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Jean-Paul Sartre's famous autobiography of his first ten years has been widely compared to Rousseau's Confessions. Written when he was fifty-nine years old, The Words is a masterpiece of self-analysis. Sartre the philosopher, novelist and playwright brings to his own childhood the same rigor of honesty and insight he applied so brilliantly to other authors. Born into a gen Jean-Paul Sartre's famous autobiography of his first ten years has been widely compared to Rousseau's Confessions. Written when he was fifty-nine years old, The Words is a masterpiece of self-analysis. Sartre the philosopher, novelist and playwright brings to his own childhood the same rigor of honesty and insight he applied so brilliantly to other authors. Born into a gentle, book-loving family and raised by a widowed mother and doting grandparents, he had a childhood which might be described as one long love affair with the printed word. Ultimately, this book explores and evaluates the whole use of books and language in human experience.


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Jean-Paul Sartre's famous autobiography of his first ten years has been widely compared to Rousseau's Confessions. Written when he was fifty-nine years old, The Words is a masterpiece of self-analysis. Sartre the philosopher, novelist and playwright brings to his own childhood the same rigor of honesty and insight he applied so brilliantly to other authors. Born into a gen Jean-Paul Sartre's famous autobiography of his first ten years has been widely compared to Rousseau's Confessions. Written when he was fifty-nine years old, The Words is a masterpiece of self-analysis. Sartre the philosopher, novelist and playwright brings to his own childhood the same rigor of honesty and insight he applied so brilliantly to other authors. Born into a gentle, book-loving family and raised by a widowed mother and doting grandparents, he had a childhood which might be described as one long love affair with the printed word. Ultimately, this book explores and evaluates the whole use of books and language in human experience.

30 review for Les mots Audiobook PACK [Book + 1 CD MP3]

  1. 5 out of 5

    Fergus

    Sartre was - at the outset of his career, as well as at its end - a man without hope. Like so many socially-minded intellectuals of a practical cast in mid-century, Jean-Paul Sartre leaned seriously toward socialism, Marxism and even, briefly, communism. But practical people refuse not to act. And Sartre had few illusions, which made practical action for a better world imperative. And the inevitable disillusionment followed... That is why Les Mots, The Words, seems so sad to us now. Disillusioned Sartre was - at the outset of his career, as well as at its end - a man without hope. Like so many socially-minded intellectuals of a practical cast in mid-century, Jean-Paul Sartre leaned seriously toward socialism, Marxism and even, briefly, communism. But practical people refuse not to act. And Sartre had few illusions, which made practical action for a better world imperative. And the inevitable disillusionment followed... That is why Les Mots, The Words, seems so sad to us now. Disillusioned and prematurely aged by the beginnings of a long series of strokes, Sartre could no longer act confidently or decisively. And without hope in his own - and mankind's - future, life was brutal. Sartre always had seen the end of his life as an impassable obstacle to self-fulfillment, the dark side of the dichotomy Being/Nothingness. For as proof of the perceived utter futility of the human predicament, the climax of his philosophical magnum opus, l’Être et le Néant states baldly, "Man is a hopeless passion." But at about the same time as that work, across the Channel, as Sartre’s discouraging words rallied France to alternative political action, T. S Eliot was urging in wartime London: Descend lower, descend only Into the world of perpetual solitude, World not world, but that which is not world, Internal darkness…. Had Sartre read, and heeded Eliot’s words he might have become a different person, in touch with his deepest emotions. But Sartre had already achieved recognition and notoriety at a very young age. So he simply became his persona. Clinical, aloof and detached - Cool. Sartre was cool when James Dean was a toddler. He thus inspired generations of the with-it and hip youngsters of the fifties, sixties and seventies. He assumed the role of philosopher without Knowing Himself - and thus mocked Socrates. Was that cool? Later books of his like this one find Sartre trying to play catch-up on that count. But he was a Johnny-Come-Lately to the game of self-knowledge. To know yourself you have to BE yourself. Sartre was a Matchstick Man. He utterly lacked everyday warmth, poor soul! But - in the darkness of postwar Britain, the best strategy for T.S. Eliot was to accept so many great losses in a spirit of faithful brokenness, admitting personal frailties before God, so that: the Darkness will become the Light. For Eliot followed the dictum of the cryptic Presocratic, Heraklitos: ‘The way up IS the way down.’ Hope from the ashes of hope. For through the darkness of Faith there comes the great joy of a New Day. As it came for Eliot, with a new marriage made in Heaven, and a joyous and dignified summation to his life. *** In the end, Sartre finished his life as he had begun his early years, WITHOUT hope. But as he looked back on his life in this at times light and charmingly whimsical book, he saw many lost childhood memories. But they were all mixed with the feeling that his life was slowly ebbing away without purpose or meaning. At least he had his many friends and the company of de Beauvoir. But uncompromising till the end, he rejected the ordinary hope that makes life bearable for the rest of us, because he rejected himself. In spite of this, in Les Mots we see Sartre opening up about his personal space for the first time - which he was to continue obliquely in his great study of Flaubert - l’Idiot de la Famille - the Family Idiot. For now he was no longer an untouchable and lapidary world icon. His disguise had worn too thin... Now he was just frail and human like us. But worn out by his despair. You know, there IS hope available even for Postmoderns like Sartre, and us. Postmodern branches, as Messrs Kierkegaard, Barth and Kung have proven, can be grafted easily and well onto Christian roots. To find out How to do this, all we have to to is Read their books - And Heed them well.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Les Mots = The Words, Jean-Paul Sartre The Words is Jean-Paul Sartre's 1963 autobiography. The text is divided into two near-equal parts entitled 'Reading' and 'Writing'. Jean-Paul Sartre's famous autobiography of his first ten years has been widely compared to Rousseau's Confessions. Written when he was fifty-nine years old, The Words is a masterpiece of self-analysis. Sartre the philosopher, novelist and playwright brings to his own childhood the same rigor of honesty and insight he applied so Les Mots = The Words, Jean-Paul Sartre The Words is Jean-Paul Sartre's 1963 autobiography. The text is divided into two near-equal parts entitled 'Reading' and 'Writing'. Jean-Paul Sartre's famous autobiography of his first ten years has been widely compared to Rousseau's Confessions. Written when he was fifty-nine years old, The Words is a masterpiece of self-analysis. Sartre the philosopher, novelist and playwright brings to his own childhood the same rigor of honesty and insight he applied so brilliantly to other authors. Born into a gentle, book-loving family and raised by a widowed mother and doting grandparents, he had a childhood which might be described as one long love affair with the printed word. Ultimately, this book explores and evaluates the whole use of books and language in human experience. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و هفتم ماه آوریل سال 2008 میلادی عنوان: کلمات؛ نویسنده: ژان پل سارتر؛ مترجم: ابوذر صداقت؛ تهران، سفینه، ؟، در 195ص؛ موضوع زیستنامه ی خودنوشت نویسندگان فرانسوی (ژان پل سارتر) - سده 20م عنوان: کلمات؛ نویسنده: ژان پل سارتر؛ مترجم: حسینقلی جواهرچی؛ تهران، کاوه، 1344، در پنج و 337ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، دنیای کتاب، 1396؛ در 337ص؛ شابک 9789643463663؛ عنوان: کلمات؛ نویسنده: ژان پل سارتر؛ مترجم: زرین پور؛ تهران، موسسه انتشارات شهریار، 1348، در 287ص؛ چاپ دیگر نیلوفر، 1387، در 243ص؛ عنوان: کلمات؛ نویسنده: ژان پل سارتر؛ مترجم: ناهید فروغان؛ تهران، ققنوس، چاپ دوم 1386، در 216ص؛ چاپ سوم 1388؛ شابک 9789643116064؛ عنوان: کلمات؛ نویسنده: ژان پل سارتر؛ مترجم: امیر جلال الدین اعلم؛ تهران، نیلوفر، 1387، در 243ص؛ شابک 9789644483721؛ نقل از سارتر: انسان محکوم به آزادی است؛ پایان نقل زیستنامه ی خونوشت «ژان پل سارتر» است؛ که نخستین بار در سال 1963میلادی، نگاشته شده است.؛ «ژان پل سارتر»، در روز بیست و یکم ماه ژوئن سال 1905میلادی، در پاریس به دنیا آمدند؛ پدر ایشان «ژان باپتیست سارتر (سال 1847میلادی - سال 1906میلادی»، افسر نیروی دریایی فرانسه بودند، و مادرشان «آنه ماری شوایتزر (سال 1882میلادی - سال 1969میلادی)»، دخترعموی «آلبرت شوایتزر»، پزشک معروف، و برنده ی جایزه ی صلح نوبل، بوده است.؛ «ژان پل» پانزده‌ ماهه بودند، که پدر ایشان به علت «تب»، از این دنیا رفتند.؛ پس از آن، مادرش به نزد والدین خویش در مودون بازگشتند.؛ و ...؛ تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 02/05/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  3. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    The Words, Jean-Paul Sartre's autobiographical work on childhood remembrance, is split into two parts - Reading & writing, and, looking back from the point of view of an almost sixty-year-old Sartre, moves on many levels. Told with a philosophical romanticism for the past, Sartre opens up about his first acquaintance with books, and about his first desire to become a writer, which, having been partly raised by a grandfather who was surrounded by a world books comes as little surprise. After first The Words, Jean-Paul Sartre's autobiographical work on childhood remembrance, is split into two parts - Reading & writing, and, looking back from the point of view of an almost sixty-year-old Sartre, moves on many levels. Told with a philosophical romanticism for the past, Sartre opens up about his first acquaintance with books, and about his first desire to become a writer, which, having been partly raised by a grandfather who was surrounded by a world books comes as little surprise. After first writing about his grandparents and their families, his story moved on to his parents, how they met, and of losing his father at a very young age. Little Jean was then seen as the centre of attention during his first ten years, and thus developed a selfishness, something which the older Sartre didn't try to hide from when writing this book. The young Sartre might not come across as wholey likeable, but at least the older Sartre was being honest, and not making himself out to be the model child. He even ended up being expelled from school for writing a bad dictation. Jean-Paul was a hermit in the company of other children, with his grandfather being the most influential person in his development, and he only fell in love with writing superficially and theatrically to begin with, simply to impress his watchers. But it's evidently clear that from a certain age he lived for books, and writers were seen as his best friends. His hyper-developed sensitivity to angst and boredom, even led a nine-year-old Sartre (yes just nine!) to start pondering on the existential holes in people's lives. And the rest, as they say, is history. So as well as being a childhood memoir, The Words also explores parts of Sartre’s craftemenship in existentialist philosophy, and is generally seen as Sartre closing his literary career. This book is an impressive display of the deeply literary nature of Sartre, is written in way that is intelligent, spontaneous, sometimes difficult, sometimes playful, but most importantly, always honest.

