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Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)


French novelist, playwright, existentialist philosopher, and literary critic. Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1964, but he declined the honor in protest of the values of bourgeois society. His longtime companion was Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986), whom he met at the École Normale Superieure in 1929.

"Thus, there are only good and bad novels. The bad novel aims to please by flattering, whereas the good one is an exigence and an act of faith. But above all, the unique point of view from which the author can present the world to those freedoms whose concurrence he wishes to bring about is that of a world to be impregnated always with more freedom." (What Is Literature? by Jean-Paul Sartre, translated from the French by Bernard Frechtman, Philosophical Library, 1949, p. 63)

Jean-Paul Sartre was born in Paris. His father, Jean-Babtiste Sartre, was a naval officer, who died when Jean-Paul was fifteen months old. Sartre never wrote much about his biological father. More important person in his life was his mother, the former Anne-Marie Schweitzer, a great nephew of Albert Schweitzer. Sartre lived first with her and his grandfather, Charles Schweitzer in Paris, but when his mother remarried in 1917, the family moved to La Rochelle.

At school, Sartre was brilliant, but his behavior was behavior was often unpredictable and arrogant. When his friend Raymond Aron played tennis, Sartre preferred giant swings on the horizontal bar. He graduated in 1929 from the Ècole Normale Supérieure. From 1931 to 1945 he worked as a teacher. During this period he also traveled in Egypt, Greece, and Italy. In 1933-34 he studied in Berlin the writings of the German philosophers Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger.

At the Left Bank cafés Sartre gathered around him a group of intellectuals in the 1930s. During WW II Sartre was drafted in 1939, imprisoned a year later in Germany, but released in 1941 (or he escaped). However, he lost his freedom he valued above all for a short time. In Paris he joined resistance movement and wrote for such magazines as Les Lettres Française and Combat. Sartre and Beauvoir met Albert Camus in Paris at the opening performance of Les Mouches in 1943; they talked about books. Sartre had given Camus's works good reviews in the Alger Républicain.

After the war he founded a monthly literary and political review, Les Temps modernes, and devoted himself entirely to writing and political activity. The magazine took its title from Chaplin's film. Sartre wrote both about and for the cinema. On a visit to the United States in 1945 he saw Citizen Kane and said in a review that it illustrated "the drama of the American intelligentsia which is rootless and totally cut off from the masses." (The Most Typical Avant-Garde: History and Geography of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles by David E. James, University of California Press, 2005, p. 462)

Sartre was never a member of Communist party, although he tried to reconcile existentialism and Marxism and collaborated with the French Communist Party. When Camus, with whom Sartre was closely linked in the 1940, openly criticized Stalinism, Sartre hesitated to follow his example.

Camus's novel L'Homme révolté (1951), which explores the theories and forms of humanity's revolt against authority, caused a break between the two friends. Unwilling to review the book himself, the task was assigned to Francis Jeanson, a junior member of Les Temps modernes, whose article was violent and slashing. Camus was offended and wrote a seventeen-page reply to "M. Le Directeur" (To the Editor), never once mentioning Jeanson. Sartre responded with a scornful letter: "You do us the honor of contributing to this issue of Les Temps modernes, but you bring a portable pedestal with you." (Camus, a Romance by Elizabeth Hawes, Grove Press, 2009, p.171) After accusing Camus of setting himself above criticism and being pompous, he continued: "Perhaps you were poor once, but you aren't any longer, you are a bourgeois like Jeanson and me." (Ibid., p. 172) The letter is long, at one point Sartre shifts his tone and tells how much Camus has meant to him and hopes that this polemic is soon forgotten. It was not.

