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War Diaries: Notebooks from a Phony War, 1939-40 Paperback – January 17, 2000

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Product Details

  • Series: Verso Classics
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (January 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859842380
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859842386
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,260,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“It has to be said that Sartre’s War Diaries are a delight.”—Times Higher Educational Supplement

“Whatever you value in Sartre, his philosophy, his art, or simply the historical fact of his existence and influence—the notebooks add substantially to his achievement.”—James Fenton, The Times

“Enormously impressive, with all the crispness and manic intelligence which distinguish the early short stories and his one undoubted literary masterpiece, La Nausée.”—John Weightman, Observer

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Novelist, playwright, and biographer Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-80) is widely considered one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. His major works include "No Exit," "Nausea," "The Wall," "The Age of Reason," "Critique of Dialectical Reason," "Being and Nothingness," and "Roads to Freedom," an allegory of man's search for commitment, and not, as the man at the off-licence says, an everyday story of French country folk.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David J. Loftus on February 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
The main title of this book can be a little misleading, for the entries date from 1939-40, before the war in France really heated up. Sartre saw no action during this period (he was in his early 30s), but he WAS in military service on the front during the "phony war." Mostly, he had a lot of time to think and write.
Sartre worked on some of the foundations for _Being and Nothingness_ and existential theory in general, so there's some of that here, but this is a marvelously HUMAN document. As well as the sort of intellectual blasts one expects from him (Flaubert's _A Sentimental Education_ is deemed to be "clumsy, disagreeable ... utterly idiotic"), Sartre writes of his insecurities ("In relation to Gauguin, Van Gogh and Rimbaud, I have a distinct inferiority complex because they managed to destroy themselves"; "It's true, I'm not authentic. With everything that I feel, before actually feeling it I know that I'm feeling it ... I fool people: I look like a sensitive person but I'm barren ... I am nothing but pride and lucidity").
There's a lot about his love of women and burning desire for beauty -- to be IN something beautiful; and his total failure at friendships with men, save for what he termed women-men ("an extremely rare species, standing out from the rest thanks to their physical charm or sometimes beauty, and to a host of inner riches which the common run of men know nothing of ... I'm a woman-man myself, I think, for all my ugliness").
Sometimes he is flip, sounding more like he's trying out aphorisms for size ("I would condemn someone definitively for a linguistic mannerism, but not because I'd seen him murder his mother"), and sometimes simple and sincere ("A day begun with a breakfast is a lucky day"). Above all, he broods on the nature of freedom and authenticity. This is a much more accessible work than much of his fiction or polished essays.
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