  4. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    What did Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) and Ernesto “Che” Guevara (1928-1967) have in common? Prior to reading this book, I did not know that they saw each other when they were both still alive. This is my first book read written by Sartre and three years ago, I read John Lee Anderson’s Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life. Before Sartre’s image in my unsophisticated (read: zero knowledge in philosophy) mind was this old professor talking inside his wood-paneled and fully-carpeted office about the thi What did Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) and Ernesto “Che” Guevara (1928-1967) have in common? Prior to reading this book, I did not know that they saw each other when they were both still alive. This is my first book read written by Sartre and three years ago, I read John Lee Anderson’s Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life. Before Sartre’s image in my unsophisticated (read: zero knowledge in philosophy) mind was this old professor talking inside his wood-paneled and fully-carpeted office about the things like existentialism that was so deep I would never ever understand what he was saying. On the other hand, prior to the Anderson’s book, I used to see the image of Che Guevara printed on the t-shirts of some hip teenagers. I had some clues who he was because of the communist posters my handsome brother brought home when he was still in studying in a radical university. But not all young Filipinos: one caller in a morning show thought that Guevara was some kind of a band soloist so he asked what latest rock song he recorded. Thanks to printed words. Thanks to books. We can read them and we can be informed. We can choose not to be ignorant. We can also contribute to influencing future generations by writing too. We can make books of our own. The importance of reading and writing to his life. This is basically the main theme of this book, The Words by the existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. At the age of 59, he wrote this book about the first 10 years of his life on earth. He was exposed to books at a very young age. He remembered looking at the volumes and volumes of similar hardbound books stacked in his grandparents’ room. He did not know what were those but he loved to touch them and hear the flipping of the crisp pages. From then on, he resolved to himself that he would not only read those books someday but he also become a writer. Same thing happened to Che Guevara. His parents also loved to buy and read books. In the above-mentioned Anderson’s biography of Guevara, one of Che’s childhood friends recalled that he could barely navigate inside the living room of the Guevaras because of the many stacks of books and magazines on the floor. So, what made Sartre and Guevara in common? (1) They both loved to read; (2) They both believed and supported Marxism; (3) They actually saw and talk to each other in Cuba in the 60’s. In fact, when Guevara died in 1967, Satre declared “He is not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age and the era’s most perfect man”; (4) I both have read something about them. Ako na! (Me already!). Next in my to-be-read is the childhood days of Sartre’s girlfriend, Simone de Beauvior, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    Faith, even when profound, is never entire. There is considerable audacity in a project of this nature. The famed philosopher/playwright/novelist creates a memoir fifty plus years into the past, a poking about in a small child's mind. I hazard to say there's a some fancy in these pages. Much as Sartre notes throughout most of his childhood he was acting, I assume the great thinker feels compelled to craft something of stature to merit his adult achievement. I will be honest: I don't remember much Faith, even when profound, is never entire. There is considerable audacity in a project of this nature. The famed philosopher/playwright/novelist creates a memoir fifty plus years into the past, a poking about in a small child's mind. I hazard to say there's a some fancy in these pages. Much as Sartre notes throughout most of his childhood he was acting, I assume the great thinker feels compelled to craft something of stature to merit his adult achievement. I will be honest: I don't remember much of my early life. One or two images of leaving Michigan ages 3-4. There are a few flutters after that. My adoptive mother telling everyone I was reading at age two. Was I? I have always had books and much like Sartre I feel indebted. Also, just like the author I had flowing curly locks, a surprise I guess after being bald for 14 months. The stories bifurcate there as Sartre benefited from his grandfather's library and I read comics and books from the local public library. Both of us constructed constant narratives where we were the heroes. He was encouraged to write. I was given a typewriter and I filled notebooks in junior high when I should have been learning geometry. The second section Writing isn't as magical as the first Reading. He broaches his burgeoning narrative structures, slowly evolving in a stumbling gait --and how everything was ultimately enriched by attending school. That period of his life so deserved a further extensive treatment, if only his adolescent friendship with Paul Nizan. Outside of his widowed mother and tacit grandmother, women do not feature large in this vision. His partial blindness, his diminutive stature, his less than ideal looks all reflect upon this but without explicit comment.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carlos

    Les Mots is probably the most personal and honest book Sartre ever wrote. A poignant look prevails from the first to the last page, as he unravels his most inner memories, dissecting to the last particle the place each of them had in forming the future author’s identity. For the most part, he had a joyful childhood living with his maternal grandparents and his mother, after his father died when was only one year old. This family situation (the word Situation echoes the philosophical term and his Les Mots is probably the most personal and honest book Sartre ever wrote. A poignant look prevails from the first to the last page, as he unravels his most inner memories, dissecting to the last particle the place each of them had in forming the future author’s identity. For the most part, he had a joyful childhood living with his maternal grandparents and his mother, after his father died when was only one year old. This family situation (the word Situation echoes the philosophical term and his famous series published in several volumes by Gallimard, that constitutes some of the most original essay writing of the 20th century) proved the perfect environment to nourish his artistic talent. The figure of Charles Schweitzer, his grandfather, is crucial to his development. He was a model and a teacher to his grandson. It is in his impressive library at home that the child discovered the realm of literature early on, an encounter that would prove fundamental in his upbringing. An only child surrounded by adults in the center of family life, this prevailing devotion towards him developed into his narcissistic personality later on. In a remarkable section of compelling and organic prose, he describes his first encounter with books: J’ai commencé ma vie comme je la finirai sans doute : au milieu des livres. Dans le bureau de mon grand-père, il y en avait partout ; défense était faite de les épousseter sauf une fois l’an, avant la rentrée d’octobre. Je ne savais pas encore lire que, déjà, je les révérais, ces pierres levées ; droites ou penchées, serrées comme des briques sur les rayons de la bibliothèque ou noblement espacées en allées de menhirs, je sentais que la prospérité de notre famille en dépendait. I found my religion, he sustains, nothing was more important than a book. In the library I saw a temple. J’avais trouvé ma religion : rien ne me parut plus important qu’un livre. La bibliothèque, j’y voyais un temple. The book is divided in two halves, each representing a major and central discovery: read and write. In books he discovered his fascination with fantastic stories, a seed that would flourish later on into his writing. A lonely child, literature became his passion and later, when he began writing, the creation of his own stories offered a unique view of the world around him. Two characters are clearly present in this extraordinary work: Sartre the philosopher, writing the book in 1963 and Sartre the literary figure, that is the child discovering in the art of fiction a means of expression. This juxtaposition of the two identities explains why Les Mots is an essay of auto existential psychoanalysis. A situation (now I refer to the philosophical term), according to Sartre, is what stimulates us to make a free decision. When a situation arrives, it is through it that we choose what we will become. Following this logic, the 8-year-old Jean-Paul Sartre, of his own will and in all liberty, chose to be a writer. A peine eus-je commencé d’écrire, je posai ma plume pour jubiler. L’imposture était la même mais j’ai dit que je tenais les mots pour la quintessence des choses. Rien ne me troublait plus que de voir mes pattes de mouche échanger peu à peu leur luisance de feux follets contre la terne consistance de la matière : c’était la réalisation de l’imaginaire. This is without a doubt, an impressive literary work.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chris Shank

