Great philosophy meets powerful biography in this entertaining and immensely readable portrait of mid-20th century Paris and the fascinating characters of Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus, and their circle, who loved and hated, drank and debated with each other--and forever changed the way we think about thinking. At the Existentialist Café is a thrilling look at the famous group of post-war thinkers who became known as the Existentialists: Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus, Heidegger, and their circle. Starting with Paris after the devastation of the Second World War, Sarah Bakewell (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for her previous book) takes us inside the passionate debates and equally passionate lives of these brilliant, if flawed, characters. Here is a wonderful, vibrant look at the social, artistic and political currents that shaped the existentialist movement--a mode of thinking and being that, as Bakewell vividly shows, deeply affects us today. Never has the story of this influential group, and especially that of the legendary relationship between Sartre and de Beauvoir, been told with such verve and sweep, weaving personal life with social upheaval and the universal quest for understanding. From the Hardcover edition.
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Named one of the Ten Best Books of 2016 by the New York Times, a spirited account of a major intellectual movement of the twentieth century and the revolutionary thinkers who came to shape it, by the best-selling author of How to Live Sarah Bakewell. Paris, 1933: three contemporaries meet over apricot cocktails at the Bec-de-Gaz bar on the rue Montparnasse. They are the young Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and longtime friend Raymond Aron, a fellow philosopher who raves to them about a new conceptual framework from Berlin called Phenomenology. "You see," he says, "if you are a phenomenologist you can talk about this cocktail and make philosophy out of it!" It was this simple phrase that would ignite a movement, inspiring Sartre to integrate Phenomenology into his own French, humanistic sensibility, thereby creating an entirely new philosophical approach inspired by themes of radical freedom, authentic being, and political activism. This movement would sweep through the jazz clubs and cafés of the Left Bank before making its way across the world as Existentialism. Featuring not only philosophers, but also playwrights, anthropologists, convicts, and revolutionaries, At the Existentialist Café follows the existentialists' story, from the first rebellious spark through the Second World War, to its role in postwar liberation movements such as anti-colonialism, feminism, and gay rights. Interweaving biography and philosophy, it is the epic account of passionate encounters--fights, love affairs, mentorships, rebellions, and long partnerships--and a vital investigation into what the existentialists have to offer us today, at a moment when we are once again confronting the major questions of freedom, global responsibility, and human authenticity in a fractious and technology-driven world.
Shortlisted for the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize Paris, near the turn of 1932-3. Three young friends meet over apricot cocktails at the Bec-de-Gaz bar on the rue Montparnasse. They are Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and their friend Raymond Aron, who opens their eyes to a radical new way of thinking... ‘It’s not often that you miss your bus stop because you’re so engrossed in reading a book about existentialism, but I did exactly that... The story of Sartre, Beauvoir, Camus, Heidegger et al is strange, fun and compelling reading. If it doesn’t win awards, I will eat my copy’ Independent on Sunday ‘Bakewell shows how fascinating were some of the existentialists’ ideas and how fascinating, often frightful, were their lives. Vivid, humorous anecdotes are interwoven with a lucid and unpatronising exposition of their complex philosophy... Tender, incisive and fair’ Daily Telegraph ‘Quirky, funny, clear and passionate... Few writers are as good as Bakewell at explaining complicated ideas in a way that makes them easy to understand’ Mail on Sunday
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his followers to let go of earthly concerns by considering the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. Søren Kierkegaard's short masterpiece on this famous gospel passage draws out its vital lessons for readers in a rapidly modernizing and secularizing world. Trenchant, brilliant, and written in stunningly lucid prose, The Lily of the Field and the Bird of the Air (1849) is one of Kierkegaard's most important books. Presented here in a fresh new translation with an informative introduction, this profound yet accessible work serves as an ideal entrée to an essential modern thinker. The Lily of the Field and the Bird of the Air reveals a less familiar but deeply appealing side of the father of existentialism—unshorn of his complexity and subtlety, yet supremely approachable. As Kierkegaard later wrote of the book, "Without fighting with anybody and without speaking about myself, I said much of what needs to be said, but movingly, mildly, upliftingly." This masterful edition introduces one of Kierkegaard's most engaging and inspiring works to a new generation of readers.
How to get on well with people, how to deal with violence, how to adjust to losing someone you love? How to live? This question obsessed Renaissance nobleman Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-92), who wrote free-roaming explorations of his thought and experience, unlike anything written before. Into these essays he put whatever was in his head: his tastes in wine and food, his childhood memories, the way his dog's ears twitched when it was dreaming, events in the appalling civil wars raging around him. The Essays was an instant bestseller, and over four hundred years later, readers still come to him in search of companionship, wisdom and entertainment - and in search of themselves. This first full biography of Montaigne in English for nearly fifty years relates the story of his life by way of the questions he posed and the answers he explored.