"If anyone had asked me what existence was, I would have answered, in good faith, that it was nothing, simply an empty form which was added to external things without changing anything in their nature." (Nausea, translated from the French by Lloyd Alexander, The New Classics Series, [no date], p. 171)

Sartre's first novel, La Nausée (1938, Nausea), expressed under the influence of German philosopher Edmund Husserl's phenomenological method, that human life has no purpose. The protagonist, Antoine Roquentin, observes the world around him, and in his own solitude he feel psychological nausea of the way things are. "I glance around the room. What a comedy! . . . Each one of them does one small thing and no one is better qualified than he to do it. No one is better qualified than the commercial traveller over there to sell Swan Toothpaste. No one is better qualified than that interesting young man to put his hand under his girl friend's skirts. And I am among them and if they look at me they must think that no one is better qualified than I to do what I'm doing. But I know. I don't look like much, but I know I exist and that they exist. And if I knew how to convince people I'd go and sit down next to that handsome whi-haired gentleman and explain him just what existence means." (Ibid., pp. 150-151) The diversity of things and solidity of this world, Roquentin thinks, is only an appearance, a veneer.

Le Mur (1938, The Wall) was a collection of five stories and a novella, which concentrated on the theme of self-decption (or "bad faith"). In 'The Childhood of a Leader' the pitiful hero, Lucien, believes that he does not really exists, he only an actor in his own life. He seeks a feeling of strength through a homosexual affair. Encouraged by his friend, Lucien ends up in the ultra-conservative organization of the Action Française, with a desire to purify the French blood and beat the Jews. Lucien's choices are not authentic, he acts in conformity.

"I am abandoned in the world, not in the sense that I might remain abandoned and passive in a hostile universe like a board floating on the water, but rather in the sense that I find myself suddenly alone and without help, engaged in a world for which I bear the whole responsibility without being able, whatever I do, to tear myself away from this responsibility for an instant." (Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology, translated and with an introduction by Hazel E. Barnes, Methuen & Co, 1957, pp. 555-556)

In his non-fiction work L'Être et le Néant (1943, Being and Nothingness) Sartre formulated the basics of his philosophical system, in which "existence is prior to essence." Sartre made the distinction between things that exist in themselves (en-soi) and human beings who exist for themselves (pour-soi). Conscious of the limits of knowledge and of mortality, human beings live with existential dread.

But "the individual in a socialist society is defined at birth by the totality of possibilities which all give to each one, and at his death, by still new possibilities—small as they may be—which he has given to all. Thus all is the road of each man towards himself and each one the way of all towards all. But the necessities of administration, industrialization and war forced the Soviet Union into first forming a policy of a trained elite . . . And from this follows the danger of this whose culture, profession and standard of living sharply affects those of the mass, produces in its turn values and myths, that "amateurs" bred in its midst create a special demand for artists." (Situations, translated from the French by Benita Eisler, George Braziller, 1965, p. 211)

Sartre developed his philosophical ideas further in L'existentialisme est un humanisme (1946), and Critique de la raison dialectique (1960). According to Sartre, human being is terrifying free. We are responsible for the choices we make, we are responsible for our emotional lives. In a godless universe life has no meaning or purpose beyond the goals that each man sets for himself. In Being and Nothingness Sartre argued that an individual must detach oneself from things to give them meaning.

Sartre's first play, Les Mouches (1943, The Flies), examined the themes of commitment and responsibility. In the story, set in the ancient, mythical Greece, Orestes kills the murderers of Agamemnon, thus freeing the people of the city from the burden of guilt. According to Sartre's existentialist view, only one who chooses to assume responsibility of acting in a particular situation, like Orestes, makes effective use of one's freedom. In his second play, Huis Clos (1944, In Camera / No Exit), a man who loves only himself, a lesbian, and a nymphomaniac are forced to live in a small room after their deaths. At the end - although realizing that the "hell is other people" - they remain slaves to their of passions. The play was a sensation and was filmed in 1954.

Les Mains sales  (1948, Dirty Hands) was set in a fictional country named Illyria in the final years of World War II. The central characters are Hoederer, a Communist party leader, who represents realism, and a young bourgeois idealist, Hugo, who is ordered to assassinate him. Hoederer is considered a traitor to the cause of the proletariat. Anticipating the arrival of the Red Army, he plans to establish an union with political enemies to triumph over the country's pro-Nazi regime. "My own opinion is that politics requires us "get our hands dirty," and this is the way things have to be," Sartre said in an interview. (The Writings of Jean-Paul Sartre. Volume 1: A Bibliographical Life by Michel Contat and Michel Rybalka, 1974, p. 189)