    This book is an awesome display of the deeply literary and ‘religious’—religious in the sense of considering all the world and one’s self to be profoundly significant and purposive in every part— nature of Sartre. It explains so much about him. The title, The Words, refers to the way he attached a supremely high value in the first half of his life to reading, writing, and being read. This is an autobiographical account of his first ten years of life which were so formative for his adult life. I This book is an awesome display of the deeply literary and ‘religious’—religious in the sense of considering all the world and one’s self to be profoundly significant and purposive in every part— nature of Sartre. It explains so much about him. The title, The Words, refers to the way he attached a supremely high value in the first half of his life to reading, writing, and being read. This is an autobiographical account of his first ten years of life which were so formative for his adult life. I cannot emphasize enough how very much of Sartre’s philosophy is explained here. I was actually shocked to discover in his first decade alone so many unveilings to the meaning AND motive for his later work. Sartre was once tempted to think it funny that people wondered if he even had a childhood. “When I was thirty, friends were surprised: ‘One would think you didn’t have parents. Or a childhood.’ And I was silly enough to feel flattered.” This was due to Sartre’s early-adult abandonment of his past which he believed could only be interpreted from his future. Now, Sartre is writing this book in his sixties and finding value in his earlier life like he thought he would, but in a different way. I truly believe he grew to appreciate each moment of his life in itself, rather than as a chronicle to lure others into loving himself, which he couldn’t do. “Because I did not love myself sufficiently, I fled forward. The result is that I love[d] myself still less…” Sartre’s father died when he was two years old, and his mother moved with him into her parents’ home. It was an upper-middleclass home steeped in education, impassioned politics, and family tension which would indelibly shape his psyche and self-esteem for the rest of his life. His relationship with his mother was much like brother and sister, even as an adult to a child at times, and he accustomed himself to calling her by her name “Anne Marie.” The cause of this was his grandfather’s contempt for Jean-Paul’s father, who died very inconveniently, and the subsequent belittling treatment of Anne Marie by his grandfather who was irked to have his daughter again as his dependent-plus-one leveled, in Jean-Paul’s mind, the roles of Jean-Paul and his mother. Anne Marie was treated as an importunate child, but Jean-Paul was coddled as his grandfather’s alter-ego, and praised from a young age for his precocity. Actually, he was a spoiled brat, and he knew it, and it wasn’t long before he despised himself for the pretentious, melodrama with which he stooped to please his grandfather and sustain his image as a child prodigy. Sartre developed a persona that existed solely to please others around him, and his authentic abilities and desires were hidden deep beneath a veneer that was for him hardly comfortable or satisfying. “Even in solitude I was putting on an act… I sank deeper and deeper into imposture. Condemned to please, I endowed myself with charms that withered on the spot.” He developed many neuroses during his younger years, and may never have outgrown some of them. His feeling of superfluity and absolute insignificance apart from the attention of his doters, which was inconsistent at best and frankly demoralizing, hollowed-out his sense of security and worth, and he increasingly repressed and compartmentalized his less favorable habits, interests, and personality traits to survive socially. The result is that he loathed himself and all identity-pimps. He fell in love with writing only superficially and theatrically at first, determined to impress his watchers. He then introverted so far that he couldn’t find his way out for a long time, and he wrote himself into an self-awareness coma by creating fictions in which he was always a delivering hero and the world was celebrating him eternally. It was during this time he began to live ‘posthumously’, imputing meaning to his life by imagining how his ideas and fantastical exploits would be read by people after he was dead. Only then did he believe his life would be explained and his value to others would be etched in stone as a form of ‘legacy’ which has been a maelstrom for many heroes and celebrities who have unwittingly wasted their life in this denial of self. Much of this early tortuous introspection and self-loathing was because he had no friends—he wasn’t permitted to attend schools which didn’t ‘recognize’ his genius—and when he finally made friends at a school he was allowed to attend, he began the slow process of breaking out of what was quickly becoming a sociopathic escapism (“the human race became a small committee surrounded by affectionate animals”), though he would never completely overcome the desire to see his life as a book which would justify all of his actions in some future reader’s mind. In his later years, he began to be grieved about his early and late inauthenticity. He relates that while writing Nausea he was “fake to the marrow of my bones, and hoodwinked.” And yet, as much as he tried to escape it, he resorted to the ‘elitism’ of criticizing everyone, but at the same time, “I was I, the elect, chronicler of hell, a glass and steel microscope peering at my own protoplasmic juices…I doubted everything except that I was the elect of doubt.” In trying to get back to the beginning of his insincerity and objectified, artificial persona, he found an infinite regression of personas that was forever creating new masks for him to unmask. This was a foreshadowing of his theory of the spontaneous and transcendent ego which is beyond our reach, for it inspires and directs our reach. Any sense of self that we discover or delineate has become an artifice, a forgery of the real self which is impelling the discovering and objectifying a decoy ‘self’. Trying to get to the back of the cogito probably kept him busy for a while, and this, along with a fear of death, inflamed his neuroticism. “I lived in a state of terror; it was a genuine neurosis.” I’m truly saddened to think how many psychoses and suicides a little Zoloft back in the day might have prevented. Sartre was truly oppressed by the thought ingrained in him, mostly by his grandfather’s behavior, that he was not needed anywhere, or had any importance to anyone. He felt completely superfluous. I think his psyche and nervous system was scarred by having to play-act for his grandfather so much. He literally did not feel significant or valuable, and was looking for ways to make himself feel ‘real’. “We were never in our own home…This caused me no suffering since everything was loaned to me, but I remained abstract. Worldly possessions reflect to their owner what he is; they taught me what I was not. I was not substantial or permanent, I was not the future continuer of my father’s work, I was not necessary to the production of steel. In short, I had no soul.” At nine years old (c’mon!!) he was thinking about the existential ‘holes’ people leave behind when they aren’t at a party or gathering and people notice that they are ‘not there’. This spoke to Sartre of necessity, and he so badly wanted to feel necessary in a way that his absence would be palpable and would shake the world. It affected his whole outlook on his literary career, and Sartre admitted that it still affected him in his later years. His desire to write in such a way that he would be immortalized and ‘missed’ when he was dead consumed him. He later realized the flaw of living solely that you would be remembered, and labeled this “posthumous” thinking; and yet he couldn’t shake the need to leave a profound impression with others about his past being, whether or not he was still ‘being’ or not. This probably illuminates his more matured ideas about intersubjectivity and our connection to others that is irreducible and fundamental to our consciousness and being. Could it be that Sartre so badly felt the need to be needed, that he invented a philosophy in which this need is proof of our ontological interconnectivity? Or, could Sartre have felt more intensely and consistently this need we all have, and rightly surmised a possible reason for it that better explains its appearance than any other theory? I think both. Sartre gives an excellent analogy about how he began to feel which may communicate more to the reader in imagery than Sartre could explain in abstract philosophy. “Since nobody laid claim to me seriously, I laid claim to being indispensable to the Universe. What could be haughtier? What could be sillier? The fact is that I had no choice… I had sneaked onto a train and fallen asleep, and when the ticket-collector shook me and asked for my ticket, I had to admit that I had none. Nor did I have the money with which to pay my fare on the spot. I began by pleading guilty. I had left my identity card at home, I no longer even remembered how I had gotten by the ticket-puncher, but I admitted that I had sneaked on to the train. Far from challenging the authority of the ticket-collector, I loudly proclaimed my respect for his functions and complied in advance with his decision. At that extreme degree of humility, the only way I could save myself was by reversing the situation: I therefore revealed that I had to be in Dijon for important and secret reasons, reason that concerned France and perhaps all mankind. If things were viewed in this new light, it would be apparent that no one in the entire train had as much right as I to occupy a seat. Of course, this involved a higher law which conflicted with the regulations, but if the ticket-collector took it upon himself to interrupt my journey, he would cause grave complications, the consequences of which would be his responsibility. I urged him to think it over; was it reasonable to doom the entire species to disorder under the pretext of maintaining order in a train? Such is pride: the plea of the wretched. Only passengers with tickets have the right to be modest. I never knew whether I won my case. The ticket-collector remained silent. I repeated my arguments. So long as I spoke, I was sure he wouldn’t make me get off. We remained face to face, one mute and the other inexhaustible, in the train that was taking us to Dijon. The train, the ticket-collector, and the delinquent were myself. I was also a fourth character, the organizer, who had only one wish, to fool himself, if only for a minute, to forget that he had concocted everything.” Writing this book in his sixties, he was able to understand the genesis of his motives for writing, and he could see that he would never be fulfilled by writing in the way he originally thought he could be. “For the last ten years or so I’ve been a man who’s been waking up, cured of a long, bitter-sweet madness.” He could see that his “eagerness to write involves a refusal to live” in that he would always be inclined to think of writing as a need to be loved and justified as a legend, a story, an object in the mind of some other existent. “My individuality as a subject had no other interest for me than to prepare for the moment [death] that would change me into an object…I was charging my descendents to love me instead of doing so myself.” He does a wonderful job of sniping the false pride of ‘legacy’ in himself and his culture. A desire to leave a legacy is a loathing of the present moment for the sake of being a chapter in someone else’ history, a drawing in some children’s book, that no longer risks hunger, humiliation, or danger of any kind. It is an agreement for one to die if everyone will tell good stories about them. “I became my own obituary.” His loud, self-affirming declaration at the end of the book is as bold and clear as any man who has ever spoken a word in his own defense and fought for his own honor, or humbly but confidently surrendered himself to the gallows he would justly hang on. “What remains [of my work]? A whole man, composed of all men and as good as all of them and no better than any." I love Sartre’s writing. Absolutely love it. It’s genius, meandering, spontaneous, anti-climactic, playful, enigmatic, and always, always honest. He reminds me of Wittgenstein. I often wonder if the two ever interacted. Both of their M.O. seemed to be anti-elitism (“Never in my life have I given an order without laughing, without making others laugh”), anti-institutionalism, spontaneity, and an emphasis on ‘knowing the world through relation’. I love when he tells on himself for being disingenuous, then tells on himself for telling on himself (“I’m always ready to criticize myself, provided I’m not forced to”). He is a fountain of messy, sudden, and superlatively powerful ideas. From a young age he liked word puzzles, and I think he created cryptic messages for diligent readers to unlock, though I think the point is not memorization but assimilation—if you don’t have to work for what you know, you don’t really know it to your core. Sartre notices and says all the things we’ve been taught for so long not to notice or say, and having dumbfounded you, leaves without knowing what you made of it. It was enough for him that he said it…the rest of your life is up to you, as the rest of Sartre’s own life and meanings are left to him. “Never have I thought that I was the happy possessor of a ‘talent’; my sole concern has been to save myself.” His early childhood ideas and experiences were emotionally and cognitively overwrought and perhaps frantic by some people’s standards, but his hyper-developed sensitivity to existential angst and boredom allowed him to help people realize with devastating accuracy the tradition-vacuum into which modern man and academia has fallen, and the way to climb out. Sounds like a rough road, experiencing such psychological torment before the age of ten and much to follow after, but I’m glad he wrote about it for the postmodern explorer. Thanks Sartre my brother.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Until this book and except for some of his political writings I've never much liked Sartre. The first exposure to him was in high school through three of his dramas. Read quickly and never seen performed, I wasn't impressed. The second was Nausea, an early novel also read in high school--I couldn't finish it. The third, in college, was the collection, Essays on Existentialism. I found myself in profound disagreement with his take on depth psychology. The fourth, in seminary, was Being and Nothin Until this book and except for some of his political writings I've never much liked Sartre. The first exposure to him was in high school through three of his dramas. Read quickly and never seen performed, I wasn't impressed. The second was Nausea, an early novel also read in high school--I couldn't finish it. The third, in college, was the collection, Essays on Existentialism. I found myself in profound disagreement with his take on depth psychology. The fourth, in seminary, was Being and Nothingness. Here, as earlier with Nausea, I felt I was reading the symptomatology of a neurotic, not philosophy. Still, I did enjoy some of his political pronouncements and found myself in broad agreement with existentialist philosophy as it was attributed to him by other authors and in some of his essays. The Words, however, was a pleasant read. The very concept of essaying an autobiography of one's youth was intriguing. Here Sartre considers primarily his first ten years and the three most influential figures of his childhood: his widowed mother and her parents, the Schweitzers (yes, apparently Jean-Paul was distantly related to Albert, though he receives but scant mention herein). Of the three, most important was his grandfather, the great authority figure who, directly and indirectly, appears to have led young Jean-Paul to a career as a writer. Most of this book, however, is not about persons. Most of it appears to be an effort to describe a state of mind, Sartre's state of mind as a boy and, by implication, how that led to his being what he found himself to be at the time of his writing of this autobiography as a fifty-nine year old man. Here, naturally, one suspects a great deal of second-guessing, of the present overlaying the past--and indeed Sartre devotes a good deal of attention to the centrality of teleology to his developing sense of personhood and purpose. Only at the book's end does Sartre seriously deal with the influence of the Protestant and Catholic idealogies which were among the givens of his upbringing. I found this approach illuminating and wish there had been more of it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Vishy

