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Jean-Paul Sartre is widely remembered for his contributions as a philosopher, playwright, and teacher. His notable works include his philosophical magnum opus, Being and Nothingness and his plays, The Flies, and No Exit. His ideas have a continued influence on philosophical existentialism and literary studies today.
See the fact file below for more information on the Jean-Paul Sartre or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Jean-Paul Sartre worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Born on June 21, 1905, Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre was the only child of Jean-Baptiste Sartre, a naval officer, and Anne-Marie Schweitzer.
- Jean-Baptiste died when Jean-Paul was still an infant, forcing Anne-Marie to move back to her parents’ house in Meudon to raise young Jean-Paul.
- As a young man, Sartre became interested in philosophy after reading Henri Bergson’s essay Time and Free Will. He earned a doctorate in philosophy in Paris at the École Normale Supérieure, absorbing ideas from Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Husserl, and Heidegger, among others.
- In 1929, he met Simone de Beauvoir, a student at the Sorbonne who went on to become a celebrated philosopher, writer, and feminist.
- The two became lifelong companions, though they were not monogamous. Sartre and de Beauvoir challenged the cultural and social expectations of their respective “bourgeois” backgrounds.
- The conflict between oppressive conformity and authenticity, which the pair openly addressed and confronted in their personal lives, became the dominant theme of Sartre’s early career.
- In 1939, Sartre was drafted into the French army, where he served as a meteorologist. He was captured by German troops in 1940 and spent nine months as a prisoner of war. Given civilian status in 1941, he was able to secure a teaching position at Lycée Pasteur, outside of Paris.
- Prior to World War II, Sartre believed in playing the role of an apolitical intellectual to contribute to the world. The horrors of the war opened his eyes to the harsh realities of the world, and he began playing an active political role in France.
- Upon returning to the city, Sartre participated with a number of other writers in the founding of the underground group Socialisme et Liberté. The group soon dissolved, and Sartre decided to write rather than participate in active resistance.
- Sartre was a supporter of the French Communist Party, but after Hungary’s invasion by the Soviet Union, he rejected PCF’s claims of being the true representatives of the French masses.
- His support shifted to the Maoist movement in the late 1960s, which rejected the established Communist parties of the time. Later in life, Sartre liked to call himself an anarchist politically.
- Sartre prized his role as a public intellectual. After World War II, he emerged as a politically engaged activist. He was an outspoken opponent of French rule in Algeria. He embraced Marxism and visited Cuba, meeting with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.
- Sartre’s literary works are a portrayal of his existentialist philosophy. Within a short time, he published Being and Nothingness, The Flies, and No Exit, the masterpieces that would make him a household name.
- Sartre drew directly from his wartime experience in his work. After the liberation of Paris, he wrote Anti-Semite and Jew, in which he attempted to explain the concept of hatred by analyzing anti-Semitism.
- His major publication after 1955, the Critique de la raison dialectique (Critique of Dialectical Reason), appeared in 1960.
- His novels are all well-known works of existentialist literature which earned him the Nobel Prize in 1964. However, he rejected the honor, stating that an author should not be institutionalized, becoming the first Nobel Laureate to do so.
Last Years and Death
- Sartre’s principled mode of living involved few possessions. He and de Beauvoir remained actively committed to humanitarian and political causes until the end of his life, including participation in the Paris demonstrations of 1968.
- Sartre’s physical condition deteriorated in the 1970s, and he became almost completely blind in 1973. He died in Paris on April 15, 1980, from pulmonary edema.
- Jean-Paul Sartre is buried at Montparnasse Cemetery. He shares a grave with life-long partner Simone de Beauvoir.
- His works continue to influence critical theory, literary studies, sociology, and post-colonial theory.
Jean-Paul Sartre Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Jean-Paul Sartre across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Jean-Paul Sartre worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Jean-Paul Sartre who is widely remembered for his contributions as a philosopher, playwright, and teacher. His notable works include his philosophical magnum opus, Being and Nothingness and his plays, The Flies, and No Exit. His ideas have a continued influence on philosophical existentialism and literary studies today.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Authors Online
- Judge By The Cover
- Library Hunt
- Sartre Says
- Meet the Idols
- Get It, Jean-Paul!
- Fight for Freedom
- Other People
- Condemned to Freedom
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