the Hardcover edition.
Named one of the Ten Best Books of 2016 by the New York Times, a spirited account of a major intellectual movement of the twentieth century and the revolutionary thinkers who came to shape it, by the best-selling author of How to Live Sarah Bakewell. Paris, 1933: three contemporaries meet over apricot cocktails at the Bec-de-Gaz bar on the rue Montparnasse. They are the young Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and longtime friend Raymond Aron, a fellow philosopher who raves to them about a new conceptual framework from Berlin called Phenomenology. "You see," he says, "if you are a phenomenologist you can talk about this cocktail and make philosophy out of it!" It was this simple phrase that would ignite a movement, inspiring Sartre to integrate Phenomenology into his own French, humanistic sensibility, thereby creating an entirely new philosophical approach inspired by themes of radical freedom, authentic being, and political activism. This movement would sweep through the jazz clubs and cafés of the Left Bank before making its way across the world as Existentialism. Featuring not only philosophers, but also playwrights, anthropologists, convicts, and revolutionaries, At the Existentialist Café follows the existentialists' story, from the first rebellious spark through the Second World War, to its role in postwar liberation movements such as anti-colonialism, feminism, and gay rights. Interweaving biography and philosophy, it is the epic account of passionate encounters--fights, love affairs, mentorships, rebellions, and long partnerships--and a vital investigation into what the existentialists have to offer us today, at a moment when we are once again confronting the major questions of freedom, global responsibility, and human authenticity in a fractious and technology-driven world.
Shortlisted for the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize Paris, near the turn of 1932-3. Three young friends meet over apricot cocktails at the Bec-de-Gaz bar on the rue Montparnasse. They are Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and their friend Raymond Aron, who opens their eyes to a radical new way of thinking... ‘It’s not often that you miss your bus stop because you’re so engrossed in reading a book about existentialism, but I did exactly that... The story of Sartre, Beauvoir, Camus, Heidegger et al is strange, fun and compelling reading. If it doesn’t win awards, I will eat my copy’ Independent on Sunday ‘Bakewell shows how fascinating were some of the existentialists’ ideas and how fascinating, often frightful, were their lives. Vivid, humorous anecdotes are interwoven with a lucid and unpatronising exposition of their complex philosophy... Tender, incisive and fair’ Daily Telegraph ‘Quirky, funny, clear and passionate... Few writers are as good as Bakewell at explaining complicated ideas in a way that makes them easy to understand’ Mail on Sunday
Until now it has been impossible to read the full story of the relationship between Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. Their dramatic rupture at the height of the Cold War, like that conflict itself, demanded those caught in its wake to take sides rather than to appreciate its tragic complexity. Now, using newly available sources, Ronald Aronson offers the first book-length account of the twentieth century's most famous friendship and its end. Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre first met in 1943, during the German occupation of France. The two became fast friends. Intellectual as well as political allies, they grew famous overnight after Paris was liberated. As playwrights, novelists, philosophers, journalists, and editors, the two seemed to be everywhere and in command of every medium in post-war France. East-West tensions would put a strain on their friendship, however, as they evolved in opposing directions and began to disagree over philosophy, the responsibilities of intellectuals, and what sorts of political changes were necessary or possible. As Camus, then Sartre adopted the mantle of public spokesperson for his side, a historic showdown seemed inevitable. Sartre embraced violence as a path to change and Camus sharply opposed it, leading to a bitter and very public falling out in 1952. They never spoke again, although they continued to disagree, in code, until Camus's death in 1960. In a remarkably nuanced and balanced account, Aronson chronicles this riveting story while demonstrating how Camus and Sartre developed first in connection with and then against each other, each keeping the other in his sights long after their break. Combining biography and intellectual history, philosophical and political passion, Camus and Sartre will fascinate anyone interested in these great writers or the world-historical issues that tore them apart.