    I went to a play last weekend – or rather it was an event in which a scene or a part of a scene from many plays was performed by one actor. A couple of scenes from two Sartre plays were performed. When I came back home, I had a deep urge to read a book by Sartre. I decided to pick his memoir 'The Words'. I had two translations of 'The Word'. I chose one of them using a homegrown method and read it. More on this later in the post. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote his memoir 'The Words' when he was fifty-ni I went to a play last weekend – or rather it was an event in which a scene or a part of a scene from many plays was performed by one actor. A couple of scenes from two Sartre plays were performed. When I came back home, I had a deep urge to read a book by Sartre. I decided to pick his memoir 'The Words'. I had two translations of 'The Word'. I chose one of them using a homegrown method and read it. More on this later in the post. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote his memoir 'The Words' when he was fifty-nine. But the book covers only the first ten years of his life. In the book, Sartre talks about his grandparents on both sides and how they met and how his parents met, how his fascination for the printed word started at a very young age, how he could read books before he joined school properly. During the course of his memoir, Sartre touches on his relationship with his mother (he says that his mother was like his elder sister and so their relationship was more like that of siblings – it is very beautifully described – the scene which describes how Sartre's mother read a book to him for the very first time and the transformation that happened to her, and the magic that happened, is one of my favourite parts of the book) and with his grandparents, the history of Alsace-Lorraine and how it was related to his grandparents, his favourite books when he was young, his love for films, how he became a writer and other things. In the second part of the book, Sartre flits between the past and the present, but he mostly stays in the past. The first part of the book is called 'Reading' and the second part of the book is called 'Writing'. I liked the first part of the book more, because it had a narrative interspersed with introspective thoughts. The second part of the book had a light narrative and was heavier on introspective thoughts. Normally I would like the introspective part more, but this time, maybe because I was in an annoyed mood because I was upset with something and I wanted to rush through the book, the second part looked harder and I had to plod through. Maybe if I had read it with a calmer mind, my experience might have been better. 'The Words' is a very interesting book. People have compared it with Rousseau's 'Confessions' and have called it a masterful work of self analysis. The edition I read was around 250 pages long and it had big font with generous spacing between the lines, giving an illusion that it would be easy going and could be read fast. It was, of course, exactly that – an illusion. It was deceptive. The book demands our attention, invites us to pause at important passages and linger there, and rewards us if we do. There were so many beautiful passages in the book that my highlighting pen didn't stop working. It is not a regular memoir and it is definitely not a straightforward narrative, and so it is not for everyone. But if you have time and you read slowly and persevere, it will unfold its beauty and secrets and reward you. Now on the translations. One of them was by Bernard Frechtman and the other one was by Irene Clephane. I was undecided on which one to read. I did a test read of both of them for a few pages and then finally decided to read the first one by Bernard Frechtman. When I highlighted a passage that I loved, I went back to the other translation and read that passage and compared the two translations. It was fun :) I thought I'll ask you which translation you liked more :) So I took out some of my favourite sentences from the first few pages, from the two translations, and am giving them below. Do tell me which translation you like more. Do also tell me which you think is closer to the French original. #Sentence1 : #Translation1 : "Around 1850, in Alsace, a schoolteacher with more children than he could afford was willing to become a grocer." #Translation2 : "In Alsace, round about 1850, a schoolmaster, burdened with children, agreed to become a grocer." #Sentence2 : #Translation1 : "...all his life he retained a passion for the sublime and put his heart and soul into manufacturing great circumstances out of little events." #Translation2 : "...all his life, he preserved a taste for the sublime and turned his energies to elevating trivial incidents into great occasions." #Sentence3 : #Translation1 : "That lively and shrewd but cold woman thought straight but inaccurately, because her husband thought accurately but amiss." #Translation2 : "This sharp-tongued, lively, cold woman had clear but wrong opinions, because her husband had right but muddled ones." #Sentence4 : #Translation1 : "She saw nobody, being too proud to court favor for first place and too vain to be content with second." #Translation2 : "She did not see anyone, because she was too proud to covet first place and too vain to accept the second." So, what do you think? Translation 1 or Translation 2? Bernard Frechtman or Irene Clephane? I'll leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book. #BeginQuote "What I have just written is false. True. Neither true nor false, like everything written about madmen, about men. I have reported the facts as accurately as my memory permitted me. But to what extent did I believe in my delirium? That's the basic question, and yet I can't tell. I realized later we can know everything about our attachments except their force, that is, their sincerity. Acts themselves cannot serve as a measuring-rod unless one has proved that they are not gestures, which is not always easy." "The social hierarchy of the theatre had given my grandfather and late father, who were accustomed to second balconies, a taste for ceremonial. When many people are together, they must be separated by rites; otherwise, they slaughter each other. The movies proved the opposite. This mingled audience seemed united by a catastrophe rather than a festivity. Etiquette, now dead, revealed the true bond among men : adhesion. I developed a dislike for ceremonies, I loved crowds. I have seen crowds of all kinds, but the only other time I had witnessed that nakedness, that sense of everyone's direct relationship to everyone else, that waking dream, that dim consciousness of the danger of being a man, was in 1940, in Stalag XII D." "But the fact is this : apart from a few old men who dip their pens in eau de Cologne and little dandies who write like butchers, all writers have to sweat. That's due to the nature of the Word : one speaks in one's own language, one writes in a foreign language. I conclude from this that we're all alike in our profession : we're all galley-slaves, we're all tattooed." "Middle-aged writers don't like to be praised too earnestly for their early work; but I'm the one, I'm sure of it, who's pleased least of all by such compliments. My best book is the one I'm in the process of writing; right after it comes the last one that was published, but I'm secretly getting ready to be disgusted with it before long. If the critics should now think it's bad, they may wound me, but in six months I'll be coming around to their opinion. But on one condition : however poor and worthless they consider the book, I want them to rank it above all my previous work. I'm willing to let them run down my whole output, provided they maintain the chronological hierarchy, the only one that leaves me a chance to do better tomorrow, still better the day after, and to end with a masterpiece." #EndQuote Have you read Jean-Paul Sartre's 'The Words'? What do you think about it?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Izzy