The Finnish stage production of the play, directed by Eino Kalima and premiered at the National Theatre in October 1948, was  denounced by the Soviet Embassy as "hostile propaganda against the USSR". Aku Korhonen, a charismatic comedy actor, brought warmth to his role as Hoederer but daringly, he was masked to look like Stalin. The Embassy sent a note to the Finnish Foreign Minister Carl Enckell. As a result, the play was closed down. In an American adaptation from 1948, produced under the name Red Gloves, Charles Boyer was cast in the role of Hoederer. Sartre opposed the anti-Soviet agenda of the Broadway version, in which Boyer gives Hugo a speech on Abraham Lincoln. Unhappy with cold war interpretations of his work, Sartre decided not to authorize any performance of Dirty Hands without the approval of the Communist parties concerned.

During the war, Sartre worked briefly as a scriptwriter for the Pathé film company. Among his most notable screenplays are Les jeux sont faits (1947, The Chips are Down), directed by Jean Delannoy, and Les sorcières de Salem (1957, The Crucible), adapted from Arthur Miller's play. Typhus, which he wrote in 1944, was produced in 1953, starring Michèle Morgan and Gérard Philipe. The director was Yves Allégret.

Qu'est-ce que la littérature? (1947, What Is Literature?) is Sartre's best-known book of literary criticism. A writer is always a watchdog or a jester, but the primarly function of the writer is to act in such a way that nobody can be ignorant of the world: "the writer should engage himself completely in his works, and not as an abject passivity by putting forward his vices, his misfortunes, and his weaknesses, but as a resolute will and as a choice". (Ibid., p. 35) The final goal of art is "to recover this world by giving it to be seen not as it is, but as if it had its source in human freedom."(Ibid., p. 57) The reader brings to life the literary object - it is not true that one writes for oneself. On the other hand Sartre saw that literature is dying. "Not that talent or good will is lacking, but it has no longer anything to do in contemporary society." (Ibid., p. 241) The newspaper, the radio and the movies speak to crowds. Writers must learn to transpose the ideas of their books into the language of the mass media.

From 1946 to 1955 Sartre wrote several biographical studies, of which the most important was Saint Genet, comédien et martyr (1952, Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr), about his friend Jean Genet (1910-1986), a convicted felon and writer. "Moreover, Genet addresses not the criminologist or sociologist but the "average Frenchman" who adorns himself with the name of good citizen; for it is he who preserves the idea of Evil, while science and law are tending to break away from it; it is he who, burning with desires that his morality condemns, has delivered himself from his negative freedom by throwing it like a flaming cloak on the members of a minority group whose acts he interprets on the basis of his own temptations. What a prey!" (Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr, New American Library, 1963, p. 494) Jean Cocteau said of the book in his journal: "As all real books of criticism, it is a monumental portrait of Sartre, for which Genet is only the bronze or the stone. . . . it represents Genet no more than the Statue of Liberty, in New York, represents American freedom." (Sartre: A Life by Annie Cohen-Solal, translated by Anna  Cangogni, edited by Norman MacAfee, Pantheon, 1987, p. 316) François Mauriac described Genet's work as nothing nor less than a "turd." (Ibid., p. 316)

After Stalin's death in 1953, Sartre accepted the right to criticize the Soviet system although he defended the Soviet state. He visited the Soviet Union next year and was hospitalized for ten days because of exhaustion. With his interpreter, Lena Zonina, he had a love affair. In 1956 Sartre spoke out on behalf of freedom for Hungarians, condemning the Soviet invasion, but not the Russian people, and in 1968 he condemned the Warsaw Pact assault on Czechoslovakia. In the Soviet Union, Sartre was privately criticized by the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev. The O.A.S. (Organisation de l'Armee Secrete), engaged in terrorist activities against Algerian independence, exploded a bomb in 1961 in Sartre's apartment on rue Bonaparte; it happened also next year and Sartre moved on quai Louis-Blériot, opposite the Eiffel tower.