"A stimulating book about combating despair and complacency with searching reflection." --Heller McAlpin, NPR.org Named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR. One of Lit Hub's 15 Books You Should Read in September and one of Outside's Best Books of Fall A revelatory Alpine journey in the spirit of the great Romantic thinker Friedrich Nietzsche Hiking with Nietzsche: Becoming Who You Are is a tale of two philosophical journeys—one made by John Kaag as an introspective young man of nineteen, the other seventeen years later, in radically different circumstances: he is now a husband and father, and his wife and small child are in tow. Kaag sets off for the Swiss peaks above Sils Maria where Nietzsche wrote his landmark work Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Both of Kaag’s journeys are made in search of the wisdom at the core of Nietzsche’s philosophy, yet they deliver him to radically different interpretations and, more crucially, revelations about the human condition. Just as Kaag’s acclaimed debut, American Philosophy: A Love Story, seamlessly wove together his philosophical discoveries with his search for meaning, Hiking with Nietzsche is a fascinating exploration not only of Nietzsche’s ideals but of how his experience of living relates to us as individuals in the twenty-first century. Bold, intimate, and rich with insight, Hiking with Nietzsche is about defeating complacency, balancing sanity and madness, and coming to grips with the unobtainable. As Kaag hikes, alone or with his family, but always with Nietzsche, he recognizes that even slipping can be instructive. It is in the process of climbing, and through the inevitable missteps, that one has the chance, in Nietzsche’s words, to “become who you are."
How to get on well with people, how to deal with violence, how to adjust to losing someone you love? How to live? This question obsessed Renaissance nobleman Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-92), who wrote free-roaming explorations of his thought and experience, unlike anything written before. Into these essays he put whatever was in his head: his tastes in wine and food, his childhood memories, the way his dog's ears twitched when it was dreaming, events in the appalling civil wars raging around him. The Essays was an instant bestseller, and over four hundred years later, readers still come to him in search of companionship, wisdom and entertainment - and in search of themselves. This first full biography of Montaigne in English for nearly fifty years relates the story of his life by way of the questions he posed and the answers he explored.
In the aftermath of a teen's disappearance from bustling Port Harcourt in 1995 Nigeria, a once-ordered family is irreparably shattered in ways that prompt its youngest member, Ajie, to embark on a quest for answers that reveals long-forgotten secrets andregional brutalities.
Widely recognized as the finest definition of existentialist philosophy ever written, this book introduced existentialism to America in 1958. Barrett speaks eloquently and directly to concerns of the 1990s: a period when the irrational and the absurd are no better integrated than before and when humankind is in even greater danger of destroying its existence without ever understanding the meaning of its existence. Irrational Man begins by discussing the roots of existentialism in the art and thinking of Augustine, Aquinas, Pascal, Baudelaire, Blake, Dostoevski, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Picasso, Joyce, and Beckett. The heart of the book explains the views of the foremost existentialists—Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre. The result is a marvelously lucid definition of existentialism and a brilliant interpretation of its impact.
This gripping nineteenth-century adventure stars Jorgen Jorgenson, who ran away to sea at fourteen and began a brilliant career by sailing to establish the first colony in Tasmania. Twists of fortune then found him captaining a warship for Napoleon before joining a British trading voyage to Iceland, where he staged an outrageous coup and ruled the country for two months. Much lay ahead, from imprisonment in the hulks to patronage by Joseph Banks and travels in Europe as a British spy. But Jorgenson was dogged by his own excesses, and ended up transported as a convict to the very colony he helped to found. Here he reinvented himself again as an explorer, and, despite his sympathy for the people, was caught up in the terrible Aboriginal clearances. Using unpublished sources and letters, Sarah Bakewell tells his astonishing tale with dazzling verve.
Existentialism exerts a continuing fascination on students of philosophy and general readers. As a philosophical phenomenon, though, it is often poorly understood, as a form of radical subjectivism that turns its back on reason and argumentation and possesses all the liabilities of philosophical idealism but without any idealistic conceptual clarity. In this volume of original essays, the first to be devoted exclusively to existentialism in over forty years, a team of distinguished commentators discuss the ideas of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty and Beauvoir and show how their focus on existence provides a compelling perspective on contemporary issues in moral psychology and philosophy of mind, language and history. A further sequence of chapters examines the influence of existential ideas beyond philosophy, in literature, religion, politics and psychiatry. The volume offers a rich and comprehensive assessment of the continuing vitality of existentialism as a philosophical movement and a cultural phenomenon.
Exploring themes that preoccupied Albert Camus--absurdity, silence, revolt, fidelity, and moderation--Robert Zaretsky portrays a moralist who refused to be fooled by the nobler names we assign to our actions, and who pushed himself, and those about him, to challenge the status quo. For Camus, rebellion against injustice is the human condition.