    http://booklovers-bookclub.blogspot.c... This 200 pages book hides inside a 10 000 pages literary text. How is this possible one could ask? I have no freaking idea! This is why Sartre is Sartre I guess. Erratum, that sentence should have stated this is why Sartre the Great is Sartre the Great as I have decided to "literary" refer to him from now on. Reviewing "the words" could lead to the writing of a 100 PhD dissertations and a lot more essays. I have been struggling to write something about it http://booklovers-bookclub.blogspot.c... This 200 pages book hides inside a 10 000 pages literary text. How is this possible one could ask? I have no freaking idea! This is why Sartre is Sartre I guess. Erratum, that sentence should have stated this is why Sartre the Great is Sartre the Great as I have decided to "literary" refer to him from now on. Reviewing "the words" could lead to the writing of a 100 PhD dissertations and a lot more essays. I have been struggling to write something about it for long and finally decided to take that leap of faith to see where my thoughts (nothing more) would take me so here it goes. "The words" is an autobiography written by Sartre the Great and we (him and I) have never been properly introduced before. It wasn't until a dear friend kindly offered me this book that I got the chance to discover Sartre the man and Sartre the writer. I have separated the two because I have clear distinct feelings for each. I do believe the man had a lot to do with Sartre becoming the Great author/philosopher he is and the aim of the autobiography itself was to show how one lead to another. Written at the age of 59, Sartre retraces back the first 10 years of his life, claiming that he knew back then that he wanted to become an author because of the influence of his grandfather and everything he read as well as his first attempts of writing. The influence of the family and the grandfather is present in the whole book which is divided in two parts entitled "reading" and "writing", respectively. From the organization one can tell that this book is logical and well structured and clearly shows the importance of family more than anything else in Sartre's decision because of its presence in both parts of the book. However, I found this autobiography to be too well organized and clear for my taste which made it hard for me to believe that it was genuine and honest as autobiographies should aim to be. Besides, I believe that Sartre was lying on two major issues one of which is more clear and evident than the other. First, it is quasi impossible for someone to remember all the books read during childhood or at least as much books as those mentioned in this autobiography. I mean seriously, the other day I tried to remember the books I read the past month alone and I just couldn't remember anything! It was only after I consulted Goodreads that I was able to answer this question. So claiming that one recalls the book read 40 years ago is total bogus to me. No doubt about it!!! Second, I am pretty sure that no one has an idea about what he/she wants to become when they get older. Let's assume some do, I am sure the idea would not be as clear and extremist (oh yes we'll get back to this) as that presented by Sartre. A child is a vessel for a thousand and one ideas a day while here Sartre presents himself as a one idea/goal/aim child. He also awkwardly views literature as a religion, his grandfather as a Priest (sometimes also God) and himself, the miracle child that has to write because literature needs him, because the world needs him. Said by a child, this might sound kind of cute, but you just feel that this arrogance cannot be that of a child but rather that of a successful intelligent yet obnoxious and shallow kind of a MAN.This further hints that the story we are reading is a fake one. I am not evaluating the literary value of this book or Sartre the Great. It is absurd as I mentioned before. All the successes and intelligence in the world do not however justify the arrogance and pretentiousness of a man. Sartre the man, was full of that! He tries to dissimulate it in the child in him but I think he failed to convince me at least. Writing an autobiography by itself tends to stem in many cases from arrogance. The art of autobiography can also stem from other needs such as trauma or historical recording of events etc. In fact, it is for these reasons that some of my favorite literary books are autobiographies. However, Sartre was 59 when he decided to write about the reasons that made him become an author. Put into context, this book is the fruit of an arrogant big shot who feels the need to let people know how he became the successful man he is. To this aim he invents or reformulates his childhood story because one can just feel him lying as mentioned before. He fails however to overcome his arrogance at many instances starting from the moment when he starts detailing his genealogy. Seriously, what's wrong with men and family trees!!! Nothing justifies his choice of elaborating on his family tree at the very first pages of this book except extreme arrogance. The other major arrogant point was him believing he had to write to save humanity. Can someone be any more delusional than that? Please! I am not sure if Sartre was self aware of the image he was giving of himself. But I believe that probably he was and he found nothing wrong in being arrogant. One cannot judge a literary masterpiece based on the character of its writer I agree, but I still believe that modesty in addition to the intellectual capacity makes the most captivating writers ever and probably the smartest (those who brag on the opposite fall in the annoying category). In conclusion, reading this book made me discover two Sartres, Sartre the man and Sartre the Great. One I loved and one I hate. Sartre the Great will never become one of my favorite authors because of the man I discovered behind. I cannot dare to deny Sartre the Great of his rightful literary and intellectual value. Then again some books' influence on you just cannot be detached from their authors' influence. But one thing is sure, I will not forget the Sartres.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    This shit is pretty good. Sartre is smart. What more can i say? This is about his childhood. i dont know how he remembers so much shit. maybe he is a robot? maybe i am a robot? the key here: sartre is an awesome writer. Thats enough.