A superb conversationalist, Sartre unexpectedly lost his debate with the philosopher Louis Althusser, perhaps the only time in his public life. Althusser had joined the French Communist Party in 1948, and during the 1960s and 1970s he was considered the most influential voice in Western Marxism.

At the height of the student rebellion, which Sartre supported, his main interest lay on his study called L'Idiot de la famille (The Family Idiot). The wide biography of Gustave Flaubert used Freudian interpretations and Marxist social and historical elements, familiar from his philosophical work. Sartre had been preoccupied with Flaubert since childhood. In this study Sartre showed how Flaubert became the person his family and society determined him to be, and how Flaubert's choices summarized the historical situation of his class. While writing this work, Sartre used Corydrane. The drug, a combination of aspirin and amphetamine, was popular among students and intellectuals. Also race bicyclists used it in the 1960s.

Sartre became also closely involved in movement against Vietnam War. He headed in 1967 the International War Crimes Tribunal, set up by Bertrand Russell to judge American military conduct in Indochina. Among the New Left Sartre was a highly respected figure and his stand on the French colonial policy in Algeria was widely known in the Third World. One of his most powerful texts, written under the influence of Corydrane, was the foreword to Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth (1961), published toward the end the of the Algerian War. The book was soon translated into seventeen languages.

In 1970 Sartre was arrested because of selling on the streets the forbidden Maoist paper La cause du peuple. Sartre was familair with the though of Mao Tse-tung and he had traveled in China in 1955 with Beauvoir, who decided to write a whole book about the country. However, in the early 1960s the Cuban economic and social revolution fascinated Sartre more. He also met Fidel Castro, but broke with his dictatorship later. In 1974 Sartre visited the terrorist Andreas Baader at the prison of Stammheim in Germany.

When de Gaulle died in 1970, Sartre noted, "I've never held him in any esteem." (Sartre: A Life, p. 472) The Family Idiot was Sartre's last large work. It was left unfinished (like Being and Nothingness, the "Roads to Freedom" novels, which he began with The Age of Reason in 1945, and Critique of Dialectical Reason) – Sartre called the book his "most total failure . . . I wonder why I always plan books that are so much longer than the ones I actually write." (Ibid., p. 472) Sartre suffered from failing eyesight and near the end of his life he was blind.

Jean-Paul Sartre died in Paris of oedema of the lungs on April 15, 1980.  "Under a gray and leaded sky, in a meditation that no notable incident broke, thousands of people accompanied the mortal remains of Jean-Paul Sartre from the Broussais hospital, where he rested since his death, until Montparnasse cemetery," reported Agence France Presse. Arlette Elkaïm, Sartre's mistress whom he had adopted in 1965, received the rights to his literary heritage, not Simone de Beauvoir.

Like Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald after WWI, Sartre was considered after WW II the leading spokesman of the postwar generation. In his essays Sartre dealt with wide range of subjects, sometimes in provocative manner. 'The Republic of Silence' starts, "We were never more free than under the German occupation," explaining this later that in those circumstances each gesture had the weight of a commitment. In 'The Humanism of Existentialism' he condensed the major theme of atheist existentialism as follows: "if God does not exist, there is at least one being in whom existence precedes essence, a being who exists before he can be defined by any concept, and that this being is man, or, as Heidegger says, human reality. What is meant here by saying that existence precedes essence? It means that, first of all, man exist, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards, defines himself. If man, as the existentialist conceives him, is indefinable, it is because at first he is nothing. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be." (Existentialism: Basic Writings, second edition, edited, with introductioons, by Charles Guignon and Derk Pereboom, Hackett Publishing Company, 2001, pp. 292-293)

