On June 21 1905 was born one of the most significant minds of the 20th century.
Jean-Paul-Charles-Aymard Sartre was a French philosopher, playwright, novelist, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialism and phenomenology, and one of the leading figures in 20th-century French philosophy and Marxism.
His work has also influenced sociology, critical theory, post-colonial theory, and literary studies, and continues to influence these disciplines.
Sartre has also been noted for his open relationship with the prominent feminist theorist Simone de Beauvoir. Together, Sartre and de Beauvoir challenged the cultural and social assumptions and expectations of their upbringings, which they considered bourgeois, in both lifestyle and thought. The conflict between oppressive, spiritually destructive conformity (mauvaise foi, literally, “bad faith”) and an “authentic” way of “being” became the dominant theme of Sartre’s early work, a theme embodied in his principal philosophical work Being and Nothingness (L’Être et le Néant, 1943). Sartre’s introduction to his philosophy is his work Existentialism and Humanism (L’existentialisme est un humanisme, 1946), originally presented as a lecture.
He was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature but refused it, saying that he always declined official honours and that “a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution”.