  12. 4 out of 5

    bajwa

    "I began my life as I shall no doubt end it: among books" When Sartre died in 1980, thousands of people gathered to bid him farewell. He is widely read and discussed and will be for a long time. He was awarded Nobel Prize, for his work rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom..., which he declined for noble reasons. His response can be read here. During his childhood, around WWI, he used to imagine his life as writer, how he will be discovered, how well he will be received by t "I began my life as I shall no doubt end it: among books" When Sartre died in 1980, thousands of people gathered to bid him farewell. He is widely read and discussed and will be for a long time. He was awarded Nobel Prize, for his work rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom..., which he declined for noble reasons. His response can be read here. During his childhood, around WWI, he used to imagine his life as writer, how he will be discovered, how well he will be received by the public, how much he will be adored and read. He had two hypothesis about being discovered before entering the limelight. In first hypothesis, he is discovered after his death and he will live through his work, each book carrying his consciousness. In second hypothesis, he is discovered by a mistake or chance without people actually knowing the writer but then suddenly one day a fine lady in a bar recognizes him. His both hypothesis turned out to be true if we ignore the dreamy details of a lady (but maybe that turned out to be true as well). This book is Sartre's attempt to trace out from early childhood his beginning as a reader at first and then a writer. "I was sought after! People were waiting for my works of which the first volume, in spite of zeal, did not appear until 1935. Round about 1930, people began to get impatient and to say to each other: 'He's taking his time! We've been feeding him for twenty-five years and he's done nothing! Shall we die without reading him?" It is said that all fiction is autobiography; which makes all autobiography, fiction; it is hard to decide for me whether this is a work of fiction or non-fiction. Either way it doesn't really matter, Sartre's exciting, sublime, committed and cerebral writing style makes it a very interesting read. He never fails to cheer you up with every line, every paragraph. Especially his perspectives from different angles which surpass the spacetime of the setting and the boundaries of proportion. "It was high time: I was going to discover the inanity of my dreams. In the course of my fantastic gallops, it was reality that I was seeking" Sartre lost his father at an early age and lived with his maternal grandfather, Carl Schweitzer, a professor at Sarbonne. His father was a naval officer and had only left one instruction for his son, "My son will not join the Navy". Sartre had no one to restrict him in his childhood, he had nothing to claim or cling to. He was small in stature and cross-eyed, hence not accepted in the playground, he resorted to his apartment, specially the sixth floor of that apartment where he wrote, 'on the height where the dreams dwell'. Words saved him, his reading and writing were escapes from the world which had rejected him and he started building a world according to his dreams and fancies. "In Sainte-Ann's Asylum, a sick man shouted from his bed: 'I'm a prince! Put the Grand Duke under arrest.' Someone went up to him and whispered: 'Wipe your nose!' and he wiped it; he was asked: 'Whats your trade?' and he replied softly: 'A shoemaker,' and started shouting again." This book is divided into two parts, reading and writing, interesting for readers and writers respectively. Sartre shares his childhood and adolescence experience with books, how he came to be fascinated by them, absorbed in the world of dreams, imagining and living with the characters in the books he read. His favorites, at that time, were tales of chivalrous heroes featured in the magazines and bland literature. One man against all the odds with a happy ending. His grandfather was annoyed by his choice but he let Sartre go on with his little adventure. His grandfather wasn't happy with his writing adventures either, even tried to stop him several times. But this, somehow, compelled Sartre to write even more. Sartre writes that later in life, he sometimes used to think that all his writing is just a try, to impress that old man, still sitting beside him. "I think I should do better today and very much better tomorrow" Sartre's experience with writing started as a reply to letters which his grandfather used to sent them, his mother, grandmother and himself, when they were spending summer holidays at Arcachon. For his first poetic reply, he got a poem as admiration in response. After the experience of some replies, he shifted to writing prose. He was given a notebook which he titled: "Novel Notebook" and the first story he completed was entitled 'For A Butterfly'. "Mature writers do not feel like to be congratulated too enthusiastically on their earliest works: but I am sure that it is to me that such compliments give the least pleasure. My best book is the one I am busy writing; immediately after that comes the one most recently published, but I am getting ready, quietly, to loathe it soon afterwards." Sartre wrote extensively and furiously throughout his life, disliking whatever he wrote before and only liking what he was writing at that specific time. He claimed he felt a sickness if he didn't write. He wrote novels, plays, articles, essays, philosophy and biographies. In the last years of his life he tried writing a hefty biography of Gustav Flaubert, namely 'A Family Idiot', in four volumes. First two volumes were above 2000 pages. The third volume of this biography was the last work Sartre ever wrote. His work on ethics remained unfinished.

  13. 5 out of 5

    T

    "I could forget my provincial loneliness in the composition of poems or in translating Horace into blank verse" (99) This biography is a literary biography in the every sense of the word. Sartre flits from lonely windbag with borderline delusions of grandeur, to an inward facing intellectual self analysing his obsession with his mother. Sartre spent a life in books and appears to have had messianic visions from a very young age, something which appears often in young geniuses, yet his knowledge o "I could forget my provincial loneliness in the composition of poems or in translating Horace into blank verse" (99) This biography is a literary biography in the every sense of the word. Sartre flits from lonely windbag with borderline delusions of grandeur, to an inward facing intellectual self analysing his obsession with his mother. Sartre spent a life in books and appears to have had messianic visions from a very young age, something which appears often in young geniuses, yet his knowledge of this doesn't help him become totally self aware. One is left wondering how serious Sartre actually is ...

  14. 4 out of 5

    John

    Finally finished this short book about Jean-Paul Sartre’s childhood up to the age of 10 years old. It was interesting to find out he was related to Albert Schweitzer. His father died when he was a baby and his mother Anne-Marie was penniless forced to go back and live with her parents who lorded it over her. It is apparent that Sartre was a spoilt child, his mother and grandparents doted on him and encouraged him to think of his intellectual superiority. His grandfather was disappointed in his s Finally finished this short book about Jean-Paul Sartre’s childhood up to the age of 10 years old. It was interesting to find out he was related to Albert Schweitzer. His father died when he was a baby and his mother Anne-Marie was penniless forced to go back and live with her parents who lorded it over her. It is apparent that Sartre was a spoilt child, his mother and grandparents doted on him and encouraged him to think of his intellectual superiority. His grandfather was disappointed in his small stature and concerned about him being a sickly child. Sartre isolated from other children lived in a fantasy world driven by silent movies, books and his mother and grandparents telling him how gifted and talented he was. The book is divided into two parts. First the background focuses on reading and he was an enthusiastic reader. The second part is on writings and his foray into adventure stories where of course he was the hero. He grew up in a Catholic environment and was isolated from other children until the age of nine. Where suddenly a new world opened for him of play, friendship and to behave as a child unlike at home where he pretended to be a man. An interesting book with an insight into how Sartre developed and understandable why he spent time in psychoanalysis.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sorin Hadârcă

    Sometimes amusing, sometimes deep. Sartre employs enough self-irony while talking of his genius and matching amounts of bravado when calling himself an impostor and a traitor. Great writing style, so perhaps not that much sincerity: a pose rather then confession. But sincerity is in his beliefs and principles and that’s good enough.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ensiform

    In terms of its style and craft of writing, this autobiography may well be unequaled. The prose is perfect, beautiful and brilliant. The depth of thought in the self-analysis, the clarity of the examination and the honesty, is also brilliant. A lot of the references to Sartre’s childhood reading material went over my head, unfortunately. But that’s minor; I was still awed by his insight and style. Sartre says elsewhere that this is not an apology or a self-repudiation, although it may seem so. I In terms of its style and craft of writing, this autobiography may well be unequaled. The prose is perfect, beautiful and brilliant. The depth of thought in the self-analysis, the clarity of the examination and the honesty, is also brilliant. A lot of the references to Sartre’s childhood reading material went over my head, unfortunately. But that’s minor; I was still awed by his insight and style. Sartre says elsewhere that this is not an apology or a self-repudiation, although it may seem so. It’s merely a totally open representation of a life from its origins to its path to rebirth.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shadab

    There are some books you read, that saying anything about them feels a lot like cheating, it's so private an affair, so profound and beautiful, that you'd rather keep it between yourself and the book. There are some books you read, that saying anything about them feels a lot like cheating, it's so private an affair, so profound and beautiful, that you'd rather keep it between yourself and the book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Rubin

