World: Inadvertent Guru to an Age

Jean-Paul Sartre: 1905-1980

He looked like a toad, as he said of himself. His sexual life was more intricate than the plot of a Restoration comedy; and he once remarked, with a humor rare in his profession, that sex preoccupied him far more than philosophy. He did not write like a philosopher either, for he commanded a graceful prose style that could turn the subtlest concept into a memorable aphorism or a playable drama. But Jean-Paul Sartre managed to become an influential philosopher at a moment in history when philosophers had ceased to influence almost anybody.

That moment was the bitter aftermath of...

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