This anthology provides a history of the systemization and canonization of existentialism, a quintessentially antisystemic mode of thought. Situating existentialism within the history of ideas, it features new readings on the most influential works in the existential canon, exploring their formative contexts and the cultural dialogues of which they were a part. Emphasizing the multidisciplinary and global nature of existential arguments, the chosen texts relate to philosophy, religion, literature, theater, and culture and reflect European, Russian, Latin American, African, and American strains of thought. Readings are grouped into three thematic categories: national contexts, existentialism and religion, and transcultural migrations that explore the reception of existentialism. The volume explains how literary giants such as Dostoevsky and Tolstoy were incorporated into the existentialist fold and how inclusion into the canon recast the work of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, and it describes the roles played by Jaspers and Heidegger in Germany and the Paris School of existentialism in France. Essays address not only frequently assigned works but also underappreciated discoveries, underscoring their vital relevance to contemporary critical debate. Designed to speak to a new generation's concerns, the collection deploys a diverse range of voices to interrogate the fundamental questions of the human condition.
"[A Commentary on Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness] represents, I believe, a very important beginning of a deservingly serious effort to make the whole of Being and Nothingness more readily understandable and readable. . . . In his systematic interpretations of Sartre's book, [Catalano] demonstrates a determination to confront many of the most demanding issues and concepts of Being and Nothingness. He does not shrink—as do so many interpreters of Sartre—from such issues as the varied meanings of 'being,' the meaning of 'internal negation' and 'absolute event,' the idiosyncratic senses of transcendence, the meaning of the 'upsurge' in its different contexts, what it means to say that we 'exist our body,' the connotation of such concepts as quality, quantity, potentiality, and instrumentality (in respect to Sartre's world of 'things'), or the origin of negation. . . . Catalano offers what is doubtless one of the most probing, original, and illuminating interpretations of Sartre's crucial concept of nothingness to appear in the Sartrean literature."—Ronald E. Santoni, International Philosophical Quarterly
Existentialism: An Introduction provides an accessible and scholarly introduction to the core ideas of the existentialist tradition. Kevin Aho draws on a wide range of existentialist thinkers in chapters centering on the key themes of freedom, being-in-the-world, alienation, nihilism, anxiety and authenticity. He also addresses important but often overlooked issues in the canon of existentialism, with discussions devoted to the role of embodiment, the movement’s contribution to ethics, politics, and environmental and comparative philosophies, as well as its influence on contemporary psychiatry and psychotherapy. The enduring relevance of existentialism is shown by applying existentialist ideas to contemporary philosophical discussions of interest to a wide audience. The book covers secular thinkers such as Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, and Beauvoir as well as religious authors, such as Buber, Dostoevsky, Marcel, and Kierkegaard. In this engaging and accessible text Aho shows why existentialism cannot be easily dismissed as a moribund or outdated movement. In the aftermath of 'God’s death', existentialist philosophy engages questions with lasting philosophical significance, questions such as 'Who am I?' and 'How should I live?' By showing how existentialism offers insight into what it means to be human, the author illuminates existentialism’s enduring value. Existentialism: An Introduction provides the ideal introduction for upper level students and anyone interested in knowing more about one of the most vibrant and important areas of philosophy today.
Benjamin Fondane—who was born and educated in Romania, moved as an adult to Paris, lived for a time in Buenos Aires, where he was close to Victoria Ocampo, Jorge Luis Borges’s friend and publisher, and died in Auschwitz—was an artist and thinker who found in every limit, in every border, “a torture and a spur.” Poet, critic, man of the theater, movie director, Fondane was the most daring of the existentialists, a metaphysical anarchist, affirming individual against those great abstractions that limit human freedom—the State, History, the Law, the Idea. Existential Monday, the first selection of his philosophical work to appear in English, includes four of Fondane's most thought-provoking and important texts, "Existential Monday and the Sunday of History," "Preface for the Present Moment," "Man Before History" (co-translated by Andrew Rubens), and "Boredom." Here Fondane, until now little-known except to specialists, emerges as one of the enduring French philosophers of the twentieth century.
Introduction to Phenomenology is an outstanding and comprehensive guide to phenomenology. Dermot Moran lucidly examines the contributions of phenomenology's nine seminal thinkers: Brentano, Husserl, Heidegger, Gadamer, Arendt, Levinas, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty and Derrida. Written in a clear and engaging style, Introduction to Phenomenology charts the course of the phenomenological movement from its origins in Husserl to its transformation by Derrida. It describes the thought of Heidegger and Sartre, phenomonology's most famous thinkers, and introduces and assesses the distinctive use of phenomonology by some of its lesser known exponents, such as Levinas, Arendt and Gadamer. Throughout the book, the enormous influence of phenomenology on the course of twentieth-century philosophy is thoroughly explored. This is an indispensible introduction for all unfamiliar with this much talked about but little understood school of thought. Technical terms are explained throughout and jargon is avoided. Introduction to Phenomenology will be of interest to all students seeking a reliable introduction to a key movement in European thought.