    An extremely unusual and compelling memoir. Very honest, in an unusual way. Or was it honest? Fascinating to contemplate.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    I think the phrase "odd duck" must have been invented to describe Sartre. He just quacks away about whatever. I would not recommend this book to anyone who is not interested in Sartre. Here is its most famous quote: “I began my life as I shall no doubt end it: among books. In my grandfather's study, they were everywhere; it was forbidden to dust them except once a year, before the October term. Even before I could read, I already revered these raised stones; upright or leaning, wedged together l I think the phrase "odd duck" must have been invented to describe Sartre. He just quacks away about whatever. I would not recommend this book to anyone who is not interested in Sartre. Here is its most famous quote: “I began my life as I shall no doubt end it: among books. In my grandfather's study, they were everywhere; it was forbidden to dust them except once a year, before the October term. Even before I could read, I already revered these raised stones; upright or leaning, wedged together like bricks on the library shelves or nobly placed like avenues of dolmens, I felt that our family prosperity depended on them. They were all alike, and I was romping about in a tiny sanctuary, surrounded by squat, ancient monuments which had witnessed my birth, which would witness my death and whose permanence guaranteed me a future as calm as my past. I used to touch them in secret to honour my hands with their dust but I did not have much idea what to do with them and each day I was present at ceremonies whose meaning escaped me: my grandfather - so clumsy, normally, that my grandmother buttoned his gloves for him - handled these cultural objects with the dexterity of an officiating priest. Hundreds of times I saw him get up absent-mindedly, walk round the table, cross the room in two strides, unhesitatingly pick out a volume without allowing himself time for choice, run through it as he went back to his armchair, with a combined movement of his thumb and right forefinger, and, almost before he sat down, open it with a flick "at the right page," making it creak like a shoe. I sometimes got close enough to observe these boxes which opened like oysters and I discovered the nakedness of their internal organs, pale, dank, slightly blistering pages, covered with small black veins, which drank ink and smelt of mildew.”

  20. 5 out of 5

    David

    'I hate my childhood and all that remains of it,' announces Sartre ponderously. Another one from the arch-whiner. Sartre was sitting in a cafe when a waitress approached him: "Can I get you something to drink, Monsieur Sartre?" Sartre replied, "Yes, I'd like a cup of coffee with sugar, but no cream". Nodding agreement, the waitress walked off to fill the order and Sartre returned to working. A few minutes later, however, the waitress returned and said, "I'm sorry, Monsieur Sartre, we are all out of 'I hate my childhood and all that remains of it,' announces Sartre ponderously. Another one from the arch-whiner. Sartre was sitting in a cafe when a waitress approached him: "Can I get you something to drink, Monsieur Sartre?" Sartre replied, "Yes, I'd like a cup of coffee with sugar, but no cream". Nodding agreement, the waitress walked off to fill the order and Sartre returned to working. A few minutes later, however, the waitress returned and said, "I'm sorry, Monsieur Sartre, we are all out of cream -- how about with no milk?"

  21. 4 out of 5

    melodusk

    I love this book. It is dark, but it is real. It gives intuition another perception, wanders life and everything that is in it. It questions so many thing by talking straight and clear, no emotions, no excuses, it's just Sartr's story and we are reading it, sometimes feeling it somehow and taking notes, sad notes. I love this book. It is dark, but it is real. It gives intuition another perception, wanders life and everything that is in it. It questions so many thing by talking straight and clear, no emotions, no excuses, it's just Sartr's story and we are reading it, sometimes feeling it somehow and taking notes, sad notes.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elisa Cab

    First part "read"/"lire" wasn't"t so interesting in my p.o.w but the second one "write"/"écrire" was a revelation. It's a consecration for and to the part of life in creation and arts even if the narrator is self-centred. First part "read"/"lire" wasn't"t so interesting in my p.o.w but the second one "write"/"écrire" was a revelation. It's a consecration for and to the part of life in creation and arts even if the narrator is self-centred.

  23. 4 out of 5

    ხატია ნებულიშვილი

    i liked it so much,that now when someone asks me: "please tell me what to read" my answer is: "the words"...cause it's amazing :) i liked it so much,that now when someone asks me: "please tell me what to read" my answer is: "the words"...cause it's amazing :)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    In 1964 Jean-Paul Sartre declined the Nobel Prize in Literature. Also, in 1964, his short autobiography, Les Mots ( The Words), was published. In it he writes: "never have I thought that I was the happy possessor of a 'talent'...what remains? A whole man, composed of all men and as good as all of them and no better than any." There are only two chapters in this short, 160 page book: Reading and Writing. The first chapter begins with a few pages on his family background and then goes on to cove In 1964 Jean-Paul Sartre declined the Nobel Prize in Literature. Also, in 1964, his short autobiography, Les Mots ( The Words), was published. In it he writes: "never have I thought that I was the happy possessor of a 'talent'...what remains? A whole man, composed of all men and as good as all of them and no better than any." There are only two chapters in this short, 160 page book: Reading and Writing. The first chapter begins with a few pages on his family background and then goes on to cover his first seven years. The second chapter covers the next four years of his life. Sartre writes as a clinical observer, describing his childhood through the lenses of an existential humanist philosophy. Written in a different style than any of the rest of his works, fiction or non-fiction, it is as much about his childhood as it is an example of his philosophy. "I was the beginning, middle, and end gathered together in a tiny little boy already old, already dead, here, in the shadow, among piles of plates taller than he, and outside, far far away...Boxed in, pulled together, touching my tomb with one hand and my cradle with the other, I felt brief and splendid, a flash of lightning that was blotted out by darkness." Sartre's father died when he was fifteen months old. His mother, Anne-Marie, and him went to live with her parents. His grandfather,a well-known scholar, Charles Schweitzer, doted excessively on Sartre giving him free reign of his library at a young preschool age."I never tilled the soil or hunted for nests. I did not gather herbs or throw stones at birds. But books were my birds and my nests, my household pets, my barn and my countryside...I had to climb up on chairs , on tables, at the risk of causing avalanches that would have buried me." But underlying the privilege and comfort, was the presence of death in the shape of an absent father. As an only child, Sartre lived to act out imaginary stories where he always acted out the hero. When people in his life began to announce his future as a writer, his dream of rescuing damsels in distress crumbled until he fashioned the profession into a priestly martyrdom. Taking up the pen as his sword, the stories that had been physical gestures acted out with his body, now became thoughts translated into words on paper. "As author, the hero was still myself; I projected my epic dreams upon him. All the same, there were two of us: he did not have my name, and I referred to him only in the third person. Instead of endowing him with my gestures, I fashioned for him, by means of words, a body that I made an effort to see." Sartre saw books as objects and containers of what he believed was sacred knowledge."I had found my religion: nothing seemed more important to me than a book." Anne-Marie gave him the alphabet and he quickly taught himself to read. The authors became his companions."In my sight, they were not dead: at any rate, not entirely. They had been metamorphosed into books. Corneille was a big, rugged, ruddy fellow who smelled of glue and had a leather back. That severe, unwieldy individual, whose words were hard, had angles that hurt my thighs when I carried him." I can't remember ever reading a description of the moment one learns to read. But Sartre writes: "sentences would resist me the way objects resist. They had to be observed, encircled, I would pretend to move away and then suddenly come back so as to catch them off guard. Most of the time, they kept their secret." These descriptions and the detailing of his introduction to writing, were what made the book memorable for me and one I will be sure to return to often. His passion for reading and writing at such an early age parallels some of my own experiences. "My commandments were sewn into my skin; if I go a day without writing, the scar burns me; if I write too easily, it also burns me." Since I did not have the opportunity to study philosophy in school, I risk misquoting Sartre or using his words for the opposite of what he intended. But I think I can share a couple of things he said without danger of maligning his intentions. I found The Words worth reading for statements like these: "all writers have to sweat. That's due to the nature of the Word; one speaks in one's own language, one writes in a foreign language." And: "My best book is the one I'm in the process of writing; right after it comes the last one that was published, but I'm secretly getting ready to be disgusted with it before long. If the critics should now think it's bad, they may wound me, but in six months I'll be coming round to their opinion." I have marked nearly every page. I might have gotten more out of this book if I had read beforehand a biography of Sartre that would have given me more details of his life. This book is an analysis of the early formation of one's awareness of existence from inside his head, either as child or as an adult remembering about the child he was. I found myself distracted at times by questions that weren't answered in the story. For example: I would have liked to know more about Anne-Marie and the place they were living. But Sartre's purpose in writing this autobiography was not to reveal his childhood as much as it was to reveal the process of consciousness that supports his ideas on existential humanism. Fortunately, Sartre was popular enough to warrant plenty of resources for this kind of information.