Until now it has been impossible to read the full story of the relationship between Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. Their dramatic rupture at the height of the Cold War, like that conflict itself, demanded those caught in its wake to take sides rather than to appreciate its tragic complexity. Now, using newly available sources, Ronald Aronson offers the first book-length account of the twentieth century's most famous friendship and its end. Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre first met in 1943, during the German occupation of France. The two became fast friends. Intellectual as well as political allies, they grew famous overnight after Paris was liberated. As playwrights, novelists, philosophers, journalists, and editors, the two seemed to be everywhere and in command of every medium in post-war France. East-West tensions would put a strain on their friendship, however, as they evolved in opposing directions and began to disagree over philosophy, the responsibilities of intellectuals, and what sorts of political changes were necessary or possible. As Camus, then Sartre adopted the mantle of public spokesperson for his side, a historic showdown seemed inevitable. Sartre embraced violence as a path to change and Camus sharply opposed it, leading to a bitter and very public falling out in 1952. They never spoke again, although they continued to disagree, in code, until Camus's death in 1960. In a remarkably nuanced and balanced account, Aronson chronicles this riveting story while demonstrating how Camus and Sartre developed first in connection with and then against each other, each keeping the other in his sights long after their break. Combining biography and intellectual history, philosophical and political passion, Camus and Sartre will fascinate anyone interested in these great writers or the world-historical issues that tore them apart.
The Smart is a true drama of eighteenth-century life with a mercurial, mysterious heroine. Caroline is a young Irishwoman who runs off to marry a soldier, comes to London and slides into a glamorous life as a high-class prostitute, a great risk-taker, possessing a mesmerising appeal. In the early 1770s, she becomes involved with the intriguing Perreau twins, identical in looks but opposite in character, one a sober merchant, the other a raffish gambler. They begin forging bonds, living in increasing luxury until everything collapses like a house of cards - and forgery is a capital offence. A brilliantly researched and marvellously evocative history, The Smart is full of the life of London streets and shots through with enduring themes - sex, money, death and fame. It bridges the gap between aristocracy and underworld as eighteenth-century society is drawn into the most scandalous financial sting of the age.
Explores the complex relationship between humans and animals by examining philosophical, scientific, and literary material.
This anthology provides a history of the systemization and canonization of existentialism, a quintessentially antisystemic mode of thought. Situating existentialism within the history of ideas, it features new readings on the most influential works in the existential canon, exploring their formative contexts and the cultural dialogues of which they were a part. Emphasizing the multidisciplinary and global nature of existential arguments, the chosen texts relate to philosophy, religion, literature, theater, and culture and reflect European, Russian, Latin American, African, and American strains of thought. Readings are grouped into three thematic categories: national contexts, existentialism and religion, and transcultural migrations that explore the reception of existentialism. The volume explains how literary giants such as Dostoevsky and Tolstoy were incorporated into the existentialist fold and how inclusion into the canon recast the work of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, and it describes the roles played by Jaspers and Heidegger in Germany and the Paris School of existentialism in France. Essays address not only frequently assigned works but also underappreciated discoveries, underscoring their vital relevance to contemporary critical debate. Designed to speak to a new generation's concerns, the collection deploys a diverse range of voices to interrogate the fundamental questions of the human condition.
An incandescent group portrait of the midcentury artists and thinkers whose lives, loves, collaborations, and passions were forged against the wartime destruction and postwar rebirth of Paris In this fascinating tour of a celebrated city during one of its most trying, significant, and ultimately triumphant eras, Agnes Poirier unspools the stories of the poets, writers, painters, and philosophers whose lives collided to extraordinary effect between 1940 and 1950. She gives us the human drama behind some of the most celebrated works of the 20th century, from Richard Wright’s Native Son, Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex, and James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room to Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot and Saul Bellow's Augie March, along with the origin stories of now legendary movements, from Existentialism to the Theatre of the Absurd, New Journalism, bebop, and French feminism. We follow Arthur Koestler and Norman Mailer as young men, peek inside Picasso’s studio, and trail the twists of Camus's Sartre's, and Beauvoir’s epic love stories. We witness the births and deaths of newspapers and literary journals and peer through keyholes to see the first kisses and last nights of many ill-advised bedfellows. At every turn, Poirier deftly hones in on the most compelling and colorful history, without undermining the crucial significance of the era. She brings to life the flawed, visionary Parisians who fell in love and out of it, who infuriated and inspired one another, all while reconfiguring the world's political, intellectual, and creative landscapes. With its balance of clear-eyed historical narrative and irresistible anecdotal charm, Left Bank transports readers to a Paris teeming with passion, drama, and life.