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Jean-Paul Sartre: “A Person is Responsible for the World and for Themselves…

19.06.2020

June 21, 2020 marks the 115th anniversary of the birth of Jean-Paul Sartre, a French writer and philosopher, publicist, public figure, Nobel Prize winner in literature, whose name, in particular, is associated with the award of Mikhail Sholokhov this prestigious literary prize.

Jean-Paul Sartre was born in 1905 in Paris. He received an excellent education — he studied at secondary school, graduated from the École normale supérieure in Paris with a dissertation in philosophy, and completed an internship at the French Institute in Berlin. After university, he served in the army, then began teaching, and since 1944 he devoted himself entirely to literary work. With the outbreak of Second World War, Sartre was drafted into the French army. In 1940 he was captured for nine months. After release he returned to literary activity. In 1943 his philosophical work “Being and Nothing” was published. He worked over it for 13 years. It brought Sartre fame in wide circles, he began to be called the chief philosopher of the post-war era.

Sartre always actively expressed his political views, opposed class and national oppression. He participated in protests against the Algerian war, the suppression of the Hungarian uprising of 1956, the Vietnam War, the invasion of American troops in Cuba, the deployment of Soviet troops in Prague, the suppression of dissent in the USSR. He acted as a supporter of peace at the Vienna Congress of Peoples in defense of peace in 1952, in 1953 he was elected a member of the World Peace Council.

In August 1963, Jean-Paul Sartre and Mikhail Sholokhov met at a meeting of the Governing Council of the European Community of Writers in the Leningrad House of Writers named after Vladimir Mayakovsky. At the Session, the first meeting of which was opened by Mikhail Sholokhov, the discussion was devoted to the problems of the modern novel. 42 writers from socialist and bourgeois countries spoke at the meetings including Sartre, who claimed in his report that "the "new romance" and socialism are one and the same."

The 1960s there was the culmination of Sartre's popularity. In 1964 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for his work rich in ideas permeated with the spirit of freedom and the search for truth which had a huge impact on our time." He refused the prize declaring his unwillingness to question his independence. He stated: "the writer should not be allowed to turn himself into an institute, even if it takes the most honorable forms." Among the reasons for his refusal to receive the prize, Sartre also noted regret that “Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize, not Sholokhov, and that the only Soviet work to receive the prize was a book published abroad and banned in his native country”.  Mikhail Sholokhov was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1965.

Sartre's creativity influenced the spiritual life of France and other countries, received a response in philosophy, politics, aesthetics, literature, dramaturgy, and cinema. In the last years of his life, the writer was almost blind. He could no longer write, but he did not leave active life: he gave numerous interviews, discussed political events with friends, listened to music, asked to read out books for him.

Jean-Paul Sartre died on April 15, 1980. And although he bequeathed not to arrange a magnificent funeral, at least another 50 thousand people joined the procession of close relatives and friends. In an obituary, the Parisian newspaper “Mond” wrote: "Not a single French intellectual of the twentieth century, not a single Nobel Prize winner has had such a deep, lasting and comprehensive influence on public thought as Sartre."

 

Alla Tsytsura