For further reading: The Psychology of Sartre by Peter J. R.  Dempsey (1950); Sartre, Romantic Rationalis by Iris Murdoch (1953); Sartre: The Origins of a Style by Fredric Jameson (1961); The Theatre of Jean-Paul Sartre by Dorothy McCall (1967); Sartre and the Artist by George H. Bauer (1969); Jean-Paul Sartre by Benjamin Suhl (1970); The Writings of Jean-Paul Sartre by M. Contant and M. Rybalka (1974); Existential Marxism in Postwar France by Mark Poster (1975); Critical Fictions by Joseph Halpern (1976); The Existentialist Marxism of Jean-Paul Sartre by J. Lawler (1976); A Preface to Sartre by Dominic La Capra (1978); Sartre and Flaubert by H.E. Barnes (1981); Sartre: pelon, inhon ja valinnan filosofia by Esa Saarinen (1983); Writing Against by Ronald Hayman (1986, publ. in 1987 as Sartre: A Life); Sartre: A Life by Annie Cohen-Solal (1987); Jean-Paul Sartre: Freedom and Commitment by Charles Hill (1992); Jean-Paul Sartre by P.M. Thody (1992); Siècle de Sartre by Bernard-Henri Lévy (2000); Camus & Sartre: The Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel That Ended It by Ronald Aronson (2004); Jean-Paul Sartre and the Jewish Question: Anti-antisemitism and the Politics of the French Intellectual by Jonathan Judaken (2006); The Sartre Dictionary by Gary Cox (2008); Talking with Sartre: Conversations and Debates, edited and translated by John Gerassi (2009); Beauvoir and Sartre : the Riddle of Influence, edited by Christine Daigle and Jacob Golomb (2009); Reading Sartre: On Phenomenology and Existentialism, edited by Jonathan Webber (2011); Sartre: A Philosophical Biography by Thomas R. Flynn (2014); Existentialism and Excess: the Life and Times of Jean-Paul Sartre by Gary Cox (2016); No exit: Arab Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Decolonization by Yoav Di-Capua (2018); Sartrean Mind, edited by Matthew Eshleman and Constance Mui (2020); Sartre on Contingency: Antiblack Racism and Embodiment by Mabogo Percy More (2021); Saint and the Atheist: Thomas Aquinas and Jean-Paul Sartre by Joseph S. Catalano (2021); Reading Sartre's Second Ethics: Morality, History, and Integral Humanity by Elizabeth A. Bowman and Robert V. Stone, edited with Matthew C. Ally (2023)- Suom.: Sartrelta on suomennettu useita näytelmiä, esseevalikoimia ja lisäksi kokoelma Esseitä 1-2, joka sisältää tutkielman Mitä kirjallisuus on? - Esa Saarinen on julkaissut tutkimuksen Sartre: pelon, inhon ja valinnan filosofia (1983). Other film adaptations: Les jeux sont faits, dir. by Jean Delannoy, 1947; Les orgueilleux, dir. by Yves Allégret, 1953

Selected works:

  • L'Imagination, 1936
    - Imagination: A Psychological Critique (translated by Forrest Williams, 1962)
  • La Nausée, 1938
    - Nausea (translated by Lloyd Alexander, 1949) / The Diary of Antoine Roquentin (UK title, tr. 1949)
    - Inho (suom. Juha Mannerkorpi, 1947)
  • Le Mur, 1938
    - The Wall and Other Stories (translated by Lloyd Alexander, 1949) / Intimacy and Other Stories (US title, translated by Lloyd Alexander, 1949)
    - Muuri (suom. Maijaliisa Auterinen, Jorma Kapari, 1966)
    - film 1966, dir. by Serge Roullet
  • Esquisse d'une théorie des émotions, 1939
    - The Emotions, Outline of a Theory (translated by Bernard Frechtman, 1948) / Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions (tr. 1962) / Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions (translated by Philip Mairet, 2014)
  • L'Imaginaire, psychologie phénoménologique de l'imagination, 1940
    - Psychology of Imagination (translated by Bernard Frechtman, 1948) / The Imaginary: A Phenomenological Psychology of the Imagination (translated by Jonathan Webber, 2004)
  • L'Être et le Néant, 1943
    - Being and Nothingness (translated by Hazel Barnes, 1956)
  • Les Mouches, 1943 (prod. 1944)
    - The Flies (translated by Stuart Gilbert, in The Flies and In Camera, 1946)
    - Kärpäset (suom. Pirkko Peltonen, 1966)
  • Huis clos, 1945 (prod. 1944)
    - In Camera (translated by Stuart Gilbert, in The Flies and In Camera, 1946) / No Exit (translated by Stuart Gilbert, in No Exit and The Flies, 1948) / No Exit & Three Other Plays (translated by Paul Bowles, 1958)
    - Suljetut ovet (suom. Marja Rankkala, 1949)
    - film 1954, dir. by Jacqueline Audry, starring Frank Villard, Gaby Sylvia, Yves Denlaud, Arletty, music by Joseph Kosma
  • L'Âge de raison, 1945
    - The Age of Reason (translated by Eric Sutton, 1947)
  • Le Sursis, 1945
    - The Reprieve (translated by Eric Sutton, 1947)
  • Réflexions sur la question juive, 1946
    - Anti-Semite and Jew (translated by George J. Becker, 1948) / Portrait of the Anti-Semite (translated by Erik de Mauny, 1948)
    - Esseitä. 1: Eksistentialismikin on humanismia; Juutalaiskysymys (suom. Aarne T.K. Lahtinen & Jouko Tyyri, 1965)
  • The Flies and In Camera, 1946 (translated by Stuart Gilbert)
  • Morts sans sépulture, 1946
    - Men Without Shadows (UK title, in Three Plays, 1949) / The Victors (US title, in Three Plays, 1949)
  • L'existentialisme est un humanisme, 1946
    - Existentialism and Humanism (translated by Philip Mairet, 1948) / Existentialism (translated by Bernard Frechtman, 1947)
    - Esseitä. 1: Eksistentialismikin on humanismia; Juutalaiskysymys (suom. Aarne T.K. Lahtinen & Jouko Tyyri, 1965)
  • La Putain respectueuse, 1946
    - The Respectable Prostitute (UK title, translated by Lionel Abel, in Three Plays, 1949) / The Respectful Prostitute (US title, in Three Plays, 1949) / The Respectable Prostitute & Lucifer and the Lord (translated by Kitty Black, 1965)
    - Kunniallinen portto (suom. Marianne Kautto, 1990)
    - film 1952, dir. by Charles Brabant & Marcello Pagliero
  • Baudelaire, précédé d'une note de michel leiris, 1947
    - Baudelaire (translated by Martin Turnell, 1949)
  • Les jeux sont faits, 1947
    - The Chips Are Down (translated by Louise Varèse, 1948)
    - film 1947, dir. by Jean Delannoy, screenplay by Sartre, Delannoy, Jacques-Laurent Bost, starring Micheline Presle, Michel Pagliero, Marguerite Moreno, Fernand Fabre
  • Situations I, 1947
    - Situations (translated by Benita Eisler, 1965)
  • Théâtre, 1947
  • No Exit (Huis clos), a Play in One Act, and The Flies (Les Mouches), a Play in Three Acts, 1947
  • Situations II. Qu'est-ce que la littérature?, 1948
    - What Is Literature? (translated by Bernard Frechtman, 1949) / Literature & Existentialism (tr. Bernard Frechtman)
    - Mitä kirjallisuus on? (suom. Pirkko Peltonen, Helvi Nurminen, 1967)
  • Les Mains sales, 1948
