Books: From the Abyss

TROUBLED SLEEP (421 pp.)—Jean-Paul Sartre—Knopf ($3.50).

June 15, 1940—4 p.m. France had fallen. Down the main street of a country town staggered a drunken rout of French soldiery, bawling the self-disgust of their nation in a savagely gross song. "Tant qu'il y aura de la merde dans le pot," it went, "ça puera dans la chambre" (When the pot's full, no wonder the room stinks).

In this scene and with these words, Novelist Jean-Paul Sartre, biggest postwar noise in France, declares the text of Volume III in his long existential sermon, the four-volume novel called The Roads to Freedom. Sartre's richly rewarded purpose...

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