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In his works, Sartre chronicles the tribulations of the member of the intelligentsia in his search for freedom and his encounters with crossroads and dead ends that reveal the difficulties of attaining freedom, its genuine and false content, the ease with which one may slip into anarchic willfulness and its responsibility to others, and the differences between the individualistic and moral and civic interpretations of freedom. The work of Sartre, the leader of the French existentialists, has influenced the intellectual life of France and other countries and has had repercussions in philosophy and politics, aesthetics, literature, dramaturgy, and the cinema.
Sartre was not a stylist, and aesthetics were of limited interest to him.
His plays have even been called "black and white." More important to him than aesthetics was the thinking behind the works; he shifted back and forth between literary genres more to suit his ideological needs than to satisfy any aesthetic purpose. The son of Jean-Baptiste Sartre, a French naval officer, and Anne Marie Schweitzer, first cousin of Albert Schweitzer, the young Sartre was to lose his father shortly after birth, making it necessary to move into the home of his maternal grandfather, Charles Schweitzer.
In his theory of engagement, Sartre argues that the writer is personally responsible for all of contemporary history, sometimes indulging in vulgarly sectarian exaggerations (the essays on aesthetics, as well as works on literary history, including What Is Literature?
1947; Baudelaire, 1947; Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr, 1952; and The Family Idiot, vols. Sartre combines a contemplative, philosophical approach with naturalistic genre sketches, myth with reportage, and subtle psychological analysis with direct polemics in his prose works, including the novel Nausea (1938), the short-story collection The Wall (1939), and the uncompleted tetralogy Paths of Freedom (1945–49), as well as in his plays (The Flies, 1943; No Exit, 1945; The Devil and the Good Lord, 1951; and The Condemned of Altona, 1960).
As a child, Sartre was small and cross-eyed — features which followed him through life — and thus he was generally unsuited for the activities of more ordinary children.
Perhaps because of his physical limitations and irregular family life, he learned early to assess people and events from a detached, systematic viewpoint.After attending the Lycée Henri IV for a while in Paris, he transferred to the Lycée in La Rochelle after his mother remarried.Upon graduation, he entered the prestigious École Normale Supérieure in Paris and graduated first in his class — an extraordinary feat because of the demanding requirements of the school.Personal Background Jean-Paul Sartre was a novelist, playwright, and philosopher.His major contribution to twentieth-century thinking was his system of existentialism, an ensemble of ideas describing humans' freedom and responsibilities within a framework of human dignity.His work has been repeatedly criticized by Marxists. Les Ecrits de Sartre: Chronologie, bibliographie commentée. At the École, and also at the Sorbonne, Sartre formed many important friendships with thinkers and writers who later became well known in their respective fields — people such as the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss and the philosopher Simone Weil.Between 19, he taught high school in Le Havre, Lyon, and Paris.That is, he evolved a philosophy which concerned itself with existence in all its forms: social, political, religious, and philosophical.All of Sartre's works, whether they be novels, plays, essays, or major philosophical treatises, are media through which he presented his ideas.