    - Crime Passionnel (UK title, translated by Lionel Abel, in Three Plays, 1949) / Dirty Hands (US title, in Three Plays, 1949)
    - Likaiset kädet (suom. Toini Kaukonen, Marja Rankkala, 1966; Reita Lounatvuori)
  • L'Engrenage, 1948 (screenplay)
    - In the Mesh: A Scenario (translated by Mervyn Savill, 1954)
  • Entretiens sur la politique, 1949 (with others)
  • Situations III, 1949
    - The Aftermath of War (Situations III) (translated by Chris Turner, 2008)
  • La mort dans l'âme, 1949
    - Iron in the Soul (translated by Gerard Hopkins, 1950) / Troubled Sleep (US title, translated by Gerard Hopkins, 1951)
  • Three Plays, 1949 (contains The Victors, The Respectful Prostitute, Dirty Hands, translated by Lionel Abel)
  • Three Plays, 1949 (contains Men Withous Shadows, The Respectable Prostitute, Crime Passionnel, translated by Kitty Black)
  • Kean, 1951 (from the play by Dumas père)
    - Kean; or, Disorder and Genius (translated by Kitty Black, 1954) / Kean (translated by Frank Hauser, 1971) 
    - Kean - näyttelijä (suom. Jorma Nortimo)
  • Le Diable et le Bon Dieu, 1951 (prod.)
    - Lucifer and the Lord (translated by Kitty Black, 1952) / The Devil and the Good Lord (in The Devil and the Good Lord and Two Other Plays, translated by Kitty Black, 1960)
    - Paholainen ja hyvä Jumala (suom. Ritva Arvelo, 1956)
  • Saint Genet, comédien et martyr, 1952
    - Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr (translated by B. Frechtman, 1963)
  • L'Affaire Henri Martin, 1953 (with others)
  • Literary and Philosophical Essays, 1955 (translated by Annette Michelson)
  • Nekrassov, 1955 (prod.)
    - Nekrassov (translated by Sylvia and George Leeson, 1960; Kitty Black, in The Devil and the Good Lord and Two Other Plays, 1960)
    - Nekrassov (suom. Helvi Nurminen)
  • La Transcendance de l'Ego, 1957
    - The Transcendence of the Ego: An Existentialist Theory of Consciousness (translated by F. Williams and R. Kirkpatrick, 1957)
    - Minän ulkoisuus (suom. Antti Kauppinen, 2004)
  • Questions de méthode, 1957
    - Search for a Method (translated by Hazel E. Barnes, 1963)
  • Les Séquestrés d'Altona, 1959 (prod.)
    - Loser Wins (translated by Sylvia and George Leeson, 1960) / The Condemned of Altona (US title, tr. 1961)
    - Altonan vangit (suom. Helvi Nurminen, 1965)
    - film 1962, dir. by Vittorio De Sica, starring Sophia Loren, Maximilian Schell, Fredric March, Robert Wagner, screenplay by Abby Mann, Cesare Zavattini, prod. by Carlo Ponti
  • Critique de la raison dialectique, 1960 (tome 1)
    - Critique of Dialectical Reason. Volume One (translated by Alan Sheridan-Smith, ed. Jonathan Ree, 1976)
  • The Devil and the Good Lord and Two Other Plays, 1960 (includes Kean and Nekrassov, translated by Kitty Black)
  • Ouragan sur le sucre, 1960
    - Sartre on Cuba (tr. 1961)
  • Bariona, ou le Fils du tonnerre, 1962 (prod. 1940)
    - Bariona; or, The Son of Thunder (in The Writings 2, 1974)
  • Essays in Aesthetics, 1963 (ed. by Wade Baskin)
  • Les Mots, 1964
    - The Words (translated by B. Frechtman, 1964) / The Words (translated by Irene Clephane, 1964)
    - Sanat (suom. Raili Moberg, 1965)
  • Situations IV: Portraits, 1964
    - Situations (translated by Benita Eisler, 1965)
  • Situations V: Colonialisme et neo-colonialisme, 1964
    - Colonialism and Neocolonialism (translated by Azzedine Haddour, Steve Brewer, and Terry McWilliams, 2001)
  • Situations VI: Problèmes du marxisme 1, 1964
    - The Communists and Peace (tr. 1968)
  • Les Troyennes, 1965 (from a play by Euripides)
    - The Trojan Women (translated by Ronald Duncan, 1967)
  • Œuvres romanesques, 1965 (5 vols.)
  • The Philosophy of Sartre, 1965 (ed. by Robert Denoon Cumming)
  • Situations VII: Problèmes du marxisme 2, 1965
    - The Ghost of Stalin (translated by Martha H. Fletcher and John R. Kleinschmidt, 1968) / The Spectre of Stalin (translated by Irene Clephane, 1969)
