Other Literary Forms
Trained as a philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre emerged during and after World War II as a major intellectual force in France and around the world, thanks mainly to his developing doctrine of existentialism. Unlike the rank and file of philosophers, Sartre soon proved to have a vivid literary and dramatic imagination, using the medium of creative writing to illustrate his major precepts. He is best known as a dramatist and the author of such plays as Les Mouches, Huis clos (pr. 1944; In Camera, 1946, better known as No Exit, 1947), and Les Mains sales (pr., pb. 1948; Dirty Hands, 1949). Sartre is remembered also for the experimental novel La Nausée (1938; Nausea, 1949). Les Chemins de la liberté (1945-1949; The Roads to Freedom, 1947-1950), a projected tetralogy of which only three volumes were ever completed, represents Sartre’s only other venture into long fiction. Thereafter, apart from his plays, Sartre wrote mainly essays, both literary and political, collected in Situations (1947-1976; partial translation, 1965-1977); he is known also for psychobiographical studies of eminent French authors, including Baudelaire (1947; English translation, 1950) and L’Idiot de la famille (1971-1972; partial translations, The Family Idiot, 1981, 1987), a study of the youth and maturity of Gustave Flaubert before the publication of Madame Bovary in 1857. Published in France in the early 1970’s, The Family Idiot did not appear in English translation until after Sartre’s death.