“One is not born a woman, but becomes one”, Simone de Beauvoir A symbol of liberated womanhood, Simone de Beauvoir's unconventional relationships inspired and scandalised her generation. A philosopher, writer, and feminist icon, she won prestigious literary prizes and transformed the way we think about gender with The Second Sex. But despite her successes, she wondered if she had sold herself short. Her liaison with Jean-Paul Sartre has been billed as one of the most legendary love affairs of the twentieth century. But for Beauvoir it came at a cost: for decades she was dismissed as an unoriginal thinker who 'applied' Sartre's ideas. In recent years new material has come to light revealing the ingenuity of Beauvoir's own philosophy and the importance of other lovers in her life. This ground-breaking biography draws on never-before-published diaries and letters to tell the fascinating story of how Simone de Beauvoir became herself.
We all want to be happy but what is happiness? Haim Shapira navigates the terrain of happiness, exploring and contemplating an eclectic range of theories and insights into the conflicts we face on our journey to creating our own happiness. What is your happiest moment? How can you know it? Do we waste time or does time waste us? Are questions about meaning truly meaningful? What’s really important? Drawing on literary and philosophical sources ranging from Alice in Wonderland and The Little Prince to Leo Tolstoy, King Solomon and Friedrich Nietzsche, Haim Shapira invites us to challenge our perspectives on happiness and provides us with alternative ways to appreciate what is important. As Haim concludes it is in the spaces between the possible paths that we might take that we are able to find a place of grace, and where the things that matter to us will light our way. The choice is ours.
One of The New York Times's 13 Books to Watch For in November A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year National Book Award-winning biographer Deirdre Bair explores her fifteen remarkable years in Paris with Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir, painting intimate new portraits of two literary giants and revealing secrets of the biographical art. In 1971 Deirdre Bair was a journalist and a recently minted Ph.D. who managed to secure access to Nobel Prize-winning author Samuel Beckett. He agreed that she could be his biographer despite her never having written a biography before. The next seven years of probing conversations, intercontinental research, singular encounters with Beckett's friends, and peculiar cat-and-mouse games resulted in Samuel Beckett: A Biography, which went on to win the National Book Award and propel Bair to her next subject: Simone de Beauvoir. Where Beckett had been retiring and elusive, Beauvoir was domineering and all encompassing. Plus, there was a catch: Beauvoir and Beckett despised each other--and lived in the same neighborhood. Bair, who resorted to dodging one subject or the other by hiding out in the great cafés of Paris, learned that what works in terms of process for one biography rarely applies to the next. Her seven-year relationship with the forceful and difficult Beauvoir required a radical change in approach and yielded another groundbreaking literary profile while also awakening Bair to an era of burgeoning feminist consciousness. Drawing on Bair's extensive notes from the period, including never-before-told anecdotes and details considered impossible to publish at the time, Parisian Lives gives us an entirely new perspective on the all-too-human side of these legendary thinkers. It is also a warmly personal reflection on the writing life--its compromises, its joys, and its rewards.
Jean-Paul Sartre is the author of possibly the most notorious one-liner of twentieth-century philosophy: 'Hell is other people'. Albert Camus was The Outsider. The two men first came together in Occupied Paris in the middle of the Second World War, and quickly became friends, comrades, and mutual admirers. But the intellectual honeymoon was short-lived. In 1943, with Nazis patrolling the streets, Sartre and Camus sat in a café on the boulevard Saint-Germain with Simone de Beauvoir and began a discussion about life and love and literature that would pull them all together and finally tear them apart. They ended up on opposite sides in a war of words over just about everything: women, philosophy, politics. Their fraught, fractured friendship culminated in a bitter and very public feud that was described as 'the end of a love-affair' but which never really finished. Sartre was a boxer and a drug-addict; Camus was a goalkeeper who subscribed to a degree-zero approach to style and ecstasy. Sartre, obsessed with his own ugliness, took up the challenge of accumulating women; Camus, part-Bogart, part-Samurai, was also a self-confessed Don Juan who aspired to chastity. Sartre and Camus play out an epic struggle between the symbolic and the savage. But what if the friction between these two unique individuals is also the source of our own inevitable conflicts? The Boxer and the Goalkeeper: Sartre vs Camusreconstructs the intense and antagonistic relationship that was (in Sartre's terms) 'doomed to failure'. Weaving together the lives and ideas and writings of Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, Andy Martin relives the existential drama that still binds them inseparably together and remixes a philosophical dialogue that speaks to us now.