  25. 4 out of 5

    James Henderson

    The Words, Jean-Paul Sartre's famous autobiography of his first ten years, has been compared to Rousseau's Confessions. Written when he was fifty-nine years old, The Words is a masterpiece of self-analysis. Sartre the philosopher, novelist and playwright brings to his own childhood the same rigor of honesty and insight he applied so brilliantly to other authors. Born into a gentle, book-loving family and raised by a widowed mother and doting grandparents, he had a childhood which might be descri The Words, Jean-Paul Sartre's famous autobiography of his first ten years, has been compared to Rousseau's Confessions. Written when he was fifty-nine years old, The Words is a masterpiece of self-analysis. Sartre the philosopher, novelist and playwright brings to his own childhood the same rigor of honesty and insight he applied so brilliantly to other authors. Born into a gentle, book-loving family and raised by a widowed mother and doting grandparents, he had a childhood which might be described as one long love affair with the printed word. Ultimately, this book explores and evaluates the whole use of books and language in human experience. Sartre writes about his very early life. He writes about things that as an adult you aren't even conscious of anymore. How reading a book about horses and armies can bring those things to life. Sartre talks about his grandfather, his mother, his absent father. He is pretty dispassionate about them. The main thing about the book is Sartre's ability for clear observation and honesty. Sartre describes his fatherless childhood, a period during which playmates and rambles were happily exchanged for his grandfather’s library, where “I found my religion”: I disported myself in a tiny sanctuary, surrounded by ancient, heavy-set monuments which had seen me into the world, which would see me out of it, and whose permanence guaranteed me a future as calm as the past. …I was a daily witness of ceremonies whose meaning escaped me: my grandfather—who was usually so clumsy that my grandmother buttoned his gloves for him—handled those cultural objects with the dexterity of an officiant…. At times, I would draw near to observe those boxes which slit open like oysters, and I would see the nudity of their inner organs, pale, fusty leaves, slightly bloated, covered with black veinlets, which drank ink and smelled of mushrooms. Sartre’s reading and writing nurtured “the idealism which it took me thirty years to shake off.” Inside the sixth-floor library, “I would take real birds from their nests, would chase real butterflies that alighted on real flowers”; compared to the bookish archetypes, “the monkeys in the zoo were less monkey, the men in the Luxembourg Gardens were less man.” In the last pages of The Words, Sartre begins to describe the exchange of the idealism for the brand of Existentialism which made him famous. “I’ve given up the office but not the frock,” writes the sixty-year-old: “I still write. What else can I do?”

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sam Schulman

    Odd that I had not been aware of the existence of this memoir of his childhood until a chance reference in a book. There are two parts: Reading and Writing. Reading is wonderful, Writing is abysmal. Reading is one of the greatest descriptions of what it feels like to be a child who is loved, even adored and worshipped, by intelligent, educated parents - while being in fact merely above average, like thousands of others - and allowing oneself to be persuaded of one's excellence before one has ear Odd that I had not been aware of the existence of this memoir of his childhood until a chance reference in a book. There are two parts: Reading and Writing. Reading is wonderful, Writing is abysmal. Reading is one of the greatest descriptions of what it feels like to be a child who is loved, even adored and worshipped, by intelligent, educated parents - while being in fact merely above average, like thousands of others - and allowing oneself to be persuaded of one's excellence before one has earned it. And then to meet the world - one's contemporaries, even as children, who look at one and don't seem to be interested in swooning as one's parents and grandparents do. Two samples: In front of grown-up friends of his mother, whom he knows to be "broad-minded," he deliberately asks his mother whether he can read Madame Bovary. His mother "turns on her too musical voice", and asks if her little darling reads 'books of that kind now, what will he do when he grows up?' -- 'I'll live them!' This reply had had a definite and permanent success. Every time Mme. Picard visited us, she alluded to it. . . I loved and despised that pale, fat old woman who was my best audience. When I was told she was coming, I felt I was a genius." And when he tries to play with other children in the Luxembourg: "I had met my true judges, my peers, my contemporaries, and their indifference condemned me. I could not get over discovering myself through them: neither a wonder nor a jelly-fish. Just a little shrimp in whom no one was interested. My mother had difficulty in hiding her indgination."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Edita

    For a long time, I took my pen for a sword; I now know we're powerless. No matter. I write and will keep writing books; they're needed; all the same, they do serve some purpose. Culture doesn't save anything or anyone, it doesn't justify. But it's a product of man: he projects himself into it, he recognizes himself in it; that critical mirror alone offers him his image. Moreover, that old, crumbling structure, my imposture, is also my character: one gets rid of a neurosis, one doesn't get cured For a long time, I took my pen for a sword; I now know we're powerless. No matter. I write and will keep writing books; they're needed; all the same, they do serve some purpose. Culture doesn't save anything or anyone, it doesn't justify. But it's a product of man: he projects himself into it, he recognizes himself in it; that critical mirror alone offers him his image. Moreover, that old, crumbling structure, my imposture, is also my character: one gets rid of a neurosis, one doesn't get cured of one's self. Though they are worn out, blurred, humiliated, thrust aside, ignored, all of the child's traits are still to be found in the quinquagenarian. Most of the time they lie low, they bide their time; at the first moment of inattention, they rise up and emerge, disguised; I claim sincerely to be writing only for my time, but my present notoriety annoys me; it's not glory, since I'm alive, and yet that's enough to belie my old dreams; could it be that I still harbor them secretly? I have, I think, adapted them: since I've lost the chance of dying unknown, I sometimes flatter myself that I'm being misunderstood in my lifetime.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Radost

    It's brilliant! At first I thought that this would be Sartre's most mediocre work. Autobiography for a prodigy child is boring even written with the self-irony and condescension which I like so much in Sartre's works. The thing is, this is not an autobiography for a prodigy child, but for senescent men found immortality while living. It's an epitaph written by its owner. You can say that there isn't anything extraordinary about it, since so many others have tried to immortalised themselves throu It's brilliant! At first I thought that this would be Sartre's most mediocre work. Autobiography for a prodigy child is boring even written with the self-irony and condescension which I like so much in Sartre's works. The thing is, this is not an autobiography for a prodigy child, but for senescent men found immortality while living. It's an epitaph written by its owner. You can say that there isn't anything extraordinary about it, since so many others have tried to immortalised themselves through their last works of art. But accepting the position of already being immortal Sartre accepts the position of already being dead, and thus refusing the joy of having exctaordinary existence while existing. It's the saddest glorification of the self I have ever witnessed. Then how can you accuse Sartre of being arrogant and disdainful when by denying himself the threat of extinction he denies his possibility of uniqueness! The 'Words' is unbearably self-pitying both for the autor and for the literature itself, and it takes a lot of boldness for a writer to pity literature...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Fuad Alqayev

    This book reminded me of "The Little Prince". Maybe this similarity seems a bit strange and inappropriate. Only difference is that "The Words" was written more wisdomly than "The Little Prince" and a bit egoistically. When you finish prince's adventures, you have a smiling expression on your face and there's something like sweet feeling inside you. When you start "The Words", it makes you angry because of some of your memories about your childhood you never want to relive. You are able to look b This book reminded me of "The Little Prince". Maybe this similarity seems a bit strange and inappropriate. Only difference is that "The Words" was written more wisdomly than "The Little Prince" and a bit egoistically. When you finish prince's adventures, you have a smiling expression on your face and there's something like sweet feeling inside you. When you start "The Words", it makes you angry because of some of your memories about your childhood you never want to relive. You are able to look back through pages. Sometimes you start to swear Sartre, sometimes you throw the book away. Of course, these sentences are about the people who were dreameres in their childhood, who felt themselves as a hero, knight, king, who had their own imaginative world. Anyway it have to been thanked to Sartre for sharing his memories with us and decribing dreamers' childhood objectively.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Strömquist

    The first question that comes to mind is how does a man at 60 remember enough of his life up to age 10 to actually write an autobiography of these years? On the other hand, that really doesn't matter. For the first part of the book, I thought it was good, but not as interesting as his best work. It did grow on me though and is not easily dismissed if one should recommend a work of Sartre to someone. The first question that comes to mind is how does a man at 60 remember enough of his life up to age 10 to actually write an autobiography of these years? On the other hand, that really doesn't matter. For the first part of the book, I thought it was good, but not as interesting as his best work. It did grow on me though and is not easily dismissed if one should recommend a work of Sartre to someone.

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