Study Guide

Jean-Paul Sartre Files

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Jean-Paul Sartre's Journal

Monday: Maybe I'm getting old but I enjoy going out less and less. I'm just afraid I'm going to slip on those Parisian cobblestones or get stuck in one of those claptrap elevators from the turn of the century. Was thinking about how I have always sort of lacked courage—though I don't have the courage to tell anyone this. I mean I was imprisoned by the Germans in World War II for crying out loud! Shouldn't I have some guts left?

Tuesday: Sigh. I miss being in the streets with all of the students, being the prince of the rebel scene. It really got me out of the house. Am I losing my game? I know I look like a toad—I'm the first to admit it! But my sex life is still a crazy drama. I simply must engage with the world, or I'll wind up just as bad as the people I criticize. The truth is, I've been pummeled by allegations of hypocrisy. But I have a legacy to protect, dangit.

Wednesday: Today, I'm on the hunt for new objects of inspiration. (I use the term "object" loosely, mind you). I have written about cinema, literature, aesthetics, political struggles, the theater… what's next? The existential angst of the twitter addict? The nothingness of clicking "Like"?… I seek new material, new inspiration… I guess I'll have to take up reality television.

Thursday: Ladies and gentlemen, I have arrived. I was interviewed by a potential biographer today. Yep—I'm that important. She asked for suggestions for the title. I threw Sartre out there, but strangely it was not well received. She wants the title to reflect my role as a violence-loving anarchist, an existentialist, a resistor, a Third Worldist, and a Maoist. All of that would make for a long title, no?

Friday: I wonder if I will be considered a great man in the sense of Great Man, like a great thinker, leader, and philosopher. I know this shallow desire is pretty inconsistent with my whole sympathy-with-the-marginalized routine, but what can I do? I want a biography that speaks to my strengths and isn't just a tabloid scandal about my crazy sex life, though that can go in a footnote or an appendix.

Saturday: Ugh. I can't seem to shake something I wrote in my autobiography in 1964 (Les mots): "What I love in my madness is that it has protected me, from the beginning, from the seduction of the elite." But here's the real question: is my madness my intelligence or my weakness? Is it the real me—or just a big act?

Sunday: I heard from my adopted daughter, Ariette, today. I keep getting stuck on the fact that she was my lover first, but I'm hoping that'll stop being awkward soon. If I wasn't so against psychoanalysis, I might get on top of that, so to speak. She kept reminding me of that wacky dream I had about having a statue of me put up at some random university. Note to self: Don't tell her so much, you big blabbermouth!

Monday: I know I have totally trashed Charles De Gaulle, but for some reason he let me off scot-free about my criticism of French colonial rule in Algeria. Phew! Really dodged a bullet with that one. He actually compared me to Voltaire. Oh happy day!

Jean-Paul Sartre's Email Account


SUBJECT: Your writing

Dear Simone,

One more email about this and I will drop it for good: Why did I dream about having a statue of me erected? Am I full of myself? A "megalomaniac," as you might say? Please be honest.


TO: Yahoo Group of Manifesto des 121 Signatories

SUBJECT: Manifesto 121

Hi All,

Wanted to let you know with 100% certainty: I AM NOT IGNORING YOU. I know you have sent many letters to me about protesting the French presence in Algeria, yadda, yadda, yadda… You all are asking, Now what?

Well, because I do not have a tidy response to that question, I am just choosing to ignore you—for now. Please know: My secretary has given me your messages. I will get back to you just as soon as I have an answer for you and not a moment before.

Yours in existentialism,


SUBJECT: My Biography of U

Dear Monsieur Sartre,

I want to know how a bourgeois like you—and you, Sartre, no matter how much you hate the bourgeois are still a bourgeois through and through—became a so-called revolutionary. Please lmk asap.

Oh, and please don't take offense at this question. Writing your biography is really hard! BTW: I would NEVER have the nerve to ask you this if you weren't BFFs with my Dad, Fernando, a famous painter in France as well as a Spanish Civil War general etc.

John Gerassi

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