  • Que peut la littérature?, 1965 (with others)
  • Essays in Existentialism, 1967 (ed. by Wade Baskin)
  • Of Human Freedom, 1967 (ed. by Wade Baskin)
  • On Genocide, 1968
  • Les communistes ont peur de la révolution, 1969
  • War Crimes in Vietnam, 1971 (with others)
  • L'idiot de la famille: Gustave Flaubert de 1821 à 1857, 1971-72 (3 vols.)
    - The Family Idiot: Gustave Flaubert 1821-1857 (translated by Carol Cosman, 5 vols., 1981-1993)
  • Situations VIII: Autour de 1968, 1972
  • Situations IX: Mélanges, 1972
    - Between Existentialism and Marxism, 1974 (translated by John Mathews, 1974)
  • Politics and Literature, 1973 (translated by J. A. Underwood, John Calder)
  • Un théâtre de situations, 1973 (ed. Michel Contat and Michel Rybalka)
    - Sartre on Theater (translated by  Frank Jellinek, 1976) / On Theatre (tr. 1976) 
  • The Writings of Jean-Paul Sartre, Vol. 2: Selected Prose, 1974 (ed. by Michel Contat and Michel Rybalka)
  • On a raison de se révolter, 1974 (with others)
  • Situations X, 1976
    - Life/Situations: Essays Written and Spoken (translated by Paul Auster and Lydia Davis, 1977)
  • Œuvres romanesques, 1981 (La nausée; Le mur; Les chemins de la liberté: I. L'âge de raison, II. Le sursis, III. La mort dans l'âme, IV. Drôle d'amitié; Appendices: Dépaysement, La mort dans l'âme (fragments de journal), La dernière chance; ed. by Michel Contant and Michel Rybalka)
    - Last Chance (translated by Craig Vasey, 2009)
  • Lettres au Castor et à quelques autres I-II, 1983
    - Witness to My Life: The letters of Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvoir, 1926-1939 (translated by Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAfee, 1992); Quiet Moments in a War: The Letters of Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvoir, 1940-1963 (translated by Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAfee, 1993)
  • Les Carnets de la drôle de guerre, 1983
    - War Diaries of Jean-Paul Sartre: November 1939-March 1940 (translated by Quintin Hoare, 1984); War Diaries: Notebooks from a Phoney War, November 1939-March 1940 (translated by Quintin Hoare, 1984)
  • Cahiers pour une morale, 1983
    - Notebooks for an Ethics (translated by D. Pellauer, 1992)
  • Le Scénario Freud, 1984
    - The Freud Scenario (ed. J.-B. Pontalis, translated by Quintin Hoare, 1985)
  • Critique de la raison dialectique, 1985 (tome 2)
    - Critique of Dialectical Reason, Vol. 2 (translated by Quentin Hoare, 1991)
  • Mallarmé: la lucidité et sa face d'ombre, 1986
    - Mallarmé, or, The Poet of Nothingness (translated by Ernest Sturm, 1988)
  • "What is Literature?" and Other Essays, 1988
  • Vérité et Existence, 1989
    - Truth and Existence (translated by A. van de Hoven, 1992)
  • La reine Albemarle, ou, Le dernier touriste: fragments, 1991 (ed. by Arlette Elkaïm-Sartre)
  • L’espoir maintenant: les entretiens de 1980 / Jean-Paul Sartre, Benny Lévy, 2007 (ed. by Benny Lévy)
    - Hope Now: The 1980 Interviews / Jean-Paul Sartre and Benny Lévy (translated by Adrian van den Hoven, with an introduction by Ronald Aronson, 1996)
  • Théâtre complet, 2005 (ed. by Michel Contat, et al.)
  • Typhus: scénario, 2007 (edited by Arlette Elkaïm-Sartre)
  • L'espoir maintenant: les entretiens de 1980 / Jean-Paul Sartre, Benny Lévy, 2007 (edited by Benny Lévy) 
  • Qu'est-ce que la subjectivité, 2013
    - What is subjectivity?, 2016 (translated by David Broder and Trista Selous; introduction by Michel Kail and Raoul Kirchmayr; afterword by Fredric Jameson, 2016)
  • We Have Only This Life To Live: Selected Essays of Jean-Paul Sartre, 1939-1975, 2013 (edited by Ronald Aronson and Adrian van den Hoven)
  • Family Idiot: Gustave Flaubert, 1821-1857, An Abridged Edition, 2023 (translated by Carol Cosman; abridged and introduced by Joseph S